Joan Liffring-Zug Bourret

Joan Liffring-Zug Bourret was born in Iowa City, IA, on February 20, 1929. She studied journalism and art from 1945-48 at the University of Iowa. From 1948-51 she worked as a photographer and reporter in Cedar Rapids at the Cedar Rapids Gazette. She worked at the Des Moines Register Picture Magazine from 1952-1969 and with The Iowan magazine from 1954-1985. Liffring-Zug Bourret has worked as a free-lance photographer since 1951.

Liffring-Zug Bourret authored four photographic children’s books for the Follett Publishing Company of Chicago during the 1950s. In 1951-1952, she created a photo documentary of the birth of her son which received national recognition. During the 1970s, she and her husband John Zug, produced three booklets on the historic Amana Colonies in Iowa and one on the Amish-Mennonite community in Kalona, Iowa. She also compiled the book "This is Grant Wood Country" published by the Davenport Art Gallery and made a definitive collection of photographs of the American artist, Grant Wood. In addition, Liffring-Zug Bourret compiled and published cookbooks. In 1979, she co-founded the Penfield Press with her husband, John Zug. The press has published more than 60 books. Most recently, Liffring Zug started to create photograms by placing still-life objects in front of photo-sensitive paper and exposing them to light. She continues to work as a documentary photographer offering collectible photographs by appointment.

Photos by Liffring-Zug Bourret are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Minneapolis Art Institute among other collections. Her photography credits are numerous and include her induction into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 1996. The accolade “premier Iowa woman photographer of the century” was given to her by the State Historical Society of Iowa in 1999.

Liffring-Zug donated her large photo collection to the State Historical Society of Iowa in 1991. Many of the photographs, taken between 1945 and 1987, document the state’s cultural and ethnic heritage. The collection contains more than 500,000 negatives as well as personal correspondence, scrapbooks, and other memorabilia. She also donated photographs by others from her own collections.

Liffring-Zug Bourret has many names. Liffring was her parents’ last name. She was married to Arthur Heusinkveld, John Zug, and Dwayne Bourret.

Source of Biography
“A Woman’s View.” ArtScene. May 2004;
“A Life Transformed by a Lens.” Des Moines Register. August 18, 1996;
“Gentle Humor, Pathos Fill Iowan’s Photographs.” Des Moines Register. March 20, 1984;
“Iowa Women Receive Top Honor.” IoWoman. 26 (September/October 1996), 1;
“Noted Iowa Shutterbug Gives Work to Society.” Des Moines Register. November 30, 1991;
“Recording the Human Experience.” ArtScene. February 2005;
“Special Moment for ‘Everyday’ Photographer.” Cedar Rapids Gazette, August 31, 1996