Sarah J. Eddy

Inducted: 2017
Born: 1851
Died: 1945

Sarah J. Eddy was a philanthropist and humanitarian; she was also a nationally recognized artist (painter and sculptor), photographer, suffragette and author.

Born in 1851, the second of four children, to James Eddy of Providence, a wealthy art connoisseur and philanthropist, and Elisa Jackson of Boston, a staunch woman’s rights advocate and suffragette.

Sarah studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and later at New York’s Art Students League. Today she is best known for her life-sized portraits of the nation’s foremost suffragette Susan B. Anthony and of former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Today the Anthony painting hangs in the Smithsonian Museum of American History and the one of Douglass at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington, D.C.

She was also a pioneer in the use of photography for artistic purposes. She exhibited her photographic works at numerous locations across the United States including the New School of American Photography in New York and in Europe at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900. Captivated by the camera as a new form of artistic expression she even contributed an article for The American Annual of Photography.

Sarah was also an author writing mostly books about children and animals using her photographs for their illustration. Concerned with the humane treatment of animals most of her books were about animals including Friends and Helpers.

As philanthropist, she financially supported numerous causes ” often anonymously. In her hometown of Portsmouth, she paid for the addition to the town’s library for a reading room for children. In Providence, she donated to a kindergarten operated by the Free Kindergarten Association. She founded and underwrote the cost for the Social Studio, an artist colony on her property on Narragansett Bay. She was a founding member of the Newport County Woman Suffrage League which formed at her home at Bristol Ferry. As an animal welfare activist, she was concerned with the humane treatment of animals. To this end she contributed substantially to the American Humane Education Society, the Rhode Island Humane Education Society, which she helped organize and sat on its board for more than fifty years, and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

A woman of great compassion, many talents and significant accomplishments she has proven herself to be a worthy inductee into Rhode Island’s Heritage Hall of Fame.

Scroll to Top