Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
John Paulding Collection, 1897-1899

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, February 1997

Summary Information
Title: John Paulding collection
Creator: Paulding, John, d. 1933
Inclusive dates: 1897-1899
Extent: 11 items
The Paulding collection contains eleven heavily illustrated letters written from Chicago, Illinois by the teenaged artist-in-training, John Paulding, to his mother.
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:

1997. M-2242.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

John Paulding Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


As a young man, John Paulding traveled to Chicago to pursue his dream of an artistic career. In the fall of 1897, still only a teenager, Paulding landed a job in the city to pay expenses and save for his education, and during the evenings, took classes at the Art Institute. Within a year, he had saved enough money to begin full-time studies at the Institute, and by February, 1899, had left his job for good for the art world. Paulding became a respected sculptor on the Chicago scene, living in the city until his death in 1933.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Paulding collection contains eleven heavily illustrated letters written by the teenaged artist-in-training, John Paulding, to his mother between 1897 and 1899. The content of these brief letters is limited, but Paulding's light-hearted style and good nature make reading them enjoyable, and there are a few small barbs about his status as a bachelor in the city, and about the possibility that the art work he sends home might scandalize the small town in which his mother lives (Carthage, Mo.). "I can hang the pictures in my room," he wrote, "because I am a young bachelor and live in a city where such matters are not given criticism. You are situated differently" (1898 March 13).

The main interest in Paulding's letters, however, are the excellent pen and ink sketches that he uses to illustrate his experiences in the city. Each letter contains as many as half a dozen small sketches, ranging from humorous self portraits to views of the street outside his window, country roads, and humorous characters. As an illustrator, Paulding's style is strongly influenced by the popular magazine illustrators of the day, featuring strong, clean lines, and outstanding attention to detail and character.

Subject Terms

    • Bachelors.
    • Chicago (Ill.)
    • Nude in art.
    • Pen drawing.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Chicago (Ill.)
    • Clowns.
    • Drawing.
    • Roads--Illinois.
    Genre Terms:
    • Sketches.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   63, Small Collections Folders   6-9
    John Paulding collection,  1897 January 1-1899 February 18 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Fielding, Mantle. Dictionary of American painters, sculptors and engravers, 2nd ed. (1988), p. 703.

    Partial Subject Index
    • [ca.1897 September?]
    • 1898 March 13
    • [ca.1897 September?]
    • 1897 September 19
    Chicago (Ill.)--Illustrations
    • 1897 January 16
    • 1897 January 16
    • 1898 March 13
    • 1898 November 13
    • 1897 July 31
    • 1898 March 13
    • 1897 March 19
    • 1897 July 31
    • 1897 January 16
    Klondike River Valley (Yukon)--Illustrations
    • 1897 July 31
    Mines and mineral resources--Illustrations
    • 1897 January 16
    • n.d. (1)
    Nude in art
    • 1898 February 6
    • 1898 March 13
    • 1897 September 19
    Pen and ink drawing
    • passim
    • 1897 January 16
    • [ca.1897 September?]
    • 1898 March 13
    • 1898 June 5
    Salvation Army--Illustrations
    • [ca.1897 September?]
    Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Romeo and Juliet--Illustrations
    • 1898 June 5
    • 1897 January 16
    Snowshoeins and snowshoeing--Illustrations
    • 1897 July 31
    Spanish-American War, 1898--Illustrations
    • 1898 February 6
    • 1897 September 19
    • n.d. (1)
    • 1897 September 19