Elizabeth Bullock Humphrey
Field’s article on abolitionism in Hopedale, she wrote the following about a family of escaped slaves. “In
the opposite house a man, woman, and two children, all black, dwelt one winter in the cellar kitchen and
one summer in the attic. The oldest girl went to school and learned to read and write.” Based on the
description of the location of the house, it’s very likely that she was referring to the Humphrey home.
Lizzie Humphrey, our real artist, received here her first preparation for the career in which she won
distinction. Dear Lizzie, loveliest of girls, and always our Queen of the May. Ellen Patrick, Hopedale
Daughter of William H. and Almira (Brown) Humphrey of Barrington and Cumberland, R.I.
Born May 13, 1841 in Millbury, Massachusetts, the only one of the five Humphrey children who lived
Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey came to Hopedale May 1, 1849 and soon after their arrival became members of
Hopedale Community whose principals they upheld to the end of their days. Adin Ballou said of the
Humphreys, “This family belongs among our most exemplary people.”
The following brief statement about Elizabeth Humphrey is loosely quoted from a biographical sketch by
Mary J. Jacques who lived in Hopedale and was a close friend of the Humphrey family
When the time came to decide what she (Elizabeth) would do with a life that she was resolved should be
lived to some purpose, a natural facility with the pencil gave a rational basis to her choice of art as her
After a course of study at Cooper Institute, New York, she established herself in Boston, determined to
devote her future efforts mainly to design for illustration. However, this plan was altered by the award of
Second and Third prizes at the exhibition of Christmas card designs in 1881 and the large popular vote
for the Boston Card in 1884, and she turned to original Christmas card design exclusively, a field in
which she was highly successful. Incidentally, Miss Humphrey used village children very often as
models. For example, in the Boston Card, already referred to, the little girl was modeled by Annie Knight,
the boy by Arthur Draper and the young lady by Marjorie Humphrey, adopted daughter of the Humphreys.
The O’Connell children, of whom our Mrs. Kent was one, were also favorite models. (My guess is that
Mrs. Kent was Nellie Kent, who for many years in the mid-twentieth century was the Hopedale reporter for
the Milford Daily News.)
Frail health made a winter visit advisable to a milder climate than that of New England, but the hoped-for
results were not realized. Elizabeth Humphrey died in Hamilton, Bermuda, April 3, 1890; in another
month she would have been forty-nine years old. Her grave with those of her father and mother is in
Hopedale Village Cemetery.
There was no author’s name on this, other than the mention of Mary J. Jacques as the source, but it was
probably written by Rachel Day, who in another page in the same folder at the Bancroft Library, listed
the people in a portrait painted by Elizabeth Humphrey. Here’s more from the Ask Art website.
Illustrator and landscapist, Elizabeth B. Humphrey was born on May 13, 1841, in Millbury,
Massachusetts, growing up there until 1849, when the family moved to Hopedale, Massachusetts. She
painted well-regarded New England landscapes, and made popular drawings of children. But she was
best known for her association with the Louis Prang Company of Boston, for whom she produced
chromolithographs, illustrations and Christmas card designs. These best-selling cards won awards in
1881, 1882, and 1884. She created illustrations for magazines like Wide Awake, and for fourteen books
between 1869-1884, including three books with western illustrations.
In Albert D. Richardson's Beyond the Mississippi, 1869, Humphrey illustrated four depictions of
Nebraska, Texas, Colorado, and Utah from the 1850s and 1860s. In The Great Bonanza, 1876, by Oliver
Optic, the artist illustrated articles on silver and gold mining. Humphrey's contribution to Amanda B.
Harris's Wild Flowers and Where They Grow, 1882, included sixty pictures of indigenous flora of the
West. Humphrey made at least one trip to California during the mid-1880s.
She received a certificate in Drawing and Painting from Still Life in 1864, and a diploma, in 1867, from
Cooper Union's Female School of Art, in New York. She also studied with eminent landscape painter
Worthington Whittridge in New York. In 1869, she moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where she lived for
twenty years, before declining health saw her go to Hamilton, Bermuda, in 1889, where she would die on
April 3rd of that year at only forty-seven years of age.
Humphrey exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 1887, she
showed such specific works as Spanish Quarter, Santa Barbara, California and At Santa Barbara,
California at the American Watercolor Society, New York. She also exhibited a Santa Barbara canvas at a
Boston Art Club show at that time.
Reference works discussing the life and work of Elizabeth Humphrey include: Who Was Who in
American Art; Appleton's Cyclopedia 3; Petteys; Samuels & Samuels, Illustrated Biographical
Encyclopedia; Hamilton 1 and 2; Benjamin; Jacques; Chicago Tribune, 11 Jan 1885; Milford Daily News
(MA), 8 Apr 1889; Boston Evening Transcript, 9 Apr 1889; Fine Arts Department files, Boston Public
Library; US Census 1850, Worcester County, MA, pg 32; Hopedale Village Cemetery records;
International Genealogical Index, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake City; M. Keay
(Bancroft Memorial Library, Hopedale), 1977; M. Sparling (Milford Town Library, MA), 1992.
Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, "An Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West"
Biography from National Museum Of American History:
Humphrey, Elizabeth Bullock (1841-1889).
A painter and illustrator, Humphrey, known as Lizbeth or Lizzie, was born in Millbury, Massachusetts, and
studied drawing and painting at Cooper Union in New York City in the 1860s. She illustrated books for
several publishers, and by the 1880s was designing prints, Christmas cards, and trade cards for the
Boston lithographer Louis Prang. One of the firm's most productive artists, she won several Christmas
Following her death in 1889, Prang produced a memorial volume of her most popular designs, "Child
Life: A Souvenir of Lizbeth B. Humphrey"
(Boston: L. Prang, 1890).
Helena E. Wright, WITH PEN & GRAVER: WOMEN GRAPHIC ARTISTS BEFORE 1900. (Washington:
National Museum of American History, 1995)
Hopedale Community Menu HOME
Illustrations by Elizabeth Humphrey
on the wall of the director's office at the Bancroft
Library. That's no more than fifty feet from where
the house in the picture below once stood - the
house where "Lizzie" grew up. On the back of the
picture there's a note that reads, "This picture
won for Miss Lizbeth B. Humphrey a prize of five
hundred dollars in a competitive contest."