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Maria (Ikenberg) Lindberg, RBP, FBPA

Maria Lindberg, longtime member of BPA/BCA, passed away October 7, 2006, in Laguna Hills, California. She was born Maria Elsasser, in Germany, July 20, 1907. After completing basic and secondary schools, she went to England to learn Business English. Returning to Germany, she was employed at the Farben Co. Bank, and then went on to complete an intensive two-year course becoming a certified Technical Assistant for Medical Institutions. Her medical technology training included anatomy and histology, plus an introduction to microphotography (photomicrography). Maria then found work at the Kaiser Wilmhelm Institute and completed additional photography training at both the AGFA and Leitz factories. Her combined education of German and English translation, medical technology, and technical photography, would ultimately prove to serve her well in future professional endeavors.

Portrait of Maria Elsasser (~1939)
Portrait of Maria Elsasser (~1939)

In the spring of 1938 Maria and her parents immigrated to the United States. Initially, Maria worked for a short time in New York City with the E. Leitz Co., and at Columbia University. It was also at this time in New York that she met Louis Schmidt, at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. In 1939 Maria joined the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center. Two years later she married and was then known to BPA members as Maria E. Ikenberg. And for better than three decades she would go on to provide stellar photographic services to the University. The results of her efforts are now part of the University's extensive Buckingham Collection, and the Jacques Holinger Memorial Collection, two elegant educational collections of still and motion media clinical and endoscopic images.

Maria's photographic work did not go unnoticed. In 1947, she was an invited photographer, along with fellow BPA members, Avis Gregersen, Grace MacMullen, and Stella Zimmer, to exhibit her work in The First Women's Invitation Exhibition of Photography, New York City Camera Club. The exhibit, which was on display during the month of November, featured the work of forty women photographers. The vast majority of the images came from commercial, fashion, and portrait photographers. Scientific and medical photography, which included Maria's clinical and endoscopic images, was well represented by these four women.

Maria with Brubaker-Holinger endoscopic camera.
Maria with Brubaker-Holinger endoscopic camera.

During this same period of time at the University of Illinois, Maria worked with colleagues Joseph D. Brubaker, FBPA, and James E. Brubaker, FBPA, (both Photographic Engineers), and Paul H. Holinger, M.D., FBPA (Schmidt Laureate '59). Their combined efforts would create pioneering methods in endoscopic photography by creating the Brubaker camera. For its time, although a somewhat awkward set-up, the Brubaker system proved to be one of the first successful clinical endoscopic cameras. Its design was exceptional for capturing images that were used to document patients' conditions and to train medical professionals.

Perhaps Maria's most noteworthy effort was coordinating the production of a classic medical reference: "Atlas of Otorhinolaryngology and Bronchoesophagology" (Library of Congress catalog card number 68-10091, 315 pages). Maria worked closely with Drs. Becker, Buckingham, Holinger, Korting, and Lederer. This monumental effort capitalized on Maria's combined talents of exacting German/English translation, her attention to detail, and her photographic expertise. The text was originally published in Germany (in German) in 1968. Maria proofed translated copy, and saw that many of the images she herself had created since 1939 had been selected for reproduction in the Atlas. And from the text's Preface (1969 English edition) the five authors offer: "Maria E. Ikenberg, RBP, FBPA, Scientific Photographer at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Illinois, produced many of the illustrations of the pathology of the head and neck. We extend our thanks to her for the aiding in the selection of material, for assistance in the translation, and above all for the dedication to the innumerable tasks associated with the mechanics of setting up this Atlas…".

Maria presenting paper at 1953 BPA Annual Meeting.
Maria presenting paper at 1953 BPA Annual Meeting.

Concurrent with her professional career, Maria made significant contributions to BPA. In the Journal of the Biological Photographic Association (JBPA) Maria is first mentioned as a new member in 1941, and was personally recruited by founding member, Ralph Creer. As an active member of the Chicago Chapter, she hosted countless monthly Chapter Meetings, and served as the Chapter's Secretary, Treasurer, and President. On three occasions Maria was a member of the planning committee for BPA's Annual Meetings in Chicago (1946, 1950, & 1961). Over the many years she regularly attended BPA Annual Meetings, presented papers, and participated as a member of many standing committees. In addition, she attended and participated in numerous professional meetings conducted in Europe, including Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Maria with cinematography award, Düsseldorf, Germany, 1960. (Note: she is wearing a BPA lapel pin.)
Maria with cinematography award, Düsseldorf, Germany, 1960. (Note: she is wearing a BPA lapel pin.)

During her career Maria was recognized for her many professional contributions. Among her numerous honors, BPA awarded her Fellowship (FBPA) in 1953; she and her colleagues were recognized at the First International Congress of Medical Photography and Cinematography, Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1960 with an award for an endoscopic movie; she was the 1963 recipient of BPA's highest honor, the Louis Schmidt Award; and she was certified as a Registered Biological Photographer (RBP) in the first class of 47 recipients in 1965.


Casual image of Maria visiting Chicago, 1987.
Casual image of Maria visiting Chicago, 1987.
Maria retired in 1971 and moved to California to enjoy leisure activities and travel. During this time she met, and later married Hans Lindberg, a retired dentist who shared Maria's passion for photography. Although retired, she maintained contact with many BPA Members through correspondence and by telephone. As an Emeritus member she continued to attend BPA/BCA Annual Meetings, including BIOCOMM '90 and '93. Later, after Han's passing, Maria donated his sizable collection of photographic equipment (including 2 Nikon SLR cameras & various lenses, a Hasselblad system, and 7 Leica cameras!) to our Annual Auction, resulting in significant donations to the Association's Endowed Fund For Education.

Maria, wearing Schmidt Key, BIOCOMM '90.
Maria, wearing Schmidt Key, BIOCOMM '90.
Throughout her long career Maria was well known for touting the benefits of being a BPA member, and she was also very outspoken in her quest to see more women recognized for their contributions to our biophotography profession. In her later years Maria continued to maintain a keen interest in "the Association." She always wanted to know about changes in the profession and "How was the meeting?" was a constant question. As her health began to fail she required assistance in her daily life. Caregivers reported that she proudly shared stories about her career and her coveted "BPA." Maria was committed to the end to the "Association." Her feisty disposition, steadfast devotion, and loyalty to BPA/BCA, will be sorely missed.

As testament to Maria's love for and devotion to BCA, she was kind enough to remember BCA in her will. The challenge now for BCA is to develop services and programming that will make a contemporary impact on the field of biocommunications in the manner similar to what Maria Ikenberg did in her day.

by Bob Turner, RBP, FBPA

 

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The BCA has established an endowed lectureship in the memory of Maria (Ikenberg) Lindberg. The Maria Ikenberg Lindberg Keynote Address is the opening presentation at the annual meeting each year.

Maria Ikenberg Lindberg Keynote Speakers

2013 John Sexton

2012 Nancy Kedersha, Ph.D.

2011 John Kaplan

2010 Domenic Screnci, Ed.D.

2009 David Teplica, M.D., M.F.A.