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Collection Overview

Linton, W. J. (William James), 1812-1897
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
W. J. Linton Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1


William James Linton was an English-born engraver and political activist. The collection consists of 36 of Linton's letters, related correspondence, and other miscellaneous materials. Three manuscripts of poems, possibly Linton's, a manuscript of a novel by Elizabeth Fitzgerald, and unidentified artwork complete the collection.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists chiefly of correspondence (approximately 200 items), in large part by the Anglo-American wood engraver, author, and political reformer W. J. Linton to the art historian and editor Sylvester Rosa Koehler. Included are 108 letters from Linton to Koehler, one with an original drawing, discussing in detail illustrations and engravings for some of Koehler's books, including the never-to-be-completed "History of the Art of Color-printing." Linton specifically writes about engraving portraits from photographs that are being sent to him of authors and poets such as William Cullen Bryant, Charles Anderson Dana, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He also discusses different engraving techniques and other engravers and publishers, including Scribner's, Harper's, and Appleton. Other correspondents include Leigh Hunt, Charles Samuel Jovett, Jeremiah Wells, and Henry Benjamin Wheatley. In addition, the collection includes some correspondence written by Eliza Lynn Linton.

The collection further includes a 238-page typescript of a novel, In Exile, credited to Elizabeth Fitzgerald; three manuscripts of poems, presumably by Linton: "The Commonwealth" (n.d.), "Freedom's Triumph" (1884), and "Sir Richard Grenville" (1852); and several photographs of Linton at different stages of his life, at his home and his engraving studio, and of his mother and other family members. Also present are photographs of the Italian philosopher and politician Giuseppe Mazzini, including one by Domenico Lama and two by Elliott Fry; two autograph biographies of Linton; some wood engravings, and clippings with wood engravings of and by Linton from The Illustrated London News and The People's Journal.

Collection Creator Biography:

Linton, W. J. (William James), 1812-1897

William James Linton was born on December 7, 1812 in London, England. Educated in Stratford, Linton moved back to London and became a wood engraver. In addition to his artistic pursuits, Linton was also a political activist in favor of free press, free speech, universal suffrage, and women's rights. After encountering political and financial troubles in England, he moved to New York and spent the rest of his life in the United States. Here he found artistic and political acceptance. He worked at the Ladies' School of Design at the Cooper Institute, designed illustrations for a number of prominent American book publishers, and made illustrations for Scribner's Monthly, Century Magazine, and Aldine. Politically, he joined the Universal Republican Alliance. In 1870 he moved to Connecticut where he established his own press and continued to produce engravings for publishers. He passed away in New Haven on December 29, 1897.

Collection History


Purchased from Howard S. Mott.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Biography written by Alyxandra Cullen, '09.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

W. J. Linton Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1