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Guide to the Mary Hallock Foote Papers , 1863-1924 (inclusive), 1868-1916 (bulk)
Special Collections M0115  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Mary Hallock Foote Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1863-1924 (inclusive), 1868-1916 (bulk)
    Collection number: Special Collections M0115
    Creator: Foote, Mary Hallock, 1847-1938.
    Extent: 6 linear ft.
    Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
    Abstract: Correspondence with Helena Gilder, spanning their friendship of fifty years (1868-1916), and with other friends, family, and business associates. Also includes typed copy of Foote's work entitled, "Reminiscences".
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Rosamond Gilder should be notified of intended use. Please request materials at least 24 hours in advance of intended use.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with Janet T. Micoleau, Evelyn L. Gardiner, Ann Gardiner, Sarah R. Swift, and Agnes Swift, the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item] Mary Hallock Foote Papers , M0115, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Rosamond Gilder and Janet Micoleau, 1968. Some material purchased, 1977.

    Biographical Note

    Mary Hallock Foote was born Mary Haviland Hallock on November 19, 1847, at Milton-on-Hudson, N.Y., the youngest of four children. Her close-knit farming family were Quakers, Free-Soil Republicans of English stock, sympathetic to anti-slavery, temperance, and women's rights.
    Nathaniel Hallock, Mary's father, unfortunately not an astute businessman in his farming practices, was keenly interested in literature and early influenced Mary in her admiration of Browning, Tennyson, Rossetti, and other Victorians.
    Mary's mother, Ann Burling Hallock, affected Mary's development in the social graces. Charming and lady-like, she taught her children strict obedience, at the same time encouraging independence of thought and supporting Mary's decision to attend art school in New York City at the age of 17.
    From 1860-64 Mary attended Poughkeepsie Female Seminary (later Vassar) and in Fall 1864 entered the Cooper School of Design for Women in NYC, the only institution at the time when anything approaching an art education could be had for a girl. There she met Helena de Kay, daughter of a prominent New York family and later wife of the distinguished poet and editor of Century Magazine, Richard Watson Gilder, beginning a life-long friendship and a transcontinental correspondence spanning 50 years.
    New York teachers included Samuel Frost Johnson, with whom she studied color, John A.E. Whitney, Charles H. Burt, Wm. Rimmer, and Wm. J. Linton. Linton, a well-known English artist, was especially helpful to Foote, teaching her to draw directly on wood rather than on thin paper which then had to be placed face down onto a wood block, with the image transferred to the block by tracing on the paper from the reverse side. Under the tutelage of this exceptional teacher, Foote became one of the America's best designers on the wood.
    Through Linton, she met A. V. S. Anthony, art editor for Tichnor and was commissioned in 1874 to work with Thomas Moran on works by Longfellow and Whittier. Quick to catch shadings of character and precise in her detailed representations, she was soon established as one of America's pre-eminent illustrators.
    Because of her friendship with Helena de Kay at Cooper Union, she had met Helena's future husband, Richard Watson Gilder, the de facto editor of Scribner's Monthly, committed to securing the best artistic and literary talent in America for his magazine. He became the most important editor in her life, encouraging her to submit her illustrations to the magazine and, later, to write articles and stories accompanying them.
    In 1873, Mary Hallock met Arthur De Wint Foote, son of a member of the Connecticut legislature. An engineering student at Yale's Sheffield Scientific School, he found that the best opportunities for engineers were opening up in the West, so he went west to work on the Southern Pacific system at Tehachapi Pass, then on the Sutro Tunnel in Virginia City, and finally the New Almaden quicksilver mine near San Jose where he became resident manager. He and Mary were married in Milton on February 9, 1876 but established their first home in the West at New Almaden. Their first child, Arthur Burling Foote was born there in April 1877.
    Because of her husband's changing professional fortunes, Mary Hallock Foote moved with him from New Almaden to Santa Cruz, California, to Deadwood, Colorado, to Boise, Idaho, and finally to Grass Valley, California. When conditions made family residence impossible, Mary stayed with her family in Milton where her second child, Elizabeth Townsend Foote, was born in September 1882. A third child, Agnes, was born in Boise in June 1886.
    Although she found material for her stories and illustrations wherever she was, it was the Leadville experience in 1879 that gave Foote some of the richest characterizations for her fiction. Stories based on the Leadville characters, especially her first novel, The Led-Horse Claim (1883), established Foote's reputation as a Western writer.
    Recognized as one of America's best illustrators, she was chosen a juror on Chalk, Charcoal, Pastel and Other Drawings for the Chicago World's Fair Columbian Exposition in 1893. In 1894 she was elected to the National Academy of Women Painters and Sculptors and acclaimed as the "dean of women illustrators."
    Because of her ability to examine the essence of Western life and the impact of specific locale on its residents, her work belongs to the late nineteenth century tradition known as "local color" and was accepted by Gilder and other editors as an important voice from the West.
    In the last phase of their lives, Mary and Arthur returned to the East to live with their daughter Betty. Arthur died there, in Hingham, Massachusetts, in 1933. Mary Hallock Foote continued to reside in Hingham, dying on June 25, 1938.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The papers include correspondence, literary manuscripts, and artwork. The 613 letters to Helena De Kay Gilder, span a period of about fifty years (1868-1916). There are 65 letters from Foote to Richard Gilder, Helena's husband. There are also approximately 137 letters from Foote, her family, friends and business associates to each other, and finally, approximately 90 letters from Betty Foote Swift to her mother, Mary Hallock Foote, spanning the years 1911-1915.
    The papers contain approximately 300 pages of the typescript for Foote's Reminiscences, 2 Foote manuscripts, and approximately 446 items of graphic material.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Gilder, Helena.$?UNAUTHORIZED.
    Gilder, Richard Watson, 1844-1909.
    Holden, Edward Singleton, 1846-1914.
    Ives, Halsey C., 1846-1911.$?UNAUTHORIZED.
    McMurray, George H. (George Harold), 1898-1975. $?UNAUTHORIZED.
    Perry, Bliss, 1860-1954.
    Savage, Ernest Albert, 1877-1966.
    Wiley, A. J., 1826-1905.$?UNAUTHORIZED.
    New Almaden Mine (Calif.)$?UNAUTHORIZED.
    Women authors.
    American literature--20th century.
    Mines and mineral resources--History.