Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Staff Favorite: Helen Ledyard Drawing Book

Helen Ledyard Drawing Book, 1881-1891.

Barbara DeWolfe, Curator of Manuscripts, has worked at the Clements Library since 1999. One of her favorite items from the Manuscripts Division is the drawing book of Helen Ledyard, a young woman who lived in New York in the late nineteenth century. This volume is filled with watercolor, pencil, and ink drawings, depicting many scenes of everyday life. Viewed through one girl's eyes, these ordinary activities take on an air of liveliness and fun. The lively images and witty captions are a wonderful source for understanding the experience of a young woman growing up at the end of the nineteenth century.
"'Hoe Mow and Co' go to church in their good clothes."

Excerpts from the finding aid for this manuscript collection:

"Helen Lincklaen Seymour Ledyard, daughter of George Strawbridge Ledyard, was born on May 2, 1869 in Cazenovia, Madison County, New York. She came from a large family; Helen had five siblings and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.  Her main residence was a large house in Cazenovia called "The Meadows" which was built in 1826.  Helen spent also a good deal of time in Philadelphia where her Strawbridge relations lived.  Helen was married on November 7, 1901 at St Peter's Church in Cazenovia.  She died in 1945."

"The drawing book contains 85 pieces, most of which are done in bright watercolors. Others are of ink, pencil and colored pencil. The art in this book depicts Helen, her family, friends and surroundings from 1888-1891. There are paintings of Helen and others making ice cream, picnicking, riding horses, camping, hiking, swimming and playing games like backgammon, tiddly winks and tilting. Other pieces capture social events like dinner parties, teas and "the Barclays' Ball," which is a beautiful depiction of a large group of people in fancy dress entering a hall for a ball."

"We are very late for the Barclay's Ball."

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