Jervis McEntee Journal

Isn’t the University campus beautiful this week? The leaves are changing and falling off of the trees in droves. For some people, it is a melancholy season signifying the end of green grass and short-sleeves. For others, it is a bright flash of joyful colors before the chilly winter sets in. Either way, there is an undeniable beauty about fall, and today we are going to talk about an artist who was known for capturing it in his paintings.

Oil painting of a cloudy fall day of two people seated by a river with bare trees all around

Figures by a river in an autumnal landscape (1867) by Jervis McEntee

Jervis McEntee (1828-1891) was an American painter of the Hudson River School. He was known for his dark, autumnal landscapes that captured the melancholy nature of the season. His work is not as well-known as some of his contemporaries, but he is known for his meticulously kept journals. He wrote everything down, resulting in a meticulous record of his life. This journal is even given a title- “A Journal of Facts, Folly, and Fun”

What strikes the reader when they open it is the humor, artistry, and impeccable handwriting of the author. This is one of his earliest journals, as it was begun on October 9th 1845, making McEntee only 15 at the time.

“A Journal of Facts, Folly, and Fun”

Handwritten detail on the title page









Most of his journal entries would not seem very exciting to us as readers. Descriptions of weather, society meetings, meals, travels, etc. paint a vivid picture of what life was like as a painter in New York in the Gilded Age. He also included quotes and jokes on some pages, when I read it I feel like I know him. One notable entry comes from October 17th, 1845.

His handwriting is impeccable, but I’ll translate the interesting part for you – “… The Philotimian City met this evening to debate the question of whether Mexico would be justifiable in declaring war on the grounds of annexation. It was of no interest to me and I did not take a part in it or even stay to hear it…”. He just couldn’t be bothered to talk about a war, could he? Most of his entries are like this one, full of details about his day to day life as opposed to sensitive, pensive thoughts that some people write down when journaling.

Stored with the journal is a pamphlet for a show in which his art was up for auction some 30+ years after he wrote the journal. Inside, a list of the works that were for sale at the auction.

Jervis McEntee’s journal and many other treasures can be found in our archives. We are currently only accepting visits from TU students, faculty, and staff with an appointment. If you are not affiliated with the university but would like information about our materials, please email us at and we’ll be happy to help you.


About Kelsey Hildebrand

Kelsey is GA in the Special Collections department currently pursuing a Master's in Museum Science and Management.
This entry was posted in General, History, McFarlin Library and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.