1869 - 1897


Esther Zeghdda Ben Youseph Nathan [hereafter Zaida Ben-Yusuf, or ZBY] is born November 21, 1869, in London, England. She is the first-born daughter of Anna Kind Ben-Youseph Nathan, from Berlin, and Mustapha Moussa Ben Youseph Nathan, a native of Algeria. On ZBY’s birth certificate, her father is listed as a “gentleman” from Hammersmith in south London.


Anna Ben-Yusuf works as a governess in the coastal town of Ramsgate, England. She is thirty-six years old and separated from her husband, with four daughters: Zaida (age 11), Heidi (age 8), Leila (age 4), and Pearl (age 3). During this period, Mustafa Ben-Yusuf presents occasional lectures on Arab culture on behalf of the Moslem Mission Society. He also enrolls, but does not graduate from, Cambridge University.


Anna Ben-Yusuf works as a milliner on Washington Street in Boston. The date and circumstances of her emigration are unknown. In London, Mustafa Ben-Yusuf and his second wife Henrietta Crane have a daughter. They name their child Zaida.


Mussa Ben-Yusuf, the infant son of Mustafa Ben-Yusuf and Henrietta Crane, dies in London. His death certificate indicates that Mustafa works as a “licensed victualler.”


ZBY immigrates to the United States and works as a milliner at 251 Fifth Avenue in New York. Her mother remains in Boston, working as a milliner and living with ZBY’s sister Pearl.


The Cosmopolitan Magazine publishes two of ZBY’s “photographic art studies” in the article, “Some Examples of Recent Art,” in their April issue.

ZBY exhibits one photograph in the Fourth Photographic Salon of the Linked Ring, held September 24 through November 7 at the Dudley Gallery in London.

ZBY travels to Europe in the fall and meets Linked Ring co-founder George Davison. She shows him examples of her photography, and he encourages her to continue this work. At the time Davison writes a monthly column, “English Notes,” for the American Amateur Photographer.


ZBY’s essay, “Practical Lessons in Millinery,” appears in the January 30 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

In the spring ZBY moves to 124 Fifth Avenue, near Union Square, where she opens a portrait photography studio.

The first issue of Camera Notes, the official journal of the Camera Club of New York, is published in July. Alfred Stieglitz serves as editor.

ZBY contributes four photographs to the Fifth Photographic Salon of the Linked Ring, from October 4 through November 6.

On October 21, ZBY writes Alfred Stieglitz regarding his invitation to reproduce an example of her portraiture in Camera Notes. About her photography, she explains that she is “very much in earnest about it all.” Stieglitz publishes her work in Camera Notes the following April, and again in July.

The New York Daily Tribune publishes on November 7 an article about ZBY and mentions that her studio opened “only six months ago.” The article describes the elaborate decorations that adorn the space, as well as her work creating advertising posters. Leslie’s Weekly publishes a separate profile about her on December 30.

Next: 1898 - 1900