Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation - Grace Nicholson: Correspondence, William Benson, 1903-1911

About the Project

Help us transcribe “Grace Nicholson: Correspondence, William Benson, 1903-1911” (Box 262, Folder 5) from the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation Records. William Benson (Pomo) was a renowned basket maker born in Clear Lake, California. William and his wife Mary Knight Benson (Pomo) found artistic and commercial success weaving traditional Pomo baskets. They traveled widely, exhibiting their baskets, and developing relationships with art collectors, such as Grace Nicholson. Grace Nicholson was an art collector dealer who specialized in Native American and Asian arts and crafts. She moved to California following her parents and grandparents death, in 1901 and was soon purchasing Native American baskets and other artifacts in association with Carrol S. Hartman. Nicholson kept extensive diaries and notes on her buying trips through Native American territory, especially of the Karok, Klamath, and Pomo communities. Her notes included Native American legends, folklore, vocabulary, tribal festivals, basket making, the art trade, and living conditions. Native American artists with whom Nicholson established long-term business and personal connections included Pomo basket weaver Mary Benson (1878-1930) and her husband William Benson (1862-1937), as well as Elizabeth Hickox (1875-1947) of the Karuk tribe.

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