Phil Primack New England Country Fair Collection

Collection ID:
Primack, Phil
1978-1983, undated
Physical Description:
0.66 Cubic feet
3 boxes
Black and white photographs, photographic negatives, contact sheets, color slides, and ephemera documenting selected New England country fairs, photographed and collected by Phil Primack.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This collection contains original notes, interviews, collected ephemera, black and white photographs, photograpic negatives, contact sheets, and color slides, conducted, gathered, and taken by Phil Primack in support of the writing of his book
New England Country Fair!
. The material centers on country fairs in the New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

The collection is divided into three series.
Series 1: Notes, Interviews, Publications, and Ephemera, 1978-1983, undated
Series 2: Black and White Photographs, Photographic Negatives, Contact Sheets, and Color Slides, 1978-1980, undated
Series 3: Audio, undated

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
The information for this biography was supplied by the donor, Phil Primack, in February 2020.
Philip N. Primack was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts on May 1, 1948 the son of Dr. Joseph E. Primack, DDS and Celia Piltch Primack. While attending high school in Haverhill, he took a sumer job operating midway games at the amusement park in nearby Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts. The park's owner also owned a traveling carnival, Dean & Flynn Fiesta Shows, and Primack worked on its midway at fairs and carnivals across New England while attending Tufts University, from which he graduated with a BA in 1970.
At Tufts, Primack edited the campus newspaper, launching him on a decades-long reporting and writing career. After graduation, he went to work from 1970 to 1973 for
The Mountain Eagle
, a weekly newspaper in the eastern Kentucky coalfields. He maintained working and other ties to the
for much of the rest of the 1970s, sometimes taking time off to pursue freelance work and other projects. During the 1970s, Primack oaccasionally returned to the midway to support the meager wages of freelance writing.
In 1983, Primack went to work for
North Shore: Sunday
, a weekly in Massachusetts and, from 1988 to 1996, for
The Boston Herald
. In addition to his positions as a staff reporter, Primack has written extensively for a wide range of regional and national publications, including
The Boston Globe
Commonwealth Magazine
The New York Times
Washington Monthly
The Nation
, and
Boston Magazine
. His photography has been included in some of these publications and other outlets, including articles he has written for in-flight airline magazines.
Primack researched, wrote and took photographs for his book,
New England Country Fair
(Globe Pequot Press, 1981) with the bulk of the images taken between 1975 and 1980. While the book arose from Primack's midway experiences, it covers the full gamut of the country fair experience from that era, including 4-H goat judging, blue-ribbon produce, sideshows, horse racing, beauty pageants, and additional subjects. Studs Terkel wrote about the book, ". . . captures the fine feeling of small-town Yankee American gently showing off."
Primack has worked as a speech writer and policy aide to elected officials and agencies at the state and federal levels and as a consultant, editor, writer, and researcher for various organizations and non-profits, including the Ford Foundation, The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and the Barr Foundation. He has also taught journalism courses at Tufts University, Boston University, Northeastern University, and other institutions. In addition to his BA in political science from Tufts, he earned a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School in 1987.
Primack continues pursuing writing projects and resides in Medford, Massachusetts.

Franklin A. Robinson, Jr.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection donated by Philip Primack February 14, 2020.
Processing Information
Processed by Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., archivist, October 2021; supervised by Vanessa Broussard Simmons, archivist.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation
Phil Primack New England Country Fairs Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
Materials at Other Organizations
Berea College, Special Collections and Archives
This collection is comprised of photographs, correspondence, writings, interviews and subject files of Phil Primack.

More Information

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Audio cassettes -- 1980-1990 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Black-and-white negatives Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Contact sheets -- 1980-1990 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cookbooks -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fairs Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fairs -- New England Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fairs -- New England -- Directories Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fairs -- United States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fairs -- Photographs Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Color slides -- 1970-1990 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012