Saturday, August 26, 2006

Pictures of Old Montana

"Never was she described as English or American by her admirers. They just called her a Montanan . . . for she is the very embodiment of the spirit of that great state." -- M. Charter.

Photographer and diarist Evelyn Jephson Cameron was born on this day in 1868 at Furze Dawn Park, near Streatham, England.

Cameron, the daughter of a successful English country gentleman and merchant, took up ranching on the Montana plains with her husband, Ewen Cameron in 1889, and shortly thereafter began to chronicle her life in the American West by writing a diary and teaching herself the craft of photography. Her photos became well-known locally; for 35 years she labored semi-professionally, carefully recording the barren badlands landscapes and the hard-bitten people who lived there. In her stark photos she revealed, from an intimate, honest point of view, the unconventional beauty of her adopted home.

Her local notoriety began to fade after he death, on December 26, 1928 in eastern Montana, following an appendectomy, but her remarkable body of work was rediscovered in the 1970s. A comprehensive survey of her work can be found at Evelyn Cameron: Frontier Photographer.

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