Hugh MacRae Morton (February 19, 1921 – June 1, 2006) was a photographer and nature conservationist who developed Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.
Morton was a prolific photographer who took photographs of all aspects of life in North Carolina. His first published photograph came in 1935, when he was 14; a picture he took of a golfing scene was published as a North Carolina travel advertisement in Life Magazine] During his time at the University of North Carolina, he was a photographer for the student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel. During World War II, Morton joined as a member of the Signal Corps, where he was assigned the job of newsreel photographer. He was sent to New Caledonia, an island off the coast of Australia, where he was attached to the 37th Infantry Division. Near the end of the war, Morton was assigned to take pictures of General Douglas MacArthur when MacArthur’s regular photographer was sick. While on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, Morton was injured by a Japanese explosive and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Upon his return from the war, Morton went to work at the University of North Carolina as a sports photographer. He took pictures of sports at the University of North Carolina for over six decades; one anecdote says that people at UNC basketball games were warned not to block the view of “Mr. Morton’s seat.” In 1949, Morton was elected the president of the Carolina Photographers Association. The next year, Morton became the chairman of the Southern Short Courses in News Photography. That program continues across the state of North Carolina at college campuses and at Grandfather Mountain as the Grandfather Mountain Camera Clinic.
Morton’s work has been featured in magazines such as Life, National Geographic, the Associated Press, Esquire, Time, and many other publications. One of his favorite locations was Grandfather Mountain and one of his favorite subjects was Mildred the Bear. He took thousands of pictures of Mildred alone.
Morton’s photographic life’s work has been donated to North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives in Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This collection is currently being digitized, a project which is being chronicled on the A View To Hugh blog.
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