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Guide to the Alexander Anderson Print Collection
 PR 216

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

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 17, 2022
Description is in English.

Biographical Note

Alexander Anderson was born in New York City on April 21, 1775. His father John Anderson was a printer. Alexander Anderson learned the art of engraving at a young age, and by 1797 he became one of the first Americans to undertake the practice of engraving on the end-grain of wood.

Anderson showed an early interest in medical drawings, and was apprenticed to a doctor at age fourteen. Subsequently, Anderson attended Columbia College to study medicine; he paid for his classes largely by selling engravings, which he made in his spare time. After graduating, he briefly practiced medicine, but became disenchanted with the profession. Anderson turned to engraving full time in 1798. For a short time he ran a store in which only children's books were sold, the first such specialized store in America. Anderson's engravings illustrated many books sold in New York, primarily American editions of English works.

After his first wife Ann and infant son died of yellow fever in 1798, Anderson was married to Jane Van Vleck in 1800. Together they had six children: John, Emmeline (later Mrs. Maibe), Ann (later Mrs. Andrew Maverick), Julia (later Mrs. Vincent M. Halsey), Mary (later Mrs. Skillman), and Jane (later Mrs. Edwin Lewis).

Anderson died on January 17, 1870.

Source: Pomeroy, Jane, Alexander Anderson's Life and Engravings, with a Checklist of Publications drawn from His Diary (Worcester: American Antiquarian Society, 1990).