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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Monday, December 10, 2012

Photographer Profile ~ Eliza R. Scidmore

Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore (1856–1928) was an American writer, photographer and geographer, who became the first female board member of the National Geographic Society. She visited Japan many times between 1885 and 1928.

Scidmore was born October 14, 1856 in Clinton, Iowa. She attended Oberlin College. Her interest in travel was aided by her brother, George Hawthorne Scidmore, a career diplomat who served in the Far East from 1884 to 1922. Eliza was often able to accompany her brother on assignments and his diplomatic position gave her entree into regions inaccessible to ordinary travelers.

It was on their return to Washington, D.C. in 1885 that Eliza had her famous idea of planting Japanese cherry trees in the capital. Scidmore found little interest in her cherry tree idea, but more in her impressions of Alaska, the subject of her first book, Alaska, Its Southern Coast and the Sitkan Archipelago (1885). She joined the National Geographic Society in 1890, soon after its founding, and became a regular correspondent and later the Society's first female trustee.

Scidmore's cherry blossom scheme began to bear fruit when incoming first lady Helen Taft took an interest in the idea in 1909. With the first lady's active support, plans moved quickly, but the first effort had to be aborted due to concerns about infestation. Subsequent efforts proved successful, however, and today many visitors enjoy the sakura of West Potomac Park and other areas of the capital, particularly during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. [via Wiki]

Eliza R. Scidmore

Japanese girls in a tea ceremony, a hand-colored photo by Eliza Scidmore from early

1900s, ~ Eliza R. Scidmore

Eliza R. Scidmore

Flowering cherries along the Sumida River in Tokyo, known as Mukojima, circa 1897.
When Eliza visited Japan, she was overwhelmed by the lovely blossoming cherry trees.  She learned that the Japanese people called them sakura,and that they were revered as a national symbol.  For centuries, people had been gathering in the spring to view and appreciate the clouds of flowers while picnicking under the trees.  This celebration is called hanami.  The different varieties of trees bloom in many shades of whites and pinks.  After their brief burst of color, the flowers are gone.  Artists and poets have often honored them for their beauty and as symbols of the brevity of life. Eliza’s dream was for the people of Washington, D.C. to be able to enjoy these trees.  Finally, in 1912, over three thousand trees were planted as a gift of the city of Tokyo.
Eliza R. Scidmore
Eliza R. Scidmore
Eliza R. Scidmore
A young boy in a kimono stands near a hen and her chicks.
Eliza R. Scidmore
1402145.  A Japanese woman sings and plays a shamisen.
A Japanese woman sings and plays a shamisen by Eliza R. Scidmore

599453.  A Chinese mother and child in Manchurian region attire.
A Chinese mother and child in Manchurian region attire by Eliza R. Scidmore
599449.  A woman feeds a pair of storks at Okayama Castle.
A woman feeds a pair of storks at Okayama Castle. Okayama, Honshu Island, Japan. ~ Eliza R. Scidmore

Portrait of Eliza R. Scidmore (Probably in her late 30s or early 40s.)

1 comment:

  1. What an emotional trip. I like the boy with the chicken. It reminds me, we need to be in a balance with nature.