The Margery Ryerson Manuscript Collection

Collection Summary

Creator: Ryerson, Margery
Dates: 1970-1985
Extent: 2 archives boxes, 3 oversize boxes (2.5 linear feet)
Language(s): English
Repository: Princeton Theological Seminary Library. Special Collections.


1886 Born, Morristown, New Jersey
1909 Graduated, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Vassar College
1920-1940 Art teacher at New York settlement houses, painting and drawing children who lived there
1921 Exhibit at the Paris Salon
1922 Exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago
1923 Published The Art Spirit
1984 Exhibit at the Newark Museum, The Eight and Their Influence
1989 March 30 Died, King Street Nursing Home in Rye Brook, N.Y.

Biographical Information

Margery Austen Ryerson was born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1886. In 1909, she graduated from Vassar College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English. Ryerson continued to study art under Robert Henri at the Art Students League in New York and Charles Hawthorne at the Cape School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

A painter and lithographer, Ryerson taught art from 1920 to 1940 at New York settlement houses so she could paint and draw the children who lived there. Some of her etchings and lithographs have been included in exhibitions worldwide, including the Paris Salon, 1921, and the Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.

On March 30, 1989, Ryerson died in her sleep at the age of 102 at the King Street Nursing Home in Rye Brook, NY. She was laid to rest in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey at the Pompton Reform Church.

Ryerson was known for her portraits of children. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Brooklyn Museum and other American museums. For many years she exhibited with Grand Central Art Galleries. She received awards from the Hudson Valley Art Association and the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park in New York.


Scope and Content

This collection includes a wide array of portraits and sketches done in charcoal, ink and pencil. Subjects include notable figures from the mid to late 20th century, such as President John F. Kennedy, New York Mayor John V. Lindsay, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Gen. William Westmoreland, Pope John Paul II, Alabama Gov. George Wallace, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, Catholic priest Daniel J. Berrigan, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Ryerson's explanatory notes, subject lists, and other materials contextualize the drawings and the artist herself.

Ryerson’s own words explain the reason behind this collection’s existence:

"On my television the whole world passes through my room. I draw the men as they talk. They are the great of today in their moment of power, while they are still striving, not old and worn out as are most great men when pictures are made of them. I see the force, the vigor, the vitality that makes it possible for them to succeed.

"They are giving me their ways on how to make the world better. No two think alike. We must choose whose ideas are best. I see people with great ideas, people who have lived, studied, suffered, thought and are now giving this freely to you and to me."



Ryerson, Margery

Kennedy, John F.

Lindsay, John V. (John Vliet)

Charcoal Drawings (visual works)




Drawings—Portraits—Ex Presidents

Drawings—Portraits—Government Officials



Ink Drawings (visual works)

Pencil Drawings (visual works)

Works of art


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

The following is the acceptable citation for publication: The Margery Ryerson Manuscript Collection Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

Processing Information

The collection was given by Margery Ryerson and delivered by her biographer Robert B. Stuart, author of “Margery Ryerson,” North Jersey Highlander Ringwood, NJ: North Jersey Highlands Historical Society, 1989, 39-58.


There are no special restrictions to access of this collection. It may be examined by library patrons under the normal rules and conditions of Special Collections.



Original order has been maintained when possible. Loose drawings are arranged according to Ryerson’s categories in her explanatory notes. Uncategorized drawings have been foldered separately.



Box 1
1:1-2 Explanatory notes
1:3 Correspondence from Robert B. Stuart to Charles Willard explaining how this collection arrived at archives and why it was collected. February 10, 1983
Perlman, Bennard B. The Immortal Eight and Its Influence: January 9-29, 1983. New York: Art Students League of New York, 1983.  
1:4-22 Portraits and sketches, including "Heller," Henry Kissinger, Whitney Young, Edward Teller, "Gen. Westmorland" and others.
1:23 Newspaper clippings
Box 2
Scrapbook: The National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park, New York City. Includes sketches of Nelson Rockefeller, Dean Rusk, Hubert Humphrey, Edward Albee, Chaim Potok, and others.
Box 3
Dickinson, Edwin Walter, and Lloyd Goodrich. The Drawings of Edwin Dickinson. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1963. Interleaved with sketches by Ryerson of Ramsey Clark, Teddy Kollek, Stewart Alsop, Linus Pauling, Willy Brandt, and others.
Boxes 4-5
Portraits and sketches in charcoal, pen and ink, and pencil of Arnold J. Toynbee, Leroy Jones, Roger Baldwin, Coretta Scott King, Terence Cardinal Cooke, Vladimir Horowitz, Bishop Francis Mugavero, Ben Shahn, Abba Eban, Anwar Sadat, Jessie Jackson, and others.


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