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MG 3
Lucy Skidmore Scribner Collection
1837 - 1957,  9 cubic feet
The Lucy Skidmore Scribner Collection consists mainly of documents, photographs, publications and objects that belonged to Lucy Scribner (1853-1931), Skidmore College's founder. It also contains some material about Lucy Scribner that was collected by her contemporaries. 

The collection can be accessed in the Department of Special Collections during regular hours.

Finding Aid:
Biographical Note
Scope and Content Note
Collection Inventory
Bibliography of Works About Lucy Skidmore Scribner in the
   Scribner Library

Lucy Skidmore Scribner, founder of Skidmore College, undated photograph. 

Biographical Note
Lucy Skidmore Scribner was born in New York City on July 4, 1853 to Joseph Russell Skidmore (1821-1882), a coal merchant, and Lucy Ann Hawley Skidmore (1821-1853). Lucy’s grandparents were Jeremiah and Judith Ludlam Skidmore and Irad and Sarah Holmes Hawley. In 1875, Lucy Skidmore married John Blair Scribner, son of the publisher Charles Scribner and senior member of the firm Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York City. The couple resided at 21 East 48th Street in New York. In 1879, Lucy was left widowed when John Blair died unexpectedly of pneumonia.

Lucy Scribner never remarried, and for several years lived with her stepmother, Anna Holmes Krebs Skidmore (1834-1894), at 32 East 38th Street in New York. Around 1900, Ms. Scribner, who was in poor health, visited Saratoga Springs to enjoy the famous spa’s air and water. By 1903, she had become a permanent resident of the city.

As stated in the Skidmore College 1999-2000 catalog, “In 1903 Mrs. Scribner, responding to what she saw as an absence of practical educational opportunity for women in Saratoga Springs, opened the Young Women’s Industrial Club of Saratoga. With a few teachers and a handful of promising students, she initiated classes in the fine and practical arts, which were designed to give young women the means to make a living while learning to appreciate the more aesthetic experiences in life.” The success of the Industrial Club led Ms. Scribner to expand her fledgling institution, and in 1911 the school was chartered as the Skidmore School of Arts. Under the continual guidance of Lucy Scribner and the experienced hand of its president, Charles Henry Keyes (1858-1925), the school eventually grew to become Skidmore College, chartered in 1922 as a four-year degree granting institution. Ms. Scribner maintained a close involvement with Skidmore College, serving as the chair of the Board of Trustees until her death in 1931.

Most of the information in this biographical note was supplied by A Genalogical and Biographical Record of the Pioneer Thomas Skidmore… by Emily C. Hawley, 1931, and the 1999-2000 Skidmore College Catalog. Sources for more information about Lucy Scribner are listed in the Bibliography of Works About Lucy Skidmore Scribner in the Scribner Library.

Scope and Content Note
The Lucy Skidmore Scribner Collection is an assemblage of documents, photographs, publications, and objects by and about Lucy Scribner that have accumulated from a variety of sources over many years. It is probable that some items came directly to the College from Ms. Scribner’s estate, and eventually made their way into the Archives. A number of items, including a quilt and other textiles, were donated to the College by Carol Keillor in 1987. Ms. Keillor inherited the items from Mary Elizabeth Larsen, who was Ms. Scribner’s secretary and companion throughout the latter’s later years. An inventory of Ms. Keillor’s donation is available in the Department of Special Collections. Several files of Ms. Scribner’s original documents and photographs (now housed in boxes 6, 7, and 11) were pulled out of the Archives’ vertical subject files and united with the rest of the collection in the spring of 2000.

The Lucy Skidmore Scribner Collection has been arranged into six series, reflecting the types of materials represented. Since the immediate origin of much of the collection is unknown, no attempt was made to arrange or divide the collection by provenance.

Series I: Publications, includes a number of volumes owned by Lucy Scribner and her family. Also included are two religious texts given to Anna C. Peterson (Ms. Scribner’s maid and companion) by Ms. Scriber. Many of the volumes are inscribed with Ms. Scribner’s name.

Series II: Journals and Account Books, contains two account books (one of Joseph Russell Skidmore, Ms. Scribner’s father, and one of Jeremiah Skidmore, her grandfather), a series of Ms. Scribner’s daily diaries, and the 1910 journal of Anna C. Peterson, outlining her European vacation with Ms. Scribner (a transcription of this journal is available in the Department of Special Collections). 

Series III: Scrapbooks, consists of two books. The first, which was probably created by Lucy Scribner, contains newspaper clippings about John Blair Scribner’s death in 1879. The other scrapbook in this series was part of the Keillor/Larsen donation, and contains clippings about Ms. Scribner’s death.

Series IV: Documents, contains correspondence by and about Ms. Scribner, documents about her estate, her honorary degree granted by Mount Holyoke College, and newspaper clippings about her activities, accomplishments, and death in 1931. This series also contains a folder of newspaper clippings collected by Mary Elizabeth Larsen (box 7, folder 5). Although most of these are stories about Lucy Scribner, one is the obituary of Skidmore president Henry T. Moore, and one is a notice of M. E. Larsen’s retirement from Skidmore.

Series V: Photographs and Images, includes photograph albums maintained by Ms. Scribner, photographs of Ms. Scribner, her family and friends, and a 1931 drawing of Ms. Scribner by Lucille Bush, an art instructor at Skidmore. Of note are a series of snapshots of Ms. Scribner’s 1910 European vacation with Anna Peterson.

Series VI: Objects, contains hand monogrammed linens, a quilt constructed by Ms. Scribner at 12 years of age, Ms. Scribner’s desk lamp, her father’s wax seal, and a desk clock which belonged to Mary Elizabeth Larsen.

Proceed to Collection Inventory

Proceed to Bibliography of Works About Lucy Skidmore Scribner in the Scribner Library 

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E-mail contact: Special Collections. Last updated July 11, 2000