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Picturing a World

Diaries of Sarah Gooll Putnam

Yesterday, I attended an absorbing webinar on Boston artist Sarah Gooll Putnam. Every aspect of the topic interested me (see below), and I hope it will be posted to YouTube as planned. For this blog, it introduces one more excellent, little-known woman artist. Putnam was a successful portraitist in Boston elite circles, painting in a style reminiscent of John Singer Sargent and Cecilia Beaux.


An even bigger Wow! for the historical novelist are her voluminous diaries now digitized at the Massachusetts Historical Society. In them, she recorded daily events, illustrated her entries with drawings, and supplemented them with clippings and other memorabilia. If you have a hankering to undertake a story set in Boston in the latter quarter of the 19th C or early 20th, don't miss these.


WEBINAR | 4 Feb 2021 | Good Wishes for the Children Rediscovered: Hans Christian Andersen and the Launch of Sarah Gooll Putnam's Artistic Career (American Antiquarian Society)
In the course of her work at AAS, Laura Wasowicz, the Society's curator of children's literature, recovered the identities of the translator and illustrator of Good Wishes for the Children, a compilation of Hans Christian Andersen stories published in a limited, high-end edition by the Riverside Press in 1873 as a fundraiser for Boston Children's Hospital. The illustrator was Sarah Gooll Putnam (1851–1912), an upper-class Bostonian who eventually enjoyed a successful career as a portraitist. This ambitious project was spearheaded by Putnam's friend Adeline A. Bigelow (1842–1915), a fellow socialite who translated the Andersen stories into English from a German edition. In this webinar, Wasowicz will examine how their artistic collaboration provides insight into the opportunities and limitations encountered by gifted women of social means in late nineteenth-century American children's book publishing. The story of the research that led to their identification will also suggest how collections can be used to recover the histories of other women involved in the book trades.

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