The Jenny Lind album : a friendship album from Mary Ann De Souza to Esther Bolster

Biographical and Historical Notes

Mary Ann De Souza, apparently a young woman from Philadelphia, made and presented this friendship album to Esther Bolster in 1858. An additional inscription in the album reads "A gift of affection from Anne Bolster to her friend Mrs. [?] Brice, March 13, 1874." Anne Bolster may have been a relative of Esther Bolster who inherited the album as a family keepsake.

Additional names that appear in the album include Henry De Souza, whose name is listed in the 1860 Philadelphia census as a clerk at 134 Chestnut Street, age 42; and George J. Bolster. The relationship of these two individuals to Mary Ann De Souza and Esther Bolster is unknown, though they may have been brothers or spouses who contributed to the friendship album.


Biographical information derived from collection.

Scope and Content Note

This "Jenny Lind Album" was published as a blank book with engraved illustrations and filled as a friendship album for Esther Bolster by her devoted friend, Mary Ann De Souza in 1858. The album contains original poetry, humorous anecdotes cut from magazines, hand-cut color images of flowers, embossed silver and gold gilt scraps, embossed and colorized foil scraps, and chromatic images of ladies in period fashions. Original verse in the album includes sentimental themes of Jenny Lind, making albums, beauty, and friendship.

"The Jenny Lind Album" reflects the popularity of Jenny Lind in mid-nineteenth century America. Known as "the Swedish Nightingale," Jenny Lind appeared between 1850 and 1852 in concerts across America in a tour arranged by P.T. Barnum. Among the engraved plates that were included in this Jenny Lind album are a portrait of Jenny Lind facing the gold-lettered title page, an angel surrounded by colorized flowers, and other images titled "Saratoga Lake," "The Well," "Deborah's Triumph," "View of Hudson City and the Catskill Mountains," "View of Northumberland (On the Susquehanna)," "The Mothers Joy," and "The Deluge." Artists and engravers of these plates include P. F. Rothermel, John Sartain, W. H. Bartlett, A. L. Dick, Edwin Landseer, and A.H. Ritchie.

The album is filled with sentimental verse and feminine illustrations of flowers, birds, and images depicting ladies' fashions and leisure activities in exotic surroundings. Four cards, printed in color, show children dressed in fashionable clothes, playing with cats and dogs.

Original verse, much of it humorous and meant to amuse Esther, fills the album. Of special note is a copied poem that appears immediately after the title page, "To Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale." The first lines of this poem are "I heard you sing O' Northern bird / the South's artistic strain." This poem is un-credited in the album but is by Park Benjamin (1809-1864), first published as "To Jenny Lind, Huah! Huah!" on February 7, 1851, in the Havana Journal , Chemung County, New York.

The leather binding of this album is deteriorating with a broken spine and detached covers, but the sewing and pages are intact and relatively well preserved. A few laid-in items are housed in a folder with the volume, including a beautiful gold-embossed paper label for a bolt of "barege de laine," a fine sheer fabric used for women's clothes.