Biography and History

Benson Lossing was an American wood-engraver, author, and editor, whose Dutch ancestors settled in Albany, N.Y. The only formal education he received was three years in the district schools in New York. At age twenty-two he was joint editor and proprietor of the Poughkeepsie Telegraph. He learned the art of engraving on wood, and in 1838 moved to New York City where he established himself as a wood-engraver. From June 1839 to May 1841 he edited and illustrated the weekly Family Magazine. In 1848 Lossing conceived the idea of writing a narrative sketchbook of scenes and objects associated with the American Revolution. Harper & Brothers advanced him the funds to carry out the project, which ultimately took the form of the Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution in two large volumes. In gathering material for this work Lossing traveled more than eight thousand miles in the United States and Canada. The book was published in parts between 1850 and 1852, and gave Lossing a wide reputation. For the next thirty-five years he was a prolific writer and editor of books mostly on popular subjects in American history, including Our Countrymen; or, Brief Memoirs of Eminent Americans (1855), The Hudson, from the Wilderness to the Sea (1866), and A Memorial of Alexander Anderson, M.D., the First Engraver on Wood in America (1872).

Source: From the finding aid for C1112