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Library exhibits pencil sketches from Shepherdstown through September 2

ISSUED: 26 May 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s Scarborough Library is exhibiting for the first time since their purchase from a national art dealer in the 1970s, its collection of pencil sketches by Serena “Miss Violet” Dandridge. With titles like “Charlie with the elegant voice leaning on a tree” and “Jane Grantham and Niece,” Sketches from Shepherdstown features 25 pencil sketches depicting residents of Shepherdstown, many of whom are African American. Several of the sketches show some of her sheep and cattle, along with farm hands tending the animals.

Serena Dandridge, the daughter of the renowned poet and garden writer Caroline Dane “Danske” Dandridge, was born in 1878 at Rosebrake, the family home near Shepherdstown. She died in 1956 in Baltimore. In the late 1890s Dandridge lived in Washington, D.C., and studied drawing under painter and illustrator Howard Helmick.

Dandridge began working for the United States National Museum in the Smithsonian Institution (now the National Museum of Natural History) in 1903 drawing specimens for scientific publications. Eventually she moved back to Shepherdstown where she raised sheep and cows and delivered milk to many families.

“The Scarborough Library is excited to exhibit its collection of Sketches from Shepherdstown,” said Christy Toms, manager of special collections. “When it purchased the collection, the Scarborough Library considered the acquisition an important one because of the rarity of such African American items and the value they bring to the library’s collection.”

The exhibit will hang in the Reading Room through September 2. The library is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, visit

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