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Jessie Tarbox Beals

Children of the New York City Slums, 1910

Jessie Tarbox Beals (1870-1942) lived in Canada until she was 17, when she moved to Williamsburg, Massachusetts to work as a teacher. In 1888 she won her first camera in a contest, and a few years later Beals supplemented her income by taking photographs. In 1897 she married Alfred Beals with whom she worked as an itinerant photographer in New England. In 1902, Beals was hired as one of the first woman staff photographers for the Buffalo Courier of New York.  Two years later she was the first woman to gain press credentials to the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. The following year the Beals’ moved to New York where they opened a photography studio. In 1917, after divorcing her husband, she opened Village Art Gallery in Greenwich Village and began to photograph in the streets, with a particular focus on the underclass of New York City and its children. In 1928 she moved briefly to California to photograph in Hollywood, but eventually moved back to Greenwich Village where she lived until her death. Her work was included in major exhibitions in Toronto in 1921, and in Buffalo in 1922, and since her death has been included in several New York exhibitions. Beals also wrote poetry and published a book of poems, entitled  "Songs of a Wanderer".