Wootten, Bayard (1875–1959)

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Wootten, Bayard (1875–1959)

American landscape photographer. Born Mary Bayard Morgan in 1875 in New Bern, North Carolina: died in 1959 in New Bern; educated at North CarolinaState Normal and Industrial School (later the University of North Carolina at Greensboro); married Charles Thomas Wootten, in 1897 (separated 1901); children: two sons.

Became the first woman to take aerial photographs in North Carolina; photographed the landscapes of the southeastern U.S., and also produced a series portraying Appalachian life.

Bayard Wootten was born Mary Bayard Morgan in 1875 in New Bern, North Carolina. She received her education, although not a degree, at the North Carolina State Normal and Industrial School from 1892 to 1894, and accepted a teaching position at a Georgia state school for the deaf. During her time in Georgia, she entered a short-lived marriage with Charles Thomas Wootten and had two sons in the four years they were together. Separating from her husband in 1901, she returned to New Bern.

Wootten began her photography career around 1904, opening a studio in New Bern and joining the Women's Federation of the Photographers' Association of America in 1909 or 1910. In 1914, flying over New Bern in an airplane built and owned by the Wright Brothers, Wootten made what were probably the first aerial photographs of North Carolina—and possibly anywhere—by a woman to that date. In 1917, she decided to try her luck in New York City, but the studio she opened there closed after only a few months, and she returned to New Bern.

Wootten pursued work in photography with renewed interest and finally settled in Chapel Hill in 1928, in the hopes of capitalizing on the presence of the University of North Carolina in that city. Throughout the 1930s, she continued to photograph landscapes of the southeastern United States, and also produced a series portraying the impoverished inhabitants of that area. In 1954, her photographs illustrated books depicting Appalachian life and crafts. She retired that year and died in 1959.


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

Drew Walker , freelance writer, New York, New York

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