Emerson was born in Concord, Massachusetts. He was a son of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Lidian Jackson Emerson, and educated at Harvard, where he graduated in 1866. He graduated from the Harvard Medical School in 1874, and practiced medicine in Concord until 1882, when he received an inheritance and retired from his practice.  He then became an instructor in art anatomy at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts 1885–1906. He was also an accomplished equestrian.
Emerson was superintendent of schools in Concord and on the board of health and the cemetery and library committees. He was a founding member of the Concord Antiquarian Society (now called the Concord Museum) and a member of the Social Circle.
Emerson married Annie Shepard Keyes of Concord in 1874. Four of their seven children lived to adulthood, and only one of their seven children survived them. Their children were:
- Ellen Tucker Emerson (1880 - 1921), who married Charles Milton Davenport when she was 40 in 1920. 
- Florence Emerson (b. 1882)
- William Forbes Emerson (b. 1884)
- Raymond Emerson (1886-1977), who lived in Concord, married Amelia Forbes April 19, 1913, and became a civil engineer and later an investment manager. 
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|William Emerson, Sr.|
|William Emerson||Mary Moody Emerson|
|Ralph Waldo Emerson||Lidian Jackson Emerson|
|Edward Waldo Emerson||John Malcolm Forbes|
|Raymond Emerson||Amelia Forbes|
Wikisource has original works written by or about:|
Edward Waldo Emerson
- Emerson in Concord (1888)
- The Life of E. R. Hoar, with Moorfield Storey (1911)
- Thoreau: As remembered by a young friend. (1917)
- Early years of the Saturday Club, 1855–1870. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1918.
- Later years of the Saturday Club, 1870–1920. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1927.
- Correspondence of John Sterling and Ralph Waldo Emerson (1897)
- Centenary Edition of Ralph Waldo Emerson, annotated (1903)
- Life and Letters of General Charles Russell Lowell (1907)
- Emerson's Journals, with Waldo Emerson Forbes (1909)
He made many contributions to magazines.
- "Subjects of Biographies". Dictionary of American Biography. Comprehensive Index. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1990.
- "Emerson, Edward Waldo". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 557.
- Carl L. Anderson (1999). "Emerson, Edward Waldo". American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press.
- "2. A. Marshall (Boston). Annie Keyes Emerson and daughter Ellen Tucker Emerson, 1880. From a carte de visite (source undiscovered)". Concord Library. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
- "Edith Emerson Forbes and William Hathaway Forbes Papers and Additions". Mass History. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
- Edward Everett Hale (1920). " Emerson's Essays". In Rines, George Edwin. Encyclopedia Americana.
- "Edward Waldo Emerson and Emerson family papers, 1845-1971 (bulk 1876-1922)". concordlibrary.org. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). " Emerson, Edward Waldo". Encyclopedia Americana.