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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Sarah J. Eddy

Dates:  1851 - 1945, 29 March
Born:  US, MA, Boston
Died:  US, RI, Portsmouth

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Sarah J. Eddy
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Sarah J. Eddy began exhibiting photographs in 1890, at nearly forty years of age. She was born in Boston and studied painting and sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and New York’s Art Students League. From the early 1890s until her death, she resided in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, a coastal town southeast of Providence.
Eddy’s photographs appeared regularly in American and foreign exhibitions until about 1910. Her work was displayed at camera club exhibitions in Providence and Hartford, but most frequently at the Boston Camera Club. Juries for photographic salons accepted her work in Philadelphia (1898), Pittsburgh (1899, 1900), and Washington, D.C. (1896). In 1903 alone, her pictures were included in salons in Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Toronto. Her most important exhibitions were the New School of American Photography and the selection of American women photographers at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900. The first, organized by the Boston aesthete F. Holland Day, was presented in London in 1900 and Paris in 1901. The second, gathered by Frances Benjamin Johnston, was featured at the Exposition’s Congrès International de Photographie. Among the groups that Eddy was a member of were the Boston Camera Club, the Pictorial Photographers of America, and the Postal Photographic Club.
Eddy preferred photographing children, women, and animals, in both rural and domestic settings. In 1894, she wrote and illustrated the short article "A Good Use for the Camera" for the American Annual of Photography, in which she described finding willing subjects as she traveled the country in her carriage. After detailing the making of a handful of successful pictures, she concluded that her personal interactions were as rewarding as the finished images: "We enter into sympathetic relations with the people who furnish us with pictures. We are grateful to them and they are very grateful to us. We meet on common ground." The American Annual of Photography subsequently ran illustrations by her in 1895 and 1902.
Eddy’s holistic attitude was evident in her other activities, as an author and member of humane societies. Between 1899 and 1938, she wrote or compiled five children’s books on animals and their care. Most widely read were Friends and Helpers and Alexander and Some Other Cats, both featuring her sympathetic text and photographic illustrations. Eddy worked with animal rights groups for half a century; in the 1890s she helped found the Rhode Island Humane Educational Society and at her death she was the director of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Sarah J. Eddy, who never married, died in her Portsmouth home, on March 29, 1945, at age ninety-three. 
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 1 June 2013. 
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Sarah J. Eddy
Sarah J. Eddy 
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