The Dorothy Sturgis Harding Christmas Card Collection

This collection of 19 original Christmas cards was created by artist and long-time Portsmouth resident Dorothy Sturgis Harding (1891-1978). These cards are part of a larger amalgamation of Harding memorabilia and were gifted to the Library by Portsmouth resident Joan Christy in January 2018.

The Dorothy Sturgis Harding Christmas Cards are drawn in pen and ink on card stock and were used for holiday greetings in years spanning 1947 through 1976. According to local residents, Harding's Christmas cards were highly prized and eagerly anticipated each year. They are immensely detailed and unique to this artist. Many depict Portsmouth area views; including the historic Martine Cottage, which was one of the Sturgis family homes.

Dorothy Margaret Sturgis was the daughter of Richard Clipston Sturgis and Esther Mary Ogden of Boston. R. Clipston Sturgis was the former President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He built many well-known buildings in Boston including the Franklin Union Building, the Federal Reserve Bank Building, and the Massachusetts School for the Blind. He bought the Martine Cottage off Little Harbor Road in Portsmouth and used it as a hobby farm and summer home until he retired there in 1929.

Dorothy was born in Boston on July 28, 1891. Both she and her brother Richard Jr. followed the family tradition in the pursuit of art and architecture. Richard Jr. eventually became a prominent architect while Dorothy attended both the Winsor School and the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston. She also studied art under Frederick Hall of Harvard and with renowned illustrator Elizabeth Shippen Green Elliott.

In 1912, Dorothy married Lester Harding and spent most of the remainder of her life pursuing her career and family in Portsmouth. She was a popular bookplate designer, creating personal bookplates for many notable names, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Norman Rockwell. Dorothy and her husband contributed to the maintenance and administration of the Martine Cottage as a working farm and raised three children there. During World War II, Dorothy paid homage to her architectural legacy by enrolling in a certification course at the University of New Hampshire in engineering and drafting. She did so in order to work as a draftsman, drawing submarines for the Portsmouth Navy Yard.

Examples of Harding's bookplates can be seen in our Helen Pearson Bookplate Collection, including copies of the bookplates she designed for Roosevelt and her own famous father. Additional items relating to this family and to the Martine Cottage are available by visiting the Portsmouth Public Library Special Collections Room.
Browse 19 items in The Dorothy Sturgis Harding Christmas Card Collection