Broom, Christina (1863–1939)

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Broom, Christina (1863–1939)

British news and documentary photographer who is often called Britain's first woman press photographer. Name variations: Mrs. Albert Broom. Born Christina Livingston in 1863, probably in London; died in 1939, probably in London; married Albert Broom; children: Winifred; may have been others.

Christina Broom began working as a news photographer at age 40 to help support her ailing husband. Using an old plate-box camera, she took one of her first photographs of the prince and princess of Wales (Mary of Teck [1867–1953]) opening tramways at Westminster in 1903. Broom's second photo was of the winning horse and jockey on Derby Day at Epson. Shortly after, her pictures were in great demand, and she began selling postcards of her local views through stationery shops.

She was soon documenting national and international events, including the effects of World War I on the home front, 30 years of Oxford and Cambridge boatrace crews, Edith Cavell 's funeral, the arrival of the first women police with Mary Sophia Allen (1878–1964) standing smartly with her squad, and investitures and deaths of the British monarchs. Broom became especially well known for her important documentation of woman suffrage marches and exhibitions; she also remained the official photographer of the Senior Regiment of the First Life Guards until her death in 1939. "I have photographed all the king's horses and all the king's men," she said, "and I am never happier than when I am with my camera among the crack regiments of Britain."

Notes Val Williams in The Other Observers, her survey of Britain's women photographers, Broom's "self-styling as a 'Press Photographer' misleads when considered in contemporary terms, for although she photographed important events and personalities throughout her career, she was essentially a recordist who eschewed the primary task of press photography, which is to dramatise and bring the news to vivid life. This quality, together with the seeming lack of viewpoint or political

centre in her photographs, has made Christina Broom something of an oddity within photographic history and has often deprived her of the serious consideration she deserves."


Rosenblum, Naomi. A History of Women Photographers. NY: Abbeville Press, 1994.

Williams, Val. The Other Observers. London: Virago Press, 1991.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts