University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Chansonetta Stanley Emmons collection, 1886–2008

Full finding aid (pdf)

Collection Scope and Content

This collection includes numerous items relating to Chansonetta Stanley Emmons’ life and work, including include copies of correspondence, photographs, articles, and glass plate negatives of images taken in Kingfield and New Portland, Maine.

Biographical/Historical Note

Chansonetta Stanley Emmons was an American photographer and author whose work is deeply connected to the state of Maine. Emmons was born in 1858 in Kingfield, Maine, a small town near the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain. After finishing studies at Western State Normal School in Farmington, Emmons decided she wanted to become an artist. After a brief stint teaching drawing classes in Kingfield, Emmons travelled to Lewiston and Auburn to seek drawing lessons from her older brother, who was also an artist. It was there that she first encountered, and fell in love with, photography. She later moved to Boston, where she taught art in the school system while studying painting. In Boston, she met her husband, James Nathaniel Whitman Emmons. Her brothers purchased the couple a home outside of the city. Here Emmons gave birth to her daughter Dorothy, and also rediscovered her love for the camera.

In 1898, Emmons’ husband, James, died suddenly of blood poisoning. Emmons returned to Kingfield a widow, where she practiced her photography. She began holding exhibitions and collected numerous prints for shows and for sale. Her photos were shown at the Tricentennial Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in 1927. She also took part in shows organized by the Boston YMCA Camera Club and the South Carolina Art Association in Charleston. The Farnsworth Museum of Art at Wellesley College presented an exhibition of Emmons’ prints in 1913. These shows represent the bulk of Emmons’ public exposure, but despite this lack of consistent success Emmons was still able to support herself and Dorothy on what she earned as a photographer and artist. As she aged, Emmons’ health deteriorated and she began to lose the ability to hear, and she faced numerous other health complications in the years leading up to her death. In March of 1937, Chansonetta Stanley Emmons passed away at the age of 79.