Newcomb Industrial Arts

When the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College opened in 1886, the art faculty consisted of Gertrude Roberts and brothers William and Ellsworth Woodward. The art curriculum included Mechanical and Architectural Drawing as well as design, color ornamentation, and woodcarving.

By 1887, Ellsworth Woodward had become the director of the Newcomb Art School. Six years later, he proposed to then Newcomb College president Brandt V. B. Dixon the founding of a model industry that would “exhibit an object lesson as to the possibilities underlying native raw materials when trained talent takes it in hand and stamps it for beauty and use.” Woodward’s goal of providing young women the chance to learn by doing had the impulse of bringing together arts, crafts, and manufacturing, as well as transforming the students into skilled creators.

An important craft developed in the curriculum included bookbinding, introduced in 1913 under the supervision of Lota Lee Troy. Building on content from earlier leatherwork and portfolio binding classes, bookbinding was taught using techniques dating to the Renaissance. Troy, who specialized in tooled leather covers and hand-made end papers, became director of the Newcomb Art Department in 1931 following Ellsworth’s retirement. She served in the position until 1940.

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