Shirlie Alice Montgomery • June 9, 1918 – Nov 5, 2012

Shirlie always had her camera handy.
Shirlie Alice Montgomery was born on Chapman Street in San Jose on June 9, 1918. She was an only child. To her friends and neighbors she was a treasure trove of history. Shirlie remembered it all. She remembered the Great Depression as a child, the Second World War as a young woman, and eventually the transformation of the Santa Clara Valley from a moderately sized agricultural town to the hustle and bustle of modern Silicon Valley. The majority of her memories were supported by the thousands of photographs in her collection.
Young Shirlie Montgomery

Shirlie a few years ago from an article in the Rose Garden Resident.

She was the grandniece of San Jose’s forefather T.S. Montgomery. Shirlie lived a colorful life but professionally she photographed it with a 4X5 Speed Graphic in B&W. She was a celebrated photographer that shot Hollywood stars, U.S. Presidents and pro wrestlers. Although Shirlie did work for the S. F. Examiner and the San Jose Mercury her works remain some of the best representations of pro wrestling from the 40’s thru the 60’s. When asked about her penchant for shooting professional wrestlers she would answer “I always liked the big boys”. Such stories Shirlie had! She passed away quietly on November 5, 2012. She will never be forgotten. God rest her soul.

Obituary written by Shirlie's good friend and neighbor Joe Holt

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Linoleum Block Prints by Shirlie

Shirlie Montgomery was not just a well-known San Francisco Bay Area photo-journalist. She was also a graphic artist, illustrating her photo albums, keeping sketchbooks and making block prints from wood and linoleum.

These are original linoleum printing blocks created by Shirlie  circa 1940. Both have a distinct Arts & Crafts influence.


  1. Is there a way to take a peek at Shirley's wrestlers photo collection? Thanks!

  2. Much of Shirlie's collection is now in the hands of History San Jose. Any discussions of using the images needs to be worked out with HSJ. I am sure they will be accommodating. Please note that the Shirlie Montgomery exhibit opens on April 14th 2014 and will run through December 2014.


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