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Bertha Stuart Collection

 Collection — Container: MS 7043
Call Number: MS 7043

Scope and Contents

This collection contains Barbara Adams Hebard’s research on Bertha Stuart, a book cover designer active at the beginning of the twentieth century. Hebard gathered this material with the intent of writing a biography about Stuart. The research became the basis for an exhibit of Stuart’s designs that was featured in the Rare Books Department of the Boston Public Library entitled “A Fixed Rule of Design: The Book Art of Bertha Stuart”. The catalog for the exhibit, Hebard’s correspondence with historical societies, museums, and Stuart’s family as well as correspondence between Stuart and Henry Holt, her employer, is included.

Also included are photocopies of Stuart's sketchbooks and book covers; photographs of Stuart, her book plates, and her watercolors;  and information on Stuart’s contemporaries Julie Pratt, Margaret Law, and Anna Belle Crocker.


  • 1996-2002
  • Majority of material found in 1895-2002
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/2009


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. The Boston Public Library does not hold copyright on the material in this collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright.

When reproducing material from this collection, please use the credit line "Courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Rare Books."

Biographical or Historical Information

Bertha Stuart was born on October 22, 1869 in Clinton, Iowa. When she was a child, her family moved to Chicago where her father opened a stationary store. Stuart studied design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and in 1890, won first prize for Decorative Designing. The Stuarts moved to Portland, Oregon in the early 1890s. While in Portland, Stuart continued to draw and sketch.

In 1900, Stuart moved to New York City to pursue her art career. She attended the Women’s School at Cooper’s Union and also took courses at the Art Student’s League. In 1902, while at Cooper’s Union, she won the Bronze Medal for Designing among first year students and later that year, won a prize for Best Design in Silk. In 1904, she began to work for Henry Holt’s publishing company for which she drew 73 of her 168 cover designs. By 1912, changes in publisher’s binding styles eliminated the need for book cover artists such as Stuart; consequently she stopped working for Holt in 1914.

Stuart returned to Portland and opened an interior decorating shop called The Studio. Some of her clients included the Pittock Mansion, the Governor’s Mansion, and the Autzen Mansion. Stuart died in Portland on January 22, 1953.


0.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection contains the research material gathered by Barbara Adams Hebard for a biography (unpublished) of Bertha Stuart (1869 –1953), an American book cover designer. The research became the basis for an exhibit on Stuart featured in the Rare Books Department of the Boston Public Library. Included is the exhibit catalog,  biographical material, correspondence between Stuart and her employer, Henry Holt, and sketchbooks and book covers.

Arrangement Note

Organized alphabetically.

Method of Acquisition

Donated to the Boston Public Library by Barbara Adams Hebard in 2009.

Related Materials

Stuart, Bertha,For you: a collection of old favorite love songs. PN 6110.L6F671902 c.1

Stuart, Bertha, illustrator. Riley, James Whitcomb, 1853 – Good-bye Jim. [verse.] Illustrated by Howard Chandler Christy, Decorations by Bertha Stuart. *A.7479.32

“A Fixed Rule of Design: The Book Art of Bertha Stuart” An exhibit in the Rare Books Department of the Boston Public Library, October-December 2009. (Exhibit material located in the Rare Books Department).

Processing Information

Finding aid written by Alissa Link, April 2012.
Bertha Stuart Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

About this library

Part of the Boston Public Library Archives & Special Collections Repository

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