Remember the Ladies – An Update on Georgia’s Women in Photography

It is Women’s History Month! I am always reminded of the letter dated March 31, 1776, that Abigail Adams wrote her husband John urging him to Remember the Ladies

—- remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.


Cyanotype by Anna Atkins (1799 – 1871) from Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns (1854), produced with Anne Dixon (1799–1864)

If you follow this blog, you may “remember the ladies,” about whom I posted a year ago this month in Good Common Sense – Georgia’s Women in Photography. I wrote about the many nineteenth and early twentieth century women working in Georgia in the business of photography. The statistics I took from my database for that post have changed a bit since then. That is a good thing! It means I am uncovering additional names of those women who worked in, or were related to, the field of photography.

That particular post gave links to my other posts mentioning the women in Georgia involved in photography – take a look and read about the other aspects of these women, the amateurs, the African American women, and the professional studio photographers. Just before and after I posted Good Common Sense, I posted the two-part  Keeping Photography in the Family: The Reeves-Hearn Family of Photographers, Part One and Part Two in which I discussed the women in that family involved in photography.

In my database now, in March 2016, I count  190  women related to the profession, and I know there are still others to discover. This is not a very big increase from last year, but it is moving forward. I have found out more about several of those women in the past year.

What I said last year remains true:

Many of the women I’ve documented often wore one or more hats – as photographers, colorists and/or retouchers, studio assistants or gallery receptionists, printers, managers of photo stock sales businesses, and more.

I have to admit that I am now more interested those women working in the business into the mid-twentieth century, than I was a year ago.

Alice Scarborough (b. 1870) began working with her father Charles C. Scarborough, a printer by trade, in a photography studio in Sandersville in 1888. The family moved to Augusta for a few years, where Alice worked as a photo retoucher and photographer, 1898-1901. The family returned to Sandersville, and Alice married a professor, [Dr.] Frederick Otto Schub, in 1905. She had their daughter Eleanor in 1907, and she was widowed in 1908. She already owned the photograph gallery, and by 1910, her father Charles, now about seventy-seven, worked in the gallery office. Charles C. Scarborough (b. 1832) died in October 1919.

Alice continued to run her photo business. By 1930, her studio was run out of her Sandersville home. Her daughter Eleanor (Schub), and her older sister Lola Scarborough (b. ca. 1867) were working with her as photographers. Lola worked with her sister at least through 1940. Census records for that year cite the sisters over a decade younger, but they were actually closer to seventy and seventy-three by then. According to Alice’s obituary she worked for seventy-five years as a photographer, which would be until her death at age ninety-three in May 1964. Daughter Eleanor (d. 1989) eventually became an x-ray technician, so it seems she was still in photography!

Photographer, 1940 Lanier High School Annual

Photographer, frontispiece drawing by Lucia Clemont, in The Oracle 1940, Sidney Lanier High School, Montgomery AL; their theme was “[the] camera’s eye depicts student life”; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

And to bring us full circle, and back to the Reeves Studio in Atlanta – Ethel Ricks (b. 1880) began assisting in her brother William L. Rick’s Valdosta studio by 1905. By 1919 she was in Atlanta working at the Alfa Lomax Studio as a photographer and retoucher. She stayed there until 1930 when she went into apartment management and then retired to Florida.

I was thrilled to discover that Atlanta photographer Alfa Lomax (b. 1878 in SC and a photographer there, 1900-1908) had a wife, Hilda, and daughter, Lynn, who both worked in the Lomax studio. Prior to their marriage in 1913, Hilda (b. 1888) was already involved in the business of photography in Atlanta. In 1907 she was a retoucher for photographer T. R. Mathews, and in  1908 she was a retoucher for photographer J. G. Andrews. In 1909 she became Alfa Lomax’s assistant (who was boarding at her mother’s home). She continued as his assistant for a few years after their marriage, until the birth of their daughter Lynn in 1915. In 1918 she went back to work in the photo studio, until their son, Alfa Jr., was born in 1922.

Alfa Lomax died in 1938, and Hilda became the owner-photographer of Lomax Studio. She closed the studio in a few years and by 1944, she went to work as a retoucher for the Reeves Studio where she remained until she died in April 1947.

Daughter Lynn worked as photographer for her mother in the Lomax Studio until they closed the studio. In 1943 Lynn worked as a photographer for publishers Albert Love Enterprises, and from 1945 to at least 1947she too, worked for the Reeves Studios as a colorist [note: I know very little about son Alfa, Jr., other than that he was a photo colorist for Atlanta’s The Little Studio in 1943].

Until a few months ago I knew nothing of the Alfa Lomax family’s connection to the Reeves-Hearn family of Georgia photographers. It often seems to me that the world of photography (in Georgia and elsewhere) is a small one indeed!

Contact me for information on my sources, or with related questions or information to share. As always, enjoy your hunting and gathering in the coming weeks. Perhaps you, too, will see a connection within your research that gives you that “small world” feeling.

© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without  written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. The piece can be re-blogged, and excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



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