Emily Spencer Hayden

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Emily Spencer Hayden (1869 - 1949) was a photographer who lived in and around Baltimore, Maryland.

Emily was born near Randallstown at her family’s farm, called The Martin’s Nest. Edward Spencer Mott, her father, was a writer and dramatist who wrote at times for the Baltimore Bulletin and The Baltimore Sun, and whose best known play was Kit, the Arkansas Traveler.

With the death of her parents in the early 1880s, care of the Spencer family was left to a woman named Eliza Benson. Benson, an African American woman, a freed slave, had worked for Spencer family for many years before Emily's parents died, and would live with Emily Spencer Hayden after Emily married and had children. Mr. John McCoy, a friend of the Spencer family supported the children financially.

Emily Spencer graduated from Baltimore’s Western High School as valedictorian in 1878. After graduation, she worked as a first grade teacher in the Baltimore Public Schools for a while. While in her spare time, she was a painter, reader, skater, and singer in the Ascension Episcopal Church choir. At some point, she met Charles S. Hayden her future husband, possibly at the Shakespeare Club which both attended. After Charles’ graduation from law school and acceptance to the bar, the two married in 1893. Their first child, Ruth, was born in 1895, followed by Catherine Spencer Hayden in 1902, and Anna Bradford Hayden in 1905. A friend of Emily’s at this time was the writer Lizette Woodworth Reese.

When Emily began making photographs in the 1890s or early 1900s, she was already an accomplished artist who especially enjoyed making watercolors of Maryland scenes. In 1906, the family moved to a home called "Nancy’s Fancy" in Catonsville near the Mt. de Sales Academy. This land and house, along with family and friends, were the focus of Emily’s photographic work for the next 40 years. Emily Hayden did all of her own developing and printing, working with a large format camera.

In the December 1921 issue of Photo-Era Magazine (Volume 47, Number 6, pp. 291–293), she published an article entitled, "My First Photograph," which discusses the first image she made of an infant. During the early twentieth century, she participated in numerous photographic competitions held by photography journals, as well as having many of her prints included in regional exhibitions.

Emily Spencer Hayden died in 1949.

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