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
The New York Times
. 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.