Date created: 1851
Physical Dimensions: 28″ x 30″
Artist: J.O. Osborne
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Object number: 2023.01.1
Building location: On display in the Eldredge Room on the second floor of the Hudson Library.
Lucy Susannah Baldwin (1843-1860) was the fourth daughter of Anner Hudson Baldwin (1800-1982) and Harvey Baldwin (1798-1880), and grand daughter of town founder David Hudson (1791-1836).
Although she only lived 17 years, Lucy’s collected possessions give insight into the cultural, educational, and daily life of a young female growing up in a burgeoning town in the Western Reserve. A 1851 portrait of Lucy at age 8 is now on permanent display in the Eldredge Room on the second floor of the Hudson Library & Historical Society. The portrait was painted by artist J.O. Osbourne, a portrait and landscape painter active in Ohio in the mid-nineteenth century.
The exhibit also features some of Lucy’s possessions including school papers and a report card, a sewing box with accessories, and examples of her drawings and sewing.
Education was highly valued in the Hudson family–David Hudson himself was one of the founders and trustees of Western Reserve College, the first college in northern Ohio known as the “Yale of the West.” As a young woman of means, Lucy’s parents enrolled her and her sisters at the Hudson Female Seminary. Contrary to popular belief, female academics at this time were not devoted to domestic sciences, but instead offered similar academic courses found in men’s colleges. In fact, Hudson Female Seminary students were granted free enrollment in natural science courses at Western Reserve College. Lucy’s report card shows the breadth of courses offered at the seminary including Latin, drawing, history, algebra, and botany.
Also included are examples of Lucy’s drawings completed as part of her Hudson Female Seminary curriculum. During this time period, art instruction employed a more formulaic approach as drawing was considered a practical skill applicable to many industries. Like other schools, the Hudson Female Seminary used commercially produced drawing cards to teach the mechanics of drawing. Each set of cards contained as many as 24 images of buildings, landscapes, architecture, and animals that students were instructed to copy. One of Lucy’s drawings seen here is an assignment for Coe’s New Drawing Cards for Schools, No. 5.
Lucy’s sewing box and accessories are typical of the tools that a young woman at this time might use for needlework, mending, or other sewing projects. Lucy’s needlework can be seen in the pillowcase embroidered with her initials “S.B.” (Susannah was her middle name). It was common practice at this time to mark bed and table linens with initials to aid in household sorting.
Elizabeth Hyde Siman, the great, great, great, great grandchild of David Hudson, generously donated the portrait and Lucy’s artifacts to the Hudson Library earlier this year. Thanks to donations from Siman and other members of the Hudson family throughout the years, the Hudson Library owns a large collection of manuscripts, photographs, portraits, and artifacts documenting the history of the Hudson family.