Floride Green was born in 1863 in either Mobile of Eutaw, Alabama to Lieutenant Duff and Rebecca Pickens Green. At the height of the Civil War, Mr. Green entered into active service with the Confederate Army, earning the rank of General. Plagued by ill health throughout his life, General Green died in November of 1865; and despite of being a descendent of one of the South’s most elite families, he died practically destitute. Out of financial necessity, newly widowed Mrs. Green moved her three children to Stockton, California, where her brothers had settled. After a few years, the Greens relocated to San Francisco, where young Floride attended the Valencia Street School, and graduated from St. Helena High School in 1883. She became a schoolteacher in San Francisco, during which time she met socialite Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who would become her confidante and traveling companion.
While visiting her family in Alabama, Miss Green’s artistic inclinations manifested themselves through a growing interest in photography. She taught herself how to expertly manage a large camera and tripod, and credited local photographers and organizations like the California Camera Club with sharing knowledge on appropriate lighting and how to handle chemical processes like a professional. She later recalled with justifiable pride that her prowess was acquired through “hard work and experiment,” along with “the closest attention to details.” Miss Green’s favorite subjects were children, who respond more receptively to posing instruction. However, photographing them in the comfort of their home environment often proved to be a formidable challenge for the photographer.
After some successful exhibitions in San Francisco, Miss Green moved to New York, where she specialized in socialite portraiture at her top-floor studio on 28 W. 30th Street. As she quickly discovered, “New York is no field for a woman to experiment with photography. She must come equipped… if she hopes for recognition and livelihood.” Miss Green reportedly received up to $30 per dozen for her portraits, and for a period was New York’s only female studio photographer. Her artistic disposition was particularly evident in her keen attention to detail, warm sepia tones, and lighting so effectively manipulated that her photographs needed very little retouching. Her views of the American South were well-received at Paris’s Exposition Universelle in 1900.
Although Miss Green exhibited her artistic photographs at the San Francisco Photography Salon in 1901, she spent much of the early years of the twentieth century traveling, before returning to San Francisco in 1907 to tend to her ailing mother. By that time, her photographic work was relegated exclusively to documenting old portraits. Miss Green gradually gave up photography altogether and became an insurance broker until poor health forced her into retirement. Her close friendship with Lillie Hitchcock Coit continued until Mrs. Coit’s death in 1929. Miss Green celebrated her colorful companion in a volume of remembrance entitled Some Personal Recollections of Lillie Hitchcock Coit. After years of debilitating illness, Floride Green became a patient at Dante Sanitarium in San Francisco, where she died on October 24, 1936. Unfortunately, it appears that none of Miss Green’s Alabama negatives, prints or lantern slides have survived. However, some samples of her work can be found at the Harvard Art Museums (Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, and Arthur M. Sackler Museum) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, Massachusetts; and an 1898 halftone portrait print is currently housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
1899 The American Amateur Photographer, Volume XI (New York, NY: The Outing Company, Limited), p. 122.
1939 California History, Vol. XV (San Francisco, CA: California Historical Society), pp. 383-384.
1907 The Consolidated Library, Vol. VII (New York, NY: Bureau of National Literature and Art), p. 439.
2019 Floride Green Mobile, Alabama 1863-1936 San Francisco, California (URL: https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/collections/person/50942?person=50942).
1896 The Journal (New York, New York: The Hearst Corporation), p. 11.
2018 Mrs. Charles H. Stout AKA Henrietta Maria Schroeder (HMS)The Lady of the Dahlias by Harry Waterson (URL: https://dahlia.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/TheLadyoftheDahlias.pdf).
1900 Munsey's Magazine, Vol. XXIII (New York, NY: Frank A. Munsey), pp. 307-308.
2016 Shot in Alabama by Frances Osborn Robb (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press), p. 175.
1913 Sunset, The Pacific Monthly Vol. XXX (San Francisco, CA: Sunset Publishing House), p. 425.
1898 What Women Can Earn: Occupations of Women and Their Compensation (New York, NY: Frederick A. Stokes Company), pp. 297-299.
2015 Writing the Nation: A Concise Introduction to American Literature 1865 to Present by Amy Berke, Robert Bleil, Jordan Cofer, and Doug Davis (Dahlonega, GA: University of North Georgia Press), p. 157.
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