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COLLECTION Identifier: PC 60

Photographs of Jessie Tarbox Beals, 1896-1941


Photographs of Jessie Tarbox Beals, first American woman photojournalist.


  • Creation: 1896-1941


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the photographs created by Jessie Tarbox Beals is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library.

Copying. Photographs may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


7.75 linear feet (5 cartons, 1 file box, 1 folio box, 1 folio+ box)

The collection of Jessie Tarbox Beals's photographs consists of approximately 2500 original prints, 1100 duplicate prints, 780 film negatives, and 110 glass negatives. With the exception of a few tintypes, cyanotypes, and autochromes, positive images are silver prints.

The dating of many photographs is uncertain. Visual evidence of a date on a photograph is not always conclusive, and a date written on the back of a print may have been assigned long after the event; some duplicate prints in fact bear different dates. Nor is an address stamped or written on the back necessarily a reliable clue, since Beals often made a print long after taking the photograph. The student of Beals's work may be helped toward the dating and/or identification of some of her problematic photographs by referring to her papers in the Schlesinger Library. These include daybooks and correspondence relating to her photographic business.

Photographs have been arranged in three series:

Series I, Family (#1-14), consists of photographs of a few of Beals' relatives, of Beals herself from 1887 to ca.1940, and of Nanette, ATB, and some of Beals' homes. It has not always been possible to arrange these photographs in strict chronological order, because some are in albums put together by Beals (see #2f, 3f, 4f, 13f).

Series II, Professional life (#15-94a), follows the various stages of Beals' professional life and has been arranged chronologically as far as possible. It includes some of her first experiments with the camera, such major assignments as the World's Fair in Saint Louis, Missouri and the children of the Lower East Side, cityscapes, political events, the cafe society of Greenwich Village, travels in the United States and abroad, and parties and balls. The dating of some of these photographs may be open to question: for example, it is likely but not absolutely certain that the photographs taken in the South (#32-37) date from early 1905.

Series III, Portraits (#95-187), consists of formal and informal portraits. Identified subjects have been arranged alphabetically; unidentified subjects, according to gender, occupation (when visible in the picture), age, costume, setting (indoors, outdoors), and number (couples, groups). Some overlap among series proved unavoidable. For example, Series II includes portraits, especially in the folders (#61-65) from Greenwich Village; it seemed sensible not to separate a gallery, a restaurant, or a shop from its owner. In Series III, #124 and 125, which show the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, were kept with the two folders (#122-123) of portraits of Marian MacDowell, founder of the colony.

Negatives without prints have not been cataloged; they may be viewed and printed upon request. Most of the negatives (with or without prints) are in reasonably good condition; it should therefore not be necessary to make a copy negative when a copy print is needed. Each folder or volume description in the inventory is followed by two bracketed numbers: the first indicates the number of positive prints in the folder, the second, the number of unprinted negatives that, according to what they depict, belong there (although they are stored elsewhere, with other negatives).

Some of Beals' photograph numbers proved useful for purposes of identification and dating, but on the whole her numbers presented too many gaps and inconsistencies to be integrated into the library's numbering system. There is, however, a record of the changes from Beals' to the library's numbers.

Photographs of houses and gardens were given to the Frances Loeb Library of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Four photographs (from #18, 29, and 56) have been given to the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard.


Jessie Tarbox Beals was the first American woman photojournalist. She was born in Hamilton, Ontario, on December 23, 1870, the daughter of Marie Antoinette (Bassett) Tarbox and John Nathaniel Tarbox. Her father, an inventor and entrepreneur, failed in business and Beals, after completing her education at the Collegiate Institute of Ontario, took a teaching position in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, in 1888. That same year she acquired her first camera, and in 1889 established Williamsburg's first photography studio on the front lawn of her house, using her weekends to take pictures of friends, students, family groups, barns, houses, and animals. In the fall of 1893 she moved to Greenfield, Massachusetts, to take up a new teaching position. There she met Alfred Tennyson Beals, whom she married in 1897.

In 1900, convinced that she could make a successful career out of her hobby, Beals gave up teaching and started traveling as an itinerant photographer, with Alfred Tennyson Beals as her assistant. In 1901 the couple moved to Buffalo and Beals joined the Buffalo Enquirer and Courier as staff photographer. She took hundreds of photographs of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World's Fair) in 1904, and the following year covered President Roosevelt's Rough Riders' Reunion in San Antonio, Texas.

Later in 1905 she and Alfred Tennyson Beals moved to New York, where she stayed until 1928. These New York years were probably the busiest and most interesting in her life. Moving almost every year, she managed to photograph a wide variety of subjects, among them the inauguration of President Taft, suffrage parades, poor children of the Lower East Side, celebrities, and Greenwich Village and its Bohemian society. Her only child, Nanette, was born on June 8, 1911. In 1917 Beals separated from Alfred Tennyson Beals (they were divorced in 1923) and opened her own photo gallery in Sheridan Square.

By 1926, although quite well known and regularly published in such fashionable magazines as Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Town and Country, and the Ladies' Home Journal, Beals had to face the steady decline of her income. In 1928, in the hope of finding more lucrative returns for her labors, she moved to California. The crash of 1929 having deprived her of most of her rich Santa Barbara and Hollywood patrons, Beals decided to return East. She was back in New York in 1931, but stayed only briefly. In 1932 she moved to Chicago, where she photographed mostly gardens and estates. By the end of 1935 she was again in Greenwich Village, living very near the studio where she had started her first New York business. She died in Bellevue Hospital in 1942. For more information about Beals, see Jessie Tarbox Beals, First Woman Photographer, by Alexander Alland, Sr., New York: Camera/Graphic Press, 1978.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I. Family (#1-14)
  2. Series II. Professional life (#15-94a)
  3. Series III. Portraits (#95-187)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 82-M122, 83-M38

These photographs were given to the Schlesinger Library by Nanette (Beals) Brainerd, daughter of Jessie (Tarbox) Beals, in May 1982.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Jessie Tarbox Beals, 1866-1989 (MC 602). Photographs of houses and gardens were given to the Frances Loeb Library of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Four photographs (from #18, 29, and 56) have been given to the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard.


  1. Box 1: Folders 1-27
  2. Box 2: Folders 28-52
  3. Box 3: Folders 53-75
  4. Box 4: Folders 76-95
  5. Box 5: Folders 96-115
  6. Box 6: Folders 116-134
  7. Box 7: Folders 135-151
  8. Box 8: Folders 152-174
  9. Box 9: Folders 175-187


This is a selective index, containing names, places, subjects, and events. For some photographs there are several entries. Most names in the index are of people who appear in Who Was Who, Notable American Women, or in the Schlesinger Library manuscript catalog. Included as well are people who were part of Beals's family, or of her professional or social life.

  1. Afro-American children 17
  2. Afro-Americans--Social conditions 89
  3. Adair, Jean 95
  4. Aikin, Zoe 95
  5. Allerton Hotel (Chicago) 10, 85-86
  6. Anderson, Judith 95
  7. Animals 15-16, 46-49
  8. Aubere, Jean 95
  9. Auer, Leopold 95
  10. Auslander, Joseph 95
  11. Baer, William Jacob 96
  12. Baird, Marie 96
  13. Bamalaczky, Princess 96
  14. Barclay, Patricia 96
  15. Bardon, Edith 96
  16. Bardon, Edward 96
  17. Barton, Mercine 96
  18. Beals, Alfred 11
  19. Beals, Jessie (Tarbox) 1-10, 13f-16, 18, 19, 32-33
  20. Beckwith, Carol 96
  21. Belcher, Hilda 96
  22. Belmont, August 97
  23. Bitter, Karl (Theodore Francis) 97
  24. Borglum, Gutzon 97
  25. Boston (Mass.) 43
  26. Boyington, Dan 97
  27. Boylan, Grace Duffie 97
  28. Brainerd, Nanette Beals 7, 9, 11, 12, 13f
  29. Brown, Frances 99
  30. Bryan, Walter 61
  31. Buhley, A. W. 98
  32. Buhley, Dorothy 98
  33. Burroughs, John 99
  34. Bunt, Fred 99
  35. California 75-82
  36. Campbell, Joseph 100
  37. Cannon, Joseph 100
  38. Cape Cod (Mass.) 67-69
  39. Carnival--Louisiana--New Orleans 36-37
  40. Carroll, Earl 66
  41. Chicago 85-87
  42. Children--Portraits 17, 78, 80, 89, 101, 103, 110, 113, 117, 127, 134-135, 147, 172-175, 181-187
  43. Clarke, Sir Caspar Purdon 100
  44. Coman, Charlotte (Buell) 101
  45. Cornoyer, Paul 101
  46. Craigie, Pearl Mary Teresa Richards ("John Oliver Hobbs") 102
  47. Crothers, Rachel 102
  48. DeHaas, Epy 104
  49. DeMilhau, ? 104
  50. Deming, Edward 104
  51. Derwood, Gene 104
  52. Dey, Harriet Holt 105
  53. Dickerman, Dan 62
  54. Duveneck, Frank 105
  55. Eberle, Abastenia St. Leger 106
  56. Family--Portraits 4, 11, 84, 176, 178-179, 186-187
  57. Farnham, Sally James 107
  58. Faversham, William 107
  59. Flanagan, John 107
  60. Flood-Keyes, Dr. Regina 107
  61. Florida--Social conditions 17
  62. Fokine, Michel 107
  63. Fokine, Vera 107
  64. Fox, Fontaine Talbot, Jr. 108
  65. Freeman, Helen 108
  66. Francis, David R. 18
  67. Garland, Rose 109
  68. Geddes, Norman Bel 109
  69. Goodwin, Grace Duffield 9, 62
  70. Greenwich Village 57-66
  71. Griffin, Lillian Barnes 110
  72. Grimes, Teresa 110
  73. Groll, Albert 110
  74. Hayakawa, Sesshu 111
  75. Hall, Bessie Lee 111
  76. Hallmark, Anne Rittenhouse 111
  77. Harrison, Birge 111
  78. Hassam, Childe 112
  79. Herrick, Myron T. 18
  80. Herter, Albert 113
  81. Hoover, Herbert 77
  82. Hoover, Lou Henry 77
  83. Howells, William Dean 113
  84. Hurst, Fannie 113
  85. Ibanez, Vicente Blasco 114
  86. Illington, Margaret (Light) ("Maude Light") 114
  87. Jefferson, Joseph 115
  88. Kemp, Harry Hubbard 116
  89. King, Helen Dean 116
  90. King, Louisa (Yeomans) 117
  91. Knox, Susan Ricker 117
  92. Kuni, Prince 8
  93. Lagercrantz, Ava 118
  94. LaGuardia, Fiorello 118
  95. Lewis, Janet Cook 118
  96. Lie, Jonas 118
  97. Lincoln, Joseph Conrad 119
  98. Logan, Frank Granger 120
  99. Logan, Josephine (Hancock) 120
  100. Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904 : Saint Louis, Mo.) 36-37
  101. Lower East Side (New York, N.Y.) 54-56
  102. McCord, George 121
  103. MacDougall, Alice Foote 121
  104. MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, N.H.) 124-125
  105. MacDowell, Marian Griswold (Nevins) 122-125
  106. Manle, Mary K. 126
  107. Mardi Gras (New Orleans) See Carnival
  108. Mayhew, Ralph 126
  109. National League of American Pen Women 9
  110. New England 43, 44, 67-69
  111. New Orleans (La.)--Social life and customs 36-37
  112. New York (City) 50-66
  113. O'Hare, Dorothee Warren 129
  114. Olliver, Mary Lindsay 129
  115. Oyen, Olaf Henry 129
  116. Panama 72
  117. Pen and Brush Club (New York, N.Y.) 10, 59, 140
  118. Pendleton, Isabelle 130
  119. Pershing, John Joseph 130
  120. Pets 15-16, 46-49
  121. Pope, Virginia 130
  122. Post, Emily (Price) 130
  123. Potter, Grace 130
  124. Preston, Mary Wilson 131
  125. Quackenbos, John D. 132
  126. Reed, John 62
  127. Rippen, Jane Parker (Deeter) 133
  128. Roosevelt, Theodore 18
  129. Rosen, Baron 134
  130. Rough Riders See United States. Army.
  131. Saint Andrews Golf Course (N.Y.) 70-71
  132. Saint Louis World's Fair See Louisiana Purchase Exposition
  133. Saint Louis 31a
  134. Santa Barbara (Calif.) 75-80
  135. Selwyn, Edgar 135
  136. Shepley, Ruth 135
  137. Sinclair, Upton 135
  138. Singer, Dorothy Frances 135
  139. Smith, Alfred Emanuel 136
  140. Smith, Frances Grace 136
  141. Spanish Fiesta (Calif.) 78-80
  142. Stonehill, Mary 136
  143. Taft, William Howard 18, 40
  144. Tarbell, Ida Minerva 138-140
  145. Tarkington, Newton Booth 141
  146. Terhune, Albert Payson 141
  147. Troubetzkoy, Prince Piere 141
  148. Troubetzkoy, Princess (Amelie Rives) 141
  149. Twain, Mark 142
  150. United States. Army. Volunteer Cavalry, 1st. 38
  151. United States--Description and travel 32-39, 43-45, 50-53, 67, 69, 72-84, 87-94
  152. United States. Works Progress Administration. 90
  153. Urner, Mable Herbert (Mrs. Lathrop Colgate Harper) 143
  154. Village Art Gallery (New York City) 7, 57-66
  155. Vonnoh, Bessie (Potter) 144
  156. Vonnoh., Robert William 144
  157. Walker, Mary Edwards 147
  158. Washington, D.C.--Social conditions--1930-1940 89
  159. Wheeler, Candace ("Bucknut") 147
  160. Wiggam, Albert Edward 147
  161. Wiggin, Kate (Douglas) 147
  162. Wiles, Irving Ramsey 148
  163. Winter, Alice (Ames) 148
  164. World's Fair see Louisiana Purchase Exposition
  165. Yates, Cullen 150
  166. Young, Mary 150
  167. Young, Roland 150
  168. Zagat, Helen 151

Processing Information

Processed: February 1988

By: Marie-Hélène Gold, Nancy Falk

Beals, Jessie Tarbox. Photographs of Jessie Tarbox Beals, 1896-1941: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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