Frank Edwin Elwell papers


Free Library of Philadelphia: Rare Book Department
Call Number
Elwell, Alcott Farrar, 1886-1962
Elwell, Frank Edwin, 1858-1922
Elwell, Helen Chaffee
Frank Edwin Elwell papers
Date [inclusive]
0.63 Linear feet
This collection consists of articles, biographical material, photographs, and scrapbooks related to the American sculptor Frank Edwin Elwell (1858-1922), compiled by his son and daughter-in-law, Alcott Farrar Elwell and Helen Chaffee Elwell.
Cite as
[Description and date of item], [Box and folder number], Frank Edwin Elwell papers, 1883-1972, Free Library of Philadelphia, Rare Book Department.

Francis Edwin Elwell was born in Concord, Massachusetts on June 15, 1858, into a prominent intellectual family. Orphaned at a young age, Elwell was raised by his grandfather and grew very close to the nearby Alcott family, where he spent significant time with author Louisa May Alcott. His artistic education began early with lessons from Alcott’s sister, Abigail May Alcott, followed by training at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In 1880 he moved to Paris and attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts, studying under Alexandre Falguiere.

He returned to America in 1885 with his first wife, Molina (Hildreth) Elwell, and settled briefly in Massachusetts, where he lectured at Harvard University. His statue, “Dickens and Little Nell,” now located in Clark Park, Philadelphia, won a medal at the 1893 Columbian Exposition (Chicago World’s Fair). Another statue, “Awakening of Egypt,” was shown at the Salon de 1896 in Paris. From 1903-1905 he was Curator of Ancient and Modern Statuary at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Between 1884 and 1915 he produced more than fifty sculptural works, primarily statues and busts. Elwell died in Darien, Connecticut on January 23, 1922.

Alcott Farrar Elwell (1887-1962) was the eldest son of Frank Edwin Elwell and Molina (Hildreth) Elwell. He spent 1908 with the United States Geological Survey in Wyoming, and served in the “Harvard Regiment” infantry in World War I, and as a Captain in World War II. His career was primarily devoted to Mowglis, a summer camp in New Hampshire, which he ran for 27 years. Alcott Elwell and his wife, Helen Chaffee Elwell (1888-1976), donated the Frank Edwin Elwell collection to the library.


Who Was Who in America, 1929-1940. Taft, Lorado. American Sculpture. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1903.

This collection consists of material related to Frank Edwin Elwell’s life and work as a sculptor. It includes articles by and about Elwell, biographical material compiled by his daughter-in-law, Helen Chaffee Elwell, photographs of Elwell’s sculptures and studio, and a scrapbook of Elwell-related clippings. It also includes a copy of Lorado Taft’s book, American Sculpture (1903), in which additional photographs of Elwell’s works have been pasted. A short biographical sketch of Elwell’s son, Alcott Farrar Elwell, is included in the biographical material.

The collection is arranged alphabetically into six files. Lorado Taft's book, American Sculpture, is housed with the Rare Book Department's General Collection.

Publication Information:

Free Library of Philadelphia: Rare Book Department, May 2014

Finding Aid Author:

Finding aid prepared by Caitlin Goodman

Access Restrictions:

This collection is open to researchers by appointment. Please contact the Rare Book Department at 215-686-5416 for access.

Use Restrictions:

The right of access to material does not imply the right of publication. Permission for reprinting, reproduction, or extensive quotation from the rare books, manuscripts, prints, or drawings must be obtained through application, stating the use to be made of the material. The reader bears the responsibility for any possible infringement of copyright laws in the publication of such material. A reproduction fee may be charged depending upon the use of material.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Gifts of Alcott Farrar Elwell and Helen Chaffee Elwell, 1953-1970.

  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
Personal Name(s)
  • Elwell, Frank Edwin, 1858-1922
  • Art
  • Sculpture
  Date Call-Number Box Folder
Photostats and copies of three articles by or about Frank Edwin Elwell.
1898-1908 1
Biographical information
Includes a CV and partial list of works for Frank Edwin Elwell and a brief biographical timeline for his son, Alcott Farrar Elwell.
circa 1967 1
Carte d'exposant from Salon de 1896 1896 1
Scrapbook of newspaper clippings
The great majority of the clippings date from 1891-1894. The scrapbook also includes 1922 obituaries for Elwell.
1891-1953 2
Scrapbook of photographs of Elwell sculptures
Includes an 1883 letter from Frank Edwin Elwell.
1883-1970 3
"Dickens and Little Nell" 1944-1972 1
"The Dispatch Rider of the American Revolution" 1966-1967 1
"Edwin Booth" 1959 1
Engraved copper plate of unidentified bust undated 1
Photographs of Elwell sculptures, 38 items 1898-1961 1
Taft, Lorado. American Sculpture. New York: The Macmillan Company
This 1903 book has been annotated with additional information about Frank Edwin Elwell and has an additional five plates of photographs of Elwell sculptures pasted in.
1903 RBD GEN 1962-418

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