The Emersons were an American family who lived in Europe and Japan and traveled widely during the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The family consisted of Edwin Emerson, 1823-1908, his wife Mary Ingham Emerson, d.1883, and their children: Harrington, 1853-1931; Samuel D.I., 1855-circa 1930; Alfred, 1859-1943; Margaret, b.1863; George Hale, b.1866; and Edwin Jr., 1869-1959. Alfred Emerson became an archeologist and married Alice Edwards Emerson in 1887. Most of the later material in the collection is that of Alfred and Alice's children: Edith, a noted artist; Gertrude, a writer and editor in Asia; Willard, a banker and soldier; and Alfred Jr., an entomologist.
The Emerson family was originally from New York City, but in 1862 they moved to Europe, settling in Paris in 1863. The children went to schools in France and Germany. Edwin contributed articles to French journals and became the editor of the "British Journal of Photography", though he gave up the post six months later. The family then traveled around Europe for several years, eventually settling in Germany, where they lived for 22 years.
In 1876, Harrington and Samuel returned to the United States. Then, in 1883, Mary Emerson died, and in 1894 Edwin and Margaret Emerson also returned to the United States, where they traveled a bit, staying with several members of the family and friends. They returned to Paris in 1899, and Margaret graduated from the Sorbonne in 1901. In that year father and daughter moved to Tokyo, Japan (they later lived in Yokohama) to join Samuel who had already settled there. Edwin Emerson died in Japan in 1908.
From the guide to the Emerson family papers, ca. 1840-1980, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)