Milton McFarland Painter Sr. was born in Water Valley, Mississippi, on June 5, 1878. He was the son of William P. Painter and Helen Sims Painter of Arlington, Tennessee. Painter was educated in the public schools at Arlington and lived there until he relocated to Coahoma County, Mississippi, around 1900.
Milton Painter's first home in Coahoma County was at Friars Point. He became secretary of the Chism-Brothers Store and served as bookkeeper for Charles Aderholdt, a landowner and levee contractor. Painter was later employed with the Friars Point Motor Company, an automobile dealership that relocated from Friars Point to Clarksdale, Mississippi, in 1943. Milton McFarland Painter Sr. died October 4, 1950, and is buried in Oakridge Cemetery in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
The Painter (Milton McFarland, Sr.) Collection consists of images of 1073 black-and-white photographic prints in two albums. A self-taught photographer, Milton Painter took most of his photographs from about 1912 to the 1920s. Painter produced excellent images of Friars Point and various locations in the surrounding countryside. He used a Kodak camera that generated three-inch by five-inch negatives, which he meticulously cataloged and filed. Painter was especially interested in the Mississippi River and the steamboats that made stops in Friars Point. There are also many photographs documenting the Painters' vacation trips to the western United States, Mexico, and Canada. Most photographs, however, were made in or around Friars Point and Coahoma County.
In January and February 1973, The Clarksdale Press Register produced prints from some of the Painter negatives. The photographs were featured in a series of articles related to Coahoma County. Linton Weeks also used Painter photographs to illustrate his History of Clarksdale and Coahoma County, published in 1982.
Milton Painter's descriptions of the images from his logbook and notes he wrote on the photographic prints appear in quotation marks. Additional descriptions were created by the curator. The full descriptions may be
accessed through keyword search on the Web site and by subject headings
through the MDAH online catalog.
In 1988, Mrs. Painter and her son, Milton McFarland Painter Jr., donated Milton Senior's collection of original negatives, two photograph albums, and one logbook to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. In MarchDecember 2008, the MDAH Archives and Records Services Division's Image and Sound section scanned the prints from the photograph albums, creating preservation-quality, TIFF images. These were then converted to Web-friendly, JPEG images by the Electronic Archives section and made available online within the MDAH Electronic Archives Graphic User Interface in January 2009.