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Guide to the Kitson Papers
(Bulk 1902-1909, 1920-1931)
  MS 354

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 Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on October 26, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Kitson Papers
Dates: 1887-1934 (Bulk 1902-1909, 1920-1931)
Abstract: The Kitson Papers consist of materials of various forms related primarily to the work of Henry Hudson Kitson, a sculptor of public monuments. The collection also contains papers of Kitson's first wife, Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson, who was also a sculptor. The bulk of the correspondence consists of letters to Henry Kitson from individuals and organizations who commissioned work from him. Legal documents, especially signed and unsigned contracts, are in the collection. Photographs, mostly unidentified but also including studies for known sculpture subjects, comprise a sizable portion of the collection. The collection contains rough sketches of works and details of works, also mostly unidentified as to subject. Some blueprints are included. Financial records in the collection consist most notably of invoices and receipts from contractors providing materials and services for the Kitsons' projects.
Quantity: 2.5 Linear feet (5 boxes)
Location note: Manuscript cage
Call Phrase: MS 354

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Biographical Note

[1863] Born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England
1877 Arrived in New York City
1882 -- 1884; 1888 - 1889 Studied and exhibited in Europe
1893 Married Theo Alice Ruggles, a sculptor and former student of his
1900 Completed Minuteman Captain John Parker statue at Lexington, MA
1902 Knighted by the Queen of Rumania
[1905] Completed Roger Conant statue at Salem, MA
1906 Completed Company H, 124th Regiment, NY Volunteer Infantry monument at Walden, NY
[1906] Completed Iowa Memorial at Vicksburg, MS
[1909] In collaboration with Theo, completed Lieut. Gen. Stephen D. Lee memorials at Vicksburg and Columbus, MS
1921 Completed Henry B. Endicott tablet at Boston, MA
[1922] Completed Pilgrim Maiden statue at Plymouth, MA
1931 Completed Sir Richard Saltonstall monument at Watertown, MA
Oct. 29, 1932 Death of Theo Kitson, Boston, MA
June 26, 1947 Death of Henry Kitson, Tyringham, MA

Henry Hudson Kitson (c. 1863 -- 1947) studied and excelled at stone-carving as a youth in Huddersfield, England. At the age of 13, he emigrated to New York City where he worked as a stone-carver in the shop of his older brother, Samuel James Kitson (1848 -- 1906). During the 1880s, Kitson moved to Paris to study his craft, exhibited his work in Europe and in the United States, was honored with awards, and received various prestigious commissions, including one for a bust of Queen Elizabeth of Rumania.

Kitson taught carving to a number of students, among them Theo Alice Ruggles (1871 -- 1932), from Brookline, Massachusetts, who would become his wife in 1893. Ruggles's early career as a sculptor also included further studies, sculpture exhibitions, and awards in Europe.

From the 1890s until their deaths, the Kitsons lived primarily in and around Boston, though they also spent time in New York City. Much of their work is found in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, but also as far west as Iowa and as far south as Mississippi. They each developed their own reputations as sculptors and pursued their craft as individuals, but they also collaborated on works as well. They have been characterized as "among the most prolific of turn-of-the-century sculptors of public commissions, particularly monuments to public figures and to Civil War heroes." The works cited in the above chronology reflect this and are representative of Henry Kitson's projects: The Parker, Pilgrim Maiden, Conant, and Saltonstall works depict real or figurative individuals from New England's colonial and Revolutionary past; the H Company, Iowa and Lee memorials concern Civil War combatants; and Henry B. Endicott was a state and federal official in Boston during the World War I years. Wendell Endicott, the son of Henry B. Endicott, recommended Kitson for further public commission in Boston in his letter of July 15, 1921: "[E]verything that he has done brings out one particular point and that is, strength, manhood and life. All his work seems to be virile. Another point was the very plain way he approached the subject, and his evident desire to accomplish results that would be satisfactory all around. There was no pose with the man; he talked simply of his work, but talked in thorough confidence of what he could do."

Henry and Theo Kitson had two daughters and one son. After Theo's death, Henry married Maria Louisa Hobron, who died one month before he did.

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Scope and Content Note

The Kitson Papers consist of material relating to the work of sculptors Henry Hudson Kitson and his wife, Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson. However, most of the collection specifically documents the work of Henry Hudson Kitson. The collection includes letters, contracts, newspaper clippings, invoices, receipts, account statements, an account book, photographs, negatives, sketches, and blueprints.


The collection is comprised of the following series:

  1. Series 1: Correspondence
  2. Series 2: Financial Records
  3. Series 3: Legal Documents
  4. Series 4: Notes
  5. Series 5: Ephemera
  6. Series 6: Pamphlets and essays
  7. Series 7: Clippings
  8. Series 8: Visual Materials

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss, 1816-1894--Statues
  • Bradley, Thomas W.
  • Conant, Levi L. (Levi Leonard), 1857-1916
  • Conant, Roger, 1592-1679--Statues
  • Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933--Portraits
  • Endicott, H. Wendell (Henry Wendell), 1880-1954
  • Endicott, Henry Bradford, 1853-1920--Monuments
  • Kitson, Theo Alice Ruggles, 1876-1932
  • Lee, Blewett, d. 1867
  • Lee, Stephen D. (Stephen Dill), 1833-1908--Statues
  • Parker, John, Captain--Statues

Document Type

  • Advertisements
  • Bank statements
  • Blueprints
  • Checks
  • Clippings
  • Contracts
  • Correspondence
  • Detail drawings
  • Invoices
  • Legal documents
  • Negatives
  • Notes
  • Pamphlets
  • Photographs
  • Postcards
  • Prints
  • Receipts
  • Sketches
  • Visiting cards

Subject Organizations

  • Mead, Mason & Co.
  • Roman Bronze works (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 124th (1861-1865). Company H

Subject Topics

  • Memorials--United States
  • Minutemen (Militia)--Monuments
  • Monuments--United States
  • Pilgrims (New Plymouth Colony)-- Monuments
  • Sculpture, American
  • Sculpture, Modern--19th century
  • Sculpture, Modern--20th century

Subject Places

  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Monuments

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Administrative Information


Donation, John Kitson, 1947.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote, to

Library Director
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the Kitson Papers, the New-York Historical Society.

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Container List

Series 1: Correspondence, 1892-1934

Scope and Contents note

This series includes letters to, and from, Henry or Theo Kitson, as well as letters between other correspondents.

Correspondence received by Henry Kitson is arranged alphabetically by last name of correspondent, then chronologically. Correspondents with five or more letters in the collection have a folder of their own. The correspondence received by Theo Kitson is foldered separately from the letters received by Henry Kitson.

For the most part, envelopes are housed with their enclosed letters. Bulky envelopes were removed to the Envelopes folder, and either a photocopy of the envelope or a separation sheet was inserted in its stead. Envelopes for which no corresponding letter could be determined were placed in the Envelopes folder.

The letters to Henry Kitson are primarily from individuals and organizations who commissioned work from him. These letters often contain commentary by the correspondents regarding the pace of work and their level of satisfaction, as well as their specifications or suggestions for the works-in-progress. Certain correspondents are found much more frequently than others in the collection and, therefore, the related subject projects are more strongly represented. Among these correspondents are Blewett Lee (re: the Lt. Gen. Lee memorial), Thomas Bradley (re: the H Company sculpture), L. L. Conant, Wendell Endicott, and officers of the National Society of New England Women (re: the Pilgrim Maiden statue). Also in this series is considerable correspondence with Mead, Mason & Co. (re: the Iowa Memorial), Roman Bronze Works and other providers of materials and services for Kitson's projects.

There is little correspondence in the collection from the Kitsons, numbering only five pieces, all of which appear to be written by Henry Kitson. These are foldered separately from correspondence received.

Also included are a few items between people other than the Kitsons (a librarian, a merchant) that are related to sculptures and memorials, and letters to unidentified recipients. Two pieces of correspondence are in French.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Letters Received: A - C
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Letters Received: D - M
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Letters Received: N -- R
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Letters Received: S -- Z
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Letters Received: Bradley, Thomas W.
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Letters Received: Cole, Katharine H.
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Letters Received: Conant, L. L. and S. M.
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Letters Received: J. J. Cuddihy Stone Co.
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Letters Received: Endicott, Wendell
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Letters Received: Lee, Blewett
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Letters Received: Mead, Mason & Co.
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Letters Received: Mississippi Agricultural & Mechanical College
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Letters Received: National Society of New England Women
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Letters Received: Patten, Freeman F.
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Letters Received: Roman Bronze Works
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Letters Received: Troy White Granite Co.
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Letters Received by Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Letters Sent: Kitson(s)
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Correspondence; Other Correspondents
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Empty Envelopes

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Series 2: Financial Records, 1892-1931

Scope and Contents note

This series includes an account book (ca. 1900); life insurance premium and loan documents (1896-1926); rent payment receipts from Thomas Cushing for a studio in Boston (1892-1893); two utility bills; invoices and receipts from providers of photographic, architectural, and other materials and services to the Kitsons (1889-1929); and partial checking account records, including cancelled checks, bank statements, and checkbook register (1926-1931). The documents in this series are arranged by form.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Financial Records: Account Book
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Financial Records: Life Insurance
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Financial Records: Invoices and Receipts
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Financial Records: Checking Account Records

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Series 3: Legal Documents, 1892-1931

Scope and Contents note

This series includes a subpoena from the Boston Municipal Court, dated 1891; copyright registration forms; acknowledgments of copyright applications (1899-1902, 1920); and signed and unsigned contracts (1892-1931). Included is the 1920 copyright approval for the Pilgrim Maiden statue. Six of the contracts in the series were signed by both Henry Kitson and the counterparty (and by Theo Kitson in one instance). The signed contracts include those for the statue of the Minuteman Captain John Parker at Lexington, Massachusetts; for a Minuteman statue at Framingham, Massachusetts; and for the Roger Conant statue. The documents in this series are arranged by form and then alphabetically by the counterparties.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Legal Documents

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Series 4: Notes, undated

Scope and Contents note

This series includes undated research and other notes. The reference materials written by Kitson are generally short or fragmentary. Notable items include two sets of directions for mixing sculpting materials; a small booklet of names, addresses, and task reminders; a list of works done by Kitson(s); an inventory of boxes in his studio; historical research notes on the "Mahicans", and notes on three projects (the memorials to Nathaniel Prentiss Banks, Patrick A. Collins, and Henry Bradford Endicott).

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Notes

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Series 5: Ephemera, 1920-1930, undated

Scope and Contents note

This series consists of calling cards, invitations, postcards, menus, advertisements and catalogs. It includes an invitation to the 1908 dedication of Kitson's memorial to Patrick Andrew Collins in Boston.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Ephemera
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Ephemera
1929-1930, undated

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Series 6: Pamphlets and essays, 1887-1931, undated

Scope and Contents note

Notable examples of the printed materials in this series include essays on Roger Conant and Harvard Professor George Martin Lane, both of whom were subjects of works by Henry Kitson, and a published essay in French on the painter Michel Dumas (1812--1885) dated 1887, written and signed by Bonnaissieux, one of Henry Kitson's Parisian instructors. Some pamphlets are in French.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Pamphlets and essays
1887-1931, undated

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Series 7: Clippings, 1894-1931, undated

Scope and Contents note

Newspaper clippings, some of which include references to the Kitsons or to their work, but most appear to concern potential subjects or models for study. Also clippings from the publications Monumental News and  American Art in Bronze and Iron depicting plaques and sculptures.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 10 Newspaper clippings
1894-1931, undated
Box: 4 Folder : 10 Clippings: Monumental News ,  American Art in Bronze and Iron (oversize)
1910-1922, undated

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Series 8: Visual Materials, 1897-1931

Scope and Contents note

This series includes a stencil, photographs, prints, sketches, negatives, blueprints, and a certificate of election to the Bostonian Society (1907). The bulk of this material is undated and its subjects are often unidentified. Notable identified photographs include those of Kitson subjects and works, such as Lt. Gen. Lee, Governor Banks, Robert Burns, the Parker statue, and others. Also included is a photographic series of head shots of Calvin Coolidge, apparently taken in preparation for a bust. Notable sketches include a caricature of (presumably) Henry Kitson, a rough drawing of the Endicott tablet, and details of the pedestal for the Newburyport "Volunteer." Most of the blueprints in the series pertain to the Sir Richard Saltonstall memorial, especially the lettering for it, at Watertown, Massachusetts.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 11 Visual Materials: Stencil
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Visual Materials: Sketches
1914, 1930, undated
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Visual Materials: Prints
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Visual Materials: Photographs
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Visual Materials: Photographs
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Visual Materials: Photographs
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Visual Materials: Photographs
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Visual Materials: Photographs
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Visual Materials: Photographs
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Visual Materials: Negatives and Proofs
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Visual Materials (oversize): Sketches
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Visual Materials (oversize): Sketches
Box: 5 Folder : 3 Visual Materials (oversize): Sketches
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Visual Materials (oversize): Certificate
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Visual Materials (oversize): Photographs
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Visual Materials (oversize): Blueprints
1904, 1928-1929, undated
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Visual Materials (oversize): Blueprints
Box: 5 Folder : 8 Visual Materials (oversize): Blueprints
1931, undated
Box: 5 Folder : 9 Visual Materials (oversize): Blueprints
Box: 5 Folder : 10 Visual Materials (oversize): Blueprints

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