Hanscom, Adelaide (1876–1932)

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Hanscom, Adelaide (1876–1932)

American photographer of portraits and narrative tableaux. Born in Empire City, Oregon, in 1876; died in California in 1932; studied at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art, San Francisco, California; married Gerald Leeson (a mining engineer and former Canadian Mountie), in 1907 (died 1915); children: two.

Photographer Adelaide Hanscom, a native of Oregon, studied at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art in San Francisco, California, and began her career in that city. In 1902, after taking two second prizes in the Channing Club Exhibit held in Berkeley, Hanscom took over photographer Laura Adams ' portrait studio, where she photographed many of the area's most prominent families In 1904, she partnered with Blanche Cumming to establish Hanscom and Cumming, a firm also located in San Francisco. Between 1904 and 1907, Hanscom exhibited widely throughout California and contributed her photographs to magazines. During the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, her studio caught fire, destroying most of her prints and negatives, among them the negatives she had produced for a special edition of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, which was issued between 1905 and 1912.

Hanscom then moved to Seattle, where she established a studio and, in 1908, married Gerald Leesom, a mining engineer and former Canadian Mountie. Within the course of the next six years, she had two children and moved three times: to Alaska, back to California, and then to Idaho. Following the death of her husband, who was killed in 1915 during the first battle of World War I, Hanscom's mental health began to deteriorate. She continued to work, producing the illustrations for Elizabeth Barrett Browning 's Sonnets from the Portuguese in 1916, and moving yet again to Danville, California. Hanscom lived in a mental-health facility from 1922 to 1924, after which she used her inheritance to move to England to be close to her husband's relatives. She had returned to California to be near her daughter when she was killed in a hit-and-run accident in 1932.

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