Due to her artistic talent, Edith’s parents took the unusual step of sending her to the School of the Chicago Art Institute. When she returned to Alabama she photographed everything and everyone, ranging from sunny picnics to cotton picking, from dapper gentlemen in repose to enormous oxen in the fields. Her photographs of African Americans do occasionally illustrate the racist stereotypes of the times, but her subjects are largely portrayed with dignity and are an immensely valuable cultural artifact.
Edith kept up with her photography until her death on April 2, 1939, after a long life of combining service with her artistic endeavors. Hopefully readers of Alabama Heritage with an interest in photography will be inspired to pursue their talents and use them to enrich their community, just like Edith did.
For further reading, see Through a Woman’s Eye: The Early 20th Century Photography of Alabama’s Edith Morgan by Marian Perdue Furman and Matthew Daniel Mason.