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George Washington ephemera

Identifier: HC.MC-801-11-024

Scope and Contents

This collection contains ephemera related to George Washington, mostly related to portraits and other images of Washington.

Pamphlet excerpt: Engraving of stone marking “Washington’s Birthplace”. Behind the paper is an engraving of the “Residence of the Washington Family.”

Pamphlet excerpt: Engraving of “Ice-House at Mount Vernon.” Behind the paper is an engraving of the “Summer-House at Mount Vernon.”

Excerpt from The Literary Collector. Copy of a broadside that would have been handed to attendants at the funeral services held in honor of George Washington at Old-South in Boston on February 8, 1800. The copy has two odes.

Pamphlet excerpt: Engraving of the George Washington Comita Americana Hostibus Primo Fugatis coin. Obverse: George Washington in profile, to right. Inscribed around: GEORGIO WASHINGTON SVPREMO DVCI EXERCITVVM. ADSERTORI LIBERTATUS. COMITIA AMERICANA. Reverse: Washington with several mounted officers at Boston Harbor. Inscribed around: HOSTIBUS PRIMO FUGATIS. Below landscape: BOSTONIUM RECUPERATUM. XVII MARTII. MDCCLXXVI.

Excerpt from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. Poem by John Savage titled “Washington,” which was “...written upon contemplating Stuart’s Portrait in the Boston Athenaeum.” The poem is talking about Gilbert Stuart’s famous painting of Washington known as the “Athenaeum Portrait,” created in 1796. It served as the model for the engraving used on the United States one-dollar bill.

Pamphlet advertisement for The History of the Centennial Celebration of the Inauguration of George Washington as First President of the United States. The ad claims that the book provides an “Elaborate record of the Celebration, which is described in all possible relations and aspects, it contains a large amount of collateral but related historic matter, and is illuminated with a bewildering amount of historic portraits and illustrations.” The Celebration was arranged by the Citizens’ Committee and was held for three days in the spring of 1839 at New York City.

Rembrandt Peale’s pamphlet “Portrait of Washington.” The pamphlet contains testimonies from more than 20 people who knew Washington. Peale was an American artist and museum keeper. The pamphlet also served as an advertisement for Peale’s painting of Washington as he included glowing descriptions from people such as Chief Justice John Marshall, who remarked. “The likeness in features is striking, and the Character of the whole face is preserved & exhibited with wonderful Accuracy. It is more Washington himself than any Portrait of him I have ever seen.’” Peale attempted to use the publicity to unsuccessfully lobby Congress for a commission of Washington.

Newspaper clipping advertising the “Sharples Washington Portraits” which were exhibited at Earles’ Galleries. It is made of James Sharples' three portraits: two of Washington and one of his wife Martha.

Advertisement of the Washington Museum and Gallery of Paintings located in Philadelphia. The ad claims that the museum has “300 wax statues and 100 paintings, the works of eminent Masters–Also many pieces of Art, at superior Workmanship.”

Excerpt from the Medical and Philosophical Register. One article is about the illness and death of George Washington.

Article titled “Who Will Contribute Toward Presenting The Public Schools with the Autotype Reproductions of The Sharples Washington Portraits?” The article is about the inclusion of Sharples’ Portraits of Washington for educational purposes. The article gathered testimony in favor of the portraits, arguing that they best capture Washington’s character. Based on the language used, it appears that the portraits declare a patriotic and selfless, nearly flawless aura of Washington and there does not seem to be any indication that the portraits reveal flaws or other vulnerabilities. It demonstrates the mythologization of Washington during this time and how it resulted in continued legends surrounding Washington to present times.

Pamphlet on the Sharples Washington Portraits (George and Martha Washington). Quotes from various newspapers and notable individuals who gave critical acclaim for the art.


  • Creation: 1839 and undated

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Law Applies (U.S. Title 17)

Biographical note

George Washington (1732-1799) was an American military officer, statesman, and Founding Father of the United States. He served as commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and he was the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Due to his positions and work before and during the early years of the US, Washington has achieved legendary status in American history. Works on Washington often exalt him and few examine aspects of his life such as his enslavement of Black Americans and waging wars on Indigenous peoples. The materials in this folder/collection demonstrate how the mythologization of Washington manifested and how it continues to shape how we perceive him.


.01 linear ft. (1 box)

Language of Materials



Ephemera related to George Washington, mostly about various portraits and images of the US leader.



Processing Information

Processed by Katherine Hong, completed April 2023

Genre / Form

George Washington ephemera
Katherine Hong
April, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting or requesting repoductions from Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

370 Lancaster Ave
Haverford PA 19041 USA US