Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Art & Architecture > 67. Stanford White

67.  Stanford White (1853-1906).  Album of family letters with sketches. Mixed media, 1873-1878. Avery Library, Drawings and Archives, Stanford White Collection

Throughout his life White was a prolific letter writer, both professionally and personally. This album, one of four in the Avery collection, contains letters to his mother and father during his employment with Henry Hobson Richardson in Boston. The letters reveal his enormous energy, keen observation, and personal magnetism, as well as his strong affection for his parents. White often included sketches of scenes he described. At this early stage in his career, he had only recently given up his wish to become an artist, instead focusing his artistic talents on a career in architecture. Unlike the clarity of his artistic vision, White's handwriting was nearly illegible; fortunately his son, the architect Lawrence Grant White, transcribed the letters when he compiled these albums of letters and drawings.

The White family has also given more than 500 drawings for the White houses in St. James, Long Island, and on Gramercy Park in Manhattan and a variety of other projects. They have given letterpress books with outgoing correspondence and incoming correspondence for White's professional activities from 1887 to 1907, as well as a death mask and plaster cast of the architect's hand.

Purchase and gift of the White family, 1999

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