The Collection

Blithewold is nationally significant in American history as one of the most fully-developed, best-documented, and intact examples of the Country Place Era in the United States, and for its value in
representing the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement on domestic design in this country.

A fusion of architecture, landscape architecture, horticulture, and decorative arts, Blithewold is among the few late 19th and early 20th century New England estates that retain their integrity and authenticity down to the details of plant materials and interior furnishings, family archives, and artifacts.

The archival collection is unusually rich, providing complete evidence of one family’s way of life between 1810 and 1976. The third floor of the Mansion is devoted to the safe storage of the collections, including clothing and jewelry, toys and sporting equipment, books and paintings, journals and home movies, and thousands of letters and photographs. These collections are displayed periodically in special changing exhibits throughout the Mansion.

The Collections Catalogue

Blithewold’s recent Master Plan recognized the significance of the Collection at Blithewold. The resulting project to physically upgrade the third floor to state-of-the-art archival standards was completed in 2013. That same year Blithewold received an Institute of Museums and Library Services grant for the purchase of a collections database, cameras and scanners that would enable us to digitize and catalogue this important collection.

For almost two years an outstanding group of dedicated volunteers have taken on the painstaking job of photographing, researching, labeling, documenting, and entering information into our new database for every object in the Collection. We expect to be cataloging for a few more years, please check back often as new items are added.

Click here to explore a curated assortment of items in our Collection.

The cataloguing project allows us to:

  • Find items more efficiently
  • Prioritize preservation and conservation needs
  • Enhance interpretation of the Blithewold story
  • Support scholarly research
  • And allows us to share the treasures of Blithewold with you.

The archival and artifact collections offer many opportunities for serious study. These include a collection of more than 500 letters from the Civil War, letters from a boys’ boarding school in the 1850s, and from a girls’ boarding school in the 1890s.  Other impressive collections consist of more than 100 high-quality gowns from 1882 to 1935 with accessories; travel journals from Europe, Alaska, Canada, and the west coast of the USA; parts of 35 sets of fine European china and oriental ceramics; notes and essays from 40 years of service to the Red Cross, 1914 to 1954; and many sets of rare books.

Researchers and scholars may apply for permission to access this primary source material
by calling the curator at (401) 253-2702, ext. 22.