Tag Archives: artists

Ada Brewster: Civil War Nurse, Traveler, and Artist

Sketch captioned "Cow Boy from Arizona," dated April 19, 1885
Cow Boy from Arizona, April 19, 1885


Ada Brewster, born in Kingston on May 25, 1842, lived a fascinating life. She served as a nurse at Lovell General Hopsital in Rhode Island during the Civil War; worked at the U.S. Mint in Carson City, Nevada during the production of the first trade dollar coined by the federal government; studied art at the Lowell Institute in Boston and the California School of Design (now the San Francisco Art Institute); opened her own art studio and became known as a portraitist, illustrator, china-painter, and teacher; and moved all over the country before returning home to Kingston in 1919. Stop by to learn more in this month’s Local History exhibit, featuring a selection of Ada’s sketches from her time out West.


Source: This sketch comes from the Ada Brewster Collection (MC24).


Happy Helen Foster Day!

Happy Helen Foster Day!

Helen Foster outside 6 Park Street, Boston, circa 1935

September 24 marks the birthday of one of Kingston’s notables, Helen Foster.  Born in 1900, she studied art extensively and eventually became the first female commercial artist in Boston. She lent her talents to her hometown, designing the town seal and town quilt, collaborating on the town flag, and serving on the Council on Aging.  For more on Helen’s life, click here for the biography written for the Kingston Arts Festival “Past Masters” exhibit, which featured  Helen’s work.

One of the LHR’s long-term, part-time assistant amateur archivists, who knows Helen only through indexing the extensive diaries Helen kept throughout her life, had this to say:

She was very deep, an exceptional woman.  Her description of the world she saw is an explosion of detail and color.  I can see from just her words the fields of her childhood, every flower, tree and rock. When she writes about the spontaneous parade she saw at the end of World War I, the soldiers march off the pages and the flags fly high. I am always moved by her words. What an amazing, talented artist.

This kind of connection — getting to know someone you never had the chance to meet in real life — is one of the special things about a local history collection as rich as ours.