Photographs made and collected by Scidmore documenting life in Japan and China. Photos depict people, agriculture, crafting and jewelry, and natural and urban settings. Some additional photographs were made in South America and possibly the Philippines. The collection includes lantern slides published by the William H. Jackson Photo and Publishing Company of Denver and E. B. Thompson of Washington, DC.
Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore (1856-1928) was an author, journalist, lecturer, and collector who traveled extensively and helped to bring the Japanese cherry blossoms to Washington, DC. She spent her early life in Madison, Wisconsin, and then moved during the Civil War to Washington, DC, with her mother and brother. She was educated for two years at Oberlin College before obtaining a position as a newspaper correspondent covering the capitalʹs social scene. Her career as a travel writer began in 1883 during a trip to Alaska which she documented in her first book, Alaska, Its Southern Coast and the Sitkan Archipelago (published 1885). Shortly thereafter, she lived for long periods of time in southern and eastern Asia, particularly in China, India, Japan, Java, and the Philippines. Scidmore promoted intercultural understanding and cooperation and particularly encouraged the relationship between America and Japan, where her brother served as a Consul General in Yokohama. She was decorated by the Japanese emperor for her sympathetic reporting of Japanʹs treatment of prisoners of war during the Russo-Japanese War. Though Scidmore contributed articles to many popular magazines, she was most active for National Geographic (between 1893 and 1914) and her photographs accompanied many articles. She also served on the National Geographic staff and on its board of managers.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 139
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Additional photographs made and collected by Scidmore are held in National Anthropological Archives Photo Lot 97 and in the National Geographic Society archives.
The Department of Anthropology collections holds several artifacts donated by Scidmore.
Original nitrate negatives are in cold storage and require advanced notice for viewing.