Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore (SID-more) was born in 1856 and grew up with her mother and older brother in the lively city of Washington, D.C. As a child, Eliza would have met the travelers and politicians who stayed at her mother's boarding house, seen Civil War troops passing in the streets, and looked around the rooms of the White House when she visited Abraham Lincoln.
Eliza built friendships with many influential members of Washington society as she attended frequent parties and events in the city. While still a teenager, Eliza traveled to Europe. She attended Oberlin College in Ohio for two years, then returned to Washington and found work as a journalist for various newspapers.
Eliza loved traveling the world, exploring different cultures, studying local arts, and learning about plants and gardens. She took photographs and wrote about the exotic places she saw. Eliza wrote many magazine articles and seven books. She was an early and important member of the National Geographical Society. She was recognized as an expert who gave lectures on Asia.
Eliza had a rich and varied life, full of adventure. In the last few years of her life, she lived in Switzerland. She died there in 1928.