Evelyn Cameron

Evelyn Cameron

1868 - 1928

Evelyn Cameron was a photographer and diarist of the American West, who documented her life as a pioneer near Terry, Montana from the late 1890s onward. She is best known for her photography chronicling the early life of settlers in Eastern Montana, depicting cowboys, sheepherders, weddings, river crossings, freight wagons, ranch work, badlands, eagles, coyotes and wolves.

Evelyn was introduced to photography by a boarder at their ranch house, and in July 1894, Ewen purchased their first camera. The boarder, an Irishman named Mr. Adams educated Evelyn on the basics of glass-plate photography and after his departure was replaced by a Briton known as Mr Colley. Mr Colley added to Evelyn's knowledge of photography and was a partner in her experiments to improve her work, by practicing different shutter times and processing methods. Evelyn was soon frequently requested at public gatherings and life events, to photograph weddings, family portraits and, by her husband, wildlife.

Evelyn's work often accompanied her husband's observations of the local fauna of the region. Some articles that included her work are "The Mule Deer in Montana" in the British periodical Land and Water, as well as "Nesting of the Golden Eagle in Montana" from The Auk, an ornithological journal. Evelyn was not credited in either of these publications. However, in a 1905 article she wrote for The Breeder's Gazette in Chicago, titled "Sheep in Montana", which included her photography of surrounding sheep ranches, she was listed as the author and photographer.

Cameron garnered national acclaim for the area through the work of former Time-Life Books editor, Donna Lucey. In the late 1970s, Lucey discovered thousands of Cameron's prints and negatives, along with diaries and letters covering thirty-six years of frontier life, stashed away in the basement of Cameron's best friend's home. After intensive study of the photos and documents Lucey wrote a biography, Photographing Montana 1894-1928: The Life and Work of Evelyn Cameron, which reproduces more than 170 Cameron images.

The bulk of the photographs are now housed at the Montana Historical Society in Helena, Montana. Prints and artifacts are also displayed at the Evelyn Cameron museum in Terry, Montana. Many of the diaries and photographs have been made available online through collaboration with the Montana Memory Project.

Cameron is the subject of the PBS documentary, Evelyn Cameron: Pictures From A Worthy Life.

Text courtesy of Wikipedia, 2023