Freeman, Emma B. (1880–1927)

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Freeman, Emma B. (1880–1927)

American photographer . Born Emma Belle Richart in Nebraska in 1880; died in San Francisco, California, in 1927; married Edwin R. Freeman (a salesman for the garment industry), in 1902 (divorced 1915); married Edward Blake (a bookkeeper), in 1925; no children.

Nebraska-born, Emma B. Freeman married in 1902 and moved with her husband Edwin to San Francisco, where he ran an art goods and handicrafts store while she took drawing and painting classes. When the store was destroyed by the earthquake in 1906, the couple moved to the small town of Eureka, California. Edwin became a photographer and eventually opened Freeman Art Company, selling his scenic views along with the art supplies. Emma also took up photography around 1910 but concentrated on portraits. In 1913, she was involved in a local scandal when she took a train to San Francisco with former governor of Illinois Richard B. Yates, who had been speaking in Eureka. She was subsequently divorced from Edwin (1915) and began to seriously pursue her interest in photography.

Widely acclaimed among Freeman's photographs were a series of 200 Indian studies called the Northern California series, which were displayed at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, in 1915. She also made her mark in the male-dominated world of photojournalism with her coverage of the USS Milwaukee, when it sank while attempting to salvage the submarine H-3 in Eureka Bay, in 1916. In 1919, Freeman moved her art company back to San Francisco but went bankrupt in 1923. She married Edward Blake, a bookkeeper, in 1925, just two years before her death.