Paintings by Abby Williams Hill—Now in the Artstor Digital Archive

October 29, 2015

The digital images, available to scholars and students,
take the Pacific Northwest collection to a worldwide audience


TACOMA, Wash.
– More than 120 images of famous landscape paintings by Pacific Northwest painter, activist, and writer Abby Williams Hill are now available for scholarly use in the Artstor Digital Library.

University of Puget Sound, home to the original art collection, as well as archives of Hill’s letters, diaries, photos, and papers, has made the works available in Artstor, alongside images from some of the world’s finest museums, photo collections, and libraries.

The Abby Williams Hill (1861–1943) paintings include commissions by the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railways that richly portray the natural landscape and iconic sights of the American West between the Civil War and World War II. The collection, curated by Laura Edgar, is housed in Puget Sound’s Collins Memorial Library. It was donated to the university by Hill’s daughter, Ina Hill.

“Laura and I are very excited that portions of this famous collection are now publicly available,” said library director Jane Carlin. “It exposes one of our premier collections to the greater scholarly community and gives faculty and student researchers the opportunity to get to know the remarkable work of Abby Williams Hill.”

Hill was a landscape painter with an insatiable love of travel and learning. She produced a collection of about 150 paintings and drawings, as well as a vast archive of letters and journals addressing issues of social and historical interest, including African-American and Native-American rights, early childhood education, the plight of tuberculosis patients, and the preservation of our national parks.

The Hill collection documents her travels across the nation and in Europe, her relationship with her husband and four children, her experiences hiking and painting in the Pacific Northwest wilderness, and her passion for social causes, including her work with the National Congress of Mothers. In her journals she describes camping out at remote locations and encountering snakes, landslides, natives on horseback, rain, and intense heat. Her paintings were exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, the 1907 Jamestown Tricentennial Exposition, and the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle.

University of Puget Sound also is showcasing on Artstor a collection of the college’s Department of Theatre Arts’ artifacts that describe the process of creating and performing faculty directed campus productions, from script to stage. The costume design drawings, production photographs, playbills, and posters provide materials for drama workshops, training, class assignments, and instruction. This work is being led by Lori Ricigliano, associate director of user services in Collins Memorial Library. Three theatre arts productions are providing the initial focus: Angels in America, In the Next Room, and A Streetcar Named Desire.

Digital projects by Puget Sound and by more than 40 other U.S. colleges and universities are being supported by a $2.2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in partnership with the Council of Independent Colleges and Artstor. The grant supports workshops and subsidizes the use of Shared Shelf, Artstor’s digital asset management service.

Puget Sound is separately undertaking its own in-house digital archiving of educational material with the support of a $600,000 four-year grant from the Mellon Foundation. This funding for the Humanities and Culture in the Digital Age initiative allows professors to undertake projects that help prepare humanities and Honors programs students for the rapid changes of the digital age.  

Artstor is a nonprofit organization founded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with a mission to use digital technology to enhance scholarship and education in the humanities and sciences. The Artstor Digital Library brings together 1.9 million images from some of the world’s finest museums, photo archives, and libraries. Shared Shelf is a cloud-based media management solution that enables institutions to catalog, create data records, make collections accessible to a targeted audience, and keep files safe. Learn more at artstor.org.

To see a selection of works, photos, and papers by Abby Williams Hill in Collins Memorial Library’s digital collection visit: http://digitalcollections.pugetsound.edu/cdm/digicoll

Press photos of works by Abby Williams Hill are available upon request.

Photos on page:
From top right: Ta-Tan-Ka-Ska (White Bull), 1906; Mt. Rainier from Eunice Lake, 1904; Looking Across Lake Chelan, 1903; Abby Hill and her children camping at Yellowstone National park (from left: Eulalie, Romayne, Ina, Ione), 1906.

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