Henry Van Lennep, sketch: "View of Bebek," Constantinople, 1851
Henry Van Lennep, sketch: “View of Bebek,” Constantinople, 1851

Henry John Van Lennep, a noted 19th-century Christian minister, missionary, writer and educator, was born in Smyrna (present-day Izmir, Turkey) in 1815. In 1830 he was sent to the United States for his education and graduated from Amherst College in 1837.  The bulk of the collection consists of pencil sketches and watercolors of scenery, people and objects, chiefly Turkish but also some American. In addition, a small amount of personal papers include passports related to his travel as a missionary in Turkey, a notebook of sermons written by Van Lennep in Armenian, and portrait photographs. Van Lennep was proficient in numerous languages and was also a skillful artist, sketching (in pencil or pen and ink) scenes from his extensive travels. Many of his drawings appeared in published works which include The Oriental Album: Twenty Illustrations, in Oil Colors, of the People and Scenery of Turkey, with an Explanatory and Descriptive Text (1862); Travels in Little-known Parts of Asia Minor: with Illustrations of Biblical Literature and Researches in Archaeology (1870); and Bible Lands: their Modern Customs and Manners Illustrative of Scripture (1875). In addition, several of his drawings appear in Edward Hitchcock’s Geology of Massachusetts (1841) and Illustrations of Surface Geology (1860).

We chose this collection for the Bicentennial project in order to represent the missionary history of the College and its alumni. Researchers interested in those topics or in the depiction of Turkish subjects by a 19th-century American artist will find material of interest in this collection.

Henry Van Lennep, untitled sketch, ca. 1844
Henry Van Lennep, untitled sketch, ca. 1844

This collection is scheduled for digitization and description in year one (2018) of our Bicentennial project.

For more information
  • You can check out the collection’s finding aid online. Much of the information in this post can be attributed to the related finding aid.
  • You can also view our technical documentation for this project.
Related Bicentennial collections