1866 - 1952
Photographer Alice Austen highlighted the extraordinary nature of everyday life in New York and across the world, and refused to conform to traditional societal and gender norms typical of her time.
Photography came naturally to Austen, who was born into social prominence in Staten Island. She met her lifelong partner Gertrude Tate in the late 1890s.
In 1929, they lost nearly everything in the stock market crash, including Austen’s cherished family home, Clear Comfort. Soon, the pair could not afford rent for their apartment. Austen declared herself a pauper and handed over much of her work to the Staten Island Historical Society.
Years later, the group realized the value of her photographs and helped Austen profit from them. Today, Clear Comfort is the Alice Austen House Museum, an attraction in New York State’s Path Through History heritage tourism program. In 2017, the home’s National Register listing was expanded to recognize Austen’s significance in LGBT history.