Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Henry Lewis Papers, 1849-1876

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, October 2012

Summary Information
Title: Henry Lewis papers
Creator: Lewis, George Frederick, 1813-1898
Inclusive dates: 1849-1876
Bulk dates: 1849-1865
Extent: 0.25 linear feet
The Henry Lewis papers contain letters that Lewis wrote to his brother George about the Civil War and about his artistic career, finances, and life in Düsseldorf, Germany, in the mid-19th century.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1959-1963. M-1104, M-1276.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Alternate Format:

The collection has been microfilmed.

Preferred Citation:

Henry Lewis Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically, with one undated item and one advertisement placed at the end.


Henry Lewis was born in Newport, England, on January 12, 1819, the son of Thomas Lewis (1777-1840) and Elizabeth Garmson. The Lewis family immigrated to the United States in September 1838 and settled in St. Louis, Missouri, where Henry was a carpenter and artist. In 1849, he produced a large panorama of the Mississippi River, which he displayed throughout the United States and Canada until 1851. After 1856, he resided in Düsseldorf, Germany, having returned to Europe in 1853. Lewis published Das Illustrirte Mississippithal in the mid-1850s and worked for the United States consulate from 1867-1884. He and his wife, Maria Jones, had no children. Henry Lewis died on September 16, 1904.

George Frederick Lewis, Henry's brother, was born on February 7, 1813, and worked as an upholsterer in St. Louis throughout much of the 19th century. He and his first wife, Carolina Henrietta Hardt, had 3 children. After his wife's death, he married Kate McMullan, with whom he had five children. George Lewis died in Victor, Iowa, on November 16, 1898.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains 53 letters that Henry Lewis wrote to his brother George about the Civil War and about his artistic career, finances, and life in Düsseldorf, Germany, in the mid-19th century. Five additional items include a letter, 3 lists, and an advertisement.

From July 11, [1849]-October 20, 1851, Henry Lewis described his experiences traveling in the United States and Canada displaying his large panorama painting of the Mississippi River. He mentioned a cholera epidemic in Cincinnati, Ohio, and described Washington, D.C., as well as several states in New England and the Midwest. While in Canada, he visited Montréal, Hamilton, and other cities, particularly in Ontario. During his North American tour, Lewis often discussed his finances and occasionally reported his receipts from exhibitions. His letter of October 10, 1851, contains two drawings of Montmorency Falls in Québec.

After a four-year gap, Lewis wrote a second group of letters about his life in Düsseldorf, Germany. He responded to family news and provided information about his financial affairs. His letters from the mid-1850s often contain comments on political developments in the United States, his letters from 1861-1863 discuss aspects of the Civil War, often at length. Lewis wrote less frequently after 1865, and in his later correspondence mentioned subjects such as the Franco-Prussian War (December 12, 1870) and the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (April 16, 1876). The collection has one letter from Maria Lewis to George Lewis and three lists of paintings by Henry Lewis. A printed French advertisement for a published book on painters is located at the end of the collection.

Subject Terms

    • Americans--Germany.
    • Art--Exhibitions.
    • Canada--Description and travel.
    • Düsseldorf (Germany)
    • Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1871.
    • Landscape painters.
    • Painters--Finance, Personal.
    • Traveling exhibitions.
    • United States--Description and travel.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States--Politics and government--1857-1861.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Québec (Province)
    • Waterfalls.
    • Lewis, Henry, 1819-1904.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Lists (document genres)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1  
    Henry Lewis papers,  July 11, [1849]-April 16, 1876, and  undated [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    Lewis, Henry. The Valley of the Mississippi Illustrated. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1967.

    Lewis, Henry, and George B. Douglas. Das Illustrirte Mississippithal Dargestellt in 80 nach der Natur aufgenommenen ansichten vom Wasserfalle zu St. Anthony an bis zum Golf Von Mexico... Leipzig: H. Schmidt & C. Günther, 1923.


    Cook, John Graham. "Artist Henry Lewis: The Case of the Falsified Résumé." Minnesota History 57.5 (Spring 2001): 238-243.

    Lewis, Edwin J., Jr. "Book CIV: William Lewis of England. Chapter XIII." Lewisana, or, The Lewis Letter 14.7 (January 1904): 108. Rubin, Beth. "Lewis, Henry (1819-1904)." Dictionary of Missouri Biography. Lawrence O. Christensen, William E. Foley, Gary R. Kremer, and Kenneth H. Winn, eds. Columbia (Mo.): University of Missouri Press, 1999. 483-484.