Are you interested in painting but aren’t sure how to mix your colors? The Jennie Chambers Papers might be able to help. The Chambers family lived in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in the mid-nineteenth century. Jennie Chambers was an author and amateur artist who went on to write for Harper’s Magazine, publishing “What a School-Girl Saw of John Brown’s Raid” in 1902 (still available online today). Duke has held the Jennie Chambers Papers for several decades, but I recently revisited the collection to enhance its online description and update its housing to our current standards. Most of the papers are letters between Jennie and her family or drafts of Jennie’s writings. But I most enjoyed finding this kind-of-grimy paper that includes all of her notes about mixing paint colors. It looks like she frequently used these notes for her paintings. I love the spots of paint and the smears of oil that stain the page, and it was really fun to see what sorts of things she painted. For foliage, mix deep green, Prussian blue, and yellow ochre. Do you want to paint mahogany? Mix Indian red, vermillion, and Vandyke brown.
My archivist’s heart also loves that she signed and dated the page. The only thing missing from the collection are her actual paintings.
Post contributed by Meghan Lyon, Technical Services Archivist.