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Guide to the Jane Bannerman Travel Sketchbooks Collection
1929, 1955-2011
 PR 297

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

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Susan Kriete

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on June 20, 2013
Description is in English

Descriptive Summary

Creator - Artist: Bannerman, Jane Campbell, 1910-
Title: Jane Bannerman Travel Sketchbooks Collection
Dates: 1929, 1955-2011
Abstract: This collection consists of 74 sketchbooks by Jane Bannerman illustrating her travels, mainly to international destinations, as well as several sketchbooks of scenes from New York City, where Bannerman lives.
Quantity: 4.17 Linear feet (10 boxes)
Call Phrase: PR 297

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Biographical/Historical note

Jane Campbell Bannerman was born in 1910 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. As a young woman, she studied illustration and advertising at Parsons School of Design (then known as the New York School of Fine & Applied Art). She spent the 1929 academic year abroad, studying at Parsons' Paris Atelier (founded in 1921), an experience that sparked a lifelong love of travel and sketching. "I hadn't seen any of the world until then”, she said, "Paris started my life."

After graduating from Parsons, Jane worked at a fabric design firm, and as the assistant to the art director of the Delineator magazine. Then she joined the prestigious interior design firm McMillen, Inc., where she worked with Mrs. Zelina Brunswick. Although Jane had not studied interior design, she said, “The firm hired me because I went to Parsons, and thus, they felt I was trained in the proper taste."

In 1938, Jane married Charles S. Bannerman, grandson of Frank Bannerman (namesake of Bannerman Island – formerly Pollepel Island) who built a castle there to store goods from his thriving army surplus business. The island is in the Hudson River, near Beacon, New York. In 1939 she left McMillen to raise her daughter, Ann. When Ann was in school, Jane started her own interior decorating business. She returned to McMillen (then renamed Brunswick & Fils) for a while, then left to pursue her travels and artistic interests. Jane traveled and sketched extensively abroad. And from 1955–2010, she also did sketchbooks of New York City (her hometown). Those sketchbooks illustrate how the city changed over those years.

From 1955–2003 Jane traveled to many international destinations including Europe, Japan, China, Thailand, Egypt, South America, India, Sri Lanka, and many others. Most often, Jane journeyed with friends on organized cruises or tours. On each trip (referred to by Jane as "Jane's jaunts") instead of bringing a camera, she took sketchbooks and watercolors to record the scenes and people in her travels. Jane said. “If I take a photo, I meet the subject; if I sketch it, I get to know the subject”. Although her subjects are mainly familiar tourist fare – beautiful scenery, famous attractions, “local color,” native characters, fellow travelers, hotel rooms, and tasty (or not) meals – there is nothing typical about her pictures. Colorful, whimsical, quirky, and utterly unique, Jane’s sketchbooks capture the quintessential spirit of the places she visited, and also reflect her own appealing personality.

In the late 1990's Jane studied with the Chinese artist C.C. Wang, and that inspired her second trip to China in 2000 – her first China trip was in 1979. Those sketchbooks illustrate the radical changes in China over that time. In 2003, at the age of 93, Jane traveled to the Azores and did two sketchbooks and a powerful painting series of those Portuguese islands.

In 1994 Jane helped Neil Caplan found the Bannerman Castle Trust, Inc. to preserve the Bannerman Castle, located on Bannerman Island. Jane also did sketches and watercolor paintings of the castle from the late 1930's – 2010. In 2005 she had a retrospective show of that artwork in the Trust’s Bannerman Island Gallery, in Beacon, New York.

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Scope and Contents note

This collection consists of 74 sketchbooks recording the travels of Jane Bannerman ("Jane's jaunts"). Places visited include the Caribbean, Japan, China, Russia, Hungary, Thailand, Bali, Sri Lanka, India, Egypt, and many European destinations. Domestic destinations include Martha's Vineyard, Long Island, Irvington, VA, and Bethlehem, PA. There are also several sketchbooks depicting New York City.

The sketchbooks are arranged chronologically. The earliest sketchbook is from Bannerman's 1929 trip to Italy as a Parsons' student. The remainder of the sketchbooks span the period from 1955 to 2010, providing a pictorial diary of Bannerman's travels in those years. The sketches are mainly pen and ink drawings with watercolor, and depict, with verve and humor, scenes and people Bannerman encountered on her numerous trips. In addition to local attractions and scenery, there are many sketches of airport scenes, cruise ship entertainments, and Bannerman's fellow travelers.

A few of the sketchbooks also include photographs and/or postcards and other travel ephemera. Bannerman also composed short written accounts of several of her journeys.

Arrangement note

The sketchbooks are arranged chronologically.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Travel sketches
  • Watercolors.

Subject Topics

  • Travel

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Administrative Information

Access restrictions

Available by advance appointment only. To schedule an appointment, contact the Print Room Librarian at printroom@nyhistory.org. 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

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

Permission to reproduce or quote text from this collection in a publication must be requested from and granted in writing by the Library Director, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194.

Related Materials at Other Institutions

The New School's Kellen Archives holds a collection of Jane Bannerman's art and design work.

Related Materials at the New-York Historical Society

Additional materials relating to the Bannerman family and Bannerman Island are held in the Bannerman Family Papers, MS 2906.


Gift of Jane Bannerman, 2013

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1-2 Italy, college trip with Parsons School of Design (2 sketchbooks)
Box: 1 Folder : 3-5 New York City
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Sweden
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Maritime black and white drawings
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Caribbean, Meteor cruise
Box: 1 Folder : 8 France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Austria
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Portugal, Spain and France
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Martha's Vineyard, MA
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Blue Point, Long Island, NY (2 sketchbooks)
Box: 2 Folder : 4 France, Switzerland, Italy and Greece
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Mediterranean, Italian cruise
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Mallorca, Spain
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Italy, Switzerland and France (2 sketchbooks)
Box: 2 Folder : 7 England and Portugal
Box: 3 Folder : 1-3 Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines (4 sketchbooks)
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Irvington, VA
Box: 3 Folder : 5-6 Russia, Hungary and Austria (2 sketchbooks)
Box: 3 Folder : 7 British Isles (England, Scotland and Ireland)
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Alaska, M.S. Meteor cruise (2 sketchbooks)
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Portugal, Morocco and Spain (2 sketchbooks)
Box: 4 Folder : 2 North Cape, Royal Viking cruise
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Bethlehem, PA (printed version of original sketchbook)
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Thailand, Bali, Java, Malaysia and Hawaii (3 sketchbooks)
Box: 4 Folder : 5-6 Sri Lanka and India (3 sketchbooks)
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Bermuda (original sketchbook and commercially printed version)
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Egypt, M.T.S. Argonaut Red Sea cruise
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Medieval France
Box: 5 Folder : 3-4 China
Box: 5 Folder : 5-6 Hungary and Austria (2 sketchbooks)
Box: 6 Folder : 1-3 Mediterranean, Sea Cloud cruise (3 sketchbooks)
Box: 6 Folder : 4-5 North Sea, Illira cruise (3 sketchbooks)
Box: 6 Folder : 6-7 New Zealand and Australia (4 sketchbooks)
Box: 7 Folder : 1 France and Israel
Box: 7 Folder : 2 Morocco
Box: 7 Folder : 3-4 Japan, China and South Korea (2 sketchbooks)
Box: 8 Folder : 1 Caribbean Sea, Sea Cloud cruise
Box: 8 Folder : 2-3 Italy, Sicily and Yugoslavia (3 sketchbooks)
Box: 8 Folder : 4 South America and Antarctic, Royal Viking cruise
Box: 8 Folder : 5 Saint Croix
Box: 8 Folder : 6 Germany and France, Europa Moselle and Rhine River cruise (2 sketchbooks)
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Sweden
Box: 9 Folder : 2 British Isles (England and Scotland), Regina Renaissance cruise
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Sweden and France
Box: 9 Folder : 4 Paris, France, the Greek Islands and Turkey
Box: 9 Folder : 5 Provence, France and Rhone River cruise
Box: 10 Folder : 1-3 China and Yangtze River Cruise (2 sketchbooks)
Box: 10 Folder : 4-5 Azores (2 sketchbooks, plus 1 commercially printed version)
Box: 10 Folder : 6 Bannerman Island
2006, 2010
Box: 10 Folder : 7 Sketchbook labels with descriptive information
Box: 10 Folder : 7 Newspaper articles about Jane Bannerman

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