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William Heinrich Prestele was born in Germany in 1838 and raised in Iowa. He was the son of a prolific botanical illustrator, Franz Joseph Martin Prestele, whose influence on his son was clear from an early age. After completing several natural painting projects in his twenties, William Heinrich...
Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829 and immediately set itself apart from other prisons of the time: instead of punishing inmates through physical abuse, Eastern State instituted a Quaker-inspired system of isolation meant to push prisoners toward reflection and change. For decades, Eastern...
Long before anyone figured out how to print them, books were painstakingly produced by hand. Each manuscript passed from a parchment maker, who cleaned and stretched the cow and sheep skins that would make the pages, to a scribe. Depending on the book’s size, this process could require several herds...
It wasn’t until he was in his late 60s that Henri Matisse—best known for his brightly colored paintings—began creating illustrations for artists’ books. He produced over a dozen of these limited editions, meant not just to be read, but collected and admired. In his 1946 essay “How I Made My Books,”...
Because of the constraints of photography in the art form’s early days, photographs of the Civil War tended to be either posed portraits, camp scenes, or—most haunting of all—images of a battle’s aftermath. Taken days or even weeks after the violent events had passed into history, the aftermath...
Like many archival repositories, the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, opens its reading room to those wishing to study its holdings. Scholars researching papers, family historians investigating their genealogy, and church leaders seeking information on their congregations: all are...
Among the first to purchase property when Mount Tabor, New Jersey, opened as a Methodist summer camp meeting ground in 1869 was Benjamin Foster Britten of Jersey City. Like many Victorian-era city dwellers escaping the summer heat by attending open-air religious revivals, Britten traveled to Mount...
When photographer Timothy O’Sullivan (1840-1882) accompanied Lieutenant George Montague Wheeler on his “United States Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian” between 1871 and 1874, he crossed California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Idaho, and New Mexico with a portable darkroom, pulled...