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Mona Leithiser Dearborn files on Anson Dickinson


Identifier: 2016-39-0

Content Description

This collection is composed of research materials compiled by Mona Dearborn all relating to the miniature portrait artist Anson Dickinson(1779-1852). The materials in the collection are a combination of trade cards, workbooks, and various other documents that confirm the legitimacy of various portraits attributed to Anson Dickinson. The collection is composed of the work Anson Dickinson completed from 1803-1851 the start and end of his career as a portraiture artist. The total collection consists of three boxes containing 214 folders, all related to Anson Dickinson.


  • Creation: 1980-2016
  • Creation: Date materials were acquired.


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without the permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Anson Dickinson was the oldest of ten children from Oliver and Anna Landon Dickinson and was born in 1779. He was born in Milton, Connecticut which is a borough of Litchfield, Connecticut. As a child, Anson Dickinson went on to be an apprentice to Isaac Thompson, who was a local silversmith in Litchfield. There is little else that is known about Anson Dickinson’s early life, however, it appears his work was regarded as exceptional and he eventually moved on to create sought after miniature portraits. He advertised his first portrait on May 27, 1802, and then painted his first portrait of his uncle Abel Dickinson in 1803. After a few years, Anson Dickinson decided to pursue more markets for his miniature portraits and from 1805 to 1812 he traveled around New York, South Carolina, Washington D.C., and even Canada, specifically around Montreal. After these years of a successful painting of miniature portraits, Anson Dickinson married Sarah Brown in 1812, and they settled in New York City. Shortly after settling in New York City, Anson Dickinson established a studio and was no longer reliant on commissions for his artwork. In 1824 Anson Dickinson and his wife Sarah Brown would adopt two children. After another two decades of a successful career painting miniature portraits, both Dickinson and his wife died in 1852. Dickinson made numerous portraits of famous figures of the time and was one of the most successful artists of the time period. His legacy was lasting in Litchfield, Connecticut, and inspired researchers like Mona Dearborn to learn more about this not very well known artist.

Mona Dearborn was born as Mona Leithiser in 1922 and was raised in Bantam and went to Litchfield High School. After High School, she went to the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University and attended the University of Colorado for graduate school. In 1945 she married Henry Dearborn and had three daughters. Mona worked for the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts for one to two years and after raising her children, she worked for the National Portrait Gallery of Smithsonian as an art historian for twenty years. After living in Litchfield for many years Mona became interested in Anson Dickinson and in the 1980s began her research about him. After years of research, she collected 214 research items related to Anson Dickinson. She compiled this research and wrote a book about Anson Dickinson in 1983 titled Anson Dickinson: The Celebrated Miniature Painter 1779-1852.


3.00 boxes

Language of Materials



Contents retain original order but were rehoused from binder boxes into folders and standard document boxes for ease of use.

The collection is arranged in chronological order and separated into two series: 1. Mona Dearborn materials on Anson Dickinson in the United States of America, 1803-1824 2. Mona Dearborn materials on Anson Dickinson in Canada, 1824-1851.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

All materials were donated to the Litchfield Historical Society in 2016 by Mona Dearborn.

Existence and Location of Originals

Original portraits can be found within the Litchfield Historical Society, Stamford Historical Society, Munson Williams Proctor Institute, Carnegie Institute, E. Shushan(dealer), Metropolitan Museum of Art, Everson Museum, Albany Institute of History and Art, Cincinnati Art Museum, Connecticut Historical Society, Edison Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, Museum of the City of New York, New-York Historical Society, Yale University, Cheekwood Gardens & Fine Arts Center, John Jay Homestead, Monroe Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Norton Gallery, Dr. Sinclair, Gibbes Art Gallery, Middlesex Co. Historical Society, NY Public Library, Cleveland Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Delafield estate, Whitebook Estate, American Jewish Historical Society, Quebec Museum, Massachusetts Historical Society, Mead A.M. Amherst College, Royal Ontario Museum, Chateau Ramezay, McCord Museum, Maryland Historical Society, Historic Hudson Valley, New Haven Colony Historical Society, Fort Atkinson SHP, Long Island Historical Society, U.S. Naval Academy, and Iredell Museum.

Related Materials

Litchfield Historical Society, Anson Dickinson Day proclamation (00-2010-172-0)

The Stamford Historical Society, Anson Dickinson collection, RG-02

The Connecticut Historical Society, Dickinson Anson papers, Hartford, Conn.

Dearborn, Mona L. Anson Dickinson: The Celebrated Miniature Painter 1779-1852. Hartford: The Connecticut Historical Society, 1983.

Condition Description

All materials are in good physical condition.

Mona Leithiser Dearborn files on Anson Dickinson
John Blodgett
November 11, 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Litchfield Historical Society Repository

7 South Street
P.O. Box 385
Litchfield CT 06759
860-567-3565 (Fax)