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Henry Box Brown Drawings 1851-1852
HM 62464 (1-43)  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content Note
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Henry Box Brown drawings,
    Date (inclusive): 1851-1852
    Collection number: HM 62464 (1-43)
    Creator: Brown, Henry B., 1816-ca. 1860
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    Henry Box Brown Drawings, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    This collection was purchased from Catherine C. Abbott, December 13, 2000. It consists of forty-three items dated from 1851 and 1852. They are single-item cataloged and arranged by subject.
    Acquisition number: 2094
    Call Numbers: HM 62464 (1-43)

    Biographical Note

    Henry B. Brown was probably born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in January 1816. In the 1840s, he worked as a portrait artist and engraver, and in 1851 he traveled to San Francisco with his friend Jacob Bailey Moore. Brown worked for Moore for the next several months, gathering specimens and making drawings in the California countryside. In March of 1852, he was commissioned by John Russell Bartlett, head of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary Commission and a friend of Moore, to draw views of landscapes and Indians in Northern California, assist with collecting Indian vocabularies, and make maps of the area, with a view towards contributing to Bartlett's book "Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua" (1854). Brown traveled to New York in the late summer of 1852, and presumably drew his coastal scenes of Mexico and Central America during the trip. From 1856 to 1859, he served as US Consul for Bermuda. Little is known of his life after that date; his health was poor at the time of his resignation in 1859, and he may have died in late 1860 or soon after. He should not be confused with the Maine artist Harrison Bird Brown (1831-1915) or with the escaped slave Henry "Box" Brown (b. 1816).

    Scope and Content Note

    The forty-two drawings are arranged according to their five general subjects: California Native Americans (7), California landscapes (24), Mexico (4), Central America (6), and Other (1). Although the exact Indian tribes in Brown's drawings are not known, it is believed that they are the Maidu, Nomlaki, Patwin, Wintun, and/or the Shasta Indians because those tribes lived in the areas in California where Brown was traveling. These drawings include portraits of Indians and scenes of daily life in Indian villages. Five of these drawings have been published in Drawn from Life: California Indians in Pen and Brush by Theodora Kroeber, Albert B. Elsasser, and Robert F. Heizer, and Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua by John Russell Bartlett. The twenty-four drawings of California landscapes include views of mining camps, a quartz mill, San Francisco, Marysville, Mount Shasta, Grass Valley, the Sacramento River, and Nevada City. The ten drawings of Mexico and Central America include views of Acapulco, the Gulf of California, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Also included in the collection is an undated drawing of the Susquehanna river in Port Deposit, Maryland, and a blank sheet of paper that was probably used as a mount for one of the drawings. The titles used are the titles supplied by the artist. Several of the drawings have sketches or inscriptions on the verso.


    Bartlett, John Russell. Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua. New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1854.
    Emanuels, George. California Indians: An Illustrated Guide. Walnut Creek, California: Diablo Books, 1991.
    Heizer, Robert F., ed. A Collection of Ethnographical Articles on the California Indians. Ramona, California: Ballena Press, 1976.
    Hine, Robert V. An Artist Draws the Line. American Heritage, February 1968, Volume XIX, Number 2: 28.
    Hine, Robert V. Bartlett's West: Drawing the Mexican Boundary. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1968.
    Kroeber, Theodora, Albert B. Elsasser, Robert F. Heizer. Drawn from Life: California Indians in Pen and Brush. Socorro, New Mexico: Ballena Press, 1977.
    Merriam, C. Hart. Studies of California Indians. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1955.
    Powers, Stephen. Tribes of California. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1877.