Scope and Content Note
Title: Henry Box Brown drawings,
Date (inclusive): 1851-1852
Collection number: HM 62464 (1-43)
Brown, Henry B., 1816-ca. 1860
The Huntington Library
San Marino, California 91108
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Henry Box Brown Drawings, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
This collection was purchased from Catherine C. Abbott, December 13, 2000. It consists of forty-three items dated from 1851
and 1852. They are single-item cataloged and arranged by subject.
Acquisition number: 2094
Call Numbers: HM 62464 (1-43)
Henry B. Brown was probably born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in January 1816. In the 1840s, he worked as a portrait artist
and engraver, and in 1851 he traveled to San Francisco with his friend Jacob Bailey Moore. Brown worked for Moore for the
next several months, gathering specimens and making drawings in the California countryside. In March of 1852, he was commissioned
by John Russell Bartlett, head of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary Commission and a friend of Moore, to draw views of landscapes and
Indians in Northern California, assist with collecting Indian vocabularies, and make maps of the area, with a view towards
contributing to Bartlett's book "Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora,
and Chihuahua" (1854). Brown traveled to New York in the late summer of 1852, and presumably drew his coastal scenes of Mexico
and Central America during the trip. From 1856 to 1859, he served as US Consul for Bermuda. Little is known of his life after
that date; his health was poor at the time of his resignation in 1859, and he may have died in late 1860 or soon after. He
should not be confused with the Maine artist Harrison Bird Brown (1831-1915) or with the escaped slave Henry "Box" Brown (b.
Scope and Content Note
The forty-two drawings are arranged according to their five general subjects: California Native Americans (7), California
landscapes (24), Mexico (4), Central America (6), and Other (1). Although the exact Indian tribes in Brown's drawings are
not known, it is believed that they are the Maidu, Nomlaki, Patwin, Wintun, and/or the Shasta Indians because those tribes
lived in the areas in California where Brown was traveling. These drawings include portraits of Indians and scenes of daily
life in Indian villages. Five of these drawings have been published in
Drawn from Life: California Indians in Pen and Brush by Theodora Kroeber, Albert B. Elsasser, and Robert F. Heizer, and
Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua by John Russell Bartlett. The twenty-four drawings of California landscapes include views of mining camps, a quartz mill,
San Francisco, Marysville, Mount Shasta, Grass Valley, the Sacramento River, and Nevada City. The ten drawings of Mexico and
Central America include views of Acapulco, the Gulf of California, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Also included in
the collection is an undated drawing of the Susquehanna river in Port Deposit, Maryland, and a blank sheet of paper that was
probably used as a mount for one of the drawings. The titles used are the titles supplied by the artist. Several of the drawings
have sketches or inscriptions on the verso.
Bartlett, John Russell.
Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua.
D. Appleton & Company,
California Indians: An Illustrated Guide.
Walnut Creek, California:
Heizer, Robert F., ed.
A Collection of Ethnographical Articles on the California Indians.
Hine, Robert V.
An Artist Draws the Line. American Heritage, February 1968, Volume XIX, Number 2: 28.
Hine, Robert V.
Bartlett's West: Drawing the Mexican Boundary.
New Haven and London:
Yale University Press,
Kroeber, Theodora, Albert B. Elsasser, Robert F. Heizer.
Drawn from Life: California Indians in Pen and Brush.
Socorro, New Mexico:
Merriam, C. Hart.
Studies of California Indians.
Berkeley and Los Angeles:
University of California Press,
Tribes of California.
Government Printing Office,