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Friends Historical Library collected silhouettes

 Collection — othertype: SAFE
Identifier: SFHL-PA-033

Scope and Contents

This collection combines various silhouette albums and images acquired by Friends Hitorical Library into a single unit.


  • Creation: Circa 1803-1845


Conditions Governing Access

Access is restricted due to the fragility of the materials.

Conditions Governing Use

Friends Historical Library believes all of the items in this collection to be in the Public Domain in the United States, and is not aware of any restrictions on their use. However, the user is responsible for making a final determination of copyright status before reproducing. See

Biographical / Historical

Cut paper silhouettes were a popular art form in the first half of the 19th century as an alternative to painted portraits. They were generally mounted on a contrasting color paper or silk and often collected in albums or framed for home display. Skilled specialist artists such as August Edouart could quickly cut freehand and produce faithful likenesses in duplicate. Other artists drew an outline on paper, then painted it in. The physionotrace apparatus made the production and duplication of likenesses easily available. Charles Willson Peale introduced the machine in his Museum in Philadelphia in 1803, and thousands of images were produced. Silhouettes were particularly popular with members of the Society of Friends who were opposed to the vanity of painted portraiture, but embraced the simplicity and close representation from life of silhouettes. The popularity of silhouettes quickly declined with the invention of photography.


6 linear ft.

Language of Materials



This collection combines various silhouette albums and images acquired by Friends Hitorical Library into a single finding aid.


The albums and collections were described as separate series.

Processing Information

In 2018 the scattered silhouette collections in Friends Historical Library from various sources and poorly described were combined into a single artificial collection for better preservation and cataloging.

Susanna Morikawa
September 2018
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 Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library

500 College Avenue
Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA