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Hiram Powers papers, 1819-1953, bulk 1835-1883

Powers, Hiram, 1805-1873


The papers of Hiram Powers in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2007. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 26,912 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 12.4 linear feet

Summary: The papers of sculptor Hiram Powers measure 12.4 linear feet and date from 1819 to 1953, with the bulk of the material dating from 1835 to 1883. Over two-thirds of the collection consists of Powers' correspondence, which is particularly rich in documenting his artwork, methodology, and his interaction with business associates, purchasers of his artwork, and his numerous friends in the United States and Florence, Italy. Other papers include scattered biographical material, writings by Powers and others, financial and legal records, news clippings and printed items, photographs of Powers, his family, artwork, as well as an extensive collection of carte de visite and cabinet card portraits of many notable figures. Also found is a small amount of artwork by Powers and others, a scrapbook, and two autograph and memorabilia albums.

Biographical/Historical Note

Hiram Powers (1805-1873) was a sculptor from Washington, D.C. and Florence, Italy. Powers' international success due to his work "Greek Slave," established him as the leading American sculptor of his day.


The Hiram Powers papers were purchased by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1967 from Christina Seeber, great-granddaughter of Hiram Powers. A portion of these papers were loaned to the Archives of American Art for microfilming in 1974, and the entire collection was subsequently transferred to the archives from the museum in 1984.

Related Materials

Additional Hiram Powers papers are available at the Winterthur Museum which includes correspondence and a few photographs.

Also found at the Archives of American Art is an unpublished manuscript entitled "White Marble: The Life and Letters of Hiram Powers, Sculptor," by Clara Louise Dentler, available on Archives of American Art microfilm reels 1102-1103. Microfilm reels 815-818 contain a "Collection of Letters from Old Residents of Cincinnati to Hiram Powers," compiled by Clara Louise Dentler, and loaned for microfilming by the Cincinnati Historical Society. These letters are not described in this finding aid. Microfilm reel D117 contains "The Sculpture of Hiram Powers," by Paul B. Metzler, lent for microfilming by Ohio State University.


Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.