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Guide to the Blanche Potter Photograph Albums & Travel Journals
1904-1939
 MS 3100

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


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 24, 2022
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Potter, Blanche, 1864-
Title: Blanche Potter photograph albums and travel journals
Dates [inclusive]: 1904-1939
Abstract: The collection holds 26 photograph albums and 4 journals compiled and written by philanthropist Blanche Potter (1864-1942). All relate to Potter's travels in the United States and abroad from 1904-1939, taken with her life companion, Louise Christie, and/or other women. The photograph albums hold about 3,400 sepia-toned, well-captioned snapshots of historic sites, local peoples, travel accommodations, landscapes, and various points of interest in Europe, northern Africa, India, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Canada, and the United States. Potter, Christie and their traveling companions are in many of the photos. Potter's travel journals provide rich context and additional photographs for four of the trips. Some of the photograph albums include local New York State travel and scenes from visits to Potter and her sibling's country homes in Ossining.
Quantity: 2 Linear feet in two record cartons (26 albums and 4 journals)
Location: Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
Language: The documents in the collection are in English.
Call Phrase: MS 3100

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Biographical / Historical

Blanche Potter was born in New York City on January 2, 1864. She was the daughter of wealthy New York businessman, real estate developer and politician Orlando B. Potter (1823-1894) and his wife, Martha Green Wiley Potter (1822-1879). Orlando Potter died intestate and his estate was divided among his four children, including his 600 acre farm in Ossining, a portion of which was inherited by Blanche.

Blanche was a philanthropist and at least from 1910, and possibly before, she was engaged in various causes, especially those concerning health and welfare. Among other positions, from 1910 until her death she was a member of the board of Bellevue Hospital's Training School for Nurses, and from 1910 to 1927 she was Chair of the auxiliary of Bellevue's Tuberculosis Division.

Blanche lived for thirty years with another woman, Emma Louise Christie (who seems to have used Louise as her call name), which is suggestive of a possibly gay relationship. Christie was born September 1, 1869, at Haverstraw, New York. She became a Registered Nurse (R.N.), graduating from the Bellevue Training School in 1894. In 1907, according to Christie's brief obituary in the New York Times, which seems likely to have been written by Potter, she "became the beloved friend and constant companion of Miss Blanche Potter, with whom until her death, she made her home at 45 Park Ave., New York City."

For the last thirty years of Christie's life, she and Potter lived together in New York City and at Potter's country home in Ossining. They also traveled widely together, along with other women, as documented in this collection of Potter's travel journals and photograph albums.

In 1937, Louise Christie died while on a visit to her family home in Thiells, in Haverstraw, NY. Potter sold her home in Ossining shortly afterward. Potter died on October 5, 1942, and is buried with her parents and sisters in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery.

[The above note is based on notes provided by the dealer from whom the collection was acquired (a copy of the notes is included in the first box of the collection) and the obituaries in the New York Times of Blanche Potter (October 6, 1942) and E. Louise Christie (July 5, 1937).]

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Scope and Contents

The collection holds 26 photograph albums and 4 journals compiled and written by Blanche Potter. All relate to Potter's travels in the United States and abroad from 1904-1939, taken with her life companion, Louise Christie, and/or other women. The photograph albums hold about 3,400 sepia-toned snapshots of historic sites, local peoples, travel accommodations, landscapes, and various points of interest in Europe, northern Africa, India, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Canada, and the United States. Potter, Christie and their traveling companions are in many of the photos.

The photographs are captioned. Though most of the photos were likely taken by Potter, not all were, as indicated by many caption's reference to "taken by" and crediting another person by name or initial. The albums are dated with at least an opening date on the inside cover. They were all numbered by Potter, though the collection seems not to have all the albums she ever compiled as those in the collection start with number 20 and end with number 65, with gaps.

Some of the photograph albums include local New York State travel and scenes from visits to Potter and her sibling's country homes in Ossining. Visits to her father's roots in Charlemont, Massachusetts, are also pictured.

Providing rich context to some of the photo albums are the 4 travel journals in the collection, which take the form of either letters written to friends or of diary entries. These journals relate to Potter and her companions' travels in Europe (1904; albums 20-22); in, primarily, Italy and Egypt (1911; albums 31-35); eastern Canada, especially Nova Scotia (1923; album 52); and Central and South America (1924; albums 53-55). The journals also include many additional photographs for illustration.

The container list includes reference to each of the volumes in the collection, with a fuller description of each volume. That description was taken primarily from the description provided by the dealer from which N-YHS acquired the volumes.

Arrangement

The photograph albums are arranged in Blanche Potter's original sequence number order, which runs chronologically, from number 20 to number 65, with gaps. The 4 travel journals are integrated into that chronological order.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Diaries.
  • Photograph albums.

Subject Topics

  • Female friendship -- New York (State)
  • Voyages and travels -- Personal Narratives.
  • Voyages and travels -- Photograph albums.
  • Women -- New York (State)

Subject Places

  • Egypt -- Description and travel.
  • Europe -- Description and travel.
  • India -- Photographs.
  • South America -- Description and travel.
  • United States -- Photographs.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.

Use Restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff. Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, rightsandrepro@nyhistory.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions

Preferred Citation

The collection should be cited as: Blanche Potter photograph albums and travel journals, MS 3100, New-York Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, 2015.

Processing Information

The collection was processed by archivist Larry Weimer in 2022. Most of the description of the collection content used in this finding aid was copied from the substantive descriptions provided by the dealer from which the material was acquired by N-YHS, supplemented with additional description from the processing archivist.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 1 "Journal of Three Spinsters"

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "Small quarto, 178 typed pages, bound in homemade side-stitched limp cloth covers, made without spine, with title, name, monogram and decorations embroidered on covers, measures 8-1/2" x 11", illustrated with 26 photographs, 49 [hotel] letterhead clippings, and 12 used postal stamps....This volume is a series of 25 typed letters, written to either "Louise" alone or ["dear girls," "Grace Circle Members," "dear friends," or other salutation]. These typed pages appear to be typed from the original letters and illustrated with the used postage stamps and hotel letterhead clippings from the original letters. The first letter, dated 18 March 1904 from 'Off the Azores' [includes Potter's statement of intent to use the letters for a journal]....The letters document Potter's continental tour of Europe, to the countries of Italy, France, Brussels, Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and England. This trip is partially included in the photograph albums [numbered 20-22]."

1904 March-September
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 2 Photograph album #20

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "104 photos, includes photos taken from the train in Spain; Amalfi, Island of Capri, Naples, Pompeii, Rome, Sorrento, and Vatican City, Italy; including photos of French President Emile Loubet's visit to King Victor Emmanuel III at Rome; amongst other places."

1904 April
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 3 Photograph album #21

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "128 photos, includes photos of Fiesole, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Tivoli, Venice, Italy; amongst other places."

1904 April-May
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 4 Photograph album #22

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "133 photos, includes photos of Northern Italy from Venice, to Milano, to Turin, plus the lake region bordering Switzerland (Lake Como, Lake Lugano, Lago Maggiore), and other near the lakes like Bellagio. There are also photos of Geneva, Switzerland; Paris, France; places in Brussels and Delft, Netherlands; amongst other places."

1904 May
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 5 Photograph album #26, 27, 28 (in one volume)

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "102 photos, includes photos of country home/farm at Ossining, New York; Washington, DC; Boston; St. Augustine, Palm Beach, other places in Florida; Nassau, Bahamas; amongst other places." Some photos are of Decoration Day gatherings.

1904 September-1907 February
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 6 Photograph album #30

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "118 photos, includes photos of Bermuda, plus various views of towns and places in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and even [closing in January 1911] Gibraltar. Also includes a pamphlet 'Souvenir of Bermuda' [with postcard-like pictorials] tucked in, compliments of 'A.S. Cooper & Sons, Bermuda'; amongst other places."

1910 March-1911 January
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 7 "Travel Letters, 1911"

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "Small quarto, 181 typed pages, bound in limp leather, side-stitched style binding, made without spine, title on front cover, measures 8-1/2"x11", illustrated with 89 photographs, 31 clipped letterhead, and 4 used postage stamps. This volume, like the [1904 volume], is a series of letters written by Potter, but they are not addressed to anyone in particular, and are written in more of a 'journal' format....Potter's partner, Louise Christie, is on the trip with Potter....The volume contains a series of 18 letters written by Potter that documents her and her party's extensive travels mainly through Italy and Egypt, with some travel in France. The photograph album volumes numbered 31-35 further documents this trip."

1911 January-May
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 8 Photograph album #31

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "149 photos, includes photos of Gibraltar, Algiers, Tunisia; Monte Carlo; Monaco; Island of Elba; Abbas, Alexandria, Cairo, Luxor, Thebes, in Egypt visiting the Pyramids, Sphinx, Temples at Karnack and Philae, etc., sailing on the Nile; amongst other places."

1911 January-February
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 9 Photograph album #32

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "133 photos, includes photos of Temple of Philae, Aswan Dam, Camel Race Track at Heliopolos, Egypt; Athens, Corfu, Corinth, Greece, views of the Acropolis, the Arch of Hadrian, Parthenon, other historic sights, etc; Messina, Monreale, Mt. Etna; Palermo, Taormina, plus other various photos of cloisters, gardens, views and villas in Sicily; amongst other places."

1911 February-March
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 10 Photograph album #33

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "106 photos, includes photos of Amalfi, Capri, Naples, Pompeii, Rome, Sorrento, Taormina, and Vatican City, Italy; includes views of historical sights, gardens, arches; amongst other places."

1911 March
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 11 Photograph album #34

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "88 photos, includes photos of Albano, Assisi, Perugia, Rome, San Gimignano, and Siena, in Italy; including pictures of St. Peter's, Palatine Hill, the new Exposition Grounds at Rome, Palestina, Via Cassia, with pictures of [local] women and children, shepherd's boys; amongst other places."

1911 March-April
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 12 Photograph album #35

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "139 photos, includes photos of Florence, Pisa, River Po, San Gimignano, Torcello, Turin, Venice, Italy; [Paris, Versailles, France; return to New York]; amongst other places.

1911 April-May
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 13 Photograph album #38

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "135 photos, includes photos [of] Bourges, Cherbourg, Dinard, Mount St. Michel, Nancy, Strasburg, Tours in France; Geneva, Lucerne, in Switzerland; Lago Maggiore, Locarno, in Italy; Chamonix region of France, Italy and Switzerland; amongst other places."

1912 July-?
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 1 Photograph album #42

Scope and Contents

Potter's note on the inside front cover indicates this volume is a "substitute book for original lost moving from Eagle Park 1915, only partially complete." From the dealer's notes: "34 photos, includes photos of various places in India, including the Taj Mahal, the Palace Agra, memorial Gardens, Lucknow, including the grave of Sir Henry Montgomery Laurence, the Ganges, ritual bathing, funeral, Benares, Calcutta, Buddhist temples, [Darjeeling], Royal Park Rangoon; amongst other places."

1915
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 2 Photograph album #49

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "98 photos, including photos of Cuba and Florida; including views of Havana, views near Havana, views of Morro Castle, the Casas River, Mantanzas, sugar cane carts, etc., plus photos of St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs, Florida; amongst other places." Also photos from New York including Bear Mountain.

1920 March-July
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 3 Untitled travel journal

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "14 typed pages, unbound, measures 8-1/2"x11", illustrated with 25 photographs. While this volume is not titled, or dated, it appears to be Potter's trip [with Louise Christie and others, to and] through Nova Scotia that she took in 1923, which is documented in the photograph album numbered volume 52. Potter visits Annapolis Royal, Chester, Digby, Halifax, Yarmouth, and other places in Nova Scotia, Canada."

1923 July-August
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 4 Photograph album #52

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "126 photos, includes photos of Washington, DC; Gettysburg, Harrisburg, and other Pennsylvania towns; Augusta, Kennebunkport, Maine; Annapolis Royal, Chester, Digby, Halifax, Yarmouth, other towns in Nova Scotia, Canada; amongst other places."

1923 May-August
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 5 Photograph album #53

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "127 photos, Meadow Hall Estate and Crow's Nest Estate, Ossining; Sharon, Connecticut; photos of 'Children's Day' and 'Baby Parade'; Colon Harbor, Panama Canal, Panama; Arequipa, Lima, Mollendo, Talara, Trujillo, Peru; amongst other places.

1923 August-1924 February
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 6 "South America, 1924"

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "Small quarto, 96 typed pages, bound in limp leather, side-stitched style binding, made with no spine, title on front cover, measures 8-1/2"x11", illustrated with 57 photographs, 20 clipped letterhead, 7 used postage stamps, and 1 map....This volume is comprised of a series of chapters written and compiled in a journal format documenting the travels of Potter, and her friend Louise Christie, and other members of her party. The letter format appears to have been abandoned and this is actually written like a conventional journal....The travels took the women through the Panama Canal, to Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil. The photograph albums numbered 53-55 give further documentation for this trip."

1924
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 7 Photograph album #54

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "197 photos, including photos of Santiago, Chile, 'over the Andes,' and other Chilean places; Ibera, Posadas, Argentina; Encarnacion, Paraguay; plus photos of a river trip on the Upper Parana River; and a visit to Iquazu Falls; Montevideo, Uruguay; Guaraja, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, Brazil; amongst other places."

1924 February-April
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 8 Photograph album #55

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "129 photos, including photos on leaving Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, arriving back in New York; Potter Homestead, Charlemont Cemetery, Charlemont, Massachusetts; Portland, Wiscasset, [Booth Bay], Maine; crossing Lake Champlain, New York; Bunker Hill, Provincetown, Plymouth, Massachusetts; the 'new Bear Mountain Bridge,' New York; Havana, Cuba; amongst other places."

1924 April-1925 February
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 9 Photograph album #56

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "124 photos, including photos taken on what appears to be a cross country trip of America with photos of various towns, monuments, historic sites, etc. of Maryland; West Virginia; Ohio; Indiana; Missouri; Kansas; Colorado; New Mexico; Arizona; and early in the volume there are photos in Cuba; Jamaica; Costa Rica, which seem to follow those photos from [album #55]; amongst other places."

1925 February-September
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 10 Photograph album #58

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "121 photos, including photos of Santa Catalina Island, La Jolla, Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Diego, Universal Ranch, California; Tia Juana [Tijuana], Mexico; New Orleans, Louisiana; Catskills, New York; other places in New York, a number of family type photos of children, taken at the country home in Ossining, or elsewhere; views of the homestead and cemetery at Charlemont; amongst other places."

1925 October-1926 September
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 11 Photograph album #59

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "111 photos, including photos of the ticker tape parade on 13 June 1927 held in New York City for Charles Lindbergh celebrating his transatlantic flight; photos of various places in New Hampshire, Maine, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia; amongst other places."

1926 November-1928 August
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 12 Photograph album #60

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "153 photos, including photos of Bunker Hill, Concord, Charlemont, Massachusetts; Yorktown, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; Asheville, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Yale Campus, New Haven, Connecticut; Lake George, New York; photos of a street fair; amongst other places."

1928 August-1929 September
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 13 Photograph album #61

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "144 photos, including photos of Lake Mohonk, New York; Bok Singing Tower, Lake Wales, Florida; Harden Hall, Sebring, Florida; Biscayne Bay, Florida; many places in New York State; amongst other places."

1929 September-1931 February
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 14 Photograph album #62

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "155 photos, including photos of Gainesville, Miami, Sebring, Tallahassee, Florida; Thomasville, Georgia; Asheville, North Carolina; she then sails to ireland, and then follows photos of various places in Dublin, County Kerry, County Cork, Blarney Castle, other places in Ireland; Land's End, Oxford, England; amongst other places."

1931 February-August
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 15 Photograph album #63

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "158 photos, including photos of Chagford, England; Bermuda; likely country home in New York; Mt. Vernon, Virginia; Arlington Cemetery, Virginia; amongst other places."

1931 August-1933 May
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 16 Photograph album #64

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "190 photos, including photos of Atlantic City, Echo Lake, New Jersey; New York State; Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn; places in Connecticut; Asheville; various towns in Virginia; Whiteface Mountain, New York; amongst other places."

1933 May-1936 September
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 17 Photograph album #65

Scope and Contents

From the dealer's notes: "198 photos, including photos of Whiteface Mountain, New York; and 'last views' taken of her estate at Ossining, before she sold it; Jamestown, Richmond, Virginia; amongst other places."

1936 October-1939 July

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