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David Bunnell Olmstead Literary Portraits

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Olmstead, David Bunnell.
Title: David Bunnell Olmstead Literary Portraits
Inclusive Dates: 1892-1917
Quantity: 6 linear ft.
Abstract: Eight large scrapbooks containing information on notable literary individuals -- novelists, poets, artists, physicians, politicians, jurists, theologians, professors, etc. -- compiled by David Bunnell Olmstead, plus an index volume.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

According to Olmstead's obituary, which is pasted inside the front cover of Volume 1, Index to Portraits, David Bunnell Olmstead was "a man of fine literary and artistics tastes...counting among his friends many of the well known artists of the last century." He worked for a time as a silverware designer for the Gorham company.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The David Bunnell Olmstead Literary Portraits consists of eight very large scrapbooks containing information on various notable writers -- novelists, poets, artists, physicians, politicians, jurists, theologians, professors, etc. -- and a separate index volume.

Beginning with Volume 2, the pages are numbered consecutively across all volumes, as shown in the inventory below. Volume 1, Index to Portraits, lists names of individuals and the page(s) on which they appear. The names are grouped by letter, but within each letter they are not in alphabetical order, so locating a given name requires some effort. In addition, Olmstead's handwriting is occasionally difficult to read.

The remaining volumes contain printed items such as portraits, brief biographies, book frontispieces, catalog listings, obituaries, articles, clippings, reproduced photographs, pictures of graves, monuments, homes, and birthplaces. To the printed items, which were clipped and pasted in, Olmstead then added handwritten notes, banners, decorative borders, and flourishes. These notes include birth and death dates and locations, brief descriptions (e.g., "Author" or "Physician"), captions, partial bibliographies, and so on. While many of the subjects of these literary portraits are well known, others are no longer as recognizable as they were during Olmstead's lifetime. Taken as a whole, the collection is a selection of portraits and biographies of individuals considered important by Olmstead and others in his social circle. The majority are men but there are also quite a number of women, particularly in Volume 11.

Volumes 7 and 8 are not present in the collection. In the list pasted inside the front cover of Volume 1, Vol. 7 is listed as "wanting" -- evidently it was not part of the original donation. Volume 8 cannot be located as of January 2017. It is also not included in the sequential listing of items prepared by Library staff (date unknown) so presumably has been missing for quite some time.

According to a typed note pasted inside the front cover of the Index, "Twenty-five years' leisure were devoted to this work...[and] over Twenty-three thousand nine hundred (23,900) hours were spent in making it correct and attractive." Although Olmstead created an index for this collection (see box 1) it is sometimes difficult to read and may not cover all the volumes. Scrapbook pages are numbered by Olmsted, and appear in the inventory below in that order.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Scrapbooks are in original order.

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Other Related Finding Aids

A sequential listing of all items in the scrapbooks, except for the missing volumes 7 and 8, was prepared at some point by Special Collections Research Center staff and is available in PDF format.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Subject Headings


Olmstead, David Bunnell.


Authors -- Bio-bibliography.
Lawyers -- Bio-bibliography.
Legislators -- Bio-bibliography.
Physicians -- Bio-bibliography.
Poets -- Bio-bibliography.
Scientists -- Bio-bibliography.
Theologians -- Bio-bibliography.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Frontispieces (illustrations)

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

David Bunnell Olmstead Literary Sketches,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Margaret Fletcher, 1932.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 9 Jan 2017
Revision history:

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A sequential listing of all items in the scrapbooks, except for the missing volumes 7 and 8, was prepared at some point by Special Collections Research Center staff and is available in PDF format.
Oversize 1 Volume 1 Index to Portraits
Oversize 2 Volume 2 [items 1-200]
Subject of note include Edmund Gosse, Nicholas Boileau, Stephen Crane, John Bodley, Archibald MacLean, Dante Alighieri, Michael Faraday, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Lloyd Garrison, Richard Munkittrick, George Bernard Shaw, Torquato Tasso, Anthony Trollope, Miles Coverdale, Edna Ferber, Sonya Kovalevsky, and many more.
Oversize 3 Volume 3 [items 201-400]
Subject of note include Baroness d'Orczy, Hans Christian Andersen, John James Audubon, Maurice Maeterlinck, Captain Richard Burton, Charles Nordhoff, Fanny Reed, Jessie Juliet Knox, James Fenimore Cooper, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Charles Dana, Adelaide Proctor, Edward Lear, Friedrich Nietzsche, Benjamin Disraeli, and many more.
Oversize 4 Volume 4 [items 401-600]
Subject of note include José Echegaray, Sir William Davenant, Onoto Watanna (aka Winifred Eaton), John Locke, William of Wykeham, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, Thomas Otway, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Oliver Goldsmith, William Penn, Isabella Bird Bishop, Robert Boyle, Right Rev. William White, Upton Sinclair, Count Nicholas von Zinzendorff, and many more.
Oversize 5 Volume 5 [items 601-800]
Subject of note include Jeremy Bentham, May Sinclair, Edward Hyde 1st Earl Clarendon, Charles Fenno Hoffman, Sara Louisa Oberholtzer, Caroline Lamb, Charles Brockden Brown, Edward Bellamy, Bishop John Davenant, Grace Ellery Channing, Bronson and Louisa May Alcott, Descartes, Lydia Starr McPherson, and many more.
Oversize 6 Volume 6 [items 801-1000]
Subject of note include Lewis Carroll, Ouida, Philip Freneau, Sir Joseph Hooker, Pascal, O. Henry, Mary King Waddington, Minna Irving, Henry Austin Clapp, Lafcadio Hearn, G. A. Henty, William Morris, Maria Edgeworth, and many more.
Volume 7 [items 1001-1025; MISSING AT TIME OF DONATION]
Volume 8 [items 1026-1049; MISSING AS OF 1/11/2017]
Oversize 7 Volume 9 [items 1050-1089]
Subject of note include Dr. Wilfrid Grenfell, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Jesse Lyman Hurlburt, Henry VII, General Ulysses S. Grant, Ann Killigrew, John Donne, DeWitt Clinton, Archibald Campbell Tait,
Oversize 8 Volume 10 [items 1090-1129]
Subject of note include General Oliver Otis Howard, Ashbel Green, Aaron Burr, Eastman Johnson, Luis Fenellosa Emilio, Dr. Egbert Guernsey, Major General Edward Leslie Molineux, Luigi de Cesnola, Elizabeth Shippen Green, and many more.
Oversize 9 Volume 11 [items 1130-1169]
Subject of note include P. T. Barnum, Fridtjof Nansen, Emily Post, Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Grinling Gibbons, Henry Raeburn, John Cardinal Newman, Mary E. Hawkes, Arthur Conan Doyle, Clara Lipman, Mrs. George Cornwallis-West, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Edmund Spencer, and many more.

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