Elizabeth Bullock Humphrey

    The Humphreys were one of the most prominent families of the Hopedale Community. In
    Anna Thwing Field’s article on abolitionism in Hopedale, she wrote the following about a
    family of escaped slaves. “In the opposite house a man, woman, and two children, all
    black, dwelt one winter in the cellar kitchen and one summer in the attic. The oldest girl
    went to school and learned to read and write.”  Based on the description of the location of
    the house, it’s very likely that she was referring to the Humphrey home.

    Lizzie Humphrey, our real artist, received here her first preparation for the career in which
    she won distinction.  Dear Lizzie, loveliest of girls, and always our Queen of the May. Ellen
    Patrick, Hopedale Reminiscences.

    Daughter of William H. and Almira (Brown) Humphrey of Barrington and Cumberland, R.I.

    Born May 13, 1841 in Millbury, Massachusetts, the only one of the five Humphrey children
    who lived beyond infancy.

    Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey came to Hopedale May 1, 1849 and soon after their arrival
    became members of Hopedale Community whose principals they upheld to the end of their
    days. Adin Ballou said of the Humphreys, “This family belongs among our most exemplary

    The following brief statement about Elizabeth Humphrey is loosely quoted from a
    biographical sketch by Mary J. Jacques who lived in Hopedale and was a close friend of
    the Humphrey family

    When the time came to decide what she (Elizabeth) would do with a life that she was
    resolved should be lived to some purpose, a natural facility with the pencil gave a rational
    basis to her choice of art as her vocation.

    After a course of study at Cooper Institute, New York, she established herself in Boston,
    determined to devote her future efforts mainly to design for illustration. However, this plan
    was altered by the award of Second and Third prizes at the exhibition of Christmas card
    designs in 1881 and the large popular vote for the Boston Card in 1884, and she turned
    to original Christmas card design exclusively, a field in which she was highly successful.
    Incidentally, Miss Humphrey used village children very often as models. For example, in
    the Boston Card, already referred to, the little girl was modeled by Annie Knight, the boy
    by Arthur Draper and the young lady by Marjorie Humphrey, adopted daughter of the
    Humphreys. The O’Connell children, of whom our Mrs. Kent was one, were also favorite
    models. (My guess is that Mrs. Kent was Nellie Kent, who for many years in the mid-
    twentieth century was the Hopedale reporter for the Milford Daily News.)

    Frail health made a winter visit advisable to a milder climate than that of New England, but
    the hoped-for results were not realized. Elizabeth Humphrey died in Hamilton, Bermuda,
    April 3, 1890; in another month she would have been forty-nine years old. Her grave with
    those of her father and mother is in Hopedale Village Cemetery.

    There was no author’s name on this, other than the mention of Mary J. Jacques as the
    source, but it was probably written by Rachel Day, who in another page in the same
    folder at the Bancroft Library, listed the people in a portrait painted by Elizabeth
    Humphrey. Here’s more from the Ask Art website.

    Illustrator and landscapist, Elizabeth B. Humphrey was born on May 13, 1841, in Millbury,
    Massachusetts, growing up there until 1849, when the family moved to Hopedale,
    Massachusetts. She painted well-regarded New England landscapes, and made popular
    drawings of children. But she was best known for her association with the Louis Prang
    Company of Boston, for whom she produced chromolithographs, illustrations and
    Christmas card designs. These best-selling cards won awards in 1881, 1882, and 1884.
    She created illustrations for magazines like Wide Awake, and for fourteen books between
    1869-1884, including three books with western illustrations.

    In Albert D. Richardson's Beyond the Mississippi, 1869, Humphrey illustrated four
    depictions of Nebraska, Texas, Colorado, and Utah from the 1850s and 1860s. In The
    Great Bonanza, 1876, by Oliver Optic, the artist illustrated articles on silver and gold
    mining. Humphrey's contribution to Amanda B. Harris's Wild Flowers and Where They
    Grow, 1882, included sixty pictures of indigenous flora of the West. Humphrey made at
    least one trip to California during the mid-1880s.

    She received a certificate in Drawing and Painting from Still Life in 1864, and a diploma, in
    1867, from Cooper Union's Female School of Art, in New York. She also studied with
    eminent landscape painter Worthington Whittridge in New York. In 1869, she moved to
    Boston, Massachusetts, where she lived for twenty years, before declining health saw her
    go to Hamilton, Bermuda, in 1889, where she would die on April 3rd of that year at only
    forty-seven years of age.

    Humphrey exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In
    1887, she showed such specific works as Spanish Quarter, Santa Barbara, California and
    At Santa Barbara, California at the American Watercolor Society, New York. She also
    exhibited a Santa Barbara canvas at a Boston Art Club show at that time.

    Reference works discussing the life and work of Elizabeth Humphrey include: Who Was
    Who in American Art; Appleton's Cyclopedia 3; Petteys; Samuels & Samuels, Illustrated
    Biographical Encyclopedia; Hamilton 1 and 2; Benjamin; Jacques; Chicago Tribune, 11 Jan
    1885; Milford Daily News (MA), 8 Apr 1889; Boston Evening Transcript, 9 Apr 1889; Fine
    Arts Department files, Boston Public Library; US Census 1850, Worcester County, MA, pg
    32; Hopedale Village Cemetery records; International Genealogical Index, Church of Jesus
    Christ of Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake City; M. Keay (Bancroft Memorial Library, Hopedale),
    1977; M. Sparling (Milford Town Library, MA), 1992.

    Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, "An Encyclopedia of Artists of the
    American West"

    Biography from National Museum Of American History:

    Humphrey, Elizabeth Bullock (1841-1889).

    A painter and illustrator, Humphrey, known as Lizbeth or Lizzie, was born in Millbury,
    Massachusetts, and studied drawing and painting at Cooper Union in New York City in the
    1860s. She illustrated books for several publishers, and by the 1880s was designing
    prints, Christmas cards, and trade cards for the Boston lithographer Louis Prang. One of
    the firm's most productive artists, she won several Christmas card competitions.

    Following her death in 1889, Prang produced a memorial volume of her most popular
    designs, "Child Life: A Souvenir of Lizbeth B. Humphrey"
    (Boston: L. Prang, 1890).

    (Washington: National Museum of American History, 1995)


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Illustrations by Elizabeth Humphrey

    This Christmas card by Elizabeth Humphrey is on the
    wall of the director's office at the Bancroft Library.
    That's no more than fifty feet from where the house in
    the picture below once stood - the house where
    "Lizzie" grew up. On the back of the picture there's a
    note that reads, "This picture won for Miss Lizbeth B.
    Humphrey a prize of five hundred dollars in a
    competitive contest."