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 Elizabeth Searcy  (1877 - )

About: Elizabeth Searcy


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Lived/Active: Tennessee      Known for: Painting, etching, art education

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
"Elizabeth Searcy was born in Memphis in 1877. Her father, Captain Mark W. Searcy, had served as a scout with Nathan Bedford Forrest and was the superintendent of the Memphis Board of Health. Elizabeth...

 Elizabeth Searcy was born in Memphis in 1877. Her father, Captain Mark W. Searcy, had served as a scout with Nathan Bedford Forrest and was the superintendent of the Memphis Board of Health.  Elizabeth attended Miss Higbee's School and studied art in Philadelphia. She went on to become a highly successful artist, specializing in etchings and watercolors.  Elizabeth taught art at St. Mary's Hall in Burlington, New Jersey, and established studios in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Her work is included inthe permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress. Searcy also received several commissions from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She painted a portrait of President Roosevelt and several different views of the White House and the president's birthplace. The First Lady gave several of Searcy's paintings to her husband as Christmas gifts and also praised her work in her daily newspaper column, My Day.  

In her later years Elizabeth returned to Memphis to live with her younger brother Albert and sister Marguerite. Albert Searcy was employed by Irwin-Leatherman Cotton Company and was a member of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans.  Marguerite was employed by the New York Life Insurance Company for over thirty years, and as a young woman became a member of the United Daughters of Confederate Veterans and served as a sponsor of the Army of Tennessee United Confederate Veterans.  The Searcy Collection, which was willed to the Memphis and Shelby County Room by Elizabeth Searcy, contains letters exchanged between Elizabeth and Eleanor Roosevelt regarding her artwork and commissions. The papers also include mementoes such as diplomas, scrapbooks and family Bibles reflecting the life and concerns of Elizabeth, Marguerite and Albert Searcy, their parents and members of their extended family.  Materials related to Searcy family member Paul Shirley include papers from his naval career during and after the Civil War, such as naval appointment documents signed by Franklin Pierce, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. This extensive collection, which covers the years 1836 to 1960, also contains clippings, photographs, negatives, engravings and Confederate currency."

Memphis Public Library Digital Archives, Searcy Collection

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