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Henry B. Brown drawings
mssHM 62464 (1-43)  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Henry B. Brown drawings
    Dates: 1851-1852
    Collection Number: mssHM 62464 (1-43)
    Creator: Brown, Henry, active 1850-1859
    Extent: 43 items in 3 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains forty-two pencil drawings primarily of California Native Americans, California landscapes, Mexico, and Central America, drawn in 1851 and 1852 by American artist, and later United States Consul to Bermuda, Henry B. Brown.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.

    Administrative Information


    The entire collection is open for qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following web site .

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Henry B. Brown drawings, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The collection was purchased from Catherine C. Abbott, December 13, 2000.

    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

    This collection contains pencil drawings drawn in 1851 and 1852 by American artist, and later United States Consul to Bermuda, Henry B. Brown. 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. A number of the Brown drawings have also been published in An Artist's Portfolio: the California Sketches of Henry B. Brown by Thomas C. Blackburn.

    Alternative Form of Materials Available

    Visit the Huntington Digital Library   to view digitized items from this collection.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Brown, Henry B., active 1850-1859.
    Artists -- California -- 19th century.
    Drawing, American -- 19th century.
    Indians of North America -- California -- Portraits.
    Maidu Indians -- Portraits.
    Mines and mineral resources -- California -- Pictorial works.
    Mining camps -- California -- Pictorial works.
    Nomlaki Indians -- Portraits.
    Patwin Indians -- Portraits.
    Shasta Indians -- Portraits.
    Wintun Indians -- Portraits.
    California -- Pictorial works.
    Central America -- Pictorial works.
    Grass Valley (Calif.) -- Pictorial works.
    Mexico -- Pictorial works.
    Mount Shasta (Calif.) -- Pictorial works.
    Nevada City (Calif.) -- Pictorial works.
    Ometepe Island (Nicaragua) -- Pictorial works.
    Port Deposit (Md.) -- Pictorial works.
    Sacramento River (Calif.) -- Pictorial works.
    Sacramento Valley (Calif.) -- Pictorial works.
    San Francisco (Calif.) -- Pictorial works.
    San Juan del Sur Bay (Nicaragua) -- Pictorial works.
    Susquehanna River -- Pictorial works.
    Tehama County (Calif.) -- Pictorial works.


    Drawings California 19th century.
    Drawings Central America 19th century.
    Drawings Mexico 19th century.
    Sketches California 19th century.
    Sketches Central America 19th century.
    Sketches Mexico 19th century.


    Bartlett, John Russell. Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua. New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1854.
    Blackburn, Thomas C. An Artist's Portfolio : the California sketches of Henry B. Brown, 1851-52. Banning, California: Malki-Ballena Press, 2006.
    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.