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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eliza Scidmore's Cherry Trees

Photo lot 139, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

We’ve reached the month of March, and this means it’s almost time for the National Cherry Blossom Festival here in Washington, DC.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of the gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the nation's capital.  The first two trees were planted on March 27, 1912 and would never have happened without the persistence of Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore.
DOE Asia: Japan: General: NM 31224 04633300

Eliza was an extensive traveler in addition to being a journalist, photographer, and geographer.  Beginning in the 1880s, she lived for long periods of time in southern and eastern Asia, particularly in China, India, Japan, and the Philippines.  She is credited with having the idea in 1885 of planting cherry trees in Washington, DC, though the idea did not gain much support until 1909.

The National Anthropological Archives has hundreds of photographs taken by Eliza.  One collection consists of lantern slides, many of which were collected by Eliza, and negatives that were most likely taken by her.  The lantern slides are of China, Japan, and South America, and all of the negatives are of Japan.  Her other photographs are dispersed in different collections and include photographs of China, Macao, and Indonesia from 1896.

--Rose L. Chou, Reference Archivist
National Anthropological Archives

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