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2011-2012 Visiting Fellows

Anne A. Verplanck
Penn State Harrisburg

The Graphic Arts in Philadelphia, 1780-1880

What a wonderfully productive time I had using the Princeton special collections this summer. The staff was knowledgeable, engaged, and forthcoming with collections and ideas; the collections held even more useful material than I had expected. As my research employs manuscripts, books, and graphics, and Princeton’s collecting in all these areas was of great benefit to me.

A recent acquisition—antiquarian John McAllister’s album for Mrs. Auchincloss—is what initially drew me to the collection. (As someone who took a typewriter to college, I should let you know that I found the McAllister album through the Graphics blog, then explored Princeton’s resources further and applied for a fellowship.) The album contributed to my ongoing research on McAllister and other antiquarians and will form the base of my next article as well as be a part of the larger project.  

I came to Princeton to use its resources to understand some of the forces that shaped a century (1780-1880) of artistic patronage and production in Philadelphia. The manuscripts related to Benson Lossing were a major attraction for me, and they did not disappoint. The ability to consult many of the books that he and John Sartain illustrated or published was very helpful to the project. I had not fully realized, until my time at Princeton, how closely intertwined the publishing houses in Philadelphia and New York were. Among the most useful collections were New York ones: the archives of several publishers—Holt, Putnam, and Scribner’s—provided evidence of New York publishers using artists in Philadelphia (and elsewhere) regularly.

The breadth of the collection—an extra-illustrated volume on William Penn, an early Philadelphia daguerreotype in the Morris papers, the Boudinot and Rush family papers—was what made my research so productive. The sketches and other materials by F.O.C. Darley added another angle to my research that I would not have even thought of had I not spent time in Special Collections. I anticipate incorporating the Darley material into an article in the future. I should add that the ability to use other libraries to flesh out this and other tangents after the reading room closed was very useful.

Julie Mellby was particularly generous in welcoming me and ensuring that my stay was productive. I particularly enjoyed seeing some of the highlights of the graphics collections that  she had put out for a visiting group. Individual collection curatorial staff provided advice and direction. AnnaLee Pauls’s knowledge, assistance, and kindness were especially appreciated.
I would like to convey my thanks to the Friends of the Princeton Library for funding my fellowship. Their generosity provided me with the opportunity to conduct research in a rich, deep collection. I would not have been able to explore and use the collection to the extent I did had it not been for the fellowship, for which I am deeply grateful. I should add that the Theological Seminary’s Erdman Center was an ideal place for a researcher to stay and I would recommend it highly to future researchers.

Anne Verplanck, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, American Studies,
Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg


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