Guide to the John B. Walker Cut-Outs Collection

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0249
Creators:
Walker, John Brown, 1815-1908
Coats, Helen Hotchkiss
Dates:
1815-1908
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
0.33 Cubic feet
1 Box
Repository:
John B. Walker was an itinerant artist who made paper cut-out designs that he sent to his friends as presents, decorations, and commemorations. His collection did not come to light until the early 1960s in Geauga County, Ohio.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
John Brown Walker made paper cut out designs for friends and acquaintances and perhaps for some profit. These cut outs were used for presentation, decoration, and commemoration and can best be characterized as folk artistry.
Walker's work includes graceful scrolls, birds, leaves, rimes and hearts all reflecting a Pennsylvania Dutch influence. He was a highly skilled craftsman a warm, friendly person with a sense of humor and a strong religious faith which are reflected in his cut outs and stencils.
The personalized cut outs and rimes were created for Helen Hotchkiss and members of her family. There is no indication for whom the general works were done.
Much of this information comes from: "Your Wellwisher, J.B. Walker"; a Midwestern Paper Cut Out Artist an exhibition of his work at the Museum, Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, 1979. Catalog of 57 pages.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
A collection of the cutwork of itinerant John Brown Walker came to light in Geauga County, Ohio in the early 1960s. Walker had been making his living cutting fancy paper designs in rural areas of Pennsylvania, northeastern Ohio, Indiana and Michigan in the last decades of the 19th century.
Except for the record in Mason, Michigan, of his death on November 12, 1908 in the Ingham County Poor House, all information now known about Walker comes from his designs and his words in greetings he sent to friends in Geauga County, Ohio. In his last written letter of December 24, 1907, he said he was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania on March 25, 1815.
Helen Hotchkiss Coats and her sister, Hilda Hotchkiss Hosmer, preserved more than 100 pieces of his work. These items were created for three generations of the Phillips Hotchkiss family of Burton Township in the years from 1880 1907. His letters indicated that, although an itinerant, Walker was a participant in the life of the areas where he worked by his inquiries about the community, crops, and individuals.
During his last 20 25 years, he traveled through Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Indiana making and selling family records.
Eighty years after he had cut a greeting and written a verse for her, Nettie Shanower remembered Walker as "a medium large man with a long white beard" the only description of his appearance.

Administration
Processing Information
Collection processed by Barbara Kemp, 1987
Author
Barbara Kemp
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection donated by Mrs. Helen H. Coats, 1986, December 2.

Container
1

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research use.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: reproduction fees may apply.
Preferred Citation
John B. Walker Cut-Outs Collection, 1815-1908, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Stencils Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kentucky Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Designs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Michigan Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Letters (correspondence) -- 1900-1950 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ohio Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Letters (correspondence) -- 1850-1900 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pennsylvania Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Indiana Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cutwork Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Artisans Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Folk art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cutouts Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Folk artists -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives