© 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Lathrop C. and Mabel H. Urner Harper Photograph Collection
ca. 1872-1954, n.d
(Bulk 1891-1934)
 PR 121

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Jennifer Lewis

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on December 13, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Harper, Lathrop Colgate, 1867-1950.
Title: Lathrop C. and Mabel H. Urner Harper Photograph Collection
Dates [inclusive]: [1872]-1954, undated (Bulk 1891-1934)
Abstract: Collection of personal photographs of Mabel Herbert Urner and Lathrop Colgate Harper, their extended family, their Gramercy Park home and their extended vacations to Europe. Publicity photographs taken for Mabel Urner's newspaper column are included.
Quantity: 3.6 Linear feet (6 boxes)
Location note: Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections
Call Phrase: PR 121

Return to Top »


Biographical Note

Lathrop Colgate Harper (1867-1950) and Mabel H. Urner Harper (1881-1957), a socially prominent couple of early twentieth-century New York, lived for years on Gramercy Park and served as benefactors for some of New York's finest institutions. Their domestic lives and European travels were immortalized in the pages of over one hundred newspapers in the United States, Canada and Great Britain through Mabel Urner's syndicated, semi-autobiographical column, The Married Life of Helen and Warren.

Lathrop Colgate Harper was a successful rare book dealer, consultant to many major U.S. research libraries and authority on incunabula, Americana, and medieval manuscripts. A native New Yorker, Harper traced his lineage to several distinguished New York families. His grandfather, Samuel Barker Harper (b. 1777), married Christina Arcularius, daughter of New York Alderman and State Assemblyman Philip J. Arcularius. Harper's father, the tea merchant James Philip Harper, married Margaret Perego, daughter of a wealthy New York merchant whose family had settled in New Jersey by 1750. Harper was the great nephew of New York Mayor James Harper and second cousin of the Harper Brothers publishers.

In 1887 Harper joined his elder brother, Francis P. Harper, in the rare book business at 4 Barclay Street. The bookstore successively moved to 17 East 16th Street, 14 West 22nd Street, 437 Fifth Avenue and finally 8 West 40th Street. After his brother's early retirement in 1910, Harper developed his interest in Americana.. He became a much sought-after source of rare Americana after obtaining for William L. Clements the Americana library of Newbold Edgar, which would become the core collection for the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan. He was granted an honorary Master of Arts by the University of Michigan in 1928 in honor of his efforts in the library's development and subsequent growth. He was well known to many research libraries, serving on library committees for Harvard University, Princeton University, The New-York Historical Society and the Council of The Bibliographic Society of America, among others. In the 1920s, he developed an interest in incunabula (books printed before 1501) and went on to compile the first catalogue of incunabula published in the United States, A Selection of Incunabula Describing One Thousand Books Printed in the XVth Century (New York: 1930), once considered a basic reference resource.

In 1912, Indiana native Mabel Herbert Urner (1881-1957) married Lathrop C. Harper. She continued to use her maiden name in her professional life. She began a newspaper column in 1914, The Married Life of Helen and Warren, a fictional account that was based primarily on her life with Harper. The column was eventually syndicated in over 100 newspapers in the United States, Canada and Great Britain; it ran for thirty years, finally ceasing in 1944. The couple took yearly trips to Europe, during which Harper hunted for rare books and Urner combed markets for seventeenth and eighteenth century samplers, antique glassware, antique snuff tins, amber, furniture and other collectibles. Harper became known as a connoisseur and keen appraiser of rare books, and Urner developed collections to fill their Gramercy Park home that would eventually catch the eye of the national press and be bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art after her death. Her readers' queries about the couple's travels and interest in the cuisines of Europe eventually prompted Urner to write and self-publish a series of noncommercial but popular "Guidelets" on European travel and food, beginning in 1930.

In 1948, just two years before his death, Harper received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Brown University. The citation acclaimed his achievements and industry in helping to compile libraries across the nation, stating, "The shelves of the noblest libraries in this country reflect your zeal for letters and your discriminating love of books." He died in his office on August 11, 1950, his hand still holding the phone as he prepared to make his nightly call to his wife. Urner followed him in death on March 2, 1957, leaving behind thirty years of journalistic writing. Parts of the Harper estate were donated to New York area institutions including Princeton University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The New-York Historical Society.

Return to Top »


Scope and Content Note

The Lathrop C. and Mabel H. Urner Harper Photograph Collection spans the period from 1872-1954, with many undated materials. The collection consists of 3.6 linear feet of black and white photographic prints, tintypes, film negatives, glass negatives, and drawings. The photographs mainly relate to the personal and family life of the Harpers, with a few photographs relating to Lathrop C. Harper's rare book shop. Also included are some of Mabel H. Urner's newspaper column publicity photographs. The collection includes documentation of some of the couple's yearly tours of Europe prior to World War II.

Arrangement

Photographs are arranged alphabetically by geographic name or name of sitter.

Materials have been arranged into the following series:

  1. Series I: Buildings
  2. Series II: People
  3. Series III: Vacations
  4. Series IV:Negatives

Return to Top »


Access Points

Subject Names

  • Arcularius, Andrew
  • Bachrach, Fabian, photographer
  • Beals, Jessie Tarbox, photographer
  • Budd, Emma
  • Davis & Sanford
  • Hargrave & Gubelman
  • Harper, Althea M.
  • Harper, Christine A.
  • Harper, Ella Adelaide
  • Harper, Francis P.
  • Harper, James P.
  • Harper, Margaret Perego
  • Hewitt, Mattie Edwards, d. 1956, photographer
  • Lewis, R.A., photographer
  • Parsonage, Douglas
  • Perego, Francis Ella Brennan
  • Perego, Ira
  • Underwood & Underwood
  • Urner, Mabel Herbert, 1881-1957
  • Wroth, Lawrence C. (Lawrence Counselman), 1884-1970

Document Type

  • Drawings
  • Glass negatives
  • Portraits
  • Tintypes

Subject Organizations

  • Lathrop C. Harper, inc.

Subject Topics

  • Antiquarian booksellers–New York (State)–New York
  • Booksellers
  • Women journalists–New York (State)–New York

Subject Places

  • Europe–Description and travel–Pictorial works
  • Gramercy Park (New York, N.Y.)–Pictorial works

Family Name(s)

  • Harper family

Return to Top »


Administrative Information

Provenance

Gift of the Estate of Lathrop Colgate Harper on December 23, 1957.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to 30 photocopies per day per person. Suitability of the original for photocopying is at the discretion of the staff. Neither blueprints nor tracings can be copied under any circumstances. Duplication of large-format items will be done by the house photographer. See Print Room guidelines for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from

Rights and Reproductions
The New-York Historical Society
Two West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024

Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282
Fax: (212) 579-8794

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Lathrop C. and Mabel H. Urner Harper Photograph Collection, PR 121, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material The New-York Historical Society

The Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections holds other images related to this collection.The Album File (PR 002) includes more Harper, Perego, Arcularius and Dimmock family photographs, some of which are duplicates of those in this collection. The Cased Photograph file (PR 012) contains additional photographs of Harper, Perego and Arcularius family members. For written materials on both Lathrop C. Harper and Mabel H. Urner Harper, see the New-York Historical Society Library's Lathrop Colgate Harper Papers and the Collection of clippings, manuscripts, articles, etc. relating to Lathrop Colgate Harper.

Return to Top »


Container List

Series I: Buildings

Scope and Contents note

Series I contains exterior and interior views of the residences and businesses of the Harpers and their extended family. The series contains some photographs from 1895, but most are undated. Files are arranged alphabetically by type of building. Included are several prints of the bookstore run by Lathrop C. Harper and his brother, Francis P. Harper, including one undated print by Long & Heppner of Francis Harper in the interior of the store when it was located at 17 West 16th Street in New York City, one unattributed 7 x 10 ink drawing of the store's interior, and a few photographs of Lathrop's clerk and successor Douglas Parsonage. The Harper's residences at 36 Gramercy Park and 1 Lexington Avenue on Gramercy Park are captured in a series of photographs of both the interior and exterior, at least one of which was published in House Beautiful in March 1924. Included are several interior photographs, some taken by Mattie Edwards Hewitt, of the Harpers' home which document their collections of historic European samplers, antique furniture and family portraits. Also included with the residence photographs are two photographs of 193 10th Street, Lathrop Harper's parents' residence from 1854-59. The photographs of the fire at the store of Ira Perego, Harper's maternal grandfather, show New York City police and firemen at work in a smoke-filled street. The unidentified buildings are primarily residential, with one photograph of an unidentified Yacht Club included. Some related negatives can be found in Series IV. Oversize images are in Box 6.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Bookstores of Lathrop and Francis Harper
1895, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Residences of Lathrop and Mabel Urner Harper, some by Mattie Edwards Hewitt
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Store of Ira Perego, fire
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Unidentified Buildings
undated

Return to Top »


Series II: People

Scope and Contents note

Series II consists mainly of portraits of the Harpers and their close relatives, dating from 1872-1954, with many undated photographic prints. Photographs are arranged alphabetically by sitter with unidentified individuals at the end. Thereunder photographs are arranged chronologically when dates are available and alphabetically by description when dates are unavailable. Highlights include publicity portraits of Mabel Herbert Urner Harper, notably those by Jessie Tarbox Beals. Many portraits of Mabel and Lathrop were taken in their victorian home or outdoors in Gramercy Park. The family portraits focus mainly on Lathrop Harper's siblings: Ella Adelaide Harper, an amateur writer; Christina A. Harper (whose sketches of her mother are included with her mother's portraits); Francis P. Harper, his business partner; and James P. Harper, Jr., a prominent diamond importer. One of the photographs of James P. Harper, Jr. was originally framed; the frame was separated from the photograph during processing and can be found in Box 5. There is one folder of group portraits of the family. Also well documented is Lathrop's mother, Margaret Perego Harper. There are a few photographs of other members of the Arcularius, Perego, and Dimmock families for whom the familial connection is unclear. Photographers represented in this series include Jessie Tarbox Beals, R.A. Lewis, C.D. Fredricks, R. Horton, Fabian Bachrach, Davis & Sanford, Underwood & Underwood and Hargrave & Gubelman. Related negatives can be found in Series IV.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Arcularius, Andrew
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Budd, Emma Jourdan
1907, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Dimmock, Andrew and Selina Harper
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Harper Family, group portraits, some by R.A. Lewis

General note

See also: Box 5, Folder 85

1907-1912, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Harper, Christina A.
1891, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Harper, Ella Adelaide, some by R.A. Lewis
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Harper, Ella Adelaide, some by R.A. Lewis
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Harper, Francis P.--Portraits

General note

See also: Box 1, folder 1

1895-1900, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Harper, Francis P.--With Althea M. Harper in St. Petersburg, Florida
[1925-1938]
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Harper, Francis P.--With Althea M. Harper
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Harper, James P., Jr.--Portraits
1895, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Harper, James P., Jr.--Portraits, full length

General note

See also: Frame removed from portrait, Box 5, folder 106

1889-1905, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Harper, James P., Jr.--Portraits, bust length
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 18 Harper, Mrs. James P., Jr.
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 19 Harper, James P., Sr., by R. Horton
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 20 Harper, Lathrop Colgate--Portraits
[1872]
Box: 2 Folder : 21 Harper, Lathrop Colgate--Portraits, bust
1888
Box: 2 Folder : 22 Harper, Lathrop Colgate--Portraits
1897-1900
Box: 2 Folder : 23 Harper, Lathrop Colgate--Portraits, bust
1912
Box: 2 Folder : 24 Harper, Lathrop Colgate--Miscellaneous
1940, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 25 Harper, Lathrop Colgate--Portrait in bookstore

General note

See also: Box 1, folder 1 and Box 5, folder 87

1948-1950
Box: 2 Folder : 26 Harper, Lathrop Colgate--Brown University Commencement, with Lawrence C. Wroth

General note

See also: Box 5, folder 56

1948
Box: 2 Folder : 27 Harper, Lathrop Colgate--Portrait, bust by Fabian Bachrach
1948
Box: 2 Folder : 28 Harper, Lathrop Colgate--Passport photographs
1949
Box: 2 Folder : 29 Harper, Lathrop Colgate, with Mabel Herbert Urner Harper
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 30 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Childhood Photographs
[1881-1900]
Box: 2 Folder : 31 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portrait by Underwood & Underwood, with photograph of a drawing made from portrait
1914
Box: 2 Folder : 32 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Seated at desk
1914
Box: 2 Folder : 33 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portrait, full length
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 34 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portrait at residence, by Davis & Sanford
1923
Box: 2 Folder : 35 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portrait at door of 1 Lexington Avenue, by Jessie Tarbox Beals
1926
Box: 2 Folder : 36 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--In residence and Gramercy Park
1939, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 37 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--At The New-York Historical Society
1954
Box: 3 Folder : 38 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--In Gramercy Park
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 39 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Headshots
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 40 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Miscellaneous
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 41 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Passport Photographs
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 42 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portrait, full length by Underwood & Underwood
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 43 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portraits by Pan-American Photo Service
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 44 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portraits, seated at desk
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 45 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portraits, seated at round table
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 46 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portrait, seated with book, by Davis & Sanford
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 47 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portrait, seated with cat, by Underwood & Underwood
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 48 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portrait with horse
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 49 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portrait with horse
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 50 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--At residence, with fireplace and collection cabinet
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 51 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--At Shelter Island
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 52 Harper, Margaret Perego--Portrait in garden
1891
Box: 3 Folder : 53 Harper, Margaret Perego--In the Thousand Islands
1895
Box: 3 Folder : 54 Harper, Margaret Perego--Portraits
1897
Box: 3 Folder : 55 Harper, Margaret Perego--Portraits
1902-1903
Box: 3 Folder : 56 Harper, Margaret Perego--Portraits
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 57 Harper, Margaret Perego--Portraits and sketches by Christina A. Harper
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 58 Perego, Francis Eliza Brennan--Photograph of painted portrait
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 59 Sackett, Amanda
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 60 Ramney, Francis P. and family, some by Hargrave & Gubelman
1888, 1897, undated
Box: 3 Folder : 61 Unidentified females
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 62 Unidentified males and groups
undated

Return to Top »


Series III: Vacations

Scope and Contents note

Series III spans the dates ca. 1890-1938 and consists primarily of the Harpers' personal photographs from their yearly trips to Europe, the majority dating from the 1930s. Photographs are arranged alphabetically by country and thereunder by city. Unidentified locations are at the end. Related negatives are filed in Series IV, Box 5.They focus mainly on the couple, but do include pictures of the Caledonian Market in London and scenery from the cities of Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Austria prior to World War II. Also included are a few photographs of earlier family vacations in Atlantic City, the Catskill Mountains and the Thousand Islands. Negatives of varying sizes exist for many of the European trips and can be found in Series IV.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 63 Austria--Vienna
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 64 Czech Republic--Prague
1931
Box: 4 Folder : 65 England--London, Caledonian Market

General note

See also: Box 5, folders 92-94

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 66 France--Paris
1932
Box: 4 Folder : 67 Germany -- Frankfurt

General note

See also: Box 5, folder 95

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 68 Germany -- Heidelberg
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 69 Germany -- Munich

General note

See also: Box 5, folder 96

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 70 Germany--Miscellaneous

General note

See also: Box 5, folders 97-99

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 71 Italy--Venice
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 72 Italy--Miscellaneous

General note

See also: Box 5, folder 100

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 73 Switzerland--Lugano

General note

See also: Box 5, folders 101-102

1932
Box: 4 Folder : 74 United States--Atlantic City, NJ
[1905]
Box: 4 Folder : 75 United States--Catskill Mountains, NY
[1895]
Box: 4 Folder : 76 United States--Thousand Islands, NY
1895
Box: 4 Folder : 77 Unidentified locations--family suitcases with travel stickers
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 78 Unidentified locations--Hot air ballooning
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 79 Unidentified locations--Miscellaneous
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 80 Unidentified locations--Miscellaneous
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 81 Unidentified locations--Waterscapes
undated

Return to Top »


Series IV: Negatives

Scope and Contents note

Series IV spans the dates 1934-1950, with many undated negatives, arranged into three subseries: Buildings, People and Vacations. There are approximately 200 negatives; some are 35mm, but most are a variety of sizes, with the smallest a glass negative measuring 2 x 2, and the largest a pair of identical glass and film negatives measuring 6 ½ x 8 ½. Most of the negatives correspond to photographs in Series I-III of this collection, but some have no corresponding prints. Many are unidentified.

Buildings

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 82 Residence of Lathrop C. Harper on Gramercy Park
1934
Box: 5 Folder : 83 Residence of Lathrop C. Harper on Gramercy Park
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 84 Residence of James P. Harper, Sr. on 10th Street
undated

People

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 85 Harper family, group portraits
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 86 Harper, Lathrop Colgate--Brown University Commencement
1948
Box: 5 Folder : 87 Harper, Lathrop Colgate--Portraits in office or bookstore
1950
Box: 5 Folder : 88 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portraits

General note

See also: Box 5, folders 107-108

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 89 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portraits in Gramercy Park
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 90 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portraits in residences
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 91 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--Portrait, bust (glass negative, 2 x 2 in.)
Undated

Vacations

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 92 England--London, Caledonian Market
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 93 England--London, Caledonian Market
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 94 England--London, miscellaneous
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 95 Germany--Frankfurt
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 96 Germany--Munich
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 97-99 Germany--Miscellaneous
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 100 Italy
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 101-102 Switzerland--Lugano
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 103 Switzerland--Miscellaneous
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 104 Switzerland--Zurich(?)
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 105 Unidentified locations
undated

Return to Top »


From Series II. People

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 106 Frame separated from Portrait of James P. Harper, Jr. in Box 1, folder 16
undated

Return to Top »


From Series IV. Negatives

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 107 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--film and glass negatives of portrait with horse
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 108 Harper, Mabel Herbert Urner--35 mm negatives of portraits at 1 Lexington Avenue
undated

Return to Top »


From Series I. Buildings
Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 109 Bookstore of Lathrop and Francis Harper
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 110 Residence - 36 Gramercy Park - interior
undated

Return to Top »


From Series II. People
Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 111 Harper, Francis P.
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 112 Harper, Mabel H. Urner
1921, undated

Return to Top »


Return to Top »