Margaret Whittemore

Born September 7, 1897, in Topeka, Kansas, Margaret Whittemore was the daughter of Luther D. Whittemore, a professor of Latin and education at Washburn University, and Frances Davis Whittemore, director of its art department.  She earned a degree in 1919 from Washburn University, and studied graphic arts at the Art Institute of Chicago and Taos Art Colony in New Mexico.

She developed a reputation as a writer, graphic artist, illustrator, and block printer.  Whittemore worked as an artist in the Works Progress Administration museum extension program and created a series of prints depicting Kansas landmarks.  She was a member of the Prairie Print Makers. Formed in 1930 in Lindsborg, at the studio of artist Birger Sandzén, the group sought to work beyond the stereotype of the Midwest and depict a realistic view of everyday life.  Eventually more than 100 amateur and professional artists joined the group throughout North America.

Whittemore had diverse work experience.  She was a drafter for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.  In 1936 she published a series of sketches of early Kansas landmarks in Sunday issues of the Topeka Daily Capital.  She wrote descriptions and histories of the landmarks to accompany the pencil sketches.  In 1954 she published the book, Historic Kansas: A Centenary Sketchbook.  She worked at University of Kansas, Clay Center Library, Wichita Public Library, Kansas Historical Society, and Topeka Public Library.



Trees: Woodcuts and Linoleum Blocks was printed in an edition of 525 copies, 25 on Strathmore paper (9 ¼” x 11 ¾”).  The copy that is part of the Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection has a dust jacket over a hardback cover that is made partially of wood.

From the dust jacket:  

Here are fourteen drawings of trees in various moods and styles.  From the glorious full blown beauty of Spring to the stark, bare fascination of trees in the dead of Winter —  All are caught and beautifully portrayed by Miss Whittemore.  Poems of charm and grace by Miss Becker accompany these unusual drawings.  

 Miss Whittemore’s woodcuts have on other occasions appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, the Boston Herald, The Kansas City Star, etc; an artist of note, this is the first volume of her work.  (Boston, MA: Bruce Humphries, Inc., 1935.)

Her work as an artist/illustrator also includes Adventures in Thrift,1946; woodcuts, Trees, by Bruce Humphries; Bird Notes, by H.L. Rhodes, 1932.  She was a contributor to Audubon, Scholastic, American Magazine Art, Christian Science Monitor, Kansas Farmer, and Kansas City Star