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Papers of Hannah Ruth London

 Collection
Identifier: P-347

Scope and Contents

The Hannah Ruth London Papers contain London's research materials and writings compiled over her career as a scholar of American Jewish portraiture; the collection also includes numerous items relating to her personal life.

The research materials include London's notes for her published works on early American Jewish portraits, miniatures, and silhouettes. These notes contain information not only about the subjects of the portraits, such as their family histories, but also about the artists and their works. Also includes: various printed art catalogs; correspondence; and 81 of London's lantern slides, comprised primarily of the works of American Jewish portraiture that she researched. Materials relating to London's writings in this area consist of journal articles, manuscripts, and reviews of her books on American Jewish portraiture.

Personal materials include: information regarding London's genealogy; various unpublished writings and poems, including the manuscript of her autobiography, "A Girl From Boston"; family photographs; assorted personal memorabilia; a scrapbook containing numerous correspondence with people in the art world; several legal documents regarding her husband, Benjamin Siegel; items regarding her son, Robert Siegel, including a notebook of letters written by him to his parents during his service in the Army in World War II; and the correspondence between London and her husband with the War Department regarding their efforts to have the Bronze Star awarded to their late son.

The collection is valuable to researchers studying American Jewish portraiture, early American Jewish families, and early American art; specifically miniatures, portraits, and silhouettes. It also contains information useful to those researching the Abravanel-Mickleshanski family, and Jewish soldiers in World War II.

The collection contains notes, manuscripts, published and unpublished articles and poetry, art catalogs, legal documents, lantern slides, photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, genealogical charts, handwritten sheet music, military medals, sound recordings, a theater program, a scrapbook, and a binder that contained correspondence.

The collection is entirely in English, except for one item of memorabilia in Spanish.

Dates

  • 1919-1990
  • Majority of material found within 1923 - 1980

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, with one item in Spanish .

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at mmeyers@ajhs.org.

For reference questions, please email: inquiries@cjh.org

Biographical Note

Hannah Ruth London was born to Lithuanian Abraham and Goldie (Mickleshanski) Freedman on January 2, 1894, in Boston, MA. One of five children, and descended from the well-known Jewish family, the Abravanel-Mickleshanskis on her mother's side, London attended public elementary and high schools in Boston. She attended Radcliffe College, and graduated in 1916. After graduation, she worked as a recreational counselor for several settlement houses in Boston and New York City, before taking work as the assistant to Frank Bayley, an antiquarian art dealer and collector who ran the Copley Gallery in Boston. There, she developped what was to be a lifelong interest in early American artists, and began her research on "the pictorial representation of early American Jewry."

Finding little published material on the topic, London's research took the form of examination of diaries and family letters, references in little-used works, and correspondence and conversations with numerous people whose lineage stemmed from early American Jews. She presented her first paper on the subject at a 1921 meeting in Philadelphia of the American Jewish Historical Society, whose membership included many descendants of Colonial American Jewry, and who, subsequently, encouraged her work by inviting her to examine their family portraits. London went on to conduct comprehensive research into early American Jewish portraiture, locating and identifying numerous portraits of Colonial American Jews, including some by American master painters such as Gilbert Stuart and Thomas Sully. Her research brought her into contact with many art historians, curators, collectors, and historians of renown, such as Lawrence Park and A.S.W. Rosenbach. London's work was published in 1927 in the limited-edition Portraits of Jews by Gilbert Stuart and other Early American Artists. This work was reprinted in 1969.

London's research led her to study silhouettes and miniatures of early American Jews, particularly those of silhouettist Augustin Edouard and miniaturist Edward Greene Malbone. Her work in these areas was documented in "Shades of my Forefathers," published 1941, and "Miniatures of Early American Jews," a 1953 imprint. These two works were reprinted in 1970 as a single volume titled "Miniatures and Silhouettes of Early American Jews." London also lectured on her research in American Jewish portraiture, and published articles in journals such as Daughters of the American Revolution and National Historical Magazine.

London married lawyer Benjamin Siegel in 1923. After a brief period in Cincinnati, the couple settled in the Boston area. Their only child, Robert Enoch Siegel, nicknamed "Bud", was born on June 5, 1925. He served in the Army in World War II, and was killed in France in 1944. London and her husband petitioned the War Department to award Robert the Bronze Star, but, despite countless appeals, their application was denied. In 1968, when the army broadened its criteria for conferring this citation, Robert was finally awarded the medal.

In 1949, London wrote a short play in memory of Robert, entitled "Immortal Son," which was performed at Emerson College in Boston in 1958. She also wrote an autobiographical account of her life, which contains information about her research into American Jewish portraiture. This work was published in 1980 as "A Girl from Boston."

Hannah Ruth London died in 1988 in Brookline, MA.

CHRONOLOGY

Jan. 2, 1894
Born in Boston, MA
1916
Graduated from Radcliffe College
1917-1918
Recreational counselor for settlement houses in Boston and New York City
1920
Begins working at The Copley Gallery, Boston and embarks upon research into American Jewish portraiture
1921
Presents first paper on early American Jewish portraiture at Philadelphia meeting of The American Jewish Historical Society
1923
Marries Benjamin M. Siegel
1925
Son Robert Enoch Siegel born
1927
Portraits of Jews by Gilbert Stuart and other Early American Artists published
1941
Shades of my Forefathers published
1944
Robert Siegel killed in action in France
1953
Miniatures of Early American Jews published
1969
Portraits of Jews by Gilbert Stuart and other Early American Artists republished
1970
Shades of my Forefathers and Miniatures of Early American Jews republished as a single work
1971
Husband Benjamin Siegel dies
1980
Autobiography A Girl from Boston published
1988
Dies in Brookline, MA

Extent

4.55 Linear Feet

Overview

Collection contains research notes and writings relating to London's works on early American Jewish portraits, miniatures, and silhouettes; this includes family histories of the subjects of the artwork, biographical information on the artists, and information about the works themselves. Also includes items relating to London's personal life, such as her genealogy and a notebook of letters written by her son Robert who was killed in action in World War II during his service in the army; notes, manuscripts, and published and unpublished articles and poetry; art catalogs; legal documents; lantern slides; photographs; correspondence; newspaper clippings; genealogical charts; handwritten sheet music; military medals; sound recordings; a theater program; and a scrapbook.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into two series, one containing London's work on American Jewish portraiture, and the other containing her personal/biographical materials. Each series is further divided into subseries arranged by subject, as follows.

Acquisition Information

Hannah Ruth London donated her papers to the Society in a series of accessions during her lifetime.

Digitization Note

Box 2 Folder 6 has been digitized as part of an ongoing digitization-on-demand program at the Center for Jewish History.

Related Material

American Jewish Historical Society:
  1. Mickleshanski-Abravanel family, Genealogy, 1903. Call No. P-276
Massachusetts Historical Society:
  1. Papers Related to a Federal Survey of Silhouettes, 1936-1946 Hannah R. London, creator. Call No. N-933
  2. Papers of Robert E. Siegel, 1925-1944. Call No. N-934

Appendix A: Lantern Slides Inventory

Box 4: Slides 1-21
  1. 1 - a) Alexander, Abraham; b) Myers, Miriam Etting (Mrs. Jacob Meyers), 1787-1808 (miniatures)
  2. 2 - de Falk,(Rabbi) Hayyim (by John Singleton Copley)
  3. 3 - a) de la Motta, Jacob (Dr.), 1789-1845; b) Levy, Uriah P. (Com.), 1792-1862
  4. 4 - da Ponte, Lorenzo, 1749-1837
  5. 5 - a) Etting, Frances Gratz (Mrs. Reuben Etting), 1771-1852; b) Etting, Reuben, 1762-1848 (miniatures)
  6. 6 - Etting, Solomon, 1764-1847 (silhouette)
  7. 7 - a) Etting, Solomon, 1764-1847; b) Etting, Rachel Gratz (Mrs. Solomon), 1764-1831
  8. 8 - a) Etting, Solomon, 1764-1847; b) Etting, Rachel Gratz (Mrs. Solomon), 1764-1831 (miniatures)
  9. 9 - Franks, Bilhah Abigail Levy (Mrs. Jacob Franks), 1696-1756
  10. 10-Franks, David and Phila (1720-1794; 1722-1811)
  11. 11-Franks, David Salisbury, 1742-1793; b) de Leon, Jacob, 1764-1828 (miniatures)
  12. 12-Franks, (Colonel) Isaac, 1759-1822 (by Gilbert Stuart)
  13. 13-Franks, Jacob, 1687-1769
  14. 14-Franks, Phila, (Mrs. Oliver DeLancey) 1722-1811
  15. 15-Gratz, Michael, 1740-1811 (by Thomas Sully)
  16. 16-Gratz, Miriam Simon, 1750-1808 (Mrs. Michael Gratz) (by Gilbert Stuart)
  17. 17-a) Gratz, Rachel, 1783-1823 b) Rebecca, 1781-1869 (miniatures),
  18. 18-Gratz, Rebecca , 1781-1869 (by Thomas Sully)
  19. 19-Gratz, Rebecca , 1781-1869 (by Thomas Sully)
  20. 20-Gratz, Rebecca , 1781-1869
  21. 21-Gratz, Richea Meyers-Cohen (Mrs. Barnard Gratz), 1731-1801
Box 5: Slides 22-43
  1. 22 - Isaacs, Isaac Aaron, 1825-1897
  2. 23 - Judah, Mrs. S. W. and Miss J.P. Noah
  3. 24 - Josephson, Manuel, 1729-1796
  4. 25 - Josephson, Rachel Judah (Mrs. Manuel), 1732-1797
  5. 26 - Isaacs, Frances, 1783-1854
  6. 27 - Isaacs, Justina Brandly Lazarus (Mrs. Joshua Isaacs), 1752-1825
  7. 28 - Isaacs, Joshua, 1744-1810
  8. 29 - Isaacs. Solomon, 1786-1855
  9. 30 - Israel, Hannah Erwin (Mrs. Israel Israel), 1757-1813
  10. 31 - Israel, Israel, 1744-1822
  11. 32 - Jacobs, Solomon, 1777-1827 (by Thomas Sully)
  12. 33 - Jacobs, Solomon, 1777-1827
  13. 34 - Levy, Fanny Yates (Mrs. Jacob C. Levy), 1797 - ? (by Thomas Sully)
  14. 35 - Levy, Grace Mears (Mrs. Moses Levy), 1694- 1740
  15. 36 - Levy, Moses (Judge), 1756-1826 (by Rembrandt Peale)
  16. 37 - Levy, Moses Raphael, 1665-1728 (2)
  17. 38 - a) Moses, Solomon, 1774-1857; b) Levy, Sarah Coades (Mrs. Samson Levy), 1776-1854
  18. 39 - a) Rivera, Aaron Rodriguez, 1793-1838; b) Levy, Simeon, 1748-1825
  19. 40 - Mordecai, (Maj.) Alfred, 1804-1887
  20. 41 - Moses, (Maj.) Meyer, 1779-1833 (by Thomas Sully)
  21. 42 - Myers, Eliza Judah (Mrs. Moses Myers), 1763-1823 (by Gilbert Stuart)
  22. 43 - Myers, Esther (Mrs. John Myers), 1779-1865 (by Thomas Sully?)
Box 6: Slides 44-65
  1. 44 - Myers, Gustavus A. 1801-1869 (by Thomas Sully)
  2. 45 - Myers, John (Jacob), 1762-? (by Thomas Sully?)
  3. 46 - a) Myers, Miriam Etting (Mrs. Jacob Myers), 1787-1808; b) Moses, Isaac C., 1781-1834
  4. 47 - Myers, (Maj.) Mordecai, 1776-1871 (by John Wesley Jarvis)
  5. 48 - Myers, Moses, 1752-1835
  6. 49 - Noah, Mordecai Manuel, 1785-1851
  7. 50 - Phillips, Jonas, 1735-1803
  8. 51 - a) Phillips, Arabella Solomon (Mrs. Zalegman Phillips), 1786-1826; b) Phillips, Zalegman, 1779- 1839
  9. 52 - Rivera, Jacob Rodriguez, 1717-1789
  10. 53 - Seixas, Rachel Levy (Mrs. Isaac Mendes Seixas), 1719-1797
  11. 54 - Adams, John
  12. 55 - Adams, John Quincy
  13. 56 - (Mrs). Anthony
  14. 57 - Hancock, John
  15. 58 - (Mrs.) Otis
  16. 59 - Sewall, Margaret
  17. 60 - Washington, George
  18. 61 - Copley, Mr. & Mrs. John
  19. 62 - "5 miniatures by James Peale"
  20. 63 - "The Torn Hat by Thomas Sully"
  21. 64 - "Silhouette Technology"
  22. 65 - Monticello
Box 7: Slides 66-81
  1. 66 - Israel, Hannah Erwin (Mrs. Israel Israel), 1757-1813
  2. 67 - Israel, Israel, 1744-1822
  3. 68 - Karigal, (Rabbi) Raphael Hayyim Isaac, 1733-1777
  4. 69 - Levy, Martha Lampley (Mrs. Sampson Levy, Sr.), 1731-1807
  5. 70 - Levy, Mordecai M., 1808-1850 and Levy, Jane Hart (Mrs. Mordecai M.), 1816-1865
  6. 71 - Levy, Samson (Jr.), 1761-1831
  7. 72 - Levy, (Commodore) Uriah Phillips, 1792-1862
  8. 73 - Moses, Mrs. Solomon (Rachel Gratz), 1783-1823 (by Gilbert Stuart)
  9. 74 - Moses, Solomon, 1774-1857 (by Gilbert Stuart)
  10. 75 - Moss, John
  11. 76 - Moss, Samuel Lyons, 1811-1870, Isabelle Harris (Mrs. Samuel Lyons Moss), 1819-1907, and children
  12. 77 - Myers, Samuel, 1775-1836 (by Gilbert Stuart)
  13. 78 - a) Solomon, Sam; b) Mrs. Esther "Capt." Moses, nee Phillips (Mrs. Meyer II,)
  14. 79 - Stiles, Ezra, 1727-1795
  15. 80 - Touro, Abraham, 1777-1822 (by Gilbert Stuart)
  16. 81 - Unidentified miniatures
Title
Guide to the Papers of Hannah Ruth London (1894-1988), undated, 1919-1990   P-347
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Deena Schwimmer
Date
© 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • June, October 2020: EHyman: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

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