The Wharton Jackson Green Travel Journal

[This blog post comes from Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Collections Archivist.]

John Coffey (NC Museum of Art Deputy Director and Curator of American and Modern Art) emailed me on August 31, 2011 with a strong recommendation–that the State Archives acquire an original journal European tour journal of North Carolina native Wharton Jackson Green. Coffey had extensively researched Green’s background and his purchase of a marble bust of John C. Calhoun, now in the North Carolina Museum of Art permanent collection. Mr. Coffey’s sources had included a 1987 transcription housed at the Northern Kentucky University library.

An introduction to the transcription indicated that the original was in the hands of a Green descendant, George Gibson Carey IV of Cincinnati. Once I located Mr. Carey I called him and explained the importance of the journals to future potential researchers at the State Archives of North Carolina and the benefits of preserving these records in our repository. In addition I told him of John Coffey’s scholarship at the N.C. Museum of Art. (As an example, in May of 2011, Mr. Coffey had spoken on the topic “The Curious Case of a Marble Bust of John C. Calhoun” at a conference in observance of the 150th anniversary of NC’s secession vote, as part of the North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial).

During our first phone conversation, Mr. Carey graciously agreed to consider a donation of the original journals (in two volumes), still in his possession. Understandably he wanted time to think about my request and to discuss it with his grown children. Once he made the decision to donate, Mr. turned the material over to an appraiser he selected closer to the Cincinnati area. The appraisal process took months, but Mr. Carey never showed irritation with my periodic efforts to “touch base” and to confirm my continued interest. In time, patience paid off for both of us. In early May of 2012 the appraisal process was completed, and Mr. Carey followed through with his original generous decision to donate the journals. The two volumes arrived in excellent condition on May 23.

Journal in two volumes of a tour of England, Ireland, France, Prussia, Austria, Italy, and Egypt made in 1858-1859 by Wharton Jackson Green, his wife Esther Ellery Green, and her friend Adeline Currier. First volume dated 21 July 1858-10 March 1859; second dated 18 March 1859-22 May 1859. It was on this journey that Green purchased a marble bust of John C. Calhoun by Hiram Powers (1805-1873). Powers, an American neoclassical sculptor, had gone to Washington, DC, in 1834, where he has met John C. Calhoun. However, in 1837 Powers settled in Florence, Italy, where he lived and worked until his death.

The journal volumes can be found in PC.2050, Wharton Jackson Green Travel Journal.