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Leonard Volk Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Volk, Leonard Wells, 1828-1895.
Title: Leonard Volk Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1845-1957
Quantity: 71 items.
Abstract: Papers of the American sculptor. Correspondence to and from Volk family members; photographs of a bust of Volk by David Richards, works by Volk, family members, and the areas around Pittsfield, Massachusetts and Wells, New York; and material relating to the acquisition of the collection by Edward Deming Andrews, grand-nephew of Volk.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Leonard Wells Volk (1828-1895) was an American sculptor. Born November 7, 1828 in Wellstown (now Wells), New York, he was one of twelve children of Garrett and Elizabeth Gesner Volk. At sixteen he began work as a marble cutter in his father's shop in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Four years later, in 1848, he went to St. Louis, Missouri, where he opened a studio and studied drawing and modeling independent of formal instruction. Stephen A. Douglas, a cousin of Volk's wife, became interested in his work, and in 1858 supplied funds for Volk to study art in Rome. Returning to the United States in 1867, Volk settled in Chicago, where he founded the Chicago Academy of Design and served as its president for eight years.

Among Volk's principal works are the Douglas Monument (Chicago), the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument (Rochester, N.Y.), and statues of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, General James G. Shields, Elihu B. Washburne, Zachariah Chandler, and David Davis. In 1860 he created a life mask of President Lincoln, one of only two ever made, as well as plaster casts of Lincoln's hands.

Volk was married to Emily Clarissa Barlow of Bethany, New York in 1852; they had a son, Douglas, who became a figure and portrait painter, and daughter.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Leonard Volk Collection consists of correspondence, photographs, and material relating to the creation of the collection by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Deming Andrews.

Correspondence consists of original letters between Volk and his family. All are personal letters and refer to events and people of the time, such as President Lincoln, the Civil War, and the death of Stephen A. Douglas.

Photographs include those of a bust of Volk by David Richards, Volk's sculpture for the Stephen A. Douglas monument and his bust of Judge Knickerbocker, friends and relatives, and the areas around Pittsfield, Massachusetts and Wells, New York.

The Mr. and Mrs. Edward Deming Andrews material contains Leonard Volk biographical material and correspondence relating to their acquisition and donation of the collection.

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Arrangement of the Collection

All material is arranged alphabetically.

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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


Volk family.
Volk, Leonard Wells, 1828-1895.


Art, American.
Sculptors -- United States.
Sculpture, American -- 19th century.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Leonard Volk Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. Edward Deming Andrews, 1968.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: [Summit record]
Date: 2001-01-01
Revision history: 8 Jul 2008 - converted to EAD (MRC); 19 Dec 2018 - unidentified item identified (MS)

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Box 1 1858-1888
Of others
Box 1 Abram Volk (brother) 1845-1869
Box 1 Carrie Volk 1880
Box 1 E. Volk 1880-1881
Box 1 Emily Volk (wife) 1858
Box 1 Bust of Volk 1884
Box 1 Sculpture by Volk
Box 1 Miscellaneous people and places 1885-1892
Mr. and Mrs. Edward Deming Andrews material
Box 1 Correspondence 1957

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