Deep Diving with Gertrude Belle-Oudry, part 5 of 5

Some final(?) treasure.

Day 5

Yes, I know, I skipped Day 4. But don’t worry it’s below. Pretend you’re time traveling into the future!

Anyway, as I was writing up Day 4, I wanted to go back to check a reference, and when I did, I found that I had missed a few things in my previous web searching on the Internet Archive. One thing that I found were some missing directories (ACK!) that weren’t on In particular, I found directories for the years of the separations and divorces:

  • 1901 (first divorce) Emma is listed as a photographer (as in 1902) living with Edward. Gertrude is living elsewhere, as Belle-Oudry, not Davis, as she is listed on the second marriage license
  • 1920 (second separation) Only Edward is in the directories, as a photographer in Oakland, living at the Telegraph Ave address in Berkeley
  • 1921 (second divorce) Edward is a photographer in Oakland, but no residence given. Gertrude is living at the Telegraph Ave address in Berkeley, but with no occupation listed

Also from the directories is that in 1907 Gertrude is listed in the Berkeley photographers, as we had already seen in 1906 (starting in 1908 it is just the Belle-Oudry Studio). Even more intriguing is this ad from the 1904 Berkeley High School Yearbook, which is 2 years before the first directory listing for them in Berkeley.

1904 ad for Belle Oudry in Berkeley

1904. Olla Podrida. Berkeley High School. p. 46

In addition to the directories, I found a variety of photos in local magazines. These are mostly headshots of female socialites, but there are a couple men as well, and one article that has photos of the U.C. Berkeley campus. Since these photos are in the 1906-1909 time period but credited just to Belle-Oudry, we can’t tell whether Gertrude or Edward took them. Finally, I also found an ad that Gertrude placed in Camera Craft in 1923, selling some equipment after Edward died.

I did find one more thing, but I’ll roll that into Day 4.

Day 4

As I was writing up Day 2, I realized that I had forgotten to do one step in the Deep Dive: do a general web search. With most of the EWAPs, this doesn’t turn up anything that isn’t in the newspapers, since the A in EWAP is for artisan, the everyday photographer who is taking portraits, school pictures, business promotions, special events, etc. Of course, many, if not most, famous photographers (women and men) had regular studios or did other commercial work. Gertrude Käsebier, who set a record in 1899 for the highest price for a photograph, had a studio. Imogen Cunningham (one of Lee’s favorites) and Dorothea Lange, who both overlapped with Gertrude in Berkeley, had studios when they started. Margaret Bourke-White, who did the first cover of Life magazine, had a studio (in the Chrysler Building!) and did advertising work as well.


We have been fortunate to get a glimpse of that kind of life via our friends Paolo Aldi and Lia Grigoletti. He started out as a photo-journalist for the local newspaper in Roverto, Italy, and eventually they were able to open a studio of their own, and later a larger studio-gallery combination, which is where we met them.

Over the years they have done a huge variety of things in addition to artistic photography, everything from their own portrait and event photography, to developing and printing other people’s photos, to copying and enlarging photos, to retouching, to giving classes and workshops in various aspects of photography, and even to being a consultant for other artists. It’s actually quite striking how similar their business practices have been to those of photographers over one hundred years ago. The technologies have changed, but business is business.


It is also true that there is not a sharp division between artisan and art. In addition to the photographers mentioned above, many (but by no means all) EWAPs also did art photography, whether for fun or profit or both. Another one of our favorite EWAPs (if it seems like we have quite a few, it’s true), is Margaret DeMotte Brown, perhaps the most overlooked 20th century American woman photographer.

One area in which artisan and art (and amateur and professional) photography overlapped was in photography competitions, which were (and are) very common. State and county fairs often had photography competitions (even just a couple years ago we saw the entries at the Humboldt County Fair). In addition, as the field of photography moved to professionalize in the late 1880s and early 1900s, both professional organizations and the magazines aimed at professionals and serious amateurs also had numerous competitions. In fact, in 1901 Edward (probably, since Gertrude doesn’t seem to have been a photographer yet) submitted a photo to a competition sponsored by Voigtländer. (I don’t think he won, but the source isn’t clear.) [There is a Moiré pattern on the image from the scanning, which is unfortunate.] I don’t think the woman is Gertrude, based on the other photos of her in the papers.


1901 portrait by Edouard Belle-Oudry

 By Edouard Belle-Oudry (1901). In American Amateur Photographer, vol. 13, p. 347.

Now photography was a bit conflicted when it came to the role of women (despite the positive effect of lady photographer). On the one hand, the state and regional professional organizations were open to women, and women were often elected to leadership roles. On the other hand, at the national level, women saw the need to establish a special branch of the national photographers organization, dedicated to women photographers: the Women’s Federation of the Photographers’ Association of America, founded in 1909.

Not surprisingly, photography competitions also had this mixed view. While some competitions were open to both women and men, some were divided by gender. There were also special competitions just for women, which brings us to the “Competition for Women Photographers” sponsored by the magazine The Photo Miniature in 1911. While the open call didn’t get much response, when the publisher, John A. Tennant, promoted it with the Women’s Federation of the of the Photographers’ Association of America via his contact with Mary Carnell, one of the prime movers (along with Gertrude Käsebier) of the Federation, he got 114 submissions from all over the country. In January of 1912 he published 11 of the top photographers (with two photos by the winner). Of those 11, seven, have Wikipedia entries:

In other words, these photographers were tops in the field of artistic photography in 1911. And among them was Gertrude Belle-Oudry. Here is her entry:

1911 portrait by Gertrude Belle-Oudry

By Gertrude Belle-Oudry (1911). In The Photo Miniature January, 1912. vol. X, no. 118, p. 484

I don’t think that is a self-portrait, since Gertrude is described as a blonde, and the newspaper photos of her show her with light colored hair. But those were earlier, so who knows?

By the way, that is the only photo that we know (so far) is by Gertrude. I think that’s a nice treasure to end this Deep Dive with, don’t you?

Posted in EWAP