Ruth Lynda Deyo: A Hatshepsut of our Time

By Emily Finan

In honor of Women’s History Month, this week I’d like to honor one of our own remarkable Hudson Valley native women, Ruth Lynda Deyo, by examining some of her artifacts from within our archives. Deyo (1884-1960), born in Poughkeepsie to Peter Deyo and Ida Florence Woolsey Deyo, was a pianist prodigy.  While other three years olds were mastering the art of potty training, Deyo was mastering the art of piano composition by writing and performing original works at parlor concerts, church gatherings, and local musicals.1  She continued to hone her skills throughout her childhood and on September 8, 1893, a nine year old little Deyo captivated crowds with a recital of her own works in the Assembly Halls of the Women’s Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where she was compared to Mozart.2  By the age of 10, Deyo had studied under the great William Mason in New York and was instructed to travel to Europe to further augment her knowledge under the mentorship of Varette Stepanoff, a Letchetizky expert.3  Before Deyo was even a teenager she was a renowned concert pianist and world traveler, certainly making her more modern than most women of her time.

Deyo’s successful travels in Europe produced this program within our collection, following her series of concerts in London. Although the program is undated, it probably originates around the time of her growing success as a concert pianist in the early 1900’s and would have been distributed at her recitals. At this time, the Musical Times noted “the attractiveness of her playing” at Deyo’s November 7, 1905 performance at Aeolian Hall in London.4  Deyo’s name appears again in the Musical Times for her June 1, 1911 concert at London’s Bechstein Hall, where she performed a sonata in F sharp minor by Schumann.5 Within the pamphlet, one can detect Deyo’s extreme global prominence. London, Paris, Boston, Cincinnati, Canada, and New York all produced glowing praise over Deyo’s extraordinary talents.  However, not only was she a talented and driven composer and an experienced world traveler, but she was also deeply fascinated with Egyptian culture, which she sought to incorporate to her musical world.

Similar to her early interest in composition, from a young age Deyo was also captivated by Egyptian culture and operas. This fascination carried into her adult life through her desire to produce an Egyptian themed opera. At the age of eight, it was said that her favorite phrases were “once upon a time, they lived happily ever after and the word Egypt.”6  In pursuit of her ambitions, Deyo traveled to Egypt in 1924 to study ancient Egyptian history and to collect folk music to help her create historically authentic sets and costume designs for her Egyptian Opera, which she named Diadem of Stars.7 Therefore, Deyo can be considered a bit of a Renaissance woman of the arts world; she was a master of the piano and the art of composition, she immersed herself within various cultures, and she studied Egyptian art and architecture in order to accurately replicate it.  Deyo was also a bit eccentric.  She held strong convictions that she was actually a conduit between the Egyptian sun god, Ra, and the rest of the world.  She avowed that he spoke to her and told her she would soon meet the love of her life.8  Ironically enough, Ra was right and Deyo met her husband, Charles Dalton, soon after.

The inspiration for the subject of Deyo’s Egyptian themed opera may have been born in her childhood fascination or her direct connection with Ra, but it is more likely that it was also influenced by contemporary Egyptomania.  First coined in the early 19th century by architect Sir Soane in reaction to the contemporary decorative arts being influenced by the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt in 1798 and ensuing British invasion, the term in this time also refers to the explosion of fascination surrounding the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb.9  Fatefully, Deyo was in Egypt at this moment and was good friends with Howard Carter, the excavator of King Tut’s tomb, and her connections allowed her to view artifacts before the rest of the world.  For instance, upon seeing the limestone head of Nefertiti, she asserted that she saw a resemblance to herself, which might explain why her opera focuses specifically on Nefertiti and Akhenaton.10  Our second Deyo artifact is a letter she wrote to her Aunt Gertrude, who lived in the Fort at Huguenot Street, concerning her Diadem of Stars opera. (insert letter front and back)  This letter is dated August 28, 1937 and states that “King Farouk [of Egypt] expressed a wish to hear our opera, parts of it were sung for him at a reception given in his honor at the Egyptian Embassy in London in June” and that he loved it so much he “wanted it to be given in Cairo.” Deyo’s success and immense reputation is unmistakable.  For a woman of her time, she was truly remarkable.

Deyo is an impressive woman even for today’s standards, but even more so in her contemporary society.  When women were only just getting the right to vote, Deyo was becoming a master pianist and supporting herself through her legendary talents.  Deyo “performed frequently, composed, worked as a pioneering ethnomusicologist, and became something of and Egyptologist – all at a time when women engaged in few of these activities.”11  Deyo can be labeled a feminist of her time; her achievements undermine gender constraints and underscore the assertion that women are capable of any task, even those categorized as solely masculine.  Deyo performed the work of men before her such as Beethoven, Schumann and Mozart, surpassing their constraints by creating her own masterpieces.  She traveled the world and gained global acknowledgement and respect for her compositions.  Deyo also was an activist; she thought that her opera could change the world if she could only bring “Akhenaten’s vision of peace and prosperity” to her viewers.12  Deyo is an inspiration to all and the impeccable candidate for a closer examination to honor Women’s History Month.

Sears, Ann. “An American Composer Answers the Call to Egypt.Sonneck Society for American Music Bulletin, 23, no. 1. (Spring 1997).

2 Sears.

3 Sears.

4London Concerts and Recitals,”  The Musical Times, Vol. 46, No. 754 (Dec. 1, 1905): 809-81, Accessed March 8, 2017.

5London Concerts,”  The Musical Times, Vol. 52, No. 821 (Jul. 1, 1911): 471-473, Accessed March 8, 2017.

6 Sears.

7 Sears.

8 Wheaton College, Ruth Linda Deyo, video, 02:51, May 2016.

9 Brian A. Curran, “Review: Egyptomania: Egypt In Western Art, 1730-1930” by Jean-Marcel Humbert, Michael Pantazzi and Christiane Ziegler, The Art Bulletin Vol. 78, No. 4 (Dec., 1996): 739-745.

10 Sears.

11 Sears.

12 Wheaton College, Ruth Linda Deyo.

Conversation Pieces: Native American Basketry

By Lauren Diener

This week’s object is a basket, fashioned by a Native American tribe located in the Adirondack region. The area in question boasts a tumultuous history between the European settlers and the native New York tribes. The Adirondacks were never permanently settled by the natives, but were instead used by the Algonquin people and Mohawk nation as a means for hunting and travel. This system worked well for the natives, as they had a reliable source for food and passage. However, the harmonious relationship between the mountains and the natives came to a standstill with the arrival of European settlers. Thus began a struggle over the ownership of the land and all of the resources it possessed. The first European settlers to grace the Adirondack region were completely entranced by the amount of resources available. Due to the mass amount of deforestation and sheer population size, Europe had been stripped bare of its useful resources. To these Europeans, the Adirondacks represented a way to amass an enormous wealth. It wasn’t until the settlers encountered the natives that they realized that extracting the objects in question was not going to be a simple task. Frankly, the native’s “barbarous” behavior frightened the Europeans. A Jesuit recounts the Huron practice of burning oneself “for the pleasure of it,” although this act probably served a ritual purpose. As any first grader can tell you, the relationship that ensued was not amiable.

The end of the American Revolution left the native population decimated. Between the war and the diseases brought by the Europeans, the tribes had lost most of their livelihood. The land that they once cultivated was now inhabited by a new kind of people entirely. The natives quickly found that survival now meant doing business with the settlers. Exchanges between the two were always one-sided, as the colonists held all of the power. Europeans regarded the native made goods as a sort of novelty, and the demand for these “conversation pieces” grew.

Native American baskets became popular amongst European settlers. These baskets varied in size and design depending on what tribe they originated from. This article’s featured basket, most closely resembles the baskets fashioned by the Algonquin tribe. The Algonquin employed a technique utilizing splints to construct these baskets. It is under much scrutiny as to whether these peoples created this technique, or if it was borrowed from the colonists. According to experts, most of the splints are made of Ash, either black or brown, and White Oak. If grass was integrated into the infrastructure of said baskets, it would most likely be a type of sweet grass. What truly made the baskets special were the stamps that often adorned them. Natives would create these embellishments by carving shapes into potatoes that would later be dipped in dye and pressed onto the baskets.

It is remarkable that these baskets were able to convey two completely different feelings. To the natives who created it, the basket was the product of desperation. It was a reminder that they were stripped of their humanity, and forced to comply with the terms imposed on them. To the colonists, the basket was a statement piece that was to be envied by neighbors.


Burdick, Neal , and Stephan Sulavik. “Adirondack: Of Indians and Mountains.” Adirondack Explorer. July 2005. Accessed February 25, 2017.

Early Historic Accounts of Basket and Bag Weaving in the Northeast.” NativeTech: Native American Technology and Art. Accessed February 25, 2017.

Bruchac, Margaret , and Elizabeth Peng. “Potato Stamps and Ash Splints.” Penn Museum. May 5, 2015. Accessed February 25, 2017.

A Ladle’s Tale

My name is Hannah, and I am a curatorial intern at Huguenot Street. As a Senior art history and Italian Studies major and Ancient World minor at SUNY New Paltz, I am fascinated by language and the cultural material of previous generations and civilizations.

This week’s object is a slender ladle that I came across in collections storage. Although not necessarily an object that one would think of as incredibly noteworthy, I found myself drawn to its delicacy among the other beautiful, yet somewhat clunkier, teapots and dishes of the silverware cabinet. Additionally intrigued by the two-sided coin-shaped medallion at the bottom of the ladle’s head, I set out to explore its purpose, whether decorative, commemorative, or something else entirely. This exploration led to unexpected results. Far from being a simple silver object, this ladle, and many others like it can be tied to many facets of history. Indeed, it tells the story of parties and social gatherings, in addition to stories of public taste, migration from Europe to the Americas and even treason.

Although the use of ladles in Europe can be traced back to the Roman era, and the production of silver flatware is seen in Sheffield, England form as early as the thirteenth century, silver ladles were not wide-spread until the mid-18th century, following the rise in popularity of the silver soup tureen. Silver ladles were quickly produced in many shapes and sizes, and the number of ladle-type categories seems to have grown infinitely. Indeed, in addition to the silver soup ladle that was to serve as a companion to the soup tureen, we see the emergence of silver sauce ladles, stew ladles and slotted ladles, just to name a few. The slender and twisted handle of the ladle from our collection suggests that it would have either served punch or hot toddy, a warm bourbon-based beverage said to keep aches, pains, and the cold away.

Identifying our ladle as a punch or toddy ladle explains the presence of the coin- shaped medallion in the ladle’s bowl. This is in fact a true 18th-century English coin dating back to Queen Anne’s reign. As punch grew more and more popular following its introduction as a sweet and fanciful beverage among the European elite in the mid-17th century, ladles were required for proper service. 17th-century punch ladles, although not wide-spread across Europe, were substantial pieces of silver as they tended to be composed of a heavy round silver bowls and silver handles. The scarcity of silver in the 18th century, however, led to a change in punch ladle composition. Ladle heads became lighter, and their handles were carved from alternative materials, such as whalebone or horn. In order to counterbalance the loss in weight and strength due to the change of material composition, however, silversmiths began melding silver shillings in the bottom of their ladle’s bowls.

The increasing scarcity of silver in England led to the appearance of the Queen Anne style that was popular during and leading up to her reign from 1702 to 1714, and lasted well into the reign of her successor George I (1714-1727).  The Queen Anne style is characterized by its simplicity and lack of fanciful decoration. The slenderness of our ladle corresponds to this style, and is therefore indicative of its age. Additionally, we know that this ladle must date back to at least 1709, as this is the date indicated by the coin. Indeed, inscribed in Latin on either side, we know that it dates from the middle of Queen Anne’s reign. Anna Dei Gracia (Anne by the grace of god) flanks her portrait on one side, and MAG. BRI. FR. ET HIB. REG. 1709, (Magna Britannia, Francia et Hibernia Regina 1709 – Queen of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, 1709) surrounds the insignia of the shield of Great Britain following the union of Scotland with England, Wales, and Ireland.

Interestingly, the scarcity of silver in England in the early 18th-century led to an increased and uncontrollable coinage vandalism. Indeed, silversmiths melted down coins, or acquired silver illegally from “opportunists who amassed bullion by clipping small pieces of silver from coins.” Many of the silver coins in circulation at the time were in fact marked by small chips, and the shortage of silver meant that the government could not replace the vandalized coins. Since the early seventeenth century, any form of coin vandalism had significant political connotations with severe outcomes, as it was seen as an attack on the monarchy and an act of high treason. If an individual was found guilty of these crimes he could be hanged, drawn, and quartered if male, or strangled and burned if female.  Needless to say, it is unsurprising that the “coined” punch and toddy ladles that come down to us today are, for the most part, unmarked and unidentifiable in terms of their creator.


Cointrust. Queen Anne Coins. Accessed March 1, 2017.

Collectors Weekly. Antique Sterling Silver Ladles. Accessed March 1, 2017.

McNab, Jessie. Silver. New York: Cooper-Hewitt Museum, 1981.

Raising Sceptors.” Coins, Crime and History. Accessed March 1, 2017.

Get Real: Rachel Maria Hasbrouck’s Rendition of The Dalby Gate, Skane

Hey there, my name is Emily Finan and I’m the new Curatorial/Collections intern this semester!  I’m currently a Junior at SUNY New Paltz, majoring in art history and minoring in history.

This week’s object is a painting by Rachel Maria Hasbrouck. The oil on canvas is dated 1892, and is a reproduction of a renowned oil painting originally created by Hugo Salmson in 1884 entitled, The Dalby Gate, Skane.  Originally exhibited in the “Modern Young Girls” exhibit in Musée d’Orsay from June 6 to September 24, 1989, Salmson’s piece portrays the exhibit’s theme of the emerging young heroine, common in the contemporary literature of Victor Hugo. Salmson depicts a snapshot of mundane life in the Swedish countryside, portraying a peasant woman holding an infant, flanked by an adolescent boy and girl.  Each figure, save the young girl, is entranced in their own personal actions; the young boy is fixated on counting his bright red berries, the peasant woman faces away from the viewer and watches the infant in her arms who is also engrossed with the red berries.  The young girl, however, stares straight out, breaking the boundaries of the canvas and initiating an interaction with the viewer.  The young girls direct gaze is probably the reason for the painting’s inclusion in the exhibition in Paris, a town which Rachel Maria Hasbrouck often frequented.


Daughter of Lodewick and Rebecca Hasbrouck, Rachel Maria Hasbrouck was born January 20, 1837, lived until May 23, 1911, was never married and enjoyed a fruitful life engaged in the art world.  Until the ripe age of seventy-two, Hasbrouck remained involved in the art world at the communal level.  In 1909, at the town of Poughkeepsie’s celebration of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River, Hasbrouck was chosen to commemorate the Hudson Fulton Celebration by sketching the town’s “Court of Honor,” in full view of a crowd of spectators. As a distinguished artist, Rachel even had her own studio above the First National Bank on Main Street (although it is unclear whether it was New Paltz’s, Marbletown’s or Poughkeepsie’s,) and “studied art with the masters in Paris, among others with Harry Thompson, a very celebrated master.” Her Parisian travels inevitably led her to the exploration and fascination with the Realism art movement, as The Dalby Gate, Skane is one of three realist based reproductions by Hasbrouck within the collection at Historic Huguenot Street.


The Realist art movement was a product of the Revolution of 1848, corresponding with the fresh desire for democracy through focusing its subject matter on modern subjects of everyday life. Often depicting manual labor, the peasantry and rural landscapes, Realism sought to illustrate the “gritty detail of the present-day existence of humble people,” which placed the lives of working class into view, and elevated their statuses.

Simultaneously, Paris was also the center of another contemporary art movement: Impressionism.  Innovated in Paris in 1874 by the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers etc., Impressionism also sought to depict images of modern life but with vastly different techniques.  Through “short broken brushstrokes that barely convey forms, pure unblended colors and an emphasis on the effects of light,” Impressionism revolutionized the depiction of contemporary rural and suburban scenes that realism had portrayed through more traditional methods.


It is curious, then, that Hasbrouck was progressive enough to travel to Paris, the center of the art world which must have been fully engulfed in the fervor of Impressionism, yet still chose to emulate a more traditional art movement.  Although Impressionism and Realism contrast immensely in terms of style, both depict similar subject matter that Hasbrouck seemed to be interested in.  It is a mystery why Hasbrouck would not also be engulfed in the newly developed Impressionist art movement and why she purposefully turned back to more traditional styles.  Is her choice of reproduction a reflection of her traditional roots as an American, or did she just simply admire the aesthetics of Realism?  The answer is a mystery.

Works Cited

Aged Artist at Work.”  Poughkeepsie Eagle, August 27, 1909.  Accessed February 14, 2017.

 Musée d’Orsay.  “Modern Young Girls.”  Accessed February 17, 2017.

 The Hasbrouck Family in America Volumes I & II, Edition 3.  “Rachel Maria Hasbrouck.”  New Paltz, NY: Huguenot Historical Society of New Paltz, NY, 1986.

The Met.  “Impressionism: Art and Modernity.”  Accessed February 17, 2017.

The Met.  “Nineteenth-Century French Realism.”  Accessed February, 17, 2017.




Are Dollhouses Toys?

By: Madison Petrella

This dollhouse was recently found in the Deyo House’s attic, having previously lived in the previous interpretation’s toy room. Unlike the typical lavish dollhouse that comes to mind, this one was fashioned out of a crate and is rather small, consisting of four “rooms”. Although a bit worn down, small details are still present, like the design of the wallpaper and the kitchen tiles. This was clearly a dollhouse that was meant for play, not dissimilar from dollhouses nowadays, yet a far cry from the original intention for these tiny houses that have come to be thought of as toys.


Dollhouses are not an invention of recent history. The most popular span for the dollhouse was between 1700 to 1900.1 However, they were popular before then and clearly have remained so. Centuries ago, the toy was not referred to as “dollhouse” and although they had a few different purposes, they were not meant as toys. Typically dollhouses, called baby houses, were designed as exact replicas of the owner’s estate and were intended to be a representation of that person’s wealth. Dozens of highly skilled artisans would work on these tiny homes costing thousands of dollars and would include the smallest details found in the real home. Some dollhouses had wine cellars with bottles of real wine; others were equipped with running water and electricity.2 Sometimes dollhouses were used as a way for young girls to learn how to run a household, like 17th century Nuremburg Kitchens.3 Dutch dollhouses beginning in the 17th century, called cabinet houses, were designed to mirror the homes of brides to be given to her by her new husband to help alleviate homesickness.4 And Jessie Burton, author of The Miniaturist, believes that women, restricted to their homes and societal expectations, used dollhouses as a way to escape into a dream world much like young girls today.5 Mass production and cheaper costs in the 19th century contributed to the dollhouse’s evolution into a toy.6


There seems to always have been a fascination with the idea of a tiny world, whether it was reflected in these houses or in stories like Hans Christian Anderson’s Thumbelina in 1835 or recent movies like 20th Century Fox’s Epic in 2013. In the past, the creations of these tiny homes with their exquisite detail were works of art created by highly skilled craftsmen. Nowadays, although many dollhouses can be found in toy stores, made of plastic and mass-produced, there are many shops around the world keeping alive the tradition of adult dollhouses and the skilled artistry their creation requires.


1“The history of doll houses.” Boomini. Accessed January 17, 2017.


3Cooley, Nicole. “Dollhouses Weren’t Invented for Play.” The Atlantic. July 22, 2016.

Accessed January 17, 2017.

4“The history of doll houses.” Boomini. Accessed January 17, 2017.

5Burton, Jessie. “The miraculous healing power of a doll’s house.” The Independent.

December 10, 2014. Accessed January 17, 2017.

6Cooley, Nicole.

Prohibition Prize Medal: Prohibition Era Anti-Alcohol Campaigns

By: Madison Petrella

Similar to the anti-drug campaigns in schools nowadays, during the Prohibition Era campaigns were organized for school children to discourage the consumption of alcohol. These campaigns took the form of elocution contests where these young children were given the opportunity to recite speeches written by prominent leaders of the temperance movement with the hope that the children would take these leaders’ words to heart and be deterred from drinking when they were older. Winners of these contests were awarded silver medals along with the opportunity to move onto higher competitions where they could win gold or diamond ones.ootw-prohibition-medal

Prohibition came about from the temperance movement, which was a period of renewed religious fervor in America during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Prohibition refers to the period of American history following the ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1919, which not only forbade the selling of alcoholic beverages but also made its manufacturing and transportation illegal. The amendment was repealed in 1933 with the ratification of the 21st Amendment due in part to the increased rate of crime.


The silver medal pictured here is a Demorest Prohibition prize medal donated by an unknown donor. This particular prohibition prize medal was created in 1886 by William Jennings Demorest. He was a well-known leader of the temperance movement, having run for mayor representing the Prohibition Party, and even helped to found a Temperance Town in Georgia named after him.

Sources: Staff. “Prohibition.”, A&E Television Networks, 2009.

Schock, Barbara. “The Demorest Medal.” Sandburg’s Hometown, 3 Mar. 2014.

Unknown. “Demorest Prohibition Prize Medal.” Center For the History of Medicine,

The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

On Display: Nicholas Maes’ “A Frugal Repast”

By Carly Benedict

Historic Huguenot Street is currently showing the fascinating exhibit, Marking the Occasion: Dutch Silver Spoons from the Collection of George Way and Jonathan Z. Friedman. The exhibit celebrates the influence of Dutch culture on the Hudson Valley and in particular on the Huguenot settlers by commemorating the art of Dutch silver spoons from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Huguenots first arrived in the Dutch colony of New Netherland and settled in the town of Wiltwijck (today’s Kingston) before going on to found New Paltz. In this new Dutch environment, Huguenots were influenced by their culture and way of life. They probably came into contact with many forms of Dutch arts and crafts, including silver spoons like the ones displayed in the exhibition.

The importance of these skillfully crafted silver spoons in Dutch culture was great. They were given to commemorate important events like births, marriages, and even deaths. They were highly prized for their artistry but also for their symbol of wealth. For these reasons, the spoons were often used as heirlooms in families and passed down from generation to generation. This is how the silver spoons and their tradition made its way to the New World and to the Hudson Valley. Silver spoons were so important that they made appearances in other art forms, like painting. The exhibit features four contemporary Dutch paintings from the collection of Jonathan Z. Friedman that all feature people taking part in a meal in some way. These works give a glimpse into Dutch life during the 17th century and show the cultural context surrounding the spoons.

Dutch painting has a rich history of its own. During the 17th century, the Netherlands was experiencing a golden age. They had recently won their independence from Spain and were thriving economically and culturally. The Dutch were proud of their prosperity and expressed their feelings of pride in their many artistic traditions. Painting during this time took off and became a refined and highly respected craft. Artists honed their skills and made names for themselves among the social elite that funded and purchased many of their works.

Portraits and genre paintings, or paintings showing scenes of everyday life were particularly popular in the Netherlands. The paintings featured in the exhibit fall perfectly into this category of genre paintings. One of the paintings features an old woman eating a meal. It is called “A Frugal Repast” and was created by the Dutch painter Nicholas Maes. Maes lived from 1693 to 1691 during the Dutch Golden Age. He was a pupil of Rembrandt and began working in the famous artist’s studio in 1648. It is from Rembrandt that he learned to use dark shadows and glowing colors to evoke the feeling of a dramatic light. He mostly did domestic genre scenes, with his favorite subjects being women spinning, reading the Bible, and preparing a meal, like “A Frugal Repast”.


Much of Dutch painting, like the works of Nicholas Maes, seems ordinary and unassuming at first glance. On the surface they are depictions of things that people could have seen on any given day. It seems, when you look further, and really observe how the artists took such care to render these scenes and infuse them with vibrant colors and glowing light, they are really doing something bigger. They are capturing the extraordinary in the ordinary, the magnificence in the quiet. They serve to remind us that the scenes of everyday life are things of beauty that we should take time to appreciate instead of passing over them and taking them for granted.


Looking back at this time in history from today’s perspective, it seems the spoons are doing the exact same thing. On one hand, they were modeled after the utilitarian objects that people used to nourish themselves every day, but on the other hand they were crafted to be elaborate mementos of significant events and familial status. Although it may not have been their intended purpose, these spoons, in their very essence, commemorate the extraordinary lives that people lived every day. It is through this commemoration that we today can understand what life was like for these people that lived long ago.

This weekend, collector George Way will be on site for a champagne reception to discuss the history and significance of the collection. During the reception, guests will have the opportunity to handle the spoons that at on display and view them up-close.


Nicolaes Maes.” Rijks Museum. Web. 8 December, 2016.

Wheelock, Arthur K. “Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century.” National Gallery of Art. Web. 8 December, 2016.

Historic Huguenot Street Celebrates Dutch Culture with Silver Spoon ExhibitHistoric Huguenot Street. N.p., 23 Sept. 2016. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.

On Display: 19th Century Oil Painting of New Paltz Patentee Descendant Deborah Bloomer DuBois

19th Century Oil Painting of
New Paltz Patentee Descendant 
Deborah Bloomer DuBois
Restored and On View at Historic Huguenot Street

Historic Huguenot Street is pleased to announce the restoration of a 19th-century oil on canvas portrait of Deborah Bloomer DuBois, made possible with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and Greater Hudson Heritage Network Conservation Treatment Program. The restored painting may be viewed at the DuBois Fort Visitor Center during regular weekend hours now through December 18.


“Yet to be attributed to a specific artist, this portrait is a charming representation of demure femininity and ably replicates the clothing, hairstyles, hand-made lace, and jewelry common in the 1830s in the Hudson Valley,” said Josephine Bloodgood, HHS Director of Curatorial and Preservation Affairs.

According to Bloodgood, the painting was donated to the HHS Permanent Collection in 2015 by Nathanial DuBois Clark. When the painting was first received, the name of the sitter was unknown; however, based on the paintings provenance and through genealogical research in the HHS Archives, the subject was identified as Deborah Bloomer DuBois (1800-1861), wife of Nathanial DuBois, a third great grandson of Louis DuBois (1626-1696), one of New Paltz’s original patentees. Nathanial was also the grandson of Revolutionary War Major Lewis DuBois who, around 1760, established a farm in Marlboro, New York in the southeast corner of Ulster County. While specific details about Deborah Bloomer DuBois herself are yet to be discovered, the portrait helps tell the story of how descendants of Huguenot Street migrated beyond the original New Paltz patent in search of new opportunities and eventually established homes throughout the Hudson Valley.


Since its acquisition by HHS, the painting was cleaned, relined, and stabilized by Yost Conservation, LLC. Yost Conservation specializes in fine oil paintings from the 18th through 20th centuries, having provided services for the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, as well as the New Britain Museum of American Art and the Florence Griswold Museum. Over the years, Thomas Yost and his team have conserved over 20,000 paintings from across the United States that represent all major schools of American Art.

The Conservation Treatment Program is a partnership of the New York State Council on the Arts and the Greater Hudson Heritage Network that provides support for treatment procedures by professional conservators to aid in stabilizing and preserving objects in collections of museums, historical and cultural organizations in New York State.

From the Head to the Heart: The Sentimentality of Hair Art

This week’s object is a sculpture of a floral bouquet made almost entirely out of human hair. Although we might see it as bizarre today, hair art was very popular in the 19th century. Nowadays, we view hair that is no longer on our heads with certain distaste. When we find hair of unknown origin lying around we cringe and if we were to happen upon a lock of hair carefully stored away, we would probably be filled with a feeling of creepiness and chills. Surprisingly, hair has not always been viewed in this way. In fact, it once held a very dear and lovely position in cultures around the world.


For centuries, hair has been used as a sentimental symbol of love and devotion. The practice of exchanging a lock of hair with a loved one or a dear friend has appeared in many cultures around the world in one form or another. Hair has also been used in the mourning process. People would often cut off a piece of hair from a deceased family member and keep it as a memento. You might be wondering why hair was chosen to be used for these purposes. Hair doesn’t decay for a very long while, a few centuries at least, and it often remains looking like it did the day it was taken from its owners head for years after as well. Therefore, hair is the perfect enduring symbol for remembrance.

The practice of using hair in art dates back to as early as the 12th century. During the middle ages, people would take hair that they saved from a deceased relative or friend and weave it into pieces of jewelry such as rings and brooches so that they could always wear the token of remembrance with them. During the 19th century, however, hair art really took off.  People during the Victorian Era were very sentimental. Mourning rituals became a common practice due to the tragic deaths of soldiers during the Civil War and the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in 1861. Mourning clothing became staples of mainstream fashion and sentimental practices having to do with the commemoration of death, such as hair art, increased in popularity.


At the same time hair art evolved into a popular pastime among middle and high class women. Women would get ideas and patterns from magazines and books to make their own creations. They created the traditional jewelry, but many also created floral wreaths and bouquets that could then be displayed in their homes. To create these floral arrangements, they would often take hair from different family members, both living and deceased, and weave them together into one art piece. This symbolized family unity and the bond that all of the members shared. They would sometimes leave room to expand the arrangement for when their family grew.

This example of hair art that we have in our collection certainly seems to be an example of a nostalgic homemade creation. It is of an unknown date, but we do know that it was owned by Mrs. John LeFevre Deyo who lived from 1823 to 1911. We do not know for sure if she created it herself, but it was displayed in her parlor, so there is a good chance that she is the artist. We also do not know if the hair used was taken from specific family members, but the care and detail present in the intricate fashioning of each flower and stem shows that this piece was clearly dear to whoever made it.

Hudson, Rachel “On Display: A Curious Art” Historic Huguenot Street. 8 October, 2014. Web.
Luke, Walter “The Lost Art of Sentimental Hairwork” 4 February, 2012. Web.
Palka, Lindsey  “Victorian Hair Art and Mourning Traditions.” 25 July 2016. Web.
“History of Hair Art.” Accessed 17 November 2016. Web.

The Power of the Vote!

By Joseph Rochez

Through most of American history, participating in government decision through voting was limited to only a portion of the American population, which in itself is very undemocratic for a nation that prides itself on being a democracy. Before the Civil War, it was mostly property owning white males who enjoyed the privilege of voting. It was not until the end of the Civil War that African Americans were given that right to vote through the passing of the 15th Amendment. Even then, southern Democrats for the next 80 years made it difficult for people of color to vote. Southern states such as Georgia and Tennessee issued literacy tests and poll taxes to hinder basically most of the Black population from voting. These were just a few methods that were used to keep people of color from voting.  It wasn’t until the 1920s that women were given suffrage in what was known to be a progressive era in the United States.

Even with the progressive era closing some inequality among gender, African Americans and other minority groups still suffered some limitations at the voting booths which gave White people the edge when it came to voting. The Civil Rights movement in the 1950s as well as the burden of the Cold War put pressure on the federal government to act on the inequality and injustices towards African American communities that were guaranteed to them as citizens under the court of law and the constitution. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 under Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson eliminated barriers at the state and local level which made it unconstitutional to restrict voting by using literacy tests and poll taxes. At this time in history, the Democratic party has become increasingly liberal and progressive while marginalizing the conservative and racist dixiecrats (Southern Democrats). This legislation came following the violence that occurred in Selma, Alabama during a peaceful voting rights march where state troopers violently beat many of the protesters to near death.

In 2016, we see greater minority participation in local and federal elections. Although this is encouraging, voter turnout is low. Only about 53% of the general population votes in presidential elections. It’s even less for congressional elections. In a nation like Britain, voter turnout is 61%. Voting is essential to democracy. Throughout the 20th century we can see that American society makes an effort to show that it is a true democracy and urges Americans to vote. This pin in the HHS Permanent Collection is from 1952, urging Americans to vote from Chicago and was distributed by the American Legion, a wartime veteran’s organization that was formed in 1919. Promoting the vote is probably what led to an increasing amount of Americans eligible to vote to do just that. It is probably the reason why Dwight Eisenhower won on a landslide over Democrat Adlai E. Stevenson in 1952. There is a saying; ‘when you want something that badly, you go and get it’. The change you want isn’t going to happen unless you act on it.

I pledge to vote

Click here to see more 20th century campaign pins from our historic collections.


Desilver, Drew. “U.S. Voter Turnout Trails Most Developed Countries.” Pew Research Center. Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts. Web. 2 August 2016. Staff. “Voting Rights Act.” A+E Networks, 2009. Web. 1 November 2016.

The Importance of Voting.” MassVOTE. Boston: MassVOTE, 2013. Web. 1 November 2016.

Ooicu812baby. Vtg Antique Estate Very Rare 1952 I Voted Flag Pin Back Button LJ Imber Chicago.” eBay Inc. Web. 1 November 2016.