The Edward N. Jackson Collection By Joseph Caro
Edward N. Jackson was born the youngest of four siblings and the son of poor Irish immigrants, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 28th, 1885.
At the age of twelve, he was selling newspapers on the corner of Broad and Chestnut Street to help his impoverished family put food on the table. He also worked weekends when not selling newspapers, at a local grocery store for five cents an hour, sweeping-up and carrying grocery bags.
It was a Saturday morning in 1901 Jackson recalls, when a well-dressed gent who always bought the daily paper from him stopped and asked if Jackson wanted a job working for him after school and weekends. He offered $1.50 a week! Mr. Applegate was his name, and he owned a photography studio that specialized in tintype portraitures. A sixteen year-old Eddie Jackson couldn’t start soon enough. Learning photography was a career path that Jackson couldn’t have imagined a few years earlier.
Jackson worked at the studio when he graduated high school two years later and generally ran the tintype photo business which was quickly fading after George Eastman developed photographic film a few years earlier. Wanting to stay with his new profession, Eddie Jackson moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey and worked for a photography studio near the Boardwalk. It was there that Eddie got his big break in photography when he met two newspaper camera men working for the American Press Association in New York that were so impressed with Jackson’s work that they told him the APA was looking for new talent to work in New York City. The year was 1912 and Eddie Jackson, now a seasoned photographer, had just celebrated his 27th birthday.
Jackson states; “A new field of photography was emerging with the advent of photographic film. Newspapers wanted photographs to replace the sketches and drawings that graphically featured news events at that time. The era of news photography was just beginning and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Eddie Jackson quickly rose through the ranks at the APA earning top assignments over the next few years including; the opening of the Panama Canal, (1913) the explosion of the E-2 submarine (1916) and the search for Poncho Via (1916).
Certain that the U.S. soon would enter the war, Eddie contacted Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy and friend of Thomas Edison who Jackson knew well, and asked if he could be considered for a position as a military photographer. Several weeks later on June 16, 1917 Jackson received a letter from the War Department granting his commission as first lieutenant in the Signal Corps, New York reserves. The letter came a week before Jackson’s 32nd. birthday. Edward N. Jackson was eventually assigned to the 107th. Infantry, 27th. Division “O’Ryan’s Roughnecks” and sent to France to document the war. His work was so outstanding Jackson was soon promoted to captain and at the wars’ end, assigned to President Woodrow Wilson to document the Paris peace accord.