Rare Portrait of the Anarchist Lucy Parsons
Mrs. L. E. Parsons [Lucy Eldine] [Cabinet Card Photograph]
Notes: A rare original cabinet card of the most well-known portrait of the anarchist and radical labor organizer Lucy Parsons, taken by German immigrant photographer Louis Gogler. Gogler operated a large studio in the Bowery neighborhood in New York City but Parsons obtained the copyright for the image and thus the means of production and control of the distribution of her image. On the photo mount Gogler's name appears in small lettering, below which is printed, Mrs. L. E. Parsons. Copyright and published by herself."
This seems to have been Parson's preferred portrait and she distributed it to the press and used it as an illustration in her biography of her husband. It shows her in a three-quarter pose, wearing a striped dress with a rolled scroll of paper in her hands.
Parsons (ca. 1853–1942) and her husband Albert were prominent radicals in late 19th century America. Albert was executed in 1887 for his supposed involvement in the Haymarket Riot. After his death, Parsons continued organizing, publishing, and speaking out for the eight-hour day, labor rights, anarchists, socialists, and other marginalized groups. She co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905.
Parson's story before she met Albert Parsons has always been enigmatic. Her biographer, Jacqueline Jones, concluded that she was born enslaved in Virginia in 1851. An earlier biographer, Carolyn Ashbaugh, said she was black. Parsons herself claimed to be of Native and Mexican American heritage with the maiden name of Gonzalez. Jones does not believe that she and Albert Parsons were ever officially married. Parsons usually refused to answer reporters' questions on the subject or gave conflicting stories.
Image, 3-3/4 by 5-1/2 inches on a 4-3/16 by 6-1/2 inch mount covered with burgundy paper stamped in gilt.
Edition + Condition: A very good image, with medium contrast and tonal range. Like most versions of this image, the print has small, light spots, probably from imperfections in the paper.
Publication: New York: L. Gogler, .
Item No: #360845