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Mary Wager Fisher Western floral sketchbook


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Mary Wager Fisher was born in New York between 1840 and 1850 to parents Benjamin Wager and Matilda Dates. She graduated from Alfred College (in Alfred, New York) in 1864 and taught under Superintendent Ralza M. Manly in a Freedman’s Bureau School in Richmond, Virginia, in 1866. Starting in 1872, she wrote a series of articles entitled “The Traveller Abroad” for

The Rural New Yorker. She was a journalist who also wrote children’s stories and travel articles. In 1893, she published a book entitled A Day in the Grand Canyon, suggesting that she made several trips to the Western United States. In 1876, she married William Righter Fisher, a Philadelphia lawyer and educator. She appears to have lived in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, from at least 1880 until her death in 1915. Although the 1880 Federal Census listed her occupation as “Litature [sic],” her death certificate described her as a housewife.

1880 Federal Census (accessed from on 9/19/16)1900 Federal Census (accessed from on 9/19/16)1910 Federal Census (accessed from on 9/19/16)Death certificate of Mary Wager Fisher, July 2, 1915 (accessed from on 9/19/16)Guide to the William Righter and Mary Wager Fisher papers, 1830-1934, Collection Overview, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University (accessed on 9/19/16) William Righter Fisher papers, 1874-1917, Collection Overview, Waidner-Spahr Library, Dickinson College (accessed on 9/19/16) Information derived from the collection.

This sketchbook was created by American journalist and author Mary Wager Fisher (d. 1915) and includes full-color drawings and pencil sketches from the 1870s and 1880s. Most of the drawings depict plants observed around Seattle, Washington, but Fisher also included sketches of buildings, household objects, and people observed elsewhere.

Most drawings in the book are colorful, detailed depictions of plant specimens from the Western United States. Some of these entries included the plant’s Latin name, common name, and when and where the sketch was created (e.g. “Ribes Sanguineum, Wild Currant, March 15, 1885, Seattle”). Other entries included only the common name and month in which it was sketched. All of the drawings dated between November 1884 and June 1885 were created in Seattle, Washington, and the surrounding areas. Fisher also included two pencil sketches of Mt. Rainier dated November 1884.

Toward the end of the book, Fisher created a series of pencil sketches dated from 1871 to 1872. Drawings dated September 1871 include household objects, a New York church, a woman or child in a bonnet, and the faces of attendees at an unidentified camp meeting. A drawing dated 1872 depicts a building and bridge in Poissy, France.

The sketchbook is bound with brown cloth over board covers. The spine has split and the front cover is completely detached from the rest of the volume. The book contains 40 unlined paper leaves, most of which have full-color or pencil sketches on their rectos. There is one full-color drawing and several pencil sketches on the versos of leaves towards the end of the volume. On the inside cover, there is a printed manufacturer’s label that reads “C.T. Raynolds & Co./Established 1770/Importers and Manufacturers of/Artists’ Materials/Materials/For Making Wax Flowers, &c., &c./106 & 108 Fulton Street/New York/and 50 Michigan Avenue/Chicago, Ill.” A stationer’s ticket on the inside cover reads “From/Kellogg & Potter/Books, Music/And Stationery/15 Third Ave./Opp. Cooper Institute.” Laid in there is a loose piece of paper with pencil sketches of plants on one side and a watercolor green leaf on the other. Several pages have been cut from the volume.

Item 0061: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0093


Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, June 2017.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2017 June 29
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Mary Wager Fisher Western floral sketchbook, 1871-1885.
Item 0061
Physical Description

1 volume

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