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A-162; A/H827; A/H827a

Hosmer, Harriet Goodhue, 1830-1908. Papers, 1834-1959: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America


This collection was reprocessed and microfilmed under a grant from The George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Radcliffe College
April 1981

© 1981 Radcliffe College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: A-162; A/H827; A/H827a
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: HARRIET GOODHUE HOSMER, 1830-1908
Title: Papers, 1834-1959
Quantity: 2.09 linear ft.(5 boxes, 4 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder, 8 reels of microfilm (M-60))
Abstract: Correspondence, photographs, drawings, etc., of Harriet Goodhue Hosmer, sculptor and inventor.

Processing Information:

Reprocessed: April 1981
By: Bert Hartry

Acquisition Information:

Accession numbers: 1598, 69-22, 72-20, 78-M49, 81-M265, 81-M266
This collection of the papers of sculptor and inventor Harriet Goodhue Hosmer and the papers of her friend and biographer, Cornelia (Crow) Carr, were given to the Schlesinger Library by Mrs. Carr's granddaughter, Mrs. Delmar Leighton, in 1969, 1972, 1978, and 1981.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted. Originals are closed; use microfilm M-60.


Harriet Goodhue Hosmer (October 9, 1830-February 21, 1908), was born in Watertown, Massachusetts, the daughter of Dr. Hiram Hosmer and Sarah (Grant) Hosmer. Her mother, brothers, and sister died when she was a young child and she was raised by her father, who encouraged her in out-of-door activities. She thus grew up with a strong love for the outdoors, and perhaps for this reason was always in good health.
At sixteen, HGH was sent to the home-school of Mrs. Charles Sedgwick of Lenox, where she was allowed the freedom to continue her interest in nature and where she met such literary and artistic figures as Fanny Kemble, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson. In this atmosphere her interest in art, and particularly in sculpture, developed. She also met Wayman Crow (WC), father of her best friend Cornelia Crow, who became her first benefactor and life-long patron.
In 1850, through the influence of WC, HGH went to St. Louis, Missouri, to study anatomy under the direction of Dr. Joseph Nash McDowell, head of the medical school of the state university. At the end of the semester, she returned to Boston and that summer produced her first sculpture, Hesper, in her home studio in Watertown. In the fall of 1852, encouraged by the actress, Charlotte Cushman, with whom she was to live, HGH went to Rome. The English sculptor, John Gibson, took her on as a pupil; she studied with him until she established a studio of her own six years later.
Throughout her career HGH took part in the social life of the English and American colony in Rome and Florence. Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, Sir Frederick Leighton, Lady Alwyne Compton, Lady Marianne Alford, Adelaide (Kemble) Sartoris and the William Story family were among her special friends. The many visitors to her studio included royalty from many countries in Europe. She spent the summers with members of the English aristocracy at their homes in England.
HGH made several trips back to the United States: in 1857 to exhibit Beatrice Cenci; in 1860, when her father became seriously ill; and in 1864, when she returned to exhibit Zenobia in New York and Boston. The following are HGH's major works:
HGH produced little sculpture after 1885, but spent most of her time visiting friends in England and America, giving an occasional lecture. She lived the last years of her life in Watertown, Massachusetts, devoting virtually all her time and energy to attempts to create a perpetual motion machine. This work reflected a life-long interest in mechanical devices and other inventions; she had tried to perfect a technique for making marble out of limestone. HGH died in 1908.
Harriet Hosmer, Letters and Memories (HH,LM), edited by Cornelia Crow Carr (CCC), was published in 1912. For other biographical information, see the article in Notable American Women (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), which includes a list of additional sources. See also Hosmeriana: A Guide to Works by and about Harriet G. Hosmer, by Joseph L. Curran, 1975 (available at the Schlesinger Library, 730/H32c). Other HGH papers are listed in Women's History Sources (New York and London, 1979).


This collection contains more than 750 ms. letters, the great majority written by HGH to WC, CCC, and other members of the Crow/Carr family. Only a few letters written by WC and CCC are included. There is also a substantial number of letters from both Charlotte Cushman (CC) and Fanny Kemble (FK) to HGH or the Crow/Carr family. Many other well known people wrote to HGH, including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, Lydia Maria Child, John Gibson, Sir Frederick Leighton, Maria Mitchell and Harriet Beecher Stowe. The collection contains HGH's writings (speeches, reminiscences, plays, stories, poetry, articles and essays), sketches, drawings, photographs and clippings. Also included are drafts, notes and transcriptions CCC used in editing HH,LM. The originals (letters, poems, reminiscences) of some of the transcriptions are to be found in various parts of this collection.
The papers provide information about HGH, her life and her art, about her many acquaintances and the social scene in Rome and England, and about her long, close friendship with the Crow/Carr family. There is some material concerning HGH's inventions, including artificial marble, and some concerning the "art fraud" accusation: that HGH did not actually do her own sculpting. CC's letters to CCC contain interesting information about her struggle with breast cancer.
The collection is arranged in two series: I. Harriet Goodhue Hosmer, and II. Crow/Carr Family. Series I contains personal and biographical material, letters to HGH, drawings, writings, photographs, and miscellaneous. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by writer, with only selected names listed in the inventory. Most other material is arranged chronologically, with undated items at the end of each group. Series II contains letters from HGH, FK and CC (includes photographs and clippings) to the Crow/Carr family, from HGH to others, to CCC from others, and others to others. This correspondence is grouped by writer, with subgroups by recipient, each arranged chronologically. It should be noted that HGH frequently used a rebus, a hat, in place of a signature and FK a fan; when writing to HGH, CC often signed herself "Ma" and Adelaide (Kemble) Sartoris "Mar".
The last folders of Series II contain items removed from a scrapbook probably kept by CCC, or perhaps by her daughter, Hatty. Most of this material is correspondence to, from, or about HGH. It also includes a notebook (#183) kept by FK and given to HGH. See the inventory for a complete listing.
There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see 81-M265--82-M42 and 97-M158.



A card for each of the following appears in the card catalogue:
Agassiz, Elizabeth (Cary), 1822-1907
Alford, Lady Marianne Margaret (Compton), 1817-1888
Anthony, Susan Brownell, 1820-1906
Ashburton, Lady Louisa (Stewart-Mackenzie), 1827-1903
Blackwell, Elizabeth, 1821-1910
Browning, Elizabeth (Barrett), 1806-1861
Browning, Robert, 1812-1889
Carlyle, Thomas, 1795-1881
Carr, Cornelia (Crow), 1833-1922
Child, Lydia Maria (Francis), 1802-1880
Clay, Henry, 1777-1852
Compton, Florence Caroline (Anderson) (Lady Alwyne)
Crow, Wayman, 1808-1885
Cushman, Charlotte, 1816-1876
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882
Fields, Annie (Adams), 1834-1915
Fremont, Jessie (Benton), 1824-1902
Gibson, John, 1790-1866
Gladstone, William Ewart, 1809-1898
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894
Hooker, Isabella (Beecher), 1822-1907
Hoxie, Vinnie (Ream), 1847-1914
Irwin, Agnes, 1841-1914
Kemble, Frances Anne (Fanny), 1809-1893
Layard, Sir Austen Henry, 1817-1894
Layard, Lady Enid
Leighton, Sir Frederick, 1830-1896
Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891
Mitchell, Maria, 1818-1889
Moulton, Louise (Chandler), 1835-1908
Naples, Queen of (Maria Sophia Amelia), 1841-1925
Peabody, Elizabeth Palmer, 1804-1894
Peruzzi, Edith W (Story)
Queen Isabella Association
Sanborn, Kate, 1839-1917
Sartoris, Adelaide (Kemble), 1814-1879
Sedgwick, Catherine Maria, 1789-1867
Somerville, Mary, 1780-1872
Spencer, Ellen
Story, Maud Waldo
Story, William Wetmore, 1819-1895
Stowe, Harriet (Beecher), 1811-1896
Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874
Ticknor family
Whiting, Lilian, 1859-1942
Whitney, Anne, 1821-1915
Americans in Italy
Andersen, Hans Christian, 1805-1875
Art criticism
Benton, Thomas Hart, 1782-1858
Drama--19th century
Europe--Description and travel
Everett, Edward, 1794-1865
Fiction--Short stories
Harriet Hosmer, Letters and Memories
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882
Poetry--19th century
Speeches, addresses, etc.
United Kingdom--Social life and customs


For a list of the contents of A-162, see the inventory that follows. For a description of A/H827 and A/H827a, see HOLLIS, Harvard’s online catalog.
  • Folders 1-20: M-60, Reel 1
  • Folders 21-50: M-60, Reel 2
  • Folders 51-98: M-60, Reel 3
  • Folders 99-112: M-60, Reel 4
  • Folders 113-125: M-60, Reel 5
  • Folders 126-136: M-60, Reel 6
  • Folders 137-154: M-60, Reel 7
  • Folders 155-185: M-60, Reel 8
  • Folders A/H827 and A/H827a: M-60, Reel 8
  • When requesting microfilmed material, please use the microfilm number, M-60, and the reel number