Photograher Edith Irvine (1884-1949)

Mar 5, 2012 by

Photograher Edith Irvine (1884-1949)

Edith Irvine was born in 1884 in Sheep Ranch, Calaveras County, California, in the Sierra Nevada foothills. At a young age her family moved to nearby Mokelumne Hill, where she spent the rest of her life. By the age of 14 she had taken up photography and was hired to photograph construction of the new Electra Powerhouse on the Mokelumne River, completed in 1902.

In April 1906 Edith embarked on a family visit to San Francisco by boat from Stockton, arriving on the morning of April 18, 1906, only hours after the earthquake had struck. Over several days she recorded some 60 images of the aftermath of the earthquake and fire.

Edith returned to her family in Mokelumne Hill where she taught school for several years. She never married. She died in 1949 at the age of 65 and is buried in the family plot. Her photographs rested in obscurity in family archives.

In 1988, 275 of Edith’s glass-plate negatives, her two cameras, and other family items were donated by her nephew, James Irvine, to Brigham Young University. In 2006, the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco Earthquake, permission was obtained to exhibit, for the first time in California, a selection of her photographs. Organized by the Mokelumne Hill History Society, the show exhibited in San Andreas, Mokelumne Hill, Amador City, and Berkeley, and now hangs in the Mokelumne Hill Library.

A selection of Edith’s Moke Hill and San Francisco earthquake photos can be found on the “photos” section of this web site.

To see all of Edith’s photographs, visit the on-line collection of the L. Tom Perry Special collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University:

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