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Adelaide Hanscom Leeson was born in Oregon in 1875. Adelaide studied painting at the University of California in the 1890s, and between 1892 and 1900 she exhibited her artwork at the California State Fair in Sacaramento and in San Francisco. She set up a studio in San Francisco in 1902 with Blanche Cummings, soon accepting portrait commissions. She became a member of the California Camera Club, selling many works which were also featured in magazines such as Sunset and Camera Craft. She exhibited three photographs at the San Francisco Third Photographic Salon in 1903. In 1905 she published The Rubaiyat, a book of poems illustrated with her own photographs, which was an international sensation and won her medals.

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