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Exhibit: Jewish Flight into China

Stories of Acceptance, Assimilation, and Discrimination in China as Told in Pearl Buck’s Works

Our new exhibit shares the stories of Jewish communities in China over millennia. These stories intrigued Pearl S. Buck and her husband Richard Walsh so much that each explored them in their published works. The exhibit, "Jewish Flight into China" will run through August 30, 2017, in the Exhibit Gallery at Pearl S. Buck International's Welcome Center, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA.

Ms. Buck wrote the play “Flight into China” and the novel "Peony" on the subject. Mr. Walsh included scholarly articles about the topic in his publication, Asia magazine.

Jews settled in China as tradespeople on the silk road. They had strong communities and became part of society. One of the largest communities was in K’aifeng. A stele (stone tablet) commemorates the construction of a synagogue there in 1163, but by the 1850s there were only remnants of the building standing and most families had assimilated. This is this period in which Ms. Buck set her novel, “Peony,” which tells the story of a Chinese bondmaid, sold into the service of one of the remaining Jewish families. 

Part of the exhibit at Pearl S. Buck International is a retelling, through words and photos, of one Jewish family’s flight from Nazi Germany into China. Packed in their luggage was a copy of “The Good Earth” which descendants presume was carried so far in order to become part of a lending library established during their stay in China. Photos and captions can be viewed in the Exhibit; read the family's complete account in this downloadable story.

Mon-Fri 8:30 to 5:00
Saturday 10:30 to 3:00
Sunday 12:30 to 3:00
Admission to the Exhibit Gallery is complimentary.

Curator: Marie Toner
Graphic Designer: Kati Sowiak
With the assistance of:

    • Professor Dan Ben-Canaan, Founder and Director of the Sino-Israel Research and Study Center, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, China
    • David M. Crowe, Ph.D., Presidential Fellow, Chapman University and Professor Emeritus of History, Elon University
    • Steve Hochstadt, Treasurer, Sino-Judaic Institute
    • Photographs by Leslie Starobin, MFA, Professor of Communication Arts at Framingham State University

Made possible by the generous funding from Visit Bucks County.

Jewish Flight into China Exhibit Photos

COMIC BOOKS UNMASKED: A LOOK AT RACE - From the Philadelphia Inquirer Monday March 14, 2016

Comic books, exhbit, Pearl Buck

Celebrate the 37th Annual Festival of Trees at Pearl S. Buck International

Festival of Trees 2015

This year’s Annual Festival of Trees marks the 37th year of celebrating the start of the holiday season with Pearl S. Buck International.  Starting on November 10th, we invite our generous donors and members to experience Pearl Buck’s home with a different holiday expression in every room and space.


Each year we maintain our tradition of inviting community artists, businesses, and nonprofits to adorn the historic Pearl Buck home with creative style and sparkle, while introducing something new and exciting.  This year, Pearl S. Buck House museum curator Marie Toner is pleased to announce that in addition to exploring the farm house in full holiday regalia, “This year visitors can meet the decorators!” What an amazing group of decorators and new business participants. 

 Americans for Native Americans              

Americans for Prosperity Foundation    

Ashley Kay Design          

Bob Witmer Agency, State Farm Insurance         

Bucks Coalition Against Trafficking           

Budzynski Ballet Theater             

Byers' Choice Ltd.           

Color By Design, LLC       

Delaware Valley LEGO Users Group        

Eclectic Domestics          

Girl Scouts of Eastern PA             

Habitat for Humanity of Buck County     

Harmony Theater, Inc.  

Indian Valley Girl Scouts               

International Spring Festival       

Kenneth L. Barndt, Pearl S. Buck International Inc.           

Lauren's Makeup Designs           

League of Women Voters of Bucks County         

Lily’s Hope Foundation 

Marni James Interiors   

North Penn Elks Lodge #1979    

Park Avenue Home Staging & Redesign

Pearl S. Buck Volunteer Association        

Preeclampsia Foundation-Lehigh Valley Promise Walk   

Princeton Doll and Toy Museum              

Professional Women's Business Network, Quakertown Chapter               

Quakertown National Bank        

Roxy Reading Therapy Dogs       

Soroptimist International of Indian Rock               

The Peace Center           

Tyree Dworak   

Upper Bucks Sertoma Club         

We thank all of those who have contributed their creativity to transform the historic house into the warm and joy filled holiday home that Pearl Buck, Richard Walsh, and her family celebrated every season.





E-Fact - October 2015

The great city of Philadelphia was founded in October, 1892 by William Penn…

“Why Philadelphia? Well, the reason is simple.  I love that city and I love its people…Philadelphia is heart’s home.  There is something stable here, and kind, and-yes, conservative and even conventional.  Unconventional as I can be sometimes, my family roots, paternal and maternal, are in conservative, conventional people…Therefore I feel at home in Philadelphia. I like the atmosphere of age, the air of a deserved self-confidence, the presence of fine music and art.  Of all American cities I consider it the most cultivated.”  Pearl S. Buck, For Spacious Skies

E-Fact - September 2015

National Volunteer Day is September 21st..

“To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.” Pearl S. Buck

Meet Michael Cotten, Set Designer for Pearl

By Sue Ferrara, PhD

The title of set designer doesn’t begin to encompass in words the magic Michael Cotten creates on stage. In fact, Cotten himself says a more accurate job title is production designer. Visit his website and you’ll begin to understand the difference; his skill sets include design, theatrical staging, animation, electronic music and graphic arts.  Dig around on the Internet in the right places and you’ll learn that Cotten lived a colorful life on the West Coast, in San Francisco, where he honed his various skill sets. He is part artist, part musician (although Cotten would contest that label) and part magician; he calls upon all those burnished skills to bring audiences rich and memorable moments.

Born in 1950 in Kansas City, Missouri, Cotten went west in the late 1960s to attend the San Francisco Art Institute—an institution whose current website urges: “Push Beyond Boundaries.” Those old enough to witness the late 60s and early 70s in San Francisco remember the tumult of the times. If you missed that revolutionary era, writer Chris Carlsson documents it in his book Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-1978. In that atmosphere, Cotten worked and grew as an artist or as he noted in a phone interview, an “anarchist painter.”

Cotten fell in with a group of like-minded artists and musicians and became a member of a rock-group called The Tubes (as in the slang name for television, not the public transportation in London). In a 2004 San Francisco Chronicle story, Cotten revealed he and Tubes cohort Prairie Prince painted buildings all over San Francisco. But first, the two practiced painting murals on their bedroom walls. "We made the walls disappear," Cotten told music critic Joe Selvin. Cotten and Prairie Prince then branched out to larger venues; according to Selvin’s article the two artists “worked up to major pieces like the blue sky and clouds they airbrushed on the ceiling of downtown's City of Paris department store, the huge painting of waves over the Cliff House or the flying records that soared above the A&M Records lot in Hollywood.

As a member of The Tubes, Cotten played synthesizer, although Selvin wrote Cotten preferred to think of himself as “a machine operator, rather than a musician.” Cotton also helped plant the seeds of musical performance art which would one day become the music videos and spectacular concerts we have become used to seeing in stadiums, arenas and in Las Vegas. The Tubes were well known on the West coast. In a 2006 obituary for Vince Welnick (the last drummer for The Grateful Dead, who started with The Tubes) San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carolyn Jones captured the essence of The Tubes and what made the band different.  “The Tubes toured constantly, and their rowdy antics and energetic shows -- which integrated rock music, video technology and outlandish costumes and sets -- earned them a devoted following.”

Cotten was behind the costuming, the video backgrounds and sets, and he also designed the album covers for the band. The Tubes disbanded in 1986 and Cotten went east to New York City. He continued painting large murals and he parlayed his performance art experience into a career which has involved working with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry including Shania Twain,Michael Jackson and Bette Midler. In a preview piece about the San Francisco opening of Midler’s 2004 Kiss My Brass production, Chronicle critic Selvin called Cotten a “cunning set designer.”

So what magic does Michael Cotten have in store for Pearl audiences? Cotten calls Pearl a “subtle production.” Unlike much of his work which revolves around a star performer, Cotten said, “there is no star person to focus on. It’s a dance story.” Like a good magician, he holds his secrets close. Cotten wouldn’t give up much information about Pearl.

He says working on the cross-cultural production has been “the best part of the process. During the news conference announcing the project, Cotten told reporters “I am so honored to be with this group of incredible artists. [These are] the kind of people I dreamed of working with my whole life. It’s the team that I want to be with.”

This is Cotten’s first show at the Lincoln Center and the Dave Koch Theater is one of the smaller venues he has worked in. He noted that director and choreographer Daniel Ezralow, the man who doesn’t limit dancing to the floor, needed Cotten to render some ideas with computer modeling to see if what looked good in Ezralow’s head work in reality. “The show is very precise,” noted Cotten.

You would think after all of Michael Cotten’s artistic adventures and accomplishments, Pearl would be just another project. But that’s apparently not the case. In the news conference (Cotten begins at 13:50 on the video) he said, “I’ve spent my whole life bringing theatrical magic to music shows and [Pearl] is a dream come true because it’s music and dance with a real positive message.”



Day 4 Meet Daniel Ezralow, Director and Choreographer for Pearl

Daniel Ezralow 

By Sue Ferrara, PhD

When reading about the career of
 Pearl director Daniel Ezralow, one makes some interesting observations.  First and foremost, for Ezralow, dancing doesn’t merely happen on stage. Why not dance in the air, in the space above the stage?  Secondly, Ezralow can make himself at home in new cultures. Born and raised in Los Angeles and a graduate of UC-Berkeley, Ezralow has been called upon to work in places like Italy, Russia and China. He quenches his thirst for knowledge through life-long learning and he truly “gets” Pearl S. Buck.

Daniel Ezralow came to dancing late, according to the
 New York Times, at the age of nineteen. But clearly this late bloomer found his passion and turned it into a career. He has made his mark by being different, by dancing outside of the box, shall we say.  He told a New York Times reporter that he “rebels against categorization” adding “I still want to take the object used many times for a singular purpose and show you a million other things it can be used for.”  Ezralow grows with every new experience.

In his early career, Ezralow did Dannon© yogurt commercials in Italy. He directed and choreographed the
 Opening for the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. He was the choreographer working alongside creator Julie Taymor on the Broadway show Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. The show saw its share of complications, eventually leading to the dismissal of Taymor and the end of a job for Ezralow. But leaving the spider web led Ezralow to China to work with the creative director at Shanghai City Entertainment on a re-imagined version of the Nutcracker ballet; this one titled Nutcracker Magic.
Ezralow reveals a fascination with history as evidenced by a 2014 story in
 The Jewish Journal about the origin of the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. The amphitheater began as The Pilgrimage Theater when Pittsburgh Paint heiress Christine Wetherill Stevenson purchased the land after visiting Jerusalem. She wanted a location to present her play about the life of Jesus.  Ezralow told a reporter, “To buy a hillside and then to finance the building of a theater of your dreams, of trying to make it look like Jerusalem, and then to write a play and then to present it … how many people would do that today?” 
That brings us to the upcoming production of
Pearl and the life of Pearl S. Buck.  Ezralow, in preparation for the production, traveled to China to see where Pearl lived as a child (Zhenjiang) and as a young adult (Nanjing).  He talked with people. He read. In each interview about the production, Ezralow shows he understands the internal struggle Pearl Buck faced in a world that likes to assign easily identifiable labels to people. He realizes she shouldered two identities: American and Chinese. “She was a person who was a person who was a foreigner in her own land,” said Ezralow.

“I learned a lot about this woman who didn’t know where she should be, or shouldn’t be. She was a stranger—and at home—in both lands,” Ezralow continued. “She spoke with an Eastern head through a Western voice. So, she was maybe one of the only people that could communicate to the West what the East was about.”

Despite all his previous artistic adventures, Ezralow comes to Pearl with excitement. At a
 news conference announcing the show, Ezralow said, “it’s an extraordinary thing to be asked to do something that is so cross-cultural and in a sense uniting two sides of the Pacific Ocean.”

Soon we will see Pearl Buck’s life, as interpreted by Ezralow and his co-creators, through movement, music and visuals.  But don’t expect that movement—“the language that needs no words” according to Ezralow—will remain within a tidy space on the stage.


Day 3 The Genesis of Pearl, the Show

By Sue Ferrara, PhD


Often writers and artists like Pearl S. Buck become lost and then found again over time.  And in the case of Ms. Buck, her rediscovery is happening in two places—China and the United States.  It began in 1998 when Cambridge University Press released University of Pennsylvania professor Dr. Peter Conn’s book, Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography. Buck’s best known work, The Good Earth, received a boost in 2004 when Oprah Winfrey selected the work for her book club. In 2010, Simon and Schuster published Pearl Buck in China by British author Hilary Spurling (the UK version is titled Burying the Bones) and 2011 brought to readers Pearl of China by Chinese author Anchee Min.

Buck is still the subject of studies. Professor Conn noted in an email exchange, “interestingly, [Buck] is probably the subject of more attention (at least among academics) in China than in the US;” here is an example.  In 2016, Roxanne Captor, in conjunction with the China Film Group, will begin production on a biopic of Pearl S. Buck, starring Juliette Binoche.  People wanting to connect with the author on a more personal level travel to Zhenjiang, China to visit her childhood home at 6 Lunzhoushan Road; or journey to her estate in Perskasie, Pennsylvania to tour the Pearl S. Buck House Museum, a National Historic Landmark site that includes an intact collection. 

Thus, when Angela Xiaolei Tang, CEO of Legend River Entertainment and representatives from Zhenjiang Media Group wondered how to create a show to be enjoyed by Chinese and American audiences alike, they found an answer:  the production should be about Pearl S. Buck, the writer who understood both Chinese and American cultures.

 “Pearl’s name and story are a bridge to cultural understanding and communication,” Tang said during a news conference announcing the production. “Her story was the one we saw as universal.” Pearl Buck, said Ms. Tang, tried to teach people not to fear what they did not know or understand.

Pearl will tell the story of Ms. Buck’s life using a well-known and well-loved ancient Chinese poem from the Tang Dynasty. Written by Zhang Ruoxu, the poem title translates to Spring, River, Flower, Moon, Night.

“We believe the use of visuals, sound, music and dance will create an experience which transcends language barriers,” in order to tell the story of this “great woman with her love for writing and children, and her optimistic attitude toward life despite all of the difficulties she went through,” according to Ms. Tang.

In preparation for his role as director and choreographer of Pearl, Daniel Ezralow traveled to China, visiting both Zhenjiang, where Buck lived as a child, and Nanjing, where she lived as an adult.  Ezralow said he learned much by examining the life of Ms. Buck.

“[She]was a woman who lived her life very powerfully,” said Ezralow. “She chose like a child, in a way, to see things for the first time with curiosity versus perhaps an adult that learns fear and protection. She welcomed every moment.”

It was Ms. Buck’s childlike curiosity that inspired Ezralow.

“I find that in life, if we look at things with curiosity, we open our hearts and deal with compassion, versus looking at something unknown and facing it with fear,” Ezralow explained. 

This observation seems to ring true in one of Ms. Buck’s children’s books, The Big Wave. Set on an island in Japan, two young boys learn about the realities of a volcano, the ocean and tsunamis. 

Kino, the son of a farmer who is afraid of the volcano and ocean asks his father: “Do you mean the ocean and the volcano cannot hurt us if we are not afraid?”

Kino’s father replies: “I did not say that. Ocean is there and volcano is there. It is true that on any day ocean may rise into storm and volcano may burst into flame. We must accept this fact, but without fear.”

This is the message Ezralow and Tang hope audiences will carry away: That we should emulate Pearl S. Buck and not wilt in fear when faced with the unknown.



Day 2 Meeting Pearl S. Buck

By Sue Ferrara, PhD

We all come to know writers for various reasons. An English teacher or professor might introduce us. A librarian or a friend may recommend a particular book.  Or, one discovers an author during a time of need. For me, Pearl S. Buck became my go to writer after adopting a daughter from China in 1995. Somehow I had missed reading The Good Earth.  But when I wanted to better understand rural China, Buck’s book provided enlightenment. Then, The Good Earth went on my bookshelf and Buck didn’t return to my consciousness until 2003; and there she has loomed ever since.

In 2003, two weeks before the start of third grade, my Chinese-born daughter announced she was done with school. While I knew second grade had been a challenge, I sure wasn’t ready to hear: If you can substitute teach, you can stay home and teach me. No amount of discussion would change her mind and I learned very quickly why. She had been harassed about not really being Chinese because she didn’t speak the language, wear the right Chinese clothes, and she clearly didn’t have a Chinese mother. And so began our first homeschooling journey we titled: What Does It Mean to Be From Two Places?

We started by reading Homesick: My Own Story, the book written by children’s author Jean Fritz, another child of a missionary family.  Fritz was born in China and returned to live in the United States at the age of twelve. She wrote about the confusion she felt as a child. Born in Hankow, Chinese became her first language as she grew up with a Chinese nanny. Inside, she was Chinese, but the Chinese children called her a foreigner. And when she settled in America, she knew she was an American, but people treated her like an immigrant.  In a letter to Fritz, my daughter told the author she could relate to that confusion. We eventually lunched with Jean Fritz who told my daughter they were part of a special ABC Club –Americans Born in China.

We then studied Pearl Buck and traveled to visit Green Hills Farm in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. We loved touring the author’s home. We saw items, like shoes for bound feet, which brought a reality to what we had read in Fritz’s book. We were fortunate to see Buck’s daughter, Janice Walsh, toiling in the garden. What a gift. A young child who came to a family through the magic of adoption sees an adult who joined her family the same way. I also learned that day about Buck’s funding of PKU research and the book she wrote about her biological daughter, Carol, titled The Child Who Never Grew.

My daughter and I ended our visit to Green Hills Farm by sitting in a chair and looking out over the vast grounds. What a magnificently serene place; no wonder Buck liked living and writing there.  My daughter wrote a paper about her visit back then; I chuckled when finding it today. She noted she and Pearl Buck were both homeschooled and that Buck had started the adoption agency, Welcome House. In the one page report, she opened: I can’t believe she had six children!  She liked Buck’s cozy little bedroom and she liked that her house was peaceful and big! The visit, as I had hoped, brought some healing.

And now I find myself writing about this woman who played such an important role in my life during a time of need.  In preparation for the next two weeks of blogging, I have been reading and learning more about this prolific author.  There are two documentaries—both available in the gift shop at Pearl S. Buck International.  Pearl S. Buck: A Life, A Legacy produced by Continental Film Alliance, and East Wind, West Wind: Pearl Buck, The Woman Who Embraced the World.  And next year, Roxanne Captor begins production, in conjunction with the China Film Group, on a biopic of Pearl S. Buck starring Juliette Binoche.

And Buck didn’t just write fiction. I was directed to her book of essays titled American Unity and Asia. The essays exam what Buck called “race prejudice.”  While difficult to find, locating and reading the book is well worth the effort. These essays show Buck as someone who was not afraid to take unpopular stands and argue them persuasively.  She also wrote childrens book and I was especially taken with one titled, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John about the abandoned children of Korean mothers and American soldiers.

The above citations only scratch the surface of what Buck left behind for us to explore. While hunting down an op-ed piece in the New York Times which Buck responded to (her response opens the book American Unity and Asia) I discovered in 1941 alone, a dozen entries under her name in the New York Times Index.  An EBay search generated close to 1,500 hits, including old magazines containing her articles.

This summer, I have been joyfully immersed in the life of this self-proclaimed culturally bifocal woman, Pearl S. Buck.  And while I am looking forward to seeing the dance play about her life titled Pearl at the David Koch Theater in Lincoln Center, I still have this one urge.  I wish I could send her a text asking: Can we do lunch?


E-Fact - August 2015

The Nobel Prize awarded to Pearl S. Buck’s for her “body of work” in 1938 totalled $155,007.  Enrico Fermi received the Nobel Prize for Physics, and the Nansen International Office for Refugees received the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway on the same date.

Nobel Lecture

Artifact of the Month - July

The Child that Never Grew

July’s artifact of the month comes to us from Pearl Buck’s long illustrious list of novels she wrote throughout her career. The novel that we are focusing on this month is her 1950 novel “The Child That Never Grew.” In the novel, Buck describes the life of someone who lives with a disabled child. The character in the novel was based on Pearl’s only birth daughter, Carol, who was born with PKU, also known as phenylketonuria. Today, the disease is treatable with the modern medical methods and medicine, but at the time that Carol was born, there was little that doctors knew about the disease and how to treat it. As a result, the disease impacted Carol’s health and made it difficult for her to become an operating member of society.

Pearl Buck struggled to live with the fact that her daughter would never live a normal life, and this was the reason Buck wrote the novel. Buck tried to conceal Carol from the outside world for nearly two decades until the release of the novel. Buck shares her grief and the struggle to make herself publicize the disability of her child in the novel. In the opening sentencing of the book, she writes “I have been a long time making up my mind to write this story.” Buck knew that the work would be heavily debated and criticized, but she knew that in order to make the topic of mental disabilities become relevant, she would have to take that first step.  The novel would indeed spark debate and conversation about mental health in the United States, which previously to the release of the novel, was a subject that was rarely brought to the attention of the public. Buck was the first public person to publicize the disability of a child, and it helped to change the health and treatment of mentally disabled patients, and the perception they received from the public.

Mentally disabled children were looked down upon in society, and the care they received in the mental hospitals was often inadequate. Families who had mentally challenged children often “put the child away” in a mental institution and told close family and friends that the child had passed away.   People didn’t understand the complexity and the causes of the disabilities that hindered the children affected by them. “The Child That Never Grew” sparked the national debate that not only made people more aware of children with disabilities, but also forced metal health institutions to improve the care for their patients.

As time has progressed, mental health institutions have become less prevalent, especially in the U.S. Over the course of the next 30 years, mental health hospital patient numbers began to steadily decline due to government programs that were designed to assist the mentally disabled and their families. Today, in the U.S, the mentally disabled are accepted more now than ever, and have become functioning members of society in some cases. However, foreign countries such as China were slower to implement mental health programs; developing their own system in May of 2013. Nearby countries, such as Korea, still struggle to view the mentally disabled as members of society, and are often shunned from their families and society.

Although progress has yet to be seen in some parts of the world regarding mental disabilities and health, Buck’s “The Child That Never Grew” proved to be a major turning point in the discussion for not only the U.S, and other countries as well.


Guide Bird Walks at the Pearl S. Buck House

Calling all birders and budding birders, come walk the grounds of the Pearl S. Buck House, lovingly known as Green Hills Farm, with birder extraordinaire Diane Allison.  Meet Ms. Allison on either Monday, July 20th or Monday, August 10th from 6:30- 8pm for an insider’s tour of the best birding spots on the grounds.  Ms. Allison knows the lay of the land. She spent a year roaming the Pearl S. Buck estate, identifying one hundred species of birds.

Ms. Allison conducted her first summer walk on the grounds on June 14th where she and participants spotted 29 species.  Ms. Allison wrote:  We had a very warm bird walk, but we did manage to avoid the storms this time.  We were again treated to watching the very large baby red-tailed hawks that seemed to be equally entertained by watching us watch them.  We had nice views of Great-crested Flycatcher and Eastern Kingbird as well. The evening ended with a flyover of a Great Blue Heron as we stood in the parking lot to leave, or so we thought.  While driving out, a couple of us had a good look at a Brown Thrasher.  

And while everyone will want to see that extra-special avian creature for their life list, undoubtedly walkers will see the bird featured in Pearl S. Buck’s children’s book titled, Mrs. Starling’s Problem.

Published by John Day in 1973, Ms. Buck wrote Mrs. Starling’s Problem at the request of her grandson, Randall Lippincott.  The reader learns this from a note penned by Ms. Buck to The Nature Club which appears in the book prior to the start of the story. Ms. Buck told club members the book was based on a true story. Mr. and Mrs. Starling did build a nest under our roof, her note said. The note also clearly showed Ms. Buck’s wry sense of humor and delivered a writing lesson too.  She wrote:

. . . you will want to know how I know what starlings and squirrels say. The secret is simple. You must just imagine what you would say yourself under the circumstances if you were a starling or a squirrel. I purposely did not tell what the bugs and the worms said while they were being swallowed by the starlings, for it was not pleasant.

That starlings build a nest under the roof is not surprising; while not native to the United States, starlings abound due to their ability for females to lay three-to-six eggs at a time and lay twice during breeding season. According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, starlings were brought into the United States by Shakespeare enthusiasts.  Shakespeare highlighted the mimicking ability of the bird in Henry IV, Part 1.  And, in the early 1890s, one hundred starlings were released in New York’s Central Park by the American Acclimatization Society which wanted America to host every bird Shakespeare ever mentioned in his works. The rest, as they say, is history.

European starlings are very bright birds; they can, for example, learn the calls of some twenty other birds. The binomial Latin name for the bird is Sturnus vulgaris. Sturnus is Latin for starling; vulgaris in Latin means common. They can fly up to 48 mph. The oldest living starling on record survived 15 years and 9 months. And, as Ms. Buck noted in her book, the birds lay “beautiful bluish-green” eggs.

Mozart had a starling.  Purchased from a shop in 1784, the bird lived for three years and could whistle Mozart’s Piano Concerto in G major, K.453. Writing in Scientific American (1990), researchers Meredith J. West and Peter J. King posit this hypothesis:  [W]e entertain the possibility that Mozart, like other animal lovers, had already visited the shop and interacted with the starling . . . Mozart was known to hum and whistle a good deal. Why should he refrain in the presence of a bird that seems to elicit such behavior so easily? 

Clever birds those starlings.

No doubt those of you who show up to bird with Diane Allison will not be actively looking for starlings.  But based on Ms. Allison’s report from the June outing, you will potentially see a Great Blue Heron , Red-tailed hawks, Chimney Swifts, Red-bellied woodpeckers, Flickers,  bluebirds, sparrows and maybe even a Baltimore Oriole. But whatever you discover during your birding adventure with Diane Allison --even a starling-- the wonder can only be enhanced by the knowledge that Ms. Buck marveled at some of those same birds while living at Green Hills Farm.


Kicking Back and Learning About Kimono

By Sue Ferrara, PhD

Every mom needs a day away and I declared my day off on the morning of June 26th after Pearl S. Buck International posted a Facebook announcement about hosting a Japanese Kimono & Fiber Arts Exhibit at Green Hills Farm. The exhibit coincided with the 123rd birthday celebration for Pearl S. Buck. The weather was perfect, and the drive over the Delaware River from New Jersey to Perkasie was long enough to help me refocus and prepare to quietly take in kimonos and fiber art. Instead of quiet however, what I met was an enthusiastic group of people listening to presenter Nancy Long talking about the wonders of kimono.

First, in order to read on, one should know the correct pronunciation of “kimono”.  Americans use a short “i” while pronouncing the word. Nancy taught us the correct pronunciation with a long e, thus, “key-mo-no.” Nancy knows this from living in Asia and having earned a degree in Japanese history (at the age of 50, by the way) from the University of South Carolina.  Over the course of the afternoon and evening, after listening to two of Nancy’s lectures, I came away with a better understanding of these awe-inspiring robes.

Kimonos come in one-size-fits-all, wrapped left over right and secured with an obi –the favorite crossword puzzle answer for the clue: sash. Rules governing the wearing of the kimono mean people have to have one for each season, and as Nancy pointed out, Westerns would think that means four kimonos: spring, summer, fall and winter. But requirements governing kimono wear dictate twenty-eight seasons – quite a costly investment.

The creation of one kimono requires the work of many hands and begins with the katagami. Best described as a stencil for creating a design on the material used for kimonos, the katagami is made from mulberry paper, painted with persimmon juice and aged or smoked for two years. Nancy had several katagami examples for people to see. Some of the katagami are so intricate they need netting between the two pieces of mulberry paper.  This netting, called “ito ire”, was made by a skilled woman in a village using fine silk threads, or sometimes human hair.

The designs on cloth we use today are essentially stamped on one side. Material for the kimono is hand dyed or painted; there is no right or wrong side and the designs don’t dictate a direction.  The katagami stencil is always 12 by 14 inches and thus repeated down a long scroll-like piece of material.  A kimono is pieced together from these strips. Indigo made from the pink flowered knotweed (the old taxonomic name is Polygonum tinctorium Aiton ; the new taxonomic designation is Persicaria tinctorium) is native to Japan and thus highly prized. Each village also had an indigo maker/dyer.

As I write, I realize how much more there is to tell and how much learning I accomplished under Nancy’s teaching. I could write a 10-page paper. Here are some other take-aways. Men wear dark indigo kimonos with no outward design. However, the inside of the man’s kimono is usually painted with an extraordinary picture done by a well-known artist. Kimonos are sewn by hand. When they need cleaning, they are taken apart and put back together. (Can you imagine?) There are multiple techniques for creating some of the elaborate designs on kimonos. Some of the techniques remind one of batik in that a rice paste is used as a resistance material.

Nancy brought items for us to see from her personal collection. There were two of Pearl Buck’s kimonos on display. The exhibit was rounded out with Nancy’s own quilted pieces clearly inspired by her love of Asian culture. I left with a piece of katagami for my daughter. My impromptu day off, needless to write, was magnificent.  

To learn more about kimonos and their place in Japanese culture, Nancy recommended reading Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki.  And by the way, Ms. Iwasaki writes that a kimono can weigh 40 pounds. Below are other links to explore.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London –billing itself as “the world's greatest museum of art and design” has a number of pages on kimono

Yoshino Japanese Antiques has an excellent piece on kimono which includes pictures showing how the garment is put together. 

Here are links to learn about indigo:



E-Fact - July 2015

…when the long black car pulled up I saw that in the back seat rode Pearl Buck, then in her early seventies I believe, regal as always, smiling in friendship and eager to talk.

James Michener
Forward to: The Child Who Never Grew by Pearl S. Buck

Friend to Friend

Pearl S. Buck House Artifact of the MonthPublished in 1958, “Friend to Friend” is a work that contains a vast majority of Pearl S. Buck’s criticisms against U.S. foreign policy in the 1950s. During that time, The U.S. government feared the spread of communism; as it was becoming a heavy influence, especially in the surrounding areas of which was then, the Soviet Union. In an effort to preserve the democratic ideal that Americans sought to spread throughout Europe and Asia, the U.S. lent money to countries that were in danger of falling under communist rule. In addition, The U.S., and other Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan formed what was known as the Southeast Asian Organization Treaty (SEATO) in an effort to make allies with other democratic and nationalistic counties. By doing this, they forced what they then called a “wedge strategy”, which aimed to split the communist allies of China and the Soviet Union. Around the year 1958, the alliance between China and the Soviet Union was beginning to deteriorate, and by the year 1960, the alliance was almost nonexistent.

However during that time span, the American public saw foreign countries that were under a communist rule as enemies, and a threat to the American public. This caused Americans to look down upon Asians, and in particular, the Chinese. This came as a result of the propaganda that the U.S. government was spreading throughout the country.  As a result, the Chinese were heavily looked down upon by the American public, and heavily rejected in U.S. society. This made Chinese immigration to the United States virtually impossible, with the combination of the fear of the U.S. government pertaining to the spread of communism ideals, and the prejudice and hatred that derived from the American people.

“Friend to Friend” is an exchange between Pearl Buck, and Carlos P. Romulo, the Foreign Minister of the Philippines. Buck saw the U.S.’s foreign policy with China and Russia highly arrogant, and viewed them as obsessed with violence and propaganda. Buck had spent the first 40 years of her life in China, and felt that the treatment the Chinese were receiving  was unjust, and the type of hatred and prejudice was becoming prevalent in American society was highly volatile, and hypocritical. “Friend to Friend” highlights Buck’s criticisms to Romulo, and offers a deep insight into the type of opinions and perspectives Buck held on a political level.

E-Fact - June 2015

“The first piece of advice I shall give a novelist about to be born is to take the greatest care about where he is born.  Other people may be born anywhere and it makes very little difference to anybody.  But to a novelist it matters a great deal, because all his experiences in life from his very earliest years is his material form which he must draw all his long, and to start in the wrong country is most unfortunate for him, and handicaps him irreparably.  I take myself as an example.”

Advice to Unborn Novelists, Pearl S. Buck

E-Fact - May 2015

"Straight to Hell" is a rock song by The Clash, from their album Combat Rock. It was released as a double A-side single with "Should I Stay or Should I Go" on September, 17 1982 in 12" and 7" vinyl format (the 7" vinyl is also available in picture disc) format.

The second verse concerns the abandonment of children in Vietnam who were fathered by American soldiers during the Vietnam War.

Artifact of the Month - May 2015

Birthday Cards and Poems “written” by Janice, Richard, John, Edgar, Jean Major, and Jean Minor for Richard Walsh. (Box 1 PSB writings and Speeches)

These cards reflect the timeless relationship between parents and children.

“Mischief is my middle name

But I love you just the same

Though I’ve taken many matches

Here they are again in batches”  Richard

“Dear Daddy,

Here within this little box,

(And this is Jeanie’s little vox)

You’ll find a hundred little lights

To light your pipe on winter nights” –Jean (minor)

Alison Dolbier, Pearl S. Buck House intern

Artifact of the Month - April 2015

Doll given by Japan's Association of Parents of the Mentally RetardedDoll given to Pearl S. Buck by Japan’s Association of Parents of the Mentally Retarded

It was not until the publication of “The Child Who Never Grew,” in Better Homes and Gardens that Pearl S. Buck talked publically about Carol, her oldest daughter, born with PKU and mentally disabled as a result.  After the article appeared, she began to incorporate the theme of mental disability into her work more often. Wang Lung and O-Lan had a special needs child in the Good Earth, but the Child Who Never Grew (published in book form in 1950, 1978, and 1992) was more personal. Pearl writes of her experience as a parent of a special needs child in “My Several Worlds” (1954) and in the semi-autobiographical novel, The Time is Noon.  Always an active member of the board of the Vineland School where Carol lived, Buck now added work on behalf of special needs children to her long list of causes. Eunice Kennedy Shriver credited Buck with influencing her work on behalf of the developmentally disabled. In the afterward to the 1992 edition of The Child Who Never Grew, Janice Walsh credits Carol with being the impetus behind her mother’s drive to give voice to the voiceless.

Alison Dolbier, Pearl S. Buck House intern

E-Fact - April 2015

April 30th is International Jazz Day which celebrates the historical, cultural, and educational contribution of this popular genre of music. The day aims to spread international awareness about this particular music; and to promote the cultural, and social values that Jazz stands for.

“In the ballroom of a lofty hotel a famous orchestra was zipping its latest and liveliest.  The last note crashed, clanged, and blared.  On the polished floor feet swished for a moment more, and were still.  Above the sudden and rather welcome silence a woman might have been heard to exclaim, “Oh, isn’t the music heavenly!” and her partner to responded “Well it’s devilish good jazz.” Richard J. Walsh

Artifact of the Month - March 2015

Degree from  Howard UniversityDegree from Howard University

Pearl S. Buck was a tireless advocate for equal rights on many fronts. As a Life Member of the NAACP, she founded and chaired the Committee against Racial Discrimination in 1942 with the goal of ending segregation in the military, promoting equal employment opportunities, eliminating the poll tax, and enacting federal law against lynching. America’s bigotry, she espoused, undermined the war effort with “prejudice [being] the most vulnerable point in our American Democracy.” She was a regular contributor to the NAACP’s Opportunity and Crisis magazines. Although many thought her work on behalf of civil rights undermined the war effort, Pearl continued to give speeches and write pamphlets throughout the war. It was only the Cold War and heightened sensitivity to perceived slights against the nation that slowed her assault. Magazines were increasingly unwilling to alienate audiences by publishing her articles. Even her work on behalf of Amerasian children was seen by some as a slur against the American Military.

Alison Dolbier, Pearl S. Buck House intern

E-Fact - March 2015

Beginning in a small town, Women’s History Month is a month to observe what women have contributed to history, culture and society. The United States has observed it annually throughout the month of March since 1987. To begin to pay tribute to Women’s History Month we honor Pearl S. Buck for all of her achievements in both the literary and humanitarian world. 

“The fight for equality begins in your own soul, and then it must spread as wide as the world.”—Pearl S. Buck

Artifact of the Month - February 2015

Pearl S Buck and Katherine HepburnPhotograph of Pearl S. Buck with Katharine Hepburn on the set of Dragon Seed

Pearl Buck’s 1942 novel, Dragon Seed was made into a big budget ($3 million) movie in 1944. MGM was looking for a hit to replicate the success of The Good Earth and also hoped that this film would support the war effort by drawing attention to our ally in the East. While the film earned two Oscars (supporting actress Aline McMahon and cinematographer Sidney Wagner) and turned a profit, it received mixed reviews for the predominately western cast. Pearl herself objected to several inaccuracies including the man’s jacket Katharine Hepburn preferred because it was more stylish than a woman’s, and the terraced hills in the village, which were inappropriate for that region of China. (Terraces also run horizontal, but those in the movie are vertical) In his book, Pearl Buck a Cultural Biography, Peter Conn notes that while she praised the film in public, Buck also preferred Louise Ranier’s portrayal of a Chinese woman to Hepburn’s. Ever the diplomat she added, “But you must remember this is the first film in which Miss Hepburn hasn’t had to be simply Katharine Hepburn.” (Conn, p 281)

Alison Dolbier, Pearl S. Buck House intern

E-Fact - February 2015

Soon after settling in the United States in 1934 from her first forty years of life in China, Pearl S. Buck became active in the American civil rights movement. She also became a regular contributor to Crisis, the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and to Opportunity, published by the National Urban League.

“The fight for freedom cannot be won until we recognize the fact that democracy in its true meaning involve not only a lip service to the doctrine that all men are created equal but a genuine change in our own attitude to the colored American.” Speaking of Liberty was sponsored by "the Council on Democracy" and broadcast by the NBC Red network. Rex Stout hosted a variety of guests who were "speaking of liberty."

Artifact of the Month - January 2015

Fall - Winter 1975 The WelcomerFall-Winter 1975 issue of “The Welcomer”

From the cover: This issue of “The Welcomer” is dedicated to those very “special” people who rallied to the cause prior to the fall of Saigon.  And to the literally hundreds of adoptive couples, friends, strangers, staff of Welcome House and whole communities who responded to our calls for help in caring for the 67 Vietnamese children until placed with their adoptive families.  The roll call is far too long to include, much as we would have dearly loved to.  People  from New York (L.I.), Pennsylvania (Media), Delaware (Wilmington), New Jersey, Connecticut, Alaska, Washington, Washington D.C., Texas, Massachusetts.  We will never forget your efforts.  They will live on in the lives of the children.

Learn more about Operation Babylift and the plight of children in Vietnamese orphanages in our latest exhibit The Vietnamese Orphan: A Mission of Hope on display January-April 2015.

E-Fact - January 2015

As the clock began to strike that magic hour the voices of their friends around them rose in song.  Over the singing could be heard the clear bell-toned voice of their child Christopher—“Should auld acquaintance be forgot..” Never, she thought, never forgotten!
The New Year, Pearl S. Buck

E-Fact - December 2014

We begin singing Christmas carols after Thanksgiving.  Someone hums a tune, there is a catch of music from upstairs, and, listening, I hear ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’.  The music swells as the days pass and long before Christmas we gather at the piano at night before we go to bed and we sing the Christmas songs.  Room in the Inn, Pearl S. Buck

‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ is a popular Christmas carol. The text was written by Phillips Brooks (1835–1893), an Episcopal priest, Rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia. He was inspired by visiting the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in 1865. Three years later, he wrote the poem in Philadelphia and his organist, Lewis Redner, added the music.

Artifact of the Month- December

A Christmas CardA Christmas Card

Christmas was a favorite time of year for Pearl S. Buck and the Walsh family.  This is one of several holiday cards sent to the family over the years in our collection.  The front of the card is a black and white photo reproduction of “A Portrait of New Hampshire” that reads “Season’s Greetings/The Rumford Press” The insert reads “Looking into Tuckerman’s Ravine from Pinkham Notch”.  The image is now mounted in a book-type folder made of rag board.

Rumford Press was a printing plant located in Concord, New Hampshire. It was once a thriving business turning out several popular magazines including Asia Magazine, the publication owned and edited by Richard Walsh and Pearl S. Buck.

E-Fact - November 2014

November ushers in National Adoption Month. Pearl S. Buck International celebrates the legacy Pearl S. Buck began in 1949 when she opened her heart and her home.

"Two babies came [to me] from adoption agencies, where they were considered unadoptable because it was difficult to find adoptive parents to “match” them. I was sure that there must be good families, matching or not, who could love these babies and indeed there were. . . . Pearl S. Buck, “The Children Waiting: The Shocking Scandal of Adoption,” Woman's Home Companion, September 1955

Artifact of the Month- November

Traditional Korean dress - HanbokThis traditional hanbok with red and white brocade organza belonged to Pearl S. Buck’s foster daughter Julie Walsh Henning.

The hanbok is the traditional dress of the Korean people. Today it is only worn on festive days and during special events but was worn daily up until just 100 years ago.  It is colored using natural dyes obtained from flowers, berries, and other plants to reflect the spirit of nature. Koreans have traditionally lived as one with nature and favor smooth curves rather than straight lines.  This is evident in the design of the hanbok, which is said to look more beautiful when it is worn than on the hanger and even more beautiful when the person wearing it is in motion.

E-Fact - October 2014

On March 4, 1920, Pearl Buck gave birth to her only biological child, Carol. She was concerned that Carol was not developing normally, but received little or no support from her husband or doctors. At that time, nothing was known about the eventual diagnosis of PKU syndrome (phenylketonuria), which results in progressive mental deterioration if not treated immediately at birth. In 1929, Pearl enrolled Carol at the Vineland Training School in Vineland, New Jersey, where she lived until her death in October of 1992.

“A handicapped person brings its own gift to life, even to the life of normal human beings. That gift is comprehended in the lessons of patience, understanding, and mercy, lessons which we all need to receive and to practice with one another, whatever we are” Pearl S. Buck, forward in The Terrible Choice-The Abortion Dilemma

Artifact of the Month- Tribute to Lois Burpee

Lois Burpee was a prominent Bucks County resident and close friend of Pearl S. Buck.  Born in Israel to a medical missionary parent, she was taught to always help others.  As an adult, she shared Pearl S. Buck’s passion and commitment to making the world a better place.  Below is a tribute from the Pearl S. Buck Foundation Volunteer Association newsletter “The Living Reed” in 1984.

A Tribute to Lois Burpee 9/12/12-9/3/84

Lois Burpee received the Pearl S. Buck Woman’s Award in 1980, in recognition of her support and help to Pearl Buck for the work with Amerasian children.  In 1949, she joined the author in founding Welcome House.  Years later, she became co-founder of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation and served on its Board of Directors.

Lois Burpee could identify with Pearl S. Buck.  They had similar backgrounds and later shared many interests that centered around the welfare of children.  Both had parents in the mission field and both were raised in foreign countries.  When they first met, Lois was the young wife of David Burpee; Mrs. Walsh was a world-renowned Nobel Prize-winning author.

David Burpee had developed a new variety of the sweet pea and wanted to name it in honor of Pearl Buck…so, in March of 1939, he asked his wife to “take a bunch over to Mrs. Walsh.”  Well, at that time Lois Burpee could not drive.  She arrived with her little bunch of rose-pink sweet peas, in a chauffer-driven car.  The formality of the visit so amused Pearl Buck that it sparked the beginning of a warm and growing friendship between the two women.

Lois Burpee championed many worthwhile causes during her lifetime.  Among the latest was her support of the marigold…a simple flower… yet its vibrance now enhances the beautification work in all of the 50 states of our nation.

Simplicity and beauty seem also to be synonymous with the life of LOIS BURPEE…her memory we will not forget.

E-Fact - September 2014

In August of 1920, women in the United States were granted the right to vote when the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was certified.  
“Tradition, then, is the culprit.  But what can be done about tradition?  Only one thing—break it.” Pearl S. Buck

Artifact of the Month- Illustration: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Amerasian children Pearl Buck book illustrationThis illustration can be seen in the kitchen of the Pearl S. Buck House.  It was originally published in the December 1966 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.  The artist, Joseph Bowler is an award-winning illustrator whose work regularly appeared in several popular magazines including Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journal, and The Saturday Evening Post. 

Based on the children’s book, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John by Pearl S. Buck, the illustration depicts the four main characters.  The book depicts four abandoned Korean Amerasian boys considered social outcasts for having American fathers and tells the story of their struggles to survive on the streets after being abandoned by their families.  Ms. Buck wrote the story to build awareness of the plight of Amerasian children in Korea and to gain support for the Pearl S. Buck Foundation and its mission to end discrimination and prejudice.  The story helped many Americans, especially children, learn about Amerasian children in Korea and inspired people to get involved through the Pearl S. Buck Foundation.

The total purpose of whatever we do is to integrate the Amerasian child into society by helping him to become a good citizen in the land of his birth, a benefit to his fellow citizens and not a burden and a curse. ~Pearl S. Buck Foundation Founding Statement, 1967

E-Fact - July 2014

Tolerance vs. Knowledge & Understanding

“Tolerance—an ugly word—is not even enough.  When one is tolerant, it means that he can only endure.  We have to teach something much more constructive than passive acceptance of the existence of other creatures.  Tolerance implies lack of pleasure in such acceptance.  All of us must learn to enjoy knowing as friends those whose race and ways may be different from ours.  Knowledge must lead to understanding, in order that enjoyment may be a pleasant fruit, enriching life for us all.”

Pearl S. Buck “Do You Want Your Children to Be Tolerant?” (Better Homes and Gardens, 1947)

Artifact of the Month - "The Cottage" - Pearl S. Buck House at Green Hills Farm

“The fireplace—ah, here we had some problem.  It always smoked and I don’t know what the early settlers did with it.  But, it is the original fireplace and mantelpiece, except we filled in the stonework, in the attempt to solve the problem.  We solved that, but I regret a change otherwise.”  –Pearl S. Buck’s Personal Tour of Green Hills Farm, April 8, 1972

There is no documentation stating exactly when the original, single room structure, affectionately called “The Cottage” was constructed on the property. As the oldest surviving structure on the property, it is speculated that the Cottage was built before the Revolutionary War in 1740.  However, because there is no concrete evidence of the structure’s construction taking place this early, the Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects, LLC, with the help of Hunter Research, Inc, and other agencies, date the structure as “Pre-1825” in the Historical Structure Report of the Pearl S. Buck House, compiled for Pearl S. Buck International in 2005.

Ownership of the Green Hills Farm property has been transferred 20 times between 1714 and today.  Pearl S. Buck owned the property for 33 years. Pearl S. Buck International has owned the property since 1967 when Ms. Buck bequeathed Green Hills Farm to what was then, The Pearl S. Buck Foundation.

When Pearl S. Buck purchased the property in 1934, the property included the main house, a large barn, a milk house, and a small cottage.  The original Cottage was a well-built structure with thick, stone walls, a large stone fireplace, and a single door and window.  At one time, the Cottage stood alone as a family home where the family would sleep, cook and eat. A loft once extended to the large beam above the mantel and was accessible by a ladder.  Its history includes use as a laundry room.

During renovations in 1935, the space was transformed into Richard J. Walsh’s office. A 1935 photograph of the Cottage sits on the fireplace mantel in Richard Walsh’s office.  In the 1930’s, an office was also added on the east side of the Cottage for Ms. Buck and another was built on the west side where both Ms. Buck’s and Richard Walsh’s secretaries worked. A window was added on the south wall that looks out to the attached greenhouse to allow more natural light to permeate the space. 

Visitors entering the Cottage can immerse themselves into the world of Publisher Richard Walsh as they peruse the items in his office. On your next visit, however, I would encourage you to look beyond the office to imagine what life may have been like for previous owners of the property possibly dating back to the Revolutionary War.

Allie Raifsnider
Summer 2014 Curatorial Intern
Sweet Briar College 2015

E-Fact - June 2014

Pearl Buck was invited to christen the Liberty cargo ship the SS Schuyler Colfax in September of 1943. It is believed she did not christen this ship but did christen the Thomas H. Gallaudet in October of 1943

The Liberty tanker, "Thomas H. Gallaudet," is named after one of the foremost educators of the deaf. Many deaf workers are reported to be employed at the Calship yards, and have helped build this ship.

Mrs. Pearl Buck, noted author, who acted as sponsor at the launching ceremony, said, "This is a lucky ship built by loving hands and named for a great soul. I am sure this ship, too, has a great soul and that it will ride all storms as Gallaudet did. I would rather sponsor this than any ship in the world."     

Ship lost:

about the loss -  ran aground (wrecked)

25/03/1969  [dd/mm/yyyy]

Artifact of the Month - For Spacious Skies By Pearl S. Buck, 1966

For Spacious SkiesIn 1964, Pearl S. Buck formed the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. Fifteen years after she made a commitment to orphaned and abandoned children by starting the adoption program, Welcome House, Ms. Buck was once again compelled to advocate on behalf of children, specifically those left behind by American soldiers.

Her 1966 novel For Spacious Skies chronicles the key elements and background information that drove her to save the thousands of orphans that roamed the streets of Asia when she visited by launching a child sponsorship program.  The book was written as a conversation making this one of 10 books Ms. Buck authored in the genre of a dialogue book. Earlier in her career she termed these books as “talk books.” They were recorded and captured pivotal global issues in conversation with notables such as Masha Scott, James Yen, Carlos Romulo and Erna von Pustau, to name a few.

For Spacious Skies details conversations between Pearl S. Buck and Theodore F. Harris when he was the president and executive director of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. The most referenced passage of this book associates the word “Amerasian” with Pearl S. Buck.

“I had seen them long ago in Asia, and they were called Eurasians. They had been the children of the empire, their fathers English or European, their mothers Indian, Indo-Chinese or Indonesian. But these now were not the children of empire. They were and are the children of American men, and they are born not of imperial rulers but of liberators. Let them be called Amerasians! You remember that was the name the man in the State Department suggested, when we went to Washington for advice. I was appalled at the number of the Amerasian children, for I saw many of them…wandering the streets and hanging about American camps.”

Ms. Buck spent the last nine years of her life dedicating her energies to the needs of the children of American servicemen the Amerasians, in Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Her commitment to disadvantaged and marginalized children is one that Pearl S. Buck International continues today with its work in Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, China, South Korea and the Philippines. It is a mission that celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year and will be recognized with an exhibit in the Welcome Center at our headquarters in Bucks County, PA beginning August 1. The Pearl S. Buck Foundation, Philippines office recently recognized Amerasian day with a celebration for the sponsored children. For more on that story, read our June Success Story.

E-Fact - May 2014

Pearl S. Buck International is located on the property that was named Green Hills Farm by Pearl S. Buck and her fiancé Richard J. Walsh. Ms. Buck purchased the property of 48 acres in 1935 when she was engaged to marry Richard J. Walsh, her publisher. The house was to serve as a weekend retreat from their busy lives in New York City. Within three years it became their primary residence.

At its largest, when it was fully sustaining the family, it expanded to approximately 500 acres. Today the property, no longer a working farm, is nearly 68 acres.

Artifact of the Month - The Nixon Gift Boxes

President Nixon’s China visit souvenir for Pearl S BuckPresident Nixon’s daughter, Julie Nixon Eisenhower reports that when her parents travelled to the People’s Republic of China, they brought back Chinese nesting boxes as gifts for friends and distinguished citizens. Pearl S. Buck was the recipient of such a gift in 1972. On display among her treasured awards in the Exhibit Gallery, the boxes are a reminder of her life in China.

In the 1973 eulogy for Ms. Buck, President Richard M. Nixon remarked, “Pearl S. Buck was a bridge between the civilizations of the East and West. I see her as that bridge, shining in the sunlight, spanning the chasm filled with bigotry, hate, violence, and stupidity. I am filled with the hope that there is a young, 21st Century woman out there preparing to construct a "bridge" of her own.”

Artifact of the Month - Jade Jewelry Clip

Jade ClipThis jewelry clip is hand carved green jade set in a silver clasp. The clip can be worn as an attachment or on a chain. Pearl S. Buck often wore this at the base of a neckline. She wrote that jewelry was not a particular personal interest to her, but this piece proved to be the exception as she is seen wearing it in many photos. Her daughter Janice echoes this sentiment,

“This jade clip was a favorite piece of mothers. I purchased it from the estate when she died. I have memories of her wearing it often.” - Janice Buck Walsh, Daughter of Pearl S. Buck

Donna Carcaci Rhodes
Pearl S. Buck International

E-Fact - April 2014

The Works of Pearl S. Buck 
Approximately 1300 published and unpublished writings of Pearl S. Buck are known to date. For the most recent listing please check our website as research continues to reveal new titles.  Categories (note: some works may exist in more than one format and may be included in more than one category)
Articles & Essays
Book Reviews
Collected Fiction
Excerpted Compilations & Reader’s Digest Condensed Books
Film and Television
Juvenile Fiction
Juvenile Collections
Letters (published)
Short Stories

E-Fact - March 2014

There were more than ancestors, there were traditions that came with my Pennsylvania house, and first with the traditions of William Penn and his fair and just treatment of the red Indians...English Quaker and German Mennonite saw to it, that cheating and killing be kept to a minimum and the tradition is still strong in that people are to be treated alike and with generosity..They live harmoniously together ,firm in their belief in the value of money and the land and good cows…
My Several Worlds 1954
Pearl S. Buck

Artifact of the Month - Cheval Fire Screen

Artifact of the Month - Fire ScreenArtist unknown
Cheval Fire screen circa mid 20th century
36” x 38” (91.44 x 96.52)
From the Delancey Place residence of Pearl S. Buck,
the original headquarters of The Pearl S. Buck Foundation 

Many fire screens made of metal or non flammable materials were used to shield the heat away from the occupants of the room and evenly distribute heat throughout the room. These screens, although functional, were also considered decorative additions to the room. Fire screens used solely for décor were often elaborately designed and used to hide the unsightly fireplace ashes or darkened areas from view.

This fire screen is in the design popularly used in the 18th century known as a cheval style fire screen. Cheval is the French word for horse, acknowledging reference to the four supports akin to horse hoofs at the base of the screen.

Two- sided, this decorative fire screen is filled with the rich symbolical imagery of China. The cinnabar color seen in the background was first used in China during the Song Dynasty and is still widely used today. The high gloss paint finish is in the style of Chinese lacquer while the bamboo carved frame signifies resilience and flexibility.

The reverse of the screen has a black lacquer background with vibrant green bamboo leaves carved and then painted onto the screen.

The richly carved gilded wood images include many symbols that communicate specific meaning based on their location. For example a lone crane communicates longevity, but a crane within a pine tree as seen in this screen, communicates determination, wealth and power.  The pine tree speaks to a well lived and happy life, while the surrounding lotus blossoms tell us that purity of heart, honor and tranquility fill this happy life as well.

Symbols communicate and educate without the barriers of literacy or the written word.  From the Spanish and French parietal art of 30,000 BCE, to the images depicted on this screen today, the importance of story is ultimate to communication and arguably the most universally understood.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Silver Inkwell

Artifact of the Month - Silver InkwellThis silver inkwell rests on Pearl S. Buck’s writing desk in her National Historic Landmark Home, the Pearl S. Buck House in Bucks County, PA. Photographs in the Pearl S. Buck International archives show that it also was within arm’s reach of this prolific writer on her desk at the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, once headquartered on historic Delancey Street in Philadelphia.

This neo classic design by Francois-Daniel Imlin, of Strasbourg France (1757-1831) has an oblong rectangular platform and spherule pierced apron. It is incised with patera supports and acorn shaped feet supporting a pair of silver cylindrical ink wells with blue glass liners. Encased with satyr mask uprights and urns, and topped with articulating gadrooned hinged lids, the artifact contains traces of ink within the ink liners.

The center pyramidal obelisk is mounted with typical weapon cluster plaques under a finial of a Roman warrior helmet. Its signature lozenge is stamped with an “I” and its rectangular outline with “IMLIN” is consistent with the designer signature of Francois-Daniel Imlin.
Symbols used in this piece include:
Acorn- strength and potential
Satyrs- protection
Possible helmet of Minerva : goddess of music, poetry, wisdom.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

E-Fact - February 2014

For myself I was pleased to discover that I had bought land belonging once to Richard Penn, Williams’s brother. And it was interesting that twice when we pulled up a vast dead tree we found coins mingled with its earth…once Spanish and again English.
My Several Worlds
Pearl S. Buck 1954

Artifact of the Month - The Writing Desk of Pearl S. Buck

Good Earth DeskIn a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write. - Pearl S. Buck

During her lifetime, Pearl S. Buck was an extremely prolific writer and is credited with over 1,300 literary works. However, the desks she sat at to create her literary works were few. This desk is the one she credits where her “serious writing” began for it was at this desk that her characters came to life for her as she wrote. First used in her attic office in Nanjing, China, facing a view of Purple Mountain, the majority of her early writings occurred at this desk, including the second most-widely-read book of the 20th century, The Good Earth.

Ms. Buck was so much at home at this desk while writing that she brought the desk to the United States with her in 1934. It accompanied her wherever she settled; in New York from 1934 to 1938 and then in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. Ms. Buck moved it briefly to Philadelphia in the early 1960’s but later settled it into her Perkasie home at Green Hills Farm, known today as the Pearl S. Buck House.

Originally, the desk was placed in Ms. Buck’s office with an east-facing orientation. Several years later, it was moved to the large library. After placement in multiple locations in the large library space, it settled at last in its current position, east facing in the center of the room.

Desk: height 34”, width 64”, depth 26”. This pedestal writing desk is of Chinese late Qing Dynasty design in zitan wood. The desk dates from the 19th century and is constructed in three parts: the shallow super structure of rectangular shape comprising of frame and panel top, over a frieze of raised panels, fitted along the front with three drawers; the pair of support sections each contain a pair of drawers to front and a deep panel to side above molded square legs conjoined by an open lattice work stretcher shelf.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

E-Fact - January 2014

The children of Ms. Buck and first husband John Lossing Buck

  • Carole Grace Buck
  • Janice C. Buck Walsh

The children of Ms. Buck and second husband Richard Walsh (* the last two are biracial children);

  • John S.Walsh, adopted: 1936
  • Richard S. Walsh, adopted: 1936
  • Edgar S. Walsh, adopted:  1937
  • Jean C. Walsh, adopted: 1937
  • Henriette C., adopted: 1951
  • Chieko C., adopted: 1957

The middle initial C stands for Comfort, Ms. Buck’s middle name. The middle initial S stands for Stulting, Ms. Buck’s mother’s maiden name. The exception is with Edgar; his middle name is Sydenstricker as he is named for his uncle.
Note: the number of children fostered by Ms. Buck is unknown, but thought to be approximately 10 children.

Artifact of the Month - The Music Collection of the Walsh Family

Stanley MuschampAmong the many items in the songbook and sheet music collection of Pearl S. Buck and Richard J. Walsh is an unassuming two-page manuscript of a song, with vocal line and piano accompaniment, dated at the bottom “11-28-08.” This work, though complete in music and lyrics, is untitled. The only clues to its identity are the lyrics themselves and notations at the top of the page “Words by W.E. Henley” and “Music by S. Muschamp.”

“W. E. Henley” is the English poet William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), best known for his poems “Invictus” and “We’ll go no more a-roving by the light of the moon.” The lyrics used in this song turn out to be a short (8-line) poem that Henley wrote called “To A. D.” (1876), which appeared in his collection entitled Echoes of Life and Death (1889, the same collection in which “We’ll go no more a-roving” appears).

The man who set this poem to music was Stanley Cooper Muschamp, Jr., generally known simply as Stanley Muschamp. He is little remembered today, but was a well-known figure in Philadelphia music circles in the first quarter of the 20th century. He was a voice teacher (with his own studio on South 17th Street), pianist, and composer and arranger, mostly of songs and ballet pantomimes. He was the conductor of various vocal ensembles, including the Savoy Company (described on their web site as “the oldest amateur theater company in the world dedicated solely to the production of the works of Gilbert and Sullivan”) and the Gimbel Choral Society (of the Gimbel Brothers department store), and served as the director for many musical productions in the city. He was well-known enough to be listed in The Musical Blue Book of America at least twice, in 1915 and 1919. Most of his compositions appear to have been written between 1910 and 1925.

This manuscript that was in the Pearl S. Buck collection was a working copy, not a finished one. This is evidenced by the rough sketching out of the musical notation and the fact that the composer changed his mind while working on it, crossing out both the original piano introduction and the original ending and rewriting them. The piece has a couple of interesting features. One is its rhythmic structure: the vocal line is written in standard 4/4 meter, while the piano accompaniment is written in 12/8 meter. This would provide an interesting three-against-two rhythmic contrast between the two lines. The other noteworthy thing is the date of the piece. If it was indeed written in 1908 it would be the earliest composition by Muschamp so far uncovered. There is no evidence at this point that the piece was ever published.

How this manuscript by Stanley Muschamp came to be in the possession of Pearl Buck and Richard Walsh is unclear, but the connection between Muschamp and the family appears to be through Richard Walsh rather than Pearl Buck. In the correspondence files of Richard J. Walsh in the archives of Pearl S. Buck International is an exchange of letters in September 1929 between Richard Walsh and Edward (“Ned”) Muschamp. Research has revealed that this is Edward A. Muschamp, who was the younger brother of Stanley Muschamp. Edward Muschamp was an advertising and newspaper writer in Philadelphia in 1918-1920 and later worked as an independent writer. Richard Walsh was a writer, editor, and publisher and worked in Philadelphia in the years leading up to World War I. It is quite likely that Richard Walsh and Edward Muschamp met through the publishing business - there is a file for Edward Muschamp in the archives of the John Day Company, of which Richard Walsh was the publisher - and it is possible that Muschamp introduced Walsh to his brother Stanley. It is also possible that Richard Walsh met Stanley Muschamp at one of the many social events in Philadelphia in which Muschamp had a musical role. But how and why Richard Walsh acquired this manuscript remains a mystery.

Gary A. Albright
PSBI Archives Volunteer

E-Fact - December 2013

Richard John Walsh Jr. served in various positions at the John Day Company, NY for over thirty five years. He served as president for 15 years before his retirement in 1975. This tenure included his handling of the literary works of Ms. Buck as his stepmother, second wife of his father.

Artifact of the Month - Persimmon by Thorpe

Glassware and ceramic designer Dorothy Thorpe is best known for her timeless and modern, wide-band sterling overlay g lass pieces.Born in Salt Lake City in 1901, Dorothy Thorpe was a mid-century American artist who designed beautiful glassware and ceramic pieces out of her Los Angeles studio. She was also known for her silver overlay and paint speckled glass pieces which included all types of glassware, table ware and punchbowl sets.

Because of the popularity of television shows like Mad Men, that showcase her popular silver rim roly poly glasses, many attribute any silver rim pieces to Thorpe’s design. Silver rim and mercury pieces were quite common in the 1950s and 60s. Faded mercury glassware which “bleeds” into the glass (and derives its name from the color of old mercury thermometers used at the time) is also often attributed to Thorpe but was likely produced by a variety of glassware companies.

This pattern Persimmon, used often by Ms. Buck, is characteristic of the time and the location of Thorpe’s work. Accented with flecks of gold and lined in high luster gold are iconic of 1960’s design. The rich orange persimmon color reflects one of the most popular color choices evoking images of mid century California and its associated lifestyle.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

E-Fact - November 2013

The obituaries of the Walsh children union to Ruby Hopkins Abbot Walsh:

Richard John Walsh Jr.
 92, retired book publisher, died April 7, 2005 in Bedford, MA. He was the President of the John Day Co. (NYC). He is survived by sister, Elizabeth Churchill, two sons: Jeremy A. Walsh, David H. Walsh, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Natalie W. Coltman
Natalie W. Coltman, 93, Sarasota, died Jan. 23, 2003. She was born Oct. 26, 1909, in Reading, Mass., and came to Sarasota 11 years ago from Amherst, Mass. She retired as librarian for Buck's County Free Library in Pennsylvania and Hampshire College in Amherst after five years. She graduated from Vassar and was a member of Vassar Alumni and Vassar Club of Sarasota. She was a member of the Drexel University Alumni and the Society Companions of the Holy Cross. She was an Episcopalian. Survivors include sons Alan C. of Sarasota and Robert of Chelmsford, Mass.; a sister, Elizabeth Churchill of Bedford, Mass.; a brother, Richard J. Walsh of Bedford; and two grandchildren. The memorial service will be private for family. Inurnment will be in Pennsylvania. National Cremation Society, Sarasota chapter, is in charge. Memorial donations may be made to American Heart Association, P.O. Box 21475, St. Petersburg, FL 33742.
Published in Herald Tribune on January 25, 2003

Elizabeth Walsh Churchill
Elizabeth Churchill, 90 Elizabeth Walsh Churchill, wife of Harry Coburn Churchill, died at the Carlton-Willard Village in Bedford, MA on April 8, 2008. She was 90. She is survived by her daughters and their husbands, Natalie Churchill and William Wanagaitis of Woodside, CA and Josephine and Antonio Guerrieri of Grand Isle, VT, and her grandson Alexander C. Guerrieri of Minneapolis, MN. Born in Ardmore, PA on July 7, 1917, the daughter of the late Ruby Hopkins (Abbott) and Richard John Walsh, Ms. Churchill grew up in Pelham, NY. After her Pelham High School graduation, she attended Vassar College and later the Katherine Gibbs School and the New School of Social Research in New York City She actively participated in the League of Women Voters, was editor of a Chelmsford (MA) Know-Your-Town guide, volunteered at the library, and worked for the benefit of quality schooling. Ms. Churchill worked as a technical editor for over 20 years at Mitre Corporation. An early career highlight for her was a 1938 trip as secretary to author Pearl S. Buck, her stepmother, to the Nobel Festival awards in Sweden where she danced with the Crown Prince. A remembrance service will be held in Lowell, MA.
Published in the Pelham Weekly, Pelham, NY

Artifact of the Month - Fireplaces

Fireplaces are noted throughout history for their importance as a necessity as well as a gathering place. At its inception, the fireplace was used for cooking and warmth, but as new ways of heating a home began to gain popularity, it soon became a fixture of decoration and comfort rather than need. The fireplaces in Pearl Buck’s house are no exception.

There are ten fireplaces in the Pearl S. Buck House. There are six on the ground floor, nearly every room, with the exception of the mudroom, kitchen, and secretary's office. Three fireplaces are on the second floor: the Richard Walsh bedroom and two in the Pearl S. Buck bedroom. The third floor girls’ bedroom houses an all-brick fireplace. Pearl Buck was fascinated with architecture, including the fireplaces, noting that they were “big enough to stand in” with “enormous chimneys.” (Historic Structures Report (HSR) Sect. IV)

Ms. Buck acquired the home in the winter of 1934. With her imminent marriage to Richard J. Walsh, the house was visualized as a family home, and work began on modernizing the structure. In the process, they also installed a central heating system. Additions to the house, built between 1935 and 1938, did include new fireplaces, but their purpose as a heat source was becoming somewhat obsolete as radiators were placed in each room. These fireplaces were built in the same style as their elder companions (as were the rest of the components of the house; the Walsh’s desired a seamless addition) – brick frame held together by mortar, with a large, encompassing mantelpiece constructed of stone or in the case of the girls’ bedroom, brick).

Pearl Buck wrote about these areas: "I am sitting in the dining room at this moment. It was the kitchen, the old farm kitchen. The same fireplace is here. I'm sorry to say that it didn't draw very well and we had it filled in with stone.” (the Historic Structure Report says that she later regretted this decision) “It is the original fireplace, however, and the mantel piece is the same as it was.”

According to 2004 communication with Janice Walsh, adopted child of Pearl S. Buck and first husband John Lossing Buck, a fireplace was installed in the northeast corner of Ms. Buck’s bedroom sometime in the second quarter of the 20th century. Previously, the room had actually been two bedrooms, but after being converted into a master bedroom circa 1954, two fireplaces served the same area. The corner fireplace utilized the existing chimney that also served the living room fireplace.

The wooden shutters to two of the fireplaces are unique to the home. They are built into the frame, and provide a decorative way to block off the fireplace when not in use, or to stop birds, bats or insects from entering. One of Ms. Buck’s novels, “All Under Heaven,” describes its protagonist’s home being constructed: The stonemason was building a chimney piece. They had gone down to the brook and found stones for it, great gold-streaked slabs that could be pried from the bedrock. Malcolm bought mallets and iron rods and he and Peter pried the slabs away while Nadya and Lise washed off the oaken floor ready for the mason’s hand. The foundation in the cellar was wide and the mason was making the chimney as wide and deep....‘The Ledge,’ the mason [asked]. ‘Stone or wood?’ Nadya came and they pondered. "Stone,’ she decided. ‘Strong and never to be painted or polished.’ “So the stone was lifted and it stretched solidly across the cast chimney. Nothing fragile or pretty could be set there, that was plain. Possibly a pair of heavy candlesticks, iron or bass, not silver, but they must be very heavy and wide at the base.” (All Under Heaven, page 86-87)

In this novel, Ms. Buck envisions the fireplace as a fundamental component of the house – a sturdy, strong element that is a constant, undisturbed, even as its surroundings change. Interestingly, the description of this fireplace perfectly matches one of hers (specifically the living room): wide and heavy, with a large stone mantelpiece. It, too, was decorated with large, solid candlesticks, as evidenced by a family photograph.

-Paul Ligeti
University of Michigan, Class of 2016

E-Fact - October 2013

Abbott Walsh, b. c. 1912 (nicknamed "Nats", m. Robert Coltman) lived across the road from the Walsh family in a stone farmhouse that is now privately owned. Their children and the Walsh children socialized and did many things as a “mixed family” from the two marriages.

Artifact of the Month - The Grave Marker of Pearl S. Buck

In 1934, when Pearl S. Buck purchased the approximate 48 acres of land she was engaged to her future husband Richard J. Walsh. Much has been written of the selection of the land for her family and her home. The land, in Bucks County Pennsylvania, was named Green Hills Farm by the couple.

At the time she paid $4,100 for the land, the stone farmhouse and the structures on the site. Later purchases of adjoining property increased the acreage to 500; approximately 68 acres remain.

Sculptures done by local artists render tribute to her commitment to the welfare of children. Beautiful gardens, streams and ponds enhance the scenery.

Near the entrance to Green Hills Farm, a shaded grave site is surrounded by pine trees and bamboo. Pearl Buck’s wish to be buried in the west, facing east was granted. A flush granite grave marker that covers the grave is etched with the Chinese characters of her birth name. A nearby stream, walking trail and benches provide a place for quiet contemplation.

At the head of the flush grave marker is a bronze placard with the name of Pearl S. Buck in English affixed to large Vermont granite bolder.

Ms. Buck loved the mountains of Vermont as they reminded her of her home in China as a girl and of her mother’s home in Hillsboro West Virginia, where she was born: "I remember when I was born. I am sure I remember. How else can I account for the intimate knowledge I have always had of my mother’s house?” My Mother’s House
Pearl S. Buck

It was in Vermont, a favorite summer retreat for Ms. Buck and her family that she died on March 6, 1973.

Shortly after moving to the property Ms. Buck wrote:
“I would like to be buried here on this site, but not so close to the children’s play area or in view of visitors to be a distraction or a reminder of sadness to the living.”

Upon her death the area was as requested and remains today as an area of solitude and contemplation among the pine trees, bamboo, lush flowers and grasses.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

E-Fact - September 2013

On June 11, 1935, Richard J. Walsh divorced Ruby Walsh and married Pearl S. Buck in Reno, Nevada. Ruby Abbott Walsh and Pearl Sydenstricker Buck established a brief residence there per legal processing of their divorces.

Artifact of the Month - The Children's Wing Entrance of Green Hills Farm

In the late 1930’s through the 1940’s, the front or north façade of the house had more than one entrance for the use of the Walsh family. An enlarged aerial view from a 1947 photograph captures another entrance, no longer in existence, formerly located on the front or north facade. This was the entrance to the children’s wing.

The first floor room addition on the east side of the house was originally used as a children’s playroom. The northeast area provided amenities for the children’s use: a swing set area, the swimming pool and expansive grounds. French doors on the south side of the room opened to a grass terraced area on the south facade of the house. The second and third floors above, housed the bedrooms and bathrooms for the Walsh sons, while the Walsh daughters slept on the third floor of the opposite or west wing of the home.

The photo taken of the northern facade reveals a pediment entrance with two side support columns, nearly matching the front or main door entrance.

This wing served to provide the children with their own play area. A secluded pool for family relaxation, with large water spewing cement frog was also located in this area.

As the children grew out of the playroom and into the surrounding outdoors, the grass terrace was replaced with stone. This terrace was removed, repaired and replaced with its original stone during the restoration of the House in 2012. You can see this project and the long lost buried objects found during the project excavation on our website as Exposing the Beams: A Virtual Exhibit.

As the play area extended into the nearby barn, ponds and fields, the playroom became the first of two libraries, now known as the Large Library. The pediment door was then converted into a window to match the other windows on the north façade.

This room grew from children’s playroom to an unofficial community library. Many friends and neighbors borrowed books from this library for many years. This comprehensive library would eventually be known as one of the first and best collections in the area.

On close inspection of the window, a faint trace of the pediment overhang outline remains just above the window that was at one time the entrance door. The former stone entrance step appears as an unused riser. The basement window below is partly hidden from view and seems oddly placed at first. The stone work is beautifully blended as to erase any indication of the former entrance. This is yet another example of how the house grew to meet the needs of the family.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

E-Fact - August 2013

Second husband Richard John Walsh was married to Pearl Buck for 25 years. This was a second marriage for both Walsh and Buck.
With his first wife, Ruby Hopkins Abbott, Walsh had three children: Natalie Abbott Walsh, b. c. 1912 (nicknamed "Nats", m. Robert Coltman); Richard John Walsh Jr., b. c.1915; and Elizabeth Walsh, b. c. 1921 (nicknamed "Betty," m. Harry Churchill).

Artifact of the Month - The Greenhouses of Green Hills Farm

Pearl Buck wrote of her love of flowers many times in her literature and her personal letters“all during the winter we have beautiful camellias, rose and pink, and white. I thought that I couldn’t live without them because they were my favorite in China.”

Green Hills Farm, the Pennsylvania home of Pearl Buck and her family for over 38 years was also home to the flowers she loved. A greenhouse devoted just to camellias now features 26 varieties of the flower, including the camellias she planted and the crimson camellia name in her honor.

A second greenhouse, side by side to the first, is used for cut flowers and potted plants, just as it was when it was first built circa 1947. We believe these 1947 glass paned structures replaced a small wood potting shed original to the property at the time of purchase.

The “camellia greenhouse” includes a small water feature to humidify the plants through the year. The ground level basin is painted sky blue and continues to provide moisture to the camellias year round.

The “cut flower greenhouse” includes a small heater, enough to heat the flowering plants through the often harsh winters of the region.

In climates with harsh winters, the greenhouse’s roof needs a steep pitch. A steeper pitch allows the roof to easily shed snow and concentrate as much light as possible during the shorter daylight hours.

Both of these greenhouses use glazed panes of glass to maximize the amount of heat and light for successful blooms.

Many of the roof glass greenhouse panes are connected to a chain system that operates with pulleys to control air flow, temperature and moisture.

The greenhouses are often the first architectural feature seen as you enter the property. The camellia greenhouse is connected to the former office of Ms. Buck’s husband, publisher Richard Walsh. The south window of his office is the window into the greenhouse, providing flowering views all year.

The cut flower greenhouse is connected to Ms. Buck’s office, with two windows and a connecting door into the greenhouse. The camellia greenhouse can also be entered by Ms. Buck’s office so that at any time she could have walked into the greenhouses and enjoyed the flowers she loved.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

E-Fact - July 2013

“I do not like to see American girls give up their own individualities to in order to attract men, for if men can be attracted by such behavior, then it is alarming.”
Pearl S. Buck
My Several Worlds

Artifact of the Month - The Brass Door Knocker of Green Hills Farm

The brass knocker measures about eight inches in height.

In 1935, when Pearl S. Buck purchased the stone farmhouse, she believed that the front door should be a wide door to communicate welcome to her visitors from all over the world. The original door was relocated, and replaced with the present door. The brass knocker measures over nine inches in length and resonates through the house with a lift and replace of the handle like design.

Visitors gather today as they did years ago to enjoy the water garden and visit the grounds and home of Pearl S. Buck.

The majestic northern façade of Green Hills Farm illustrates two hundred years of Bucks County architecture. The 1825 original home is flanked by 1938 east and west wings. This façade’s center jewel is the front door. The six pane transom light illuminates the six panel recessed oversized door and brass knocker. The four pane side lights provide elegant symmetry to the structure and its additions.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Windows of the Pearl S. Buck House

The windows at the Pearl S. Buck National Historic Landmark Home are typical of an early 1800’s farmhouse found in the United States. On close review we find the panes of glass, (or lights) vary from three over five panes on the ground floor and three over four on the floors above.

A visible decorative horizontal stone protrusion, seen on the house exterior, defines the first and second floor and is known as a stringcourse. It is most visible in the original 1825 portion of the house. The stringcourse in this house protrudes just enough for façade interest in both the front and back of the home and for foundation support for the second story timber sills of the window frames.

The shuttered windows on the home are typical of the 1800’s with full panels on the ground floor and louvered panels on the floor above. Today many modern homes still keep this combination as a decorative feature. The full panels feature recessed woodwork. The full panel is typically seen on the first floor for reasons of security and safety. The windows above are louvered to allow air flow and sun block in the warm weather months while also providing privacy.

The hardware remains i n place and was functional in the use of shuttering the windows. Hardware ring pulls, placed about mid-way on the shutter were used to close or “shutter” the window with a hooked pole. The occupant stood inside the home and hooked the ring pull with the pole, pulling the shutter towards the occupant to latch and sometimes bolt from the inside of the home. These interior latches can be seen on the shutters as well. When the shutters were not in use they were secured with a pivoted device affixed into the timber sill, used to hold a shutter in the open position on the exterior side of a window; this device is called a shutter catch, shutter dog, or shutter holdback.

The shutters were successful for keeping out light for the occupant, but also for protection from wind, rain, ice and debris from storms. These were days when window screens were not yet in use. Glass was an expensive commodity and protection of the glass lights became practical as well as a safety precaution.

This hardware is particularly interesting as they are hand wrought and nearly all are original to the house.

The components of the sash window are typical in that the center horizontal meeting rail, allows for this window to function as a sash window, while the lights are secured in place with horizontal muntin rails, vertical side stiles and a wood worked architrave trim (or surround) that is also seen in the doorway wood work as well.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Date Stones at the Pearl S. Buck House

Typically a date stone is used to commemorate, or identify the year a structure is built. Sometimes the date stones will include more than just the year of completion. Often other information such as the architect, the name of the building, the owners, or a patron will appear.

Also typical in building additions, more than one date stone will appear to mark the ownership of the home, sometimes reflecting the multigenerational ownership within a family.

Unseen, tucked far up into a third floor attic area of the Pearl S. Buck House is an inscription that appears to have been made in wet cement. It reads; W. N. 1825, a reflection of the first footprint of the generational home. Ten years later a date stone on the west facing stone chimney is marked as E. & M. H. A.D. 1835, believed to commemorate the architectural changes of the time.

Another date stone exists on the east facing chimney commemorating an addition marked 1937 with the initials J & R.W. At first these initials may seem confusing.We know that RW is Richard Walsh and we believe the J representative of Pearl Buck, using a name that was used between husband and wife; the name Jean instead of Pearl.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The North Door of Green Hills Farm

The oldest photos of the Pearl S. Buck House reflect that when Ms. Buck purchased this farm in 1935, the scale of the original front door fit the size of the home. As the house grew to the East and West with additions, the scale of the door also needed to grow resulting in the striking entrance that is present today. Oral history gathered from family members indicates that it was important to Ms. Buck to create a large and welcoming entrance to her home through which history and all who entered were warmly greeted. The original front door is believed to have been repurposed in the interior of the house.

The style of the front door, located on the North side of the home, founds it origins in Colonial New England where the frame and panel construction was introduced as a technical improvement over earlier plank-style doors. This method of door construction reduced the problems often seen with seasonal expansion and contraction of wood doors. A frame and panel door features vertical wood stiles and horizontal rails that form one or more frames around thinner recessed inner panels. Doors usually have between one and eight panels, and the door is often referred to by the number of panels it contains. The front door of the Pearl S. Buck House is a common six-panel door, in which the top four panels are proportioned to delineate a cross and the lower two panels represent the open Bible. Popular in colonial America, this style of door is called a Colonial door, or Christian door, or cross-and-Bible door and remains the dominant method of door construction today.

This beautiful entrance way, includes transom lights (a series of small fixed window panes) often found positioned directly above a door or window. The seven glass window panes, or lights in the transom, and the four sidelights which flank each side of the front door, have both an aesthetic and practical use. Aesthetically the light surround creates an impression of a larger door and often creating a sense of symmetry for a visitor approaching the home. For practical reasons, homes with transoms and sidelights filled the interior with light and heat, at a time when such resources were directly provided during the hours of sunlight. In addition, the sidelights served as a means of early security, when the home owner could look out and identify the caller without opening the door.

The hardware of the front door includes an oversized brass knocker, and a mortise lock which receives a large and heavy brass casted skeleton key. Unseen is the large slide bolt  on the interior side of the door. The large caged lantern light above, in thick blown glass reflects the occupant’s preference to function in design so often seen at Green Hills Farm. This is a typical and simple barn lantern, fitted at the base of the vaulted ceiling and center overhead, to create an effect of full light and welcoming warmth. Even the clean lines of the door’s architrave trim, basic but majestic in outline are also seen in the cantilever brackets.

A unique and grand cantilevered pediment roof is also present over the north door entrance, which echoes the dormer windows above. The underside of the pediment is barrel vaulted and fitted with wood panel slates. These architectural features again serve both a practical and aesthetic purpose, in that the barrel shape lightens the overhead weight of the roof, while creating height and brief protection for visitors standing outside. The front door appears to be the original pediment of the home with large corbel brackets, both weight bearing and decorative, replacing the columns that once stood there. This style of entryway is repeated on a smaller scale at the “Bell Door” located on the west side of the home as well.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Dutch Doors

The Pennsylvania Dutch influence on Revolutionary-era architecture resulted in the fascinating examples of the Dutch doors at the Pearl S. Buck House. Also called stable or half doors, they are characteristic of this era’s architecture in Pennsylvania and the surrounding regions. They represent the culturally Dutch style, as they were first made in the Netherlands and often featured in Dutch genre paintings.

They are both attractive and practical, acting as gate and window when necessary. The horizontal split of upper and lower sections allowed the top half to be opened for fresh air and light, while keeping children in and animals out.

The door is often a symbol of welcome into a house – crossing the threshold marks the transition not just between exterior and interior, but between trespasser and welcome guest. 

Pearl Buck reports that prior to her inhabitance, the interior drawers under the south terrace windows were evidently used to hold cash, “farm help was paid each week through the upper part of the Dutch door.” This scenario, another practical use of the Dutch door, is an interesting way of separating worker from landowner, master from servant. The workers were not invited into the house for their pay, but received it standing outside, barred by the lower half of the door. Thus this architectural detail allowed for the reinforcement of the barrier between social classes as well.

Another Dutch door on the property is now the breezeway entrance to Pearl Buck’s office. She had it relocated from its original place during the extensive house renovations, and had glass installed in the top panel. This way, she could see who was knocking or approaching her door as she sat at her desk. In this instance, the top half of the door could have been a way to screen visitors and either allow them entrance or keep them out.

A third Dutch door can be found on the interior ground floor of the Cultural Center. This once exterior door features hand wrought hinges and metal workings on a weathered wood door with faint evidence of barn red paint. This door has also been relocated from another entrance of the former barn, which now serves as a meeting center.

The multifunctional Dutch door can create barriers or eliminate them. Their original purpose was closer to the former, but Pearl Buck was an early supporter of ‘repurposing.’ She spent her life working to eliminate barriers of ignorance and prejudice. The people she employed were not paid outside the door; the children she fostered and adopted were welcomed with an open door, eventually leading to the formation of Welcome House. She kept the original Dutch doors at Green Hills Farm, perhaps because she enjoyed the history and the style, but reused them in a way uniquely her own.
-Anne Wallentine


  •  Buck, Pearl S. Transcript of tape made April 8, 1972 at Green Hills Farm, Dublin, Pennsylvania.
  • “‘Dutch’ door [American] (34.79a,b).” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.,b
  • Rhodes, Donna Carcaci. Personal interview
Artifact of the Month - Ranulph De Bayeux Bye (American 1916-2003)

Ranulph Bye was born 1916 in Princeton New Jersey. He graduated from the Philadelphia College of Arts and attended the Arts Students League in New York City. In 1953 he was elected to the American Watercolor Society and was a member of the National Academy of Design. He taught at Moore College of Art for thirty years. Over his career he painted between 2,700 and 4,000 watercolors and oils. Bye is said to have preferred watercolor to other mediums because it provided greater freedom from the technical demands of oil painting.

In 1699 Bye’s ancestors purchased land in what is now Bucks County from William Penn. Bye moved to the area in 1931 and considered the area home. This is where he found many of his subjects. Due to his strong ties to the area, Bye worked to preserve the essence of Bucks County through his paintings. In Bucks County Watercolor, Bye painted over 240 historically significant subjects in watercolor bordered and cornered with Mercer tile. The watercolor, set in both winter and spring, symbolizes the historic character of the county. Green Hills Farm (The Pearl S. Buck house) is depicted in the painting.

In 1984 during a special reception the Pearl S. Buck House released both limited and open edition format reproductions of the watercolor measuring 39” x 24” inches. The original hangs in the Bucks County Courthouse. Reproductions abound especially in the Bucks County area. Pearl S. Buck International owns two limited edition prints.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Christine - The Broadway Musical

There are few authors who have writings that include novels of fiction and non-fiction, radio broadcasts, speeches, poetry, short stories, translations, juvenile writings, serial writings and dramatic adaptations. Pearl S. Buck was accomplished in all of these areas.

This two act eighteen scene musical written by Pearl S. Buck and Charles Peck Jr. with direction of Jerome Choorov, composed by Sammy Fain and lyricist Paul Francis Webster was a first Broadway musical for film star Maureen O’Hara. The production was based on the 1945 novel "My Indian Family" by Hilda Wernher staring Maureen O’Hara in her first musical role, Nancy Andrews and Morely Meredith.

The first performance was at the Erlanger Theater, in Philadelphia on March 21 1960. The play then moved on to Broadway at the 46th Street Theater in New York City, on April 28, 1960 for twelve performances. Although the short lived production was not received with critical acclaim; Buck did not shy away from the play writing genre, always seeking to broaden her audience.

Ms. Buck lived in a time period that spanned from radio into film. History and economics not only effected the development of stage and the transition into film making but also the content and theme of the plays being written as well.

In the 1930s the number of Broadway affiliates affected by the stock market crash was uncountable. The 1929-30 season produced 233 productions. The 1930-31 season was reduced to 187 productions. It has been said that the talent that Hollywood absorbed into the film industry from Broadway was in the vicinity of 75%.

This decline in new productions set a trend that would continue for quite some time and affect the development of the film industry for actors and writers alike.
Theaters previously owned for Vaudeville entertainment were newly wired for the presentation of new "talking" pictures.

Other theater guilds and writers’ guilds were producing for stage in a very separate and distinct industry. While some actors failed in “talking pictures” other flourished; while some writers pursued writing for film, others stayed with stage writing. Thus the birth of the screenwriter and of “talking pictures” began and flourished.

The political climate at the time and the social changes of many cultures became reflective in the film and stage industry. The work of Pearl S. Buck in stage reflects a time line of world events.

The themes of war are most prevalent as was the issue of the day; Japan invading China, the demise of empires, the timeless struggle for independence, for democracy and for personal freedoms. Many of Ms. Buck’s popular novels continued in her creative mind to translate into stage productions as well.

Ms. Buck has referred to her “thirty plays” in her writings. Here is a partial list and collaborative dramatic adaptations known to date, that reflect her stage writing from 1932-1965. The subjects remain timeless, the characters remain true.

Atomic Quest, 1957
The Big Wave, 1956
Brouhana, 1960 (play)
Children of Malta (one-act play)
China Speaks to America, 1943
Christine, 1960 (Broadway musical)
The Crystal Heart, 1937 (play)
A Desert Incident, 1959 (play)
The Empress, 1937 (play)
The First Wife, 1945 (play)
Flight into China, 1939 (play, collaboration with Lin Yutang)
The Good Earth, 1932 (play)
The Great House (play)
The Guide, 1965 (play, adaptation of the novel by R.K. Narayan)
My Indian Family, 1957 (play based on Hilda Wernher’s novel)
Shadows Marching, 1937 (play)
Sun Yat-Sen, 1944 (play)
Unknown title, senior class production, c. 1913-14 (written with a classmate at Randolph-Macon)
Voices in the House (play)
The White Bird, 1958
Will This Earth Hold 1944

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Heitland "Life for Life"

Wilmat Emerton Heitland ( American 1893 – 1969 )
“Life for Life: Illustration for Collier’s magazine, circa 1923
Oil on canvas
22 x 30 inches (55.9 x 76.2 cm)

This painting, signed W. Emerton Heitland, was created for the use of Collier’s magazine as the title illustration to English author John Galsworthy’s short story “Life for Life” published in the April 21, 1923 issue.

Wilmat Emerton Heitland was born in Superior, Wisconsin and studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Heitland began painting illustrations for Collier’s Weekly in 1922. This was followed by work for most of the major magazines including Cosmopolitan, McCalls and others.He incorporated the Art Deco style in his illustrations using heavy outlines and strong red, purple and blue colors. Heitland was also a master watercolorist and his work is represented in several museums including the Brooklyn Museum, Art Institute of Chicago and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The story tells of a young, gypsy dancer, a war spy scheduled to be shot, who is being held overnight in a convent until her dawn execution. As a last wish, she dances for the nuns and, through her dancing, inspires the youngest and prettiest of the nuns to leave the convent after the execution, thus choosing a life for a life.

Pearl Buck’s husband, Richard Walsh, was the editor of Collier’s magazine at this time. Walsh introduced Galsworthy, who would eventually earn the 1932 Nobel Prize for literature, to America through the short stories which he published.

Literary references: The painting and short story are mentioned by Pearl S. Buck in “A Walking Tour of Pearl S. Buck’s Home in the Words of Pearl S. Buck.”

Contributors: Volunteers Sandra Weikel, Adrienne Lape Staff: Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Stained Glass Panels from Delancey Place Philadelphia

In 1860, 32 years before the birth of Pearl S. Buck, a Philadelphia businessman, Richard Cadwalter built a richly appointed town home in the Federal Style of architecture at 2019 Delancey Place, Philadelphia. 58 years later in 1918, across the globe in China, Ms. Buck was still a young newlywed when the home was remodeled in Philadelphia in the French Beaux Arts Style, still evident in the façade of the home today.

The home with 9,000 square feet of living space also included a chapel with eight large stained glass windows in a floral motif. Each panel measures 68”H x W 25”. The chapel featured eight panels bursting with fragments of color and design.

In 1964 nearly 100 years after the home was built, Pearl S. Buck purchased the property as the original location headquarters of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation.

Remodeling occurred throughout the home to suit the needs of Ms.Buck and her staff. Fine sculpture and art from her international travels combined with rich furnishings created a spectacular environment leaving a lasting impression on anyone who visited.

Ms. Buck often spent the night in her “townhome” when the return to her “home in the country” was difficult after a long work day, or when the diversion of the cityscape persuaded her. Both country and city homes had, perhaps coincidentally, entrances marked with sycamore trees. The sycamore has long been culturally association with protection and favors. Lining the streets in her childhood town of Zhenjiang China, sycamore trees still arch over the streets in great abundance today.

The original stained glass panels held centrally placed, oval religious images which she exchanged with her chop- her name- etched in glass, in the ancient Chinese seal style. The chapel was used by Ms. Buck as a breakfast room and a vivid home to exotic plants and birds.

A former visitor to the Delancey Place home recalled the chapel and the former owners Samuel and Florence Regalbuto. The Regalbuto’s, like Pearl Buck who would come after them, sponsored families that were making a new life in the United States from Italy. They provided them with job information and guidance for a start in a new country.

“Mr. Regalbuto and his wife, Florence were our sponsors from Italy in 1956. I recall going into the chapel with Mrs. Regalbuto and we would knell and pray together. They were kind and generous people. I was a young child but I remember the sun beautifully streaming in through the windows while we prayed. Years later Mrs. Regalbuto became a nun of the Catholic faith after her husband passed away.”
Franca Gullotta Wilson

The panels were relocated to Pearl S. Buck International the site of Ms. Buck’s country property in 2007 after a wave of new owner remodeling deemed them as unwanted. They remained in storage until 2010 when four of the eight panels were installed for permanent public viewing in the Welcome Center of Pearl S. Buck International.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Ediphone

This unusual-looking device, called an Ediphone, was a dictation device manufactured by Thomas A. Edison, Inc., of West Orange, New Jersey. The Ediphone was an improvement on Edison’s phonograph and recorded on the same type of wax cylinders used by the Edison Company from 1888 until they ceased manufacturing phonographs in the United States in 1929.

Edison’s phonograph, and the Ediphone, employed a speaking tube into which a narrator spoke (or a musician played) and a “floating stylus” which moved back and forth along a rod, making an inscription on a rotating cylinder of wax. Using a different setting for the stylus allowed the playback of the recording that had been made. As a medium for the recording and reproduction of music, the phonograph was quickly superseded by the gramophone (invented by Emile Berliner in 1887 and first sold to the public in 1893), which used a flat disc rather than a cylinder. But as a medium for dictation wax cylinders continued to be used for many years, due to the fact that after the recording had been transcribed, the wax cylinder could be shaved down and reused.

The six patent numbers listed on the Ediphone, ranging in date from 1914 to 1927, represent various improvements in the mechanism of the device (notably in the support of the recording mechanism and the speaking tube used by the narrator), and the date of the latest patent indicates that this machine was made within the last two years of Edison’s production. The fifth patent, dating from 1921, is an improvement to the control mechanism, “especially adapted for starting and stopping the movement” of the recording device, a useful improvement for a dictation device. On one of the accessories is the name “Executive Ediphone,” which indicates that this is a deluxe version of the Ediphone. (The deluxe aspect of this device may refer to the rack attached to the frame of the stand that has slots to hold the cardboard tubes in whi ch the wax cylinders were kept.) The Ediphone is missing a few parts, but is largely complete, and even retains a few of the wax cylinders.

The Ediphone was donated to Pearl S. Buck International this Spring by George Galla, who for many years took care of the grounds at Green Hills Farm, and his wife Florence, who was Pearl Buck’s housekeeper. According to the Gallas, Pearl Buck had the device in the early 1950s, but didn’t like using it for transcription. In 1954, when the next generation of dictation devices came out, she said to George, “Mr. Galla, get rid of this thing.” George Galla took it home with him and stored it in his basement for the next 58 years, ultimately insuring its survival.

The cardboard casings that house the wax cylinders are printed with the words as quoted and signed by creator Thomas A. Edison : “An Ediphone at a man’s desk tells the world he values his time”- an interesting footnote to the Ediphone that was once used by one of the greatest authors in the 20th century; Pearl S. Buck.

Gary A. Albright
PSBI Archives Volunteer

Artifact of the Month - The Good Earth: Paperback Accessibility

In 1938 the United States adopted the Penguin Book idea of paperback books as published in England.

With the U.S. creation of Pocket Books, literature could reach the masses when paperbacks began publishing great novels for the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

The first Pocket Book title was The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, and it was first sold in Macy’s New York. Richard Walsh the publisher of John Day Company was largely instrumental in this marketing revolution.

Unlike Penguin, Pocket Books were lavishly illustrated with bright covers. Other U.S. paperback companies followed Pocket’s lead, and like Penguin, the books were carried by many of all economic status.

During World War II, the paperback novels were small enough to be stowed in the pocket of a uniform and were carried by soldiers all over the world. They could be carried in the bag in which gas masks were carried and above the left knee of battle dress.

In 1940, Penguin launched novels for children, Puffin Picture Books, which children facing evacuation could carry with them to their new, uncertain homes. During the times of paper rationing, Penguin fared better than its competitors, and the books’ simple design allowed Penguin to easily accommodate typographic restrictions.

The mobility, accessibility and price of the books also appealed to depression era salaries and the sensibilities of paper use and production. The paperback, on both continents, was here to stay. Many feel this helped contribute to the overwhelming popularity of the book The Good Earth.

Facts about The Good Earth:

• Published on March 2, 1931 by John Day Company of NY
• Ms. Buck typed two copies and wrote the book in three months.
• The second copy is unaccounted for.
• Was the bestselling book of both 1931 and 1932
• Sold nearly 2million copies its first year in publication
• In January 1937 MGM created the film version of the film
• Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932
• Was awarded the William Dean Howells Award in 1935
• Was part of the collective works of Ms. Buck, garnering The Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938
• Was the second most widely read book of the 20th century
• Was the first US paperback novel under the production of Pocket Books
• Ms. Buck was the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize and the first to win both the Nobel and the Pulitzer. She held that distinction until 1993.
• Returned to the best seller list in 2004 as an Oprah’s Book Club Selection Book
• In the first 18 months of publication PSB earned well over $100,000.
• $40,000 of which went to the permanent care of her daughter Carole
• PSB was living in China and very detached from the excitement that was generated upon publication.
• PSB wrote TGE in her Nanjing home attic in a room about 12’ x 12’ overlooking Purple Mountain in the distance.

About the Publication Process

Pearl S. Buck’s literary agent David Lloyd sent her first novel East Wind West Wind to more than two dozen publishers in NY “every publisher in NY” she later wrote. John Day Company was the last on the list and Pearl S. Buck had decided that if NY as a whole turns down her work she would withdraw the novel. John Day Company accepted the novel.

The staff was evenly divided and publisher Richard Walsh cast the deciding vote to accept the novel on the premise that he was not entirely taken with the novel, but he recognized the potential in her writing. He suggested the original title of Winds of Heaven be changed to East Wind West Wind.

Walsh had three concerns over accepting her second novel. He wrote that the title of Wang Lung was “quite impossible” as it was similar in pronunciation to “one lung in the English language” and “open to humorous remarks.” He wanted a title with “a good deal of sweep and romance” and proposed something like The Good Earth. He suggested cuts in the second half of the novel where he believed the pace of the narrative became too slow. Pearl S. Buck agreed with all of his suggestions.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes, Curator
Pearl S. Buck House National Historic Landmark

The Archives of Pearl S. Buck International
The Smithsonian Archives

Artifact of the Month - Mother and Child

Madeline A. Smith (American 1920 - )
Mother and Child (1990)
Bronze overlay, epoxy
65” (165 cm)

Pearl S. Buck International is proud to own three sculptures crested by the Bucks County artist Madeline Smith.

One of the three, an outdoor Smith sculpture, is our featured Artifact of the Month. This stylized life size sculpture of Pearl S. Buck with small child, has arguably become the signature sculpture of the Pearl S. Buck House. The sculpture is very often photographed in its south- east location, seen upon entering the National Historic Landmark Home of Ms. Buck.

Dedicated on October 20, 1990 this mother with small child signifies the children Ms. Buck devoted her life to serving. The open hand of the child holds a butterfly, symbolic of the fragile, fleeting moments of childhood and the metamorphosis of the lives of the children Ms. Buck served. Although the sculpture is stylized in its representation, the artist borrowed a shoe from the wardrobe of Ms. Buck to base the scale and proportion of the sculptural from.

A bronze finished bust of Pearl S. Buck and the first Pearl S. Buck Woman’s Award in 1979 which depicts a biracial child with a bowl of rice, are the other two Smith works at Pearl S. Buck International.

A second duplicate bust was presented at the October 19, 2008 grand opening of the Pearl S. Buck Museum Zhenjiang China, the hometown of Pearl S. Buck, where it is now on display.

Smith studied portraiture and painting throughout the United States with notables Ben Soloway, Dr. Jacques Dowling and William Smith (her late husband). She sculpted two Presidents’ heads; Abraham Lincoln (which was exhibited in the U.S. House of Representatives) and the bas relief profile of Richard Nixon. In 1976 Mrs. Smith was named to The World’s Who’s Who of Women.

Smith sculpted a bust of internationally acclaimed artist Selma Burke, who also has a sculpture on the grounds of Pearl S. Buck International.

Smith was inspired by Bucks work and met the author on one occasion on the terrace of her Bucks County home in the early 1970’s. She relayed that Ms. Buck was trying to escape the crowd after a brief public address and Smith stopped her before she entered her office.

The sculpture remained sheeted in the studio of Smith until it was admired by Bucks County business entrepreneurs Bob and Joyce Byers of Byers Choice. After explaining the source of inspiration for the sculpture, Mother and Child was gifted by the Byers Foundation to the Pearl S. Buck House historic landmark. The stone pediment was quarried on Green Hills Farm.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Katagami Stencil Art

Unidentified Artist (Japan ese pre 1900)
Isekatagami or Katagami (stencils)
Washi (processed paper)
Floral Stencil 16” L x 9.6” H (40.6 cm x 24.4 cm)
Abstract Fish Stencil 16.25” x 11.5” (41.3 cm x 27.9 cm)

Katagami are intricate Japanese paper stencils. Tradition dates katagami to the Nara era (710-794 A.D.). The first definitive reference to katagami, dating to the 1500’s, is a painting depicting craftsmen using katagami to print fabric for kimono. The first recorded discovery of a katagami stencil is one found in 1595 in the Ise Province (now Mie Prefecture). The term Isekatagami usually indicates early stencils from the Ise Province. Katagami is a more generic term used to describe the technique regardless of origin. The techniques of katagami, often referred to as Isekatagami because of the connection to Ise, eventually spread throughout the country.

Antique katagami stencils are rare, as often the craftsmen, in an attempt to protect their designs, would destroy the stencils after limited use.

To create the stencils three sheets of handmade mulberry paper are glued together using a paste made from persimmon tannin. After a thorough soaking the sheets are dried in the sun, and then cured using wood smoke. This results in a reddish brown flexible paper that is waterproof and reportedly antibacterial.

The designs are cut using specialized knives and punches. In order to stabilize the pattern when printing, human hair was originally tied to hold the fine components in place. Later katagami used silk thread. Modern katagami uses a different process of affixing the stencil to silk netting.

A close inspection of the Pearl S. Buck collection katagami clearly shows the horizontal threads. It is undetermined whether the threads are human hair or silk.

The earliest Isekatagami were used to apply designs to leather goods for Samurai. The techniques were soon used for the printing of fabric. Antique katagami are treasured as art in of themselves. Modern katagami stencils are also collected. They are still being used to decorate objects varying from textiles to lampshades.

Donna D ‘Angelo
Volunteer and Tour Docent at Pearl S. Buck International

Artifact of the Month - Painting of a Landscape with Scholars

Chinese School, Late Ming [1368-1644/ Early Quing [1644-1911] Dynasty)
16th/17th century
Ink and color on paper
52 x 18 3/4 inches (132.1cm x 47.6cm)

This framed hanging scroll painting of a landscape with scholars in their studios is in the manner of the Ming Master Wen Zhengming (1470-1599).

Based on the principals of Chinese painting, in particular noting the principal of division and planning, the arrangement of the scholars to composition, space and depth, appears as a cross section into the studios that the scholars occupy. We have a view into the arrangement, like a doll house or a grand tree house with rooms.

The paper and mount are now, after many years, water stained, but the painting is still vibrant and energetic, further exemplifying a second principal, that of spirit resonance. The vitality of the view seems to translate from the artist into the work, to the viewer.

Little is known about how Ms. Buck acquired this scroll. It is believed she took the artwork with her from China when she moved to the United States in 1934. Artwork adapted into a scroll medium is widely collected due to the fact they are easy for their owners’ to transport and protect from damage.

This piece is recently back on display in its original location after several years of awaiting framing in storage.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Pearl S. Buck Elementary School - Levittown, PA

In the late 1960s the Neshaminy School District decided that it needed a new elementary school to handle the increase in students in the district. The school was intended for children from kindergarten to grade 6 (it now houses grades K-5), and was designed to hold about 600 students. The school board decided to name the school after one of Buck’s County’s most famous residents, Pearl S. Buck.

To design the school the district chose the architectural firm of Buchart Associates of York, Pennsylvania, with William C. Ehret, Inc., as the general contractor for the construction.

The design that Buchart Associates came up with for the school is an unusual, modern one: the building consists of two wings in the form of a dodecagon (a 12-sided figure) joined at their lower corners by a third, rectangular wing. Each of the 12-sided wings consists of a central hub (occupied by the library in one and an art room in the other) surrounded by a corridor, with classrooms arranged radially on the outside of the corridor. Access between the two wings was provided by a long straight corridor which ran along the top edge of the rectangular connector. The rectangular wing contained the main entrance and lobby, faculty and staff offices, kitchen and cafeteria, and a large multi-purpose room.

The school, which cost $2,070,000, was intended to open on September 4, 1969, but delays in the construction (including strikes by bricklayers and pavers) delayed the opening by about two weeks. In the interim, the students who were supposed to attend the Buck School had to instead attend the Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School, on Woodbourne Road in Middletown Township. The unexpected influx of 600 students forced the Eisenhower School to operate on a split schedule, with Eisenhower students attending in the morning and Buck students attending in the afternoon.

The Pearl S. Buck Elementary School held its official dedication on April 26, 1970, with its namesake as the guest of honor. The program began with two introductory speakers: Larry Brossman, President of the Middletown Township school board, and Dr. Charles H. Bryan, superintendent of the Neshaminy School District. They were introduced by Robin Graham, a sixth-grade student. Following their remarks, another sixth-grade student, Kimberly Ritrievi, introduced Pearl Buck, who spoke and then answered questions from students. The program also included the presentation of the key to the school to Principal Joseph Botzer by architect Nelson McCloskey of Buchart Associates, an invocation by the Reverend Philip Weiss of the Oxford Valley Chapel in Levittown, and music performed by the school band under the direction of teacher John Brill.

Throughout her life Pearl S. Buck was a fervent advocate of education for all. As a classroom assistant in her youth to teaching until she wrote full time, her dedication was evident. Attendees recall her genuine appreciation of the honor of having a school in Bucks County, her home for more than 30 years, named in her honor.

Gary A. Albright
PSBI Archives Volunteer

Artifact of the Month - The Order of Jade

Awarded 1941

Pearl S. Buck was one of several hundred members of 8 Chinese war relief organizations established in the United Sates from approximately 1940 to 1945.

She allowed and encouraged her name to be used as endorsement to raise funds, increase membership and strengthen the success of these organizations. These funds were used for medical and food provisions all purchased and manufactured in the United States and then sent to China.

The American funds raised were distributed and supervised through the American Red Cross. American Red Cross funds were divided into many needy countries at war. Ms. Buck her husband Richard Walsh and other US citizens believed more funds should be sent to China as they suffered losses through the Japanese conflict and occupation. Thus the following organizations were established:

United China Relief (UCR) one organization of eight fund raising groups:

Of these 8 groups Pearl S. Buck was very active in The Book of Hope group:

Book of Hope (subsidiary of the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China), summer/fall 1940 raised $100,000 by soliciting $100 each from 1,000 women.

Pearl Buck and her husband Richard J. Walsh began and organized the China Emergency Relief Committee and the fund raising of this organization:

China Emergency Relief Committee (CERC), announced in November 1940, initiated by PSB & Richard J. Walsh, established a goal to raise $1 million in six months.

The UCR debut dinner of March 1941 had announced a new goal to raise $5 million. These were funds raised in the US, provisions manufactured in the US and then sent by the US to China. It was at this dinner for the UCR that Chinese ambassador Hu Shih under direction from Chiang Kai- shek, announced that the Chinese government had decided to award PSB the Order of Jade for her role of service to the Chinese people.

Others that had received the Order of Jade for this effort were Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1941 with PSB) and Dr. Maurice William (1942).
Other recipients of this award include:

1937 Fletcher Brockman (1867-1944)
1938 Kenneth Scott Latourette (1884-1968)
1938 Ernest Hatch Wilkins (1880-1966)
1940 Robert A. Millikan (1868-1953) recipient, 1923 Nobel Prize
1940 Edwin Merton McBrier (1865-1956)
1940 Dr. Roy L. Smith (1887-1963)
Date? Dr. Jacob Casson Geiger (1885-1981)

Also awarded with the red white and blue cravat is the corresponding ribbon rosette which is worn by the recipient on less formal occasions.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Cheval Fire Screen

Artifact of the Month - Fire ScreenArtist unknown
Cheval Fire screen circa mid 20th century
36” x 38” (91.44 x 96.52)
From the Delancey Place residence of Pearl S. Buck,
the original headquarters of The Pearl S. Buck Foundation 

This fire screen is in the design popularly used in the 18th century and known as a cheval style fire screen. Cheval is the French word for horse, acknowledging reference to the four supports akin to horse hoofs at the base of the screen.

Many fire screens made of metal or non flammable materials were used functionally to shield log burning heat away from the occupants of the room and to contribute to an even heat distribution throughout the room. These screens, although functional were also decorative additions to the room.

Fire screens used solely for décor were often elaborately designed and used to hide the unsightly fireplace ashes or darkened surrounds from view.

This two sided decorative fire screen is filled with the rich symbolical imagery of China.

The cinnabar color seen in the background was first used in China during the Song Dynasty and is still widely used today. The high gloss paint finish is in the style of Chinese lacquer while the bamboo carved frame signifies resilience and flexibility.

The reverse of the screen has a black lacquer background with vibrant green bamboo leaves carved and then painted onto the screen.

The richly carved gilded wood images include many symbols that communicate specific meaning based on their location. For example a crane alone communicates longevity, but a crane within a pine tree as seen in this screen, communicates determination, wealth and power. 

The pine tree speaks to a well lived and happy life, while the surrounding lotus blossoms tell us that purity of heart, honor and tranquility fill this happy life as well.

Witnessed in all cultures from the birth of man, symbols communicate and educate without the barriers of literacy in language or the written word.  From the Spanish and French parietal art of 30,000 BCE, to the images depicted on this screen today, the importance of story is ultimate in communication and arguably the most universally understood.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Four Swedish Songbooks

In 1938 Pearl S. Buck became the third American, and the first American woman, to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Buck and her husband, Richard J. Walsh, traveled to Sweden by way of England and Denmark and spent four days in Stockholm in December of that year. Those four days were very busy, but were a very happy time for her. Crammed into that brief visit were the Nobel award ceremony and Buck’s acceptance speech, a state banquet with the King and royal family of Sweden, Buck’s address to the Swedish Academy (at which she gave a talk on “The Chinese Novel”), and a dinner with the Swedish-American society.

While in Stockholm Buck obtained four books of Swedish children’s songs to add to her library of sheet music. These books, entitled “Sjung med oss, Mamma” (“Sing with us, Mama’), were the first four volumes in a series of nine published between 1892 and 1934 by the Swedish music publisher Seelig & Company. (These volumes were published in 1892, 1893, 1895, and 1897, respectively.) Each of the books has 16-20 short songs in Swedish, arranged for voice and piano. The music for the songs was written by Alice Tegner (1864-1931), one of Sweden’s most noted composers of children’s music; the lyrics were a mixture of traditional songs, originals by Tegner, and adaptations of texts by other writers, including Viktor Rydberg.

Each of the four books contains handwritten notations in pencil, possibly by Richard Walsh, with notes about the songs or translations of the lyrics. One of the songs in the first songbook, “Julafton” (“Christmas Eve”), has the comment that “Lucia and the boys of star sung [sic.] this old song for Pearl Buck at the swedish-american dinner.” The comment about “Lucia and the boys of star” is a reference to the festival of Saint Lucia held on December 13, one of the major celebrations held during the Christmas season in Sweden. In each Swedish town a girl is elected to play Lucia. She wears a white robe and a crown of candles on her head and leads a procession of women, men, girls, and the star boys. The star boys also dress in white robes and wear a cone-shaped hat with golden stars on it; they also carry sticks with a golden star on top. The star boys are believed to be based on the Three Magi and were originally associated with St. Stephan’s Day (December 26), but are now almost exclusively connected with the Lucia festival in Sweden.

Pearl Buck writes in her autobiography My Several Worlds about the Lucia festival and the dinner that she attended. “On the morning of the twelfth of December, the day before we were to leave Stockholm, I rose early, having been gently forewarned . . . The door opened at eight o’clock and a pretty girl entered, wearing a crown of lighted candles on her head, and bearing in her hands a silver tray with coffee cups. She walked with slow and graceful steps, singing “Santa Lucia” as she came. . . . Thus opened the Santa Lucia Festival, or the Festival of Light, so significant in a winter-darkened country. . . . In the evening there was to be a great banquet in the City Hall to celebrate the festival and crown the queen [the Lucia for the city], and I was invited, too.” Buck found this banquet a pleasant contrast to the formality of the Nobel ceremonies. “The vast hall was crowded with people sitting closely packed around the simply set tables where we dined. Music and laughter and speeches went on in enjoyable confusion while the pretty queen was crowned, and I saw a different Sweden, a popular one, very free and easy and gay.” It was likely some time after the coronation that Lucia and the star boys sang “Julafton” to Pearl Buck. Buck was charmed by the celebration and stated in My Several Worlds that “the four days in Stockholm in the year 1938 remain my most perfect single recollection.” Buck’s brief time in Sweden must have seemed like a flicker of light and hope in a world in which a shadow had descended over Europe and war had already broken out in Asia. The four Swedish songbooks, with their handwritten notations, were a tangible memento of those four happy days.

Gary A. Albright
PSBI Archives Volunteer

Artifact of the Month - Phonograph Recording: China's Children

At a casual glance this record may look like a typical music LP of the kind in common use prior to the development of the digital compact disc. This would not be surprising, since Pearl S. Buck and her family owned a large number of musical recordings (see Artifact of the Month, July 2010, The Pearl S. Buck and Walsh Family Phonograph Collection). But a careful look reveals a feature that indicates that this is not an ordinary record: its size, 16 inches in diameter as opposed to the standard LP’s 12-inch diameter. The large size is, in fact, a format used for radio broadcasts and to accompany filmstrips; it enabled a longer play time before the record needed to be changed. And what is preserved on this record is not music, but a work by Pearl S. Buck, a non-fiction piece entitled “China’s Children.”

In 1941 Buck and her husband, Richard J. Walsh, founded an organization called the East and West Association. The goal of this organization was to promote Asian-American relations by helping Americans to better understand Asian peoples, especially the people of China and India. The East and West Association used many means to accomplish its goal, sponsoring lectures and cultural performances and producing pamphlets, magazines, and filmstrips. Among the latter was a series of five 35mm filmstrips, each about 15 minutes long , collectively titled “Through China’s Gateway,” written and narrated by Pearl Buck, with film produced by the Telefilm Corporation of New York. The piece on this record, “China’s Children,” was the second part of “Through China’s Gateway.” It describes the customs and daily lives of Chinese children, discussing topics such as games, music, and occupations. It emphasizes the part that Chinese children will play in the future of their country, and stresses the need for more schools and better social services. The film series was copyrighted by Telefilm in 1947, and entered into the Library of Congress catalogue that same year.

The record, a single-sided, 33-1/3 rpm, long-playing phonograph record, is an NBC Orthacoustic recording, produced by the NBC Radio-Recording Division in New York City. The larger size was required to produce a longer playing time prior to the introduction of the microgroove LP by Columbia Records in 1948. Because of its special format, a radio studio player is required to play the recording.

It is possible that “China’s Children” had its origin prior to the production of “Through China’s Gateway” in 1947. Pearl Buck gave a number of radio broadcasts during the 1940s, many of them sponsored by the East and West Association. Among them was a CBS Radio broadcast of March 5, 1941, listed in the previous day’s issue of the Corning, NY, “Evening Leader” newspaper as “Pearl Buck on China’s Children.” Although one cannot be sure without comparing the texts of the radio broadcast (which predates the incorporation of the East and West Association) and the filmstrip recording, Pearl Buck’s text for the radio broadcast may have represented an earlier incarnation of the story of “China’s Children” that is preserved on this recording.

Gary A. Albright
PSBI Archives Volunteer

Artifact of the Month - PSB5: The Chrysler Crown Imperial Limousine

Sometimes it is worth acknowledging a component of a collection that no longer remains in the collection. This occurs as importance remains connected to the interpretation of the collection, or in this unique case, associated with the owner and a cause, at a specific time in history. The Chrysler Crown Imperial became part of a story that traveled through the United States, raised thousands of dollars for a new organization and showcased the success of a woman while assuring security in a new found investment.

In 1965 Ms. Buck ordered a Chrysler Crown Imperial limousine through Chrysler of New York. This rare and unique car was limited to ten manufactured vehicles. The license plate of the car read PSB5. The cost of this vehicle in 1965 was $18,500 and it averaged approximately 8 miles per gallon. For perspective of the cost, the average cost of a car in 1965 was $2,300 and the average cost of a home was $13, 600. Beginning in 1965 Ms. Buck traveled throughout the United Sates in this vehicle, accumulating over 150,000 miles in its journey from state to state, and raising money for the newly organized Pearl S. Buck Foundation. For Spacious Skies, A Journey in Dialogue, the 1966 novel by Ms. Buck, was written while traveling in this car and admiring the abundant majesty of her beloved America, her country of birth.

Ms. Buck sat directly behind the driver in the rear compartment. Sterling silver initials, P.S. B. identified the passenger and the owner on both rear doors and right side of the trunk.

The car was not stretched, but made on the frame of a convertible, because the x frame chassis was stronger than a regular Imperial chassis. The car was then built around the frame. Each Chrysler frame was shipped to Ghia to begin its personalized six month building process.

The front compartment is meticulously restored in original black pleated leather. The original interior of champagne colored hand sheared mouton carpeting in the rear passenger compartment, compliments the Italian silk and wool broadcloth upholstery. The eagle, the Chrysler symbol for this car is seen in the hood ornament, hub cap ornamentation and throughout the car. Each door took over 17 hours to hang to a 3mm gap and every vehicle had over 150 pounds of applied lead to the frame.

This black sedan was hand built in Italy by the coachbuilder/designer originating as Carrozzeria Ghia SpA established 1915 in Turin. It is one of the most famous Italian automobile design and coach building firms, established by Giacinto Ghia and Gariglio as Carrozzeria Ghia & Gariglio, now located in Turin.  Ghia initially made lightweight aluminum-bodied cars, achieving fame with the Alfa Romeo and eventually including the Ghia, Fiat, and Lancia .The factory was rebuilt, after being demolished in an air raid during World War II (1943).

There were 132 Ghia body limousines built between 1953 and 1965. The decade between 1953 and 1963 saw many foreign firms ordering Ghia designs, such as Ford (the Lincoln Futura concept car), Volkswagen (the Karmann Ghia), Volvo (the Volvo P1800) and Ferrari.

Chrysler and its designer Virgil Exner became a close partner for 15 years, resulting in Chrysler Ghia Specials (1951-53), the K-310, the Chrysler Norseman and ten Crown Imperial limousines. The ten owners of these Crown Imperial Limousines included Jacqueline Kennedy, the King of Saudi Arabia, Nelson Rockefeller and Pearl S. Buck among others.

Ghia also participated in the short-lived Dual-Ghia venture. Production by Ghia was always in very low numbers, giving the company's products even greater exclusivity than those of the other Italian coachbuilders.

In 1992 the car was fully restored to commemorate the 100th birthday of Ms. Buck by present owners and restorers Anita and Jan Witte.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - 'Johnny Jackson, His Beginnings'

Benjamin Kimberly Prins
“Johnny Jackson, His Beginnings” c.1954
Gouache on masonite
22” x 23 1/2;” (55.8 x 59.6 cm)
Kitchen, east wall

This illustration hung in the kitchen while the Walsh family occupied the home. It is based on a book about the expectation of a new sibling for the main character John Jackson nicknamed Johnny Jack. This book Johnny Jack and His Beginnings is about the beginning of life while another story published in the same volume was titled The Beech Tree, addressing the understanding of aging and nearing the end of life. Their intentional republication in one volume marked one of the first publications addressing birth and death for juvenile fiction at the time period of 1954.

Benjamin Kimberly Prins was born in Leiden, Holland in 1902. Prins studied at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts and Art Students League. Most of his career was spent in Wilton, Connecticut. His illustrations appeared on the covers of the Saturday Evening Post and in McCalls, Good Housekeeping, Readers Digest, and others. He died in New Canaan, Connecticut, in 1980. Kim Prins is a second generation artist. His father, Benjamin K. Prins, was a talented illustrator who produced scores of covers for The Saturday Evening Post and illustrated stories by some of the nation’s leading writers in other popular magazines of the day.

Kim studied with Frank Riley at the Art Students League on 57th Street in Manhattan and at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. In addition to painting portraits in his studio, Kim traveled widely to fill his many portrait commissions of business leaders, well-known political figures and members of socially prominent families. The artist’s distinctive signature “Prins the younger” can be seen on his work .

Donna Carcari Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Rice China

These porcelain dishes, known as rice china or rice grain porcelain, are unique from the other food service collections in the Pearl S. Buck House. The process of creating rice grain porcelain was developed in China in 960 AD and involves embedding grains of rice in the clay in creatively-placed designs.

The placement of the rice grain design compliments the Asian-inspired illustrations on each piece. During the firing process, the grains of rice will burn away and will leave small indentations and patterns in the finished product. When held up to a light source, the pattern is illuminated through the translucent designs made by the rice, while the remainder of the piece remains opaque.

The most popular designs for rice china collections feature a blue and white color scheme, decorated with a dragon, flower, or fish motif.

Pearl Buck enjoyed this collection of rice china in her home and often used it to serve meals to her family and guests.

“On weekends or days of special occasion Mother would use the rice china for our meals…”
-Richard S. Walsh, son of Pearl S. Buck and Richard J. Walsh

Sarah Fackler, Marketing/ Development and Writing Intern
Arcadia University ‘14
Major: English

Artifact of the Month - The Dutch Fluyt

Artist: Unknown
“The Dutch Fluyt”
Wood, leather
24” x 27” ( 60.96 cm x 68.58 cm)
The Small Library, east wall

A Dutch Fluyt is a three-masted, square-rigged merchant ship of the 17th century, designed by the Dutch to be economical in operation. Fluyts often carried the largest cargo and smallest crew possible. It had a wide, balloon-like hull rounding at the stern and bow and a very narrow, high stern. The fluyt was not a battle ship, it was lightly equipped with cannon, and could not defend well against attackers.

The model ship is made of wood with painted leather sails. Its many symbols are painted in white, yellow, blue, green, and red.

There is a foreign phrase painted on both sides of the ship. On the port side it relays “AS WERETS HEER DEN DUVEL LOOPT SEER OMTE VERSLINNEN.” On starboard side, the second half of the phrase is “RAST UTER WAPEN[?]HY CHRISTEN SCHAPEN WILT STRYT BEGINNEN.” The writing is of the 15th century Dutch language. Translated into English it conveys “When the Lord walks the world and the devil is preparing to devour you, let us Christian lambs begin the fight.”

On the first sail is an image of a red sun rising from a golden grail. This is the first image seen by approaching vessels. This conveys a Christian voyage as a priority of the journey. Painted on the middle sail is a shield commonly used by knights. This is known as a kite shield and likely conveys the family arms of the sponsor of the ship. On the third sail is the red cross of a crusader; symbolizing spreading the word of the Christian gospel.

The Crusades occurred in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries; however the cross was still used after the 13th century as a symbol of religious pilgrimage. During the middle ages the religious would wear the red cross and call themselves pilgrims. When these pilgrims began to come to America in search of a new life, a red cross would often appear on their ship, or sail.

This model ship was believed to have belonged by Pearl S. Buck’s husband Richard J. Walsh. Walsh was interested in adventure in literature as seen in the several books he authored; Kidd (a book of verse about the infamous pirate Captain), The Adventures of Marco Polo and The Making of Buffalo Bill. Ms. Buck was of maternal Dutch decent. It is possible both found this ship of interest.

The model ship is placed high on a shelf overlooking the room of the small library in Green Hills Farm, a favorite place for private reading and reference work, for both Mr. and Mrs. Walsh.

Brad Moran Solorzano
Council Rock High School North
Class of 2014

Artifact of the Month - Foreign Language Translations of Pearl S. Buck’s Written Works

True to her legacy as a woman of international prestige, Pearl S. Buck was a constant advocate of spreading her message globally. Her husband Richard J. Walsh, as an astute businessman and president of the John Day Company, knew that to accomplish this goal of international recognition and respect, the world needed access to her ever-growing collection of works.

With his guidance as publisher and as a member of the Advisory Council of the Foreign Language Information Services, most of her forty-three novels and hundreds of her publications were carefully translated into scores of other languages. This maneuver skyrocketed Ms. Buck onto the international stage. At the peak of her writing career, she became one of the most translated authors in the world. The Good Earth, her most well-known novel, was translated into more than 30 different foreign languages. Some of the languages, in which her works can be found include most European languages and several Asian languages such as Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, as well as Hindi, Arabic, and Persian, among others.

Although Ms. Buck never hesitated to allow her works to be translated, some beat her to the punch. A letter written in 1944 from Mikhail Apletin, the Vice-President of the Foreign Commission of the Union of Soviet Writers proves that Ms. Buck was not always consulted before her works were published in other countries. Apletin expressed much gratitude towards Ms. Buck, due to the enriching cultural impact her works were having on Russian society. He even went as far as to request that she send future copies of novels and articles.

Ms. Buck was undoubtedly surprised to find that her works had been translated into Russian, claiming, in her return letter that she had never heard anything regarding this case before. Despite the shock of the situation, Ms. Buck did not expose the slightest indignation that these publications had been taken without her permission. Quite to the contrary, she expressed nothing but the utmost pleasure at spreading her message globally, once again revealing that she was a true humanitarian and cross-cultural woman.

“Certainly the friendship and alliances between our two peoples must continue to grow and we must work together for a peaceful world, wherein the people of all countries can live and work in contentment and mutual friendship.”
--Pearl S. Buck in a letter to Mikhail Apletin, July 1944

Kirsten A. Howe, Curatorial Intern
Bryn Mawr College ‘13
Majors: Russian and History

Artifact of the Month - The Zitan Chairs of the Pearl S. Buck Collection

In both of the libraries of the Pearl S. Buck House, amidst her vast collection of books, are found four very unique chairs. Two are set flanking the zitan blackwood desk in the larger library, while the remaining two are housed in the Walsh’s smaller personal library. These chairs display the affinity that Ms. Buck felt towards the country that she considered her native land. Ms. Buck used these chairs in her home in Zhenjiang China and, as some of her favorite pieces; they followed her back to America when she made her final move in 1934.

These chairs are unique in several ways. The wood that they are comprised of is blackwood zitan (Pterocarpus), which is a type of Leguminosae, a member of the rosewood family. It originates from the rainforests of Southern China, as well as Indochina and islands located in the Indian Ocean. The zitan is a type of evergreen tree known for its extremely slow growth. It only reaches about 30 feet in height and 10 inches in diameter after a full 300 years. This slow growth is thought to contribute to the strength and beauty of the tree, as well as to its rarity.

The marble inlaid in the back of each chair is known as Yunnan marble. This represents a traditional art form in China. It is named from the Yunnan Province, which is thought to be the birthplace of this unique stone. Artisans would slice thin marble slabs to obtain a cross-section of the natural vein of this beautiful rock. The lines of Chinese texts are original poetry, usually describing what the artist views in the natural marble formation. Many of these scenes are inserted into frames, screens or furniture for their obvious aesthetic value.

These special chairs were used in the original Pearl S. Buck Foundation site in Philadelphia, and they are now in Green Hills Farm, the Pearl S. Buck National Historic Landmark Home in Perkasie Pennsylvania.

"How strange and rich my life is that it can contain such change, for I feel as easily at home in the library at 2019 Delancy Place [Philadelphia] as I felt in the attic room at 3, P’ing Ts’ang Hsiang, Nanking [China]. The atmosphere of quiet and time is the same in both old cities….At either end of the desk are two heavy blackwood chairs with Yunnan marble insets that stood in the hall of the Chinese house. Two more of the same chairs stand against the inner wall of the library…"
-Pearl S. Buck
The Sunday Bulletin Magazine 1965

In their proper place, they are found amongst many pieces from both Asian and Pennsylvanian cultures. This meeting of East and West, which is mirrored throughout the whole house, clearly defines and represents Ms. Buck’s true forward-thinking and cross-cultural understanding.

Kirsten Howe, Curatorial Intern
Bryn Mawr College ‘13

Artifact of the Month - The Mill Stones at Green Hills Farm

The state of Pennsylvania has a long history of the high quality stone that is still quarried today. This stone has produced homes, walkways and borders that are distinct in their beauty and prized among the best in the world. The stone of Bucks County, the location of Green Hills Farm is known for its stone of warm gold and blue colors.

The flag stone south terrace area of Green Hills Farm is typical in its geometric pattern and sturdy walk area. Upon a closer look the area reveals two large round mill stones that have been set into the terrace. The more detailed of the two is depicted here.

Millstones or mill stones were used in windmills and watermills, for grinding wheat or other grains into a finer grist powder for use in baking and cooking.

The millstone surface is divided by grooves called furrows into separate flat areas called lands. Spreading away from the furrows are smaller grooves called feathering or cracking. The furrows and lands are arranged in repeating patterns called harps. A typical millstone will have six, eight or ten harps. The grooves provide an edge to ground and channel the powder mixture (flour) out from the stones. When in regular use stones need to be dressed periodically, that is, re-cut to keep the grinding surfaces sharp.

The Walsh family members recall that the millstones were found on the expanse family property that at one time encompassed many farms totaling approximately 500 acres. Pearl Buck and her husband Richard Walsh enjoyed the history of the millstones and incorporated two of them found on their property into the terrace where they remain today.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Carved Ivory Indian Wedding Lamp

This carved ivory lamp was given to Ms. Buck as a gift while on location in India, working on the film The Guide.

The dark wood base supports an ivory hollowed center which is pierced and carved. It is topped with the shade portion of the lamp; carved ivory drops suspended by delicately carved ivory rings. The carvings depict two tigers attacking an antelope and a scene of a tiger being attacked by an elephant.

One of India’s largest film companies provided one million dollars and the two top stars of India for the making of the U.S. version of the 1965 film The Guide. Ms. Buck also helped with the English language instruction of the film which was presented by her own production company Stratton International Incorporated. The film was re- released and screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, 42 years after its original production. It was met with great reception from critics and audiences alike. The Hindi film version is widely considered to be one of the masterpieces of the Indian film industry.

This is an unusual and unique artifact. For many years it was placed on the top of her Grotian Steinway piano in the offices of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation in Philadelphia. Today it is part of the diverse and international collection at Green Hills Farm.

Amanda E. Baldwin
Student at Bucks County Community College: Historic Preservation Major and a volunteer at Pearl S. Buck House Museum.

Artifact of the Month - American Maple Ladder Back Open Chairs

Heights 47” and 45.5 ”
Widths 22.5” and 22” Depth 19” and 19.5

Mr. and Mrs. Walsh enjoyed collecting antiques, particularly those that had a local (Bucks County, Delaware Valley, Philadelphia or New York) origin. Many pieces of the furniture reflect the region and combine with art collected internationally by Ms. Buck and her husband Richard J. Walsh.

Two American maple ladder back open chairs from the Delaware River Valley have recently been restored with donated funds. They date from the second half of the 18th century. The chairs are handsome examples of the time period and reflect the beauty of this fine country home.The chairs are not matching but of a generally conforming style, and each has a tall back of four graduated serpentine slats between cylindrical stiles. The stiles are topped with bulbous finials above flattened arms on turned supports with trapezoidal rushed seats. The plain round legs are conjoined by pairs of plain turned stretchers to sides (singles to backs) and by a pair of bulb centered double vasiform stretchers to front. The chairs have antique value as well as associative value through their status in the Buck-Walsh collection.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Paperweights at Green Hills Farm

Although the paperweight is now associated with decorative objects, it did have a functional and important role in offices of the past. Prior to air conditioned offices, desk tops were subject to welcomed breezes through open windows. The paperweight became an object to keep loose papers on table and desk tops and to protect papers from scattering.

The history of the decorative paperweights seen in the offices of Ms. Buck and her publisher husband Richard J. Walsh began in the 15th century of Venice, Italy. The Murano glass milefiori (a thousand flowers) paperweights contain many little glass flowers incased in a globe of clear glass.

The World’s Fair of the 1800’s introduced new technologies and ideas. This created a platform for the exhibit of the paperweight. The French liked the glass objects, and they created their own interpretations of the glass weight. It became a popular object popular to collect or purchase as gifts, as the wealthy traveled abroad.

Some early famous collectors were: Queen Victoria, Queen Mary, Empress Eugene, Empress Carlotta, and Oscar Wilde. Other notable collectors during the early 20th century were: King Farouk, Eva Peron, Truman Capote, and Paul Jokelson.

The paperweights at Green Hills Farm can be found on the desk of Ms. Buck’s office, in the office of Mr. Walsh and in the private library. The paperweight collection in Ms. Buck’s offices contains geodes, classic glass globes and collected rocks.

"I collect stones and my grandchildren take them away sometimes, but you will see a very knobby stone on a brass tray that I picked up from the bottom of the river Jumna, which is one of the two great Indian rivers. It was very dry when I was there. I picked this one up and brought it here to use as a paper weight." -Pearl S. Buck

Amanda E. Baldwin
Student at Bucks County Community College and Pearl S. Buck Volunteer

Artifact of the Month - Shibayama Screen

Japanese Late Meiji Period Shibayama and
lacquer wood two-fold floor screen.
72” h X 65” w

This Shibayama screen features two panels in traditional Japanese motifs of nature.

The number of panels and the feet of the panels often reflect the county where the screens originate. Due to traditional heated Korea floors, Korean screens never rest directly on the floor. Footed screens are often from Japan or China. Screens are almost always used in Asian countries as backdrops for special events and photos. When several panels appear, they often serve as room dividers as well. Rice paper is very prevalent in Japanese room dividers and screens wood is a more common material for Chinese screens. Whatever county they originate, they are often the focal point of beauty and always serve a multi purpose in conjunction with multi- use rooms.

Early 20th century, each bi-fold crudely carved with a floral perimeter and cresting phoenix enclosing a 45” x 28” red lacquer surround of stenciled flowers enclosing a 35.5” x 19.5 “brown lacquer panel inset in bold relief with stained ivory, bone, and mother of pearl with a scene of eagle perched on branch, watching small bird, falling leaves and butterfly.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Johnny Jackson, His Beginnings

Benjamin Kimberly Prins
“Johnny Jackson, His Beginnings” c.1954
Gouache on masonite
22” x 23 ½” (55.8 x 59.6 cm)
Kitchen, east wall

Benjamin Kimberly Prins was born in Leiden, Holland in 1902. Prins studied at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts and Art Students League. Most of his career was spent in Wilton, Connecticut. His illustrations appeared on the covers of Saturday Evening Post, McCalls, Good Housekeeping, Readers Digest, and many others from the mid 1950’s until his death in 1980. He died in New Canaan, Connecticut in 1980. His son Kim Prins is as established artist today.

This illustration still hangs in the kitchen as it did during the Walsh family occupation of the home. It is based on a book of the same name concerning the expectation of a new sibling for the main character John Jackson, nicknamed Johnny Jack. As this book is about the beginning of life, another story published in the same volume The Beech Tree addressed the story of aging and nearing the end of life. Their intentional republication in one volume marked one of the first of this type of book at the time period of 1954.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Soapstone Carving

Soapstone, soaprock or steatite are names of a smooth, easily-carveable rock. Soapstone has properties affected by heat; promoting the hardness of the stone with increased heat, even heat distribution and heat containment with lower temperatures.

Soapstone carvings are readily found in India and China due to the indigenous nature of the stone. Perkasie, the location of Green Hills Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is one of the finest indigenous soapstone areas in the world.

We do not know the origin of this unusual soapstone carving that is in Ms. Buck’s former office in Green Hills Farm. We do not know whether it was purchased in the global or the local travels of Ms. Buck. The carving yields three vases and an open low vase amid vines and floral décor in one piece of soapstone rock. The stone is brown with veins of pink, black and tan running throughout.

The office, visited, admired and written about due to its inspiring views and studious ambiance is also a product of inspiration through the unique collections purchased and arranged by Ms. Buck, resulting in one of the most important rooms of literary history.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Brass Door Plaque of the Walsh Family Home

The family entrance to the Walsh home, now known as the Pearl S. Buck National Historic Landmark Home, was through this door.

An oval brass door plaque, reading 'Green Hills Farm' in a distinct, sophisticated, engraved script can be found on this west-facing entrance.

The naming of the property has been the source of many discussions, but it is clear that in 1934, Pearl S. Buck and her fiancé Richard J. Walsh wanted a working dairy farm, with room to expand their dreams of farming and hopes to raise a large family.

The name Green Hills Farm is widely recognized in literature as a location with date, ending many of Ms. Buck’s literary works. The community and visiting friends all knew the land as Green Hills Farm, the home of the Walsh family.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Trimurti

The below excerpt is from a recorded walking tour by Ms. Buck. In the tour she relays information about her home and her collections. Ms. Buck held an anthropological view of religion; she was respectful in all she saw and interested in all aspects of the many religions she encountered.

The Hindu deities of Brahma The Creator, Vishnu The Protector or Preserver, and Shiva The Destroyer are the main gods in Hindu Religion and are depicted in the collection of Ms. Buck on her office mantel:

“Underneath is a little sculptured reproduction of the great trinity in the Elephanta Caves in India, near Bombay. I have been in India many times, and this time I was making a film. We were working in the Elephanta Caves, and there was a great head there of Shiva with the three faces. I bought this little reproduction to remind me of Shiva – God the Destroyer, God the Creator, and God the Mother.” - Pearl S. Buck 1972

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Sculptures of Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck
Children of Pearl S. Buck”
Plasticine clay

From left to right: Janice, Jean, Richard, and John.

Ms. Buck integrated her 1938 office addition with a light-filled sculpting loft above. This loft served as a sculpting area with a low balcony and a small east-facing window. The loft is accessed by narrow pie wedge stairs. Ms. Buck enjoyed sculpting, and four of her surviving pieces are in place as she left them in her office window. The busts reflect four of her eight children; Janice, Jean, Richard, and John. Ms. Buck had spoken and written that if she was not a writer perhaps she would have been a composer or a sculptor, and characterizations of writers and sculptors do appear in several of her novels.

“Two of my sons one day when they were small and naughty, broke their heads, so I have only the face of my eldest son left there. The other had to be thrown away.” -Pearl S. Buck

Donna Carcaci Rhodes
Curator, Green Hills Farm

Artifact of the Month - Currier and Ives Print

Currier and Ives (American 1857-1907)
“A Scene on the Susquehanna”
Hand colored lithograph on paper
17.3” x 21” (43.9 x 53.3cm)

The print in Pearl S. Buck’s home “A Scene on the Susquehanna” is one of the very popular Currier and Ives country scenes. The print depicts the Susquehanna River, a fence, sheep, and trees covering the left bank and houses and a church on the right bank. Rolling hills in the background complete the picturesque print.

The technique of lithography was developed in the late 18th century to create multiple prints inexpensively. Duplication of prints by lithography requires a flat surface (of stone or metal) which is treated to absorb or repel ink in a desired pattern, or illustration. As oil and water do not mix, when paper is placed on top of the stone the original image transfers creating a print.

The printmaking company Currier and Ives created world renown lithographic prints representing the progress and spirit of America during the 19th century. The partnership of Currier and Ives began in 1857, but the story of this famous printmaking company began earlier. Nathaniel Currier was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts in the year 1813. At the age of fifteen, young Nat apprenticed at a local lithograph print shop. After learning the trade, he started his own printmaking business making duplicates of music manuscripts and architectural plans. Early in his career, Currier partnered with a man by the name of Stodart. The partnership soon ended, and Currier began working on his own creating the first illustrations for newspapers.

Although James Ives was not involved in Currier’s earlier work, all of the prints are listed under “Currier and Ives”. James Ives first worked as a bookkeeper for the company, but Currier soon became dependent on Ives’ management skills as well as his artistic abilities and offered him a partnership. Together they created prints depicting both actual events and the character of the American people. Currier and Ives inexpensive prints allowed common people to access and understand news and geography at a time when many in America were illiterate. Business boomed for the company due to the population’s interest in news and affordable artwork. The business changed hands several times finally ending with Chauncey Ives, James Ives’ eldest son. Unfortunately, Chauncey closed the doors to Currier and Ives in 1907 due to the growing competition and pressures from photo engraving and offset printing.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Pearl S. Buck and Walsh Family Phonograph Collection

For Pearl S. Buck and family, music was a constant during their time at Green Hills Farm. With their large family, foster children and sphere of local friends, their album collection was diverse and historically rich in nature. Its contents range from opera to folk songs and classic rock. It includes plays, educational language albums, and speeches from famous leaders like Mohandas Gandhi.

The diversity of the collection reflects the family’s wide ranging taste in music and the exposure to opera, classical piano, and spoken dialogs highlights their appreciation for the fine arts.

During the time of Pearl S. Buck, Green Hills Farm was home to two phonograph players. Located in the large library, these record players accommodated both RPM speeds of 331/3 and 78.

The collection totals approximately 200 albums. Some of the highlights of the collection include folk songs from various countries around the world, Beethoven, Chopin, Chicago and The Partridge Family.

It is also important to note that the albums were produced by some of the largest record labels of the time. Decca, Columbia, MGM, Universal, and RCA all have a strong representation in the collection and many have a close relationship with Philadelphia’s music industry.

Philadelphia, particularly in the 1940s, was a major player in the music industry, producing some of the greatest soul and jazz music of the era.

Gabriel F. Hurtado
Foundations Community Partnership Intern

Artifact of the Month - The Carre Chair

Iron work in France in the late 1800’s assimilated the roots of a new European design known as Art Nouveau. This movement clearly influenced many areas of design the 1889 Paris Exhibition.

The 1889 Exhibition famously featured the groundbreaking design of Gustave Eiffel’s Tower. The Eiffel tower, a design of iron and grace, remains in place after its original proposal of temporary use for the Exhibition 82 years ago.

In 1866, 23 years before the Exhibition, Francois A. Carre filed a U.S. patent for a garden chair. Likely designed in France, these chairs were also produced in the U.S. The chair’s unique design slowly gained popularity and momentum, continuing to be seen in garden furniture today.

Carre touted the uniqueness and superiority of his design. Iron was "hard, clumsy and inconvenient." His chairs combined "strength and durability with neatness and convenience." They were manufactured on both continents as Innovative Furniture. The design proved extremely popular in the 1920's through the 1940's, seen in gardens of distinction and style.

The juxtaposition of a sunburst cushion design, fabricated in iron, allows a surprising gentle give in seating, while also providing style and comfort.

The Carre chair was once used by Ms. Buck and her global visitors enjoying their stay at Green Hills Farm.

The chair is patiently hopeful that it will some day be the recipient of a restoration grant to return it to its original beauty.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Chinese Bride Box

Length 10.8” x Width 7.75” x Height 6.1” (approximations)

As a result of spending a significant amount of her life in China, Pearl Buck’s personal belongings were filled with culturally rich Chinese objects. In particular, one of Ms. Buck’s possessions was a traditional Chinese bride box.

Bride boxes function as a cache of the bride-to-be’s personal belongings, including reminders of her family. Since she would be leaving her own family to live with her future in-laws, the objects served as some of the only ways to remember her mother, father, brothers and sisters. Once formally married, the bride would reside with her husband and his parents, providing them with unconditional care, respect and obedience.

Traditional Chinese bride boxes range in terms of decoration, theme and material. Ms. Buck’s box is an example of an elaborate polished wooden box, decorated with delicate butterfly hinges. Butterflies symbolize young love and happiness; both appropriate and decorative.

Though it looks somewhat simple on the outside, lifting the lid or opening the side compartment reveals a beveled mirror and diminutive drawers to store personal belongings.

Allison R. Kim
Student Volunteer

Artifact of the Month - Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Length 7.4” x Width 5”

Pearl S. Buck’s love for literature began at an early age. Belonging to her during her childhood, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published in Chicago by M. A. Donohue & Company and complete with 42 illustrations, represents a union of her personal interest in reading and her desire to spread that passion to those closest to her. On the flyleaf lies a handwritten inscription stating, “Pearl with love, from Mrs. Rice, Merry Christmas.” Underneath the writing are further dedications, one to Ms. Buck's younger sister Grace, given to her in 1904, and later to Janice, Ms. Buck's first adopted daughter, given to her in 1931.

The exact identity of Mrs. Rice is unknown; however, she may have been a fellow missionary in China or a personal friend to Pearl Buck during a brief visit to the United States. Though no specific year is provided as to when the book was given to her, Ms. Buck did visit the U.S. in 1901. Not until September 1910 did she venture to the U.S. again, where she enrolled at the Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg Virginia, presently known as Randolph College.

Pearl Buck created a legacy with even the simplest of gestures. Her early fondness for literature perhaps encouraged her to pursue writing as an adult, particularly her numerous published children’s books.

Allison R. Kim
Student Volunteer

Artifact of the Month - "The Mother"

Charles Edward Chambers (1883-1941)
“The Mother” (ca.1933)
Oil on canvas 37”x 25” (94cm x 63.5cm)

Charles Edward Chambers was born in Ottawa, Iowa. Mr. Chambers studied at the Chicago Art Institute and later at the Art Student League in New York.

His illustrations are expert, ranging in color from clear primary use, to the ochre and umbers utilizing exceptional chiaroscuro technique. His fidelity in reproduction is one of his greatest attributes in his painting style and color use. He was known for his faithfulness to his work, from consultation of assignment to the hands of the plate maker.

Chambers worked in both editorial and advertising assignments. Among his commissions was a series of portraits of musicians for Steinway & Sons. He also did a great number of distinctive illustrations for twenty- four- sheet outdoor posters, notably for Chesterfield and Palmolive Soap. Chambers worked under contract for Cosmopolitan magazine for many years.

He illustrated stories in most of the major magazines of the day, for such authors as Pearl Buck, Louis Bromfield, Faith Baldwin, and W. Somerset Maugham.

He garnered numerous awards including the second Altman Prize at the National Academy of Design Exhibition in 1931.

This painting was used as a limited color illustration for the 1933 serial publication of the book of the same name, appearing in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Ms. Buck owned at least three C.E. Chambers paintings. She and her husband Richard Walsh were of the earliest serious collectors of illustrations. Today reproduced art no longer struggles as it once did, for its place in the world of art. This Chambers piece is one of several original illustrations that can be seen on the tour of the Pearl S. Buck National Historic Landmark Home.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Kodascope-Model L Film Projector

Eastman Kodak1933
Kodascope-Model L film projector
Metal components
12.5” x 9.3”

One of the many luxuries that Pearl S. Buck and her family had was the opportunity to show commercial and home films on a Kodascope Model L film 16mm, 950-watt film projector. Ms. Buck and her family frequently enjoyed family movie nights.

The living room of Green Hills Farm, home of Miss Buck, her husband Richard Walsh, their six adopted children, and ten foster children, was the perfect place to hold movie night. With the addition of Miss Buck’s two children from her first husband John Lossing Buck, movie night was often a packed house.

Not only has the projector itself been well-kept and preserved, but the commercial 16mm films owned by Ms. Buck are still intact. Many of them were produced by Castle Films, a home-movie distributor that began producing films in 1937.

Some of Ms. Buck's films include Wild Horse and the Little Brave, Clyde Beatty’s Animal Thrills and several Three Little Bruins films, the latter focusing on three little bears and their mischievous adventures. The films were family-oriented and provided great entertainment for the Walsh family.

Allison R. Kim
Student Volunteer

Artifact of the Month - Scholars' Ink Stone

(late Qing Dynasty)
Scholars' ink stone
Length 21.5” x width 11”
Living room game table

Grinding stones or ink stones used for calligraphy are usually functional in size, keeping the piece within a few inches. However, this exceptional piece is a grand-scale example, indicating its use well beyond function into form and décor.

The single block of dark grayish soapstone is carved in the shape of a curled Chinese plantain leaf with insects and fauna. These carvings are reminiscent of random fossil findings, but are deliberate as embellishment in design.

Ink stones are often referred to as grinding stones. The calligrapher would take a solid ink stick, shave off ink layers into the bowl area of the stone, add water and mix or grind the ink into the desired consistency.

The calligrapher can decide the consistency of ink; thinner, achieving a stroke of ombre like effect, or thicker, achieving a bold graphic stroke for the desired result.

Miss Buck used this ink stone as décor. She positioned a tumbler-like glass vase filled with water in the circular ink well recess. In the vase, an orchid cut from one of the two on site green houses would be placed in a characteristic Chinese arrangement.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Freeman Elliot's Portrait of Pearl S. Buck

Freeman Elliott (American 1922 - )
Portrait of Pearl S. Buck 1964
Oil on canvas
30” x 28” (84.45 x 79.37cm) with frame
Living Room, east wall

In observance of December as Human Rights Month, the following artifact has been selected from the Pearl S. Buck collection. The highlighted portrait is one with which you may be familiar. It is widely recognized as a symbol associated with Pearl S. Buck International and of the work that continues to respect human rights today, as it did in the lifetime of Miss Buck. The following narrative is taken from the book The Art and Sculpture of Green Hills Farm, featuringthe art collections of Miss Buck and her husband Richard Walsh.

Elliot’s preferred medium was gouache, a form of watercolor that uses opaque pigments rather than transparent watercolor pigments. Gouache colors are produced by adding white pigment to regular watercolor paint. Gouache possesses a compensating substance and body approaching that of oil paint. Elliot is best known for the three Artist’s Sketch Pads he illustrated for Brown and Bigelow from 1949 to 1951. His published work as an illustrator appeared on the front covers of national magazines, on book jackets and story illustrations, as well as calendar art, advertising art, and the “pin-up genre”.

This portrait features Pearl S. Buck at age 72 in a green velvet sweetheart neck lined gown. The portrait was commissioned by Theodore F. Harris, a former member of her Foundation staff. The painting was to serve as the “foundation portrait”, and was to be used as the signature portrait used for related reproduction. The portrait is still closely associated with the Pearl S. Buck Foundation successor organization now known as Pearl S. Buck International. The painting originally hung in the Delancy Place Philadelphia home of Pearl S. Buck.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes
Curator, Pearl S. Buck House

with Teresa M. Mandic

Pearl S. Buck International

Artifact of the Month - The Living Room

Although our “artifact of the month” is usually a single item, this month our artifact is a room, where an idea came to fruition.

In 1949, Pearl S. Buck received a call that was close to a plea for help. A “biracial” child needed a home immediately. Miss Buck was 57 years old and her husband, publisher Richard J.Walsh was 62. She wrote of setting up the crib that she had used for her own children next to her bed to comfort and care for this young child that needed a family and a home.

In the ensuing weeks, she found that there was not a single adoption organization that would take a “biracial child” in the hopes of adoption. It is at that time that the idea and origin of Welcome House® began; “every child deserves a loving home.” Miss Buck believed that the physical resemblance of the child to the family is inconsequential to the love of family. Miss Buck proves in the following years that she does not overestimate the power of familial love.

In the photo you will notice approximately 30 people that have gathered in the living room of Green Hills Farm, the home of Miss Buck. There are many things to observe as this photograph documents and captures a moment in the history of adoption. Miss Buck sits, overseeing from the far corner of her living room, as if it is a perfectly natural, everyday occurrance to have 30 plus guests, folding chairs, and a microphone in her living room. Photographs of waiting children are propped on the mantel; a gentleman addresses the attentive group. The room is comfortable, but the guests lean forward as if every word will make a difference to the outcome of their presence in this home. This is a photograph of families being born, and the birth of Welcome House, the first multiracial adoption organization of its kind.

Today Welcome House focuses on international adoption from countries mostly in Asia and domestic adoption in the state of Pennsylvania. Home study services and a wide array of post-adoptive services are available to families regardless of the caring agency they used to adopt. Over 7,000 children have been placed in homes with loving families.

“Parenthood had nothing to do with color, race or religion. It has to do with far deeper likeness of mind and heart and soul.” -- Pearl S. Buck

Please visit and enjoy the room where Welcome House was born at Green Hills Farm.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Quistgaard Portrait of Pearl S. Buck

Johann Waldemar de Rehling Quistgaard ( Denmark 1877-1962)
“Portrait of Pearl S. Buck” (1933)
Oil on canvas
38 1/2” x 32” (97.8cm x 81.3cm)
Small Library, west wall

Quistgaard painted Pearl S. Buck in 1933 at the request of her second husband Richard Walsh, when she was 41 years old. It is said that Miss Buck was not fond of this painting, which was created during a period of great personal change in her life. Her first marriage was failing and her first born child had been institutionalized for two years with challenges resulting from phenylketonuria. Perhaps the association of the time period tainted her appreciation of the portrait. It is believed her second husband admired the portrait very much and it hung in the small library of Green Hills Farm during their occupation of the home as it still hangs today.

Born in Denmark in 1877, Johann Waldemar de Rehling Quistgaard dreamed of becoming a painter, however, coming from a long line of agriculturalists, Quistgaard was forced to delay his artistic endeavors until age 22. Quistgaard studied briefly under Danish artist Johan Rohde before traveling to the United States and showcasing his first portrait at the 1904 World’s Fair. Quistgaard lived and worked in the U.S. as well as London and Paris. Over the course of his career, Quistgaard received great praise and acclaim from both his peers and art critics. In 1925, critics from the French magazine Figaro described Quistgaard as a “portrait painter in truth without peer”. Although Quistgaard lived most of his life in the U.S., his native country honored him with knighthood for the Dannebrog order. He was also made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government.

Quistgaard possesses an extensive list of subjects including the Danish royal family, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, as well as members of President Woodrow Wilson’s cabinet.

Quistgaard was so pleased with his portrait of Pearl Buck that he requested permission to copy the portrait for his own private collection. In 1962, at the death of the artist, his widow offered the duplicate portrait to Pearl S. Buck. Both portraits now hang at Green Hills Farm. The original portrait is in the Small Library and the duplicate portrait at the home office of The Pearl S. Buck International Board Room.

Excerpt from the book; The Art and Sculpture of Green Hills Farm
Molly Kaufman,
PSBI Volunteer Researcher

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Jifu Robe

In observation of National Sewing Month

Jifu (long pao [dragon robe] or Qifu)
Guangxu Period 1875-1908
Dark blue silk, metallic gold couched thread.
Length 53.5 inches (135.9 cm)
Awards Room of the Pearl S. Buck House
Gift to Pearl S. Buck

Upon entering the Awards Room of The Pearl S. Buck House, one's attention is immediately drawn to the Asian-inspired wood and glass display case of the jifu.

Jifu, or long pao ("dragon robes"), as they were usually called, were designed for regular court wear by men and women of imperial, noble and official rank. All jifu were elaborately patterned with specified arrangements of dragons, clouds, mountains, and waves, to which were added Buddhist, Daoist, or traditionally auspicious motifs. Distinctions in rank were indicated by the colors of the robes and by slight variations in the basic patterns.

Emperors’ jifu, either yellow or blue, were always distinguished by the 12 imperial symbols: sun, moon, constellation, mountain, pair of dragons, bird, cups, water foliage, millet, fire, ax, and the symmetrical "fu" symbol (for good luck, often symbolized by bats). A bright yellow jifu was reserved for the emperor, but for occasions such as ceremonies performed at the Altar of Heaven, the requisite color was blue. The garment worn for the actual rituals was the more formal court robe ("chao pao"), while the jifu was used for the periods of fasting that preceded the ceremony.

Image Description
Characteristically, the robe has a round collar and hoof-shaped sleeves, reflective of the equestrian Manchu style. The skirt of the jifu cleared the ground to permit easy walking. In men’s garments, the skirt was slit in the front and back as well as at the sides to facilitate riding; the extra slits were the only feature that distinguished the jifu of men below the rank of emperor from those of their wives. Nine five-clawed dragons, (one is hidden in the interior of this robe) and metal cast button closures are designed above a diagonal Lishui at bottom skirt area. Zhenglong and Lishui designs (stylized designs) are at the shoulders and hoof shaped cuffs. The images include the Zhenglong dragon over two Xiling dragons, pursuing flaming pearls. Bats fly above stylized waves at Mount Meru. The cycle of life is represented as waves at the skirt bottom, land above and celestial sky overseeing all. Besides the imperial symbols, the dragon robe requires additional motifs: nine large dragons rendered full-face or in profile; clouds, waves, and mountains, all symmetrically arranged to represent an orderly universe.

Historical Importance
To the Chinese, the dragon represents the dynamic force in the universe and symbolizes the emperor or imperial lineage. The emperors, or ‘sons of dragons’ (also `sons of heaven'), traditionally wore the jifu. In 1759 the Qianlong emperor issued an edict governing court attire. The color, decoration and style of dress were determined by the wearer's title, rank and status. The jifu dragon robe is worn only for official occasions by citizens of royal status. Prior to the breakdown of government control on dress regulations in the nineteenth century, only the Emperor, High Imperial Princes and those awarded the privilege were allowed to wear five-claw dragons; any other wearers were punished by death.

You will find the jifu in the collection of the Pearl S. Buck House one of the finest existing examples of the garment today.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Pearl S. Buck's Piano

Interesting Model Facts:
Model L 510 size serial # 287065
Wool hammers
Bushings show some sign of verdigris typical of Steinway
A 15-watt humidistat was placed under the piano with a steel rod. This was of the first (of five) generations of humidistats used. It is marked H1 to indicate this.

One of the most impressive collection items is that of the 1936 Steinway piano. This custom-made piece is unique in many ways.

The oak art case in the Art Deco style and the coordinating bench are striking in arrangement and presence. The bench features two rather than four leg supports. The sweeping curved lines of the case are graceful and powerful. The keys, made prior to the outlawed use of elephant ivory reflect a luminous depth in contrast to the rich use of ebony.

It is believed the piano is one of five, likely designed by Pearl Buck and her husband Richard Walsh. Originally in 1936 this piano stood in their New York penthouse residence and later moved to Green Hills Farm.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Brass Door Knocker of Green Hills Farm

The brass knocker measures about eight inches in height.

In 1935, when Pearl S. Buck purchased the stone farmhouse, she believed that the front door should be a wide door to communicate welcome to her visitors from all over the world. The original door was relocated, and replaced with the present door. The brass knocker measures over nine inches in length and resonates through the house with a lift and replace of the handle like design.

Visitors gather today as they did years ago to enjoy the water garden and visit the grounds and home of Pearl S. Buck.

This month's Featured Artifact was selected in observance of “Making a Difference in the Lives of Children Month,” to represent the continuing mission of Pearl S. Buck International to “Open doors to the World” for children who would otherwise have little opportunity to succeed. This was Pearl S. Buck’s life mission, which is perpetuated by PSBI and continues to serve thousands of children worldwide. Learn more about our mission here.

The majestic northern façade of Green Hills Farm illustrates two hundred years of Bucks County architecture. The 1825 original home is flanked by 1938 east and west wings. This façade’s center jewel is the front door. The six pane transom light illuminates the six panel recessed oversized door and brass knocker. The four pane side lights provide elegant symmetry to the structure and its additions.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - The Sydenstricker Family's Charles Dickens Book Collection

Many writers claim to have been inspired by a specific author, a work, or a writing genre. Many times, Pearl S. Buck wrote and spoke of her love of Charles Dickens, even writing the piece A Debt to Dickens.

Green Hills Farm has seven volumes of Dickens that remain of the original set that was treasured by Pearl S. Buck. They are inscribed as: Absalom Sydenstricker, W.Va., USA. 1891. Dr. Sydentstricker purchased these books the year before the birth of his daughter Pearl.

The books are divided into seven faded black leather bound books:

  • Tale of Two Cities
  • Hard Times
  • Barnaby Rudge
  • Bleak House
  • History of Emily
  • Pickwick Papers
  • Sketches By Boz
  • Martin Chuzzlewit
  • American Notes
  • Edwin Drood
  • Christmas Stories
  • Dombey and Son
  • Uncommercial Traveller
  • Little Dorrit
  • Oliver Twist



One month before Pearl S. Buck passed away, she requested that the books be delivered into her hands. Lying in bed, she asked for the novels to be spread around her so she could hold them, see them once again, and re-live her inspiration. Her sister Grace said she “was trying to get back to the source.”
It is our hope that you will visit Green Hills Farm and also be inspired by the works and beauty that surrounded Pearl S. Buck.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Artifact of the Month - Untitled Painting by Pearl S. Buck's Mother, Caroline Sydenstricker

Selected in Observance of Mother's Day

Caroline Stulting Sydenstricker
(American 1857-1921)
Untitled ca. winter 1892
6 x 9 inches (15.2 x 22.9 cm)

"Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together."
-Pearl S. Buck

In observance of Mother's Day, a painting from the collection of Pearl S. Buck, done by Caroline Sydenstricker, mother of Pearl S. Buck, is our featured artifact for the month of May.

Pearl S. Buck, author of many books which emphasize the selfless love of a mother, spoke often of her own mother’s influence on her. Her mother, Caroline Stulting Sydenstricker, home-schooled her children and emphasized the importance of music, education, writing, family, loyalty, devotion, and strength of love. Caroline maintained the household, often alone, as her husband’s job in the Presbyterian Ministry took him away from the family for months at a time, all while living in the war conflicted country of China. She was a woman committed to her family, her marriage and to the unending commitment of her missionary duties.

The influence of Caroline Sydenstricker on the monumental accomplishments of her daughter Pearl S. Buck can not be overestimated.

This small, untitled landscape was painted by Pearl S. Buck’s mother, Caroline Stulting Sydenstricker in 1892 in Hampden, West Virginia while she was awaiting the birth of her daughter Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker.

Pearl Buck later wrote of her mother’s love of color: “She chose always delicate and finely shaded tones....she choose for her favorite shades the pale, cool rosy yellow of a tea rose....and she loved also the warm delicacy of old-fashioned salmon pinks.”

Carrie Stulting was born in 1857 in Hillsboro, West Virginia. She grew up secure and happy on the family farm with many fond memories of her childhood. Her family’s prosperity ended with the coming of the Civil War, when her family farm was requisitioned for military purposes. Carrie married Absalom Sydenstricker on July 8, 1880, and almost immediately left with him for China where they served as Presbyterian missionaries until their deaths.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes
Curator, Green Hills Farm

Literary references: “The Exile”, Pearl S. Buck
Source: “The Exile”

Artifact of the Month - The Pearl S. Buck Rose

The Pearl S. Buck Rose Facts:
ARS: Yellow blend Hybrid Tea. Registration name: Pearl S. Buck.
Origin: Bred by Wilhelm J.H. Kordes II (ca. 1918 - 1955) (1940). Introduced in United States by Jackson & Perkins Co..
Class: Hybrid Tea / Large-Flowered.
Bloom: Yellow blend. Strong fragrance. Blooms in flushes throughout the season.
Growing: USDA zone 6b through 9b .
Patents: United States - Patent No: PP 423 VIEW USPTO PATENT
Parentage: Joanna Hill × Étoile d'Or (hybrid tea, Pernet-Ducher 1931)

Pearl Buck was honored by having four flowers named after her. As a rosarian she was particularly pleased to have a hearty strong fragranced yellow rose named after her by the Jackson & Perkins Co. in 1940. At one time her rose gardens of these yellow blooms thrived under her office window facing east in her home, and along a wall that is now part of the back south facing terrace.

"One of the real pleasures of my life has been the rose that has been named after me. It is absurd to enjoy that rose so much, I love roses with a feeling that is more than love for a flower…I have a feeling almost human for the plant."
--Pearl S. Buck

Today we continue the search for the Pearl S. Buck rose in the hope that we can again have the rose gracing the property of Green Hills Farm.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes
Curator, Pearl S. Buck House

Artifact of the Month - The Nobel Medal for Literature 1938, Awarded to Pearl S. Buck

Selected in Observance of Women's History Month

Modeled by Eric Lindberg in 1902
Cast in high relief, profile portrait of Alfred Nobel

Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker was born in rural West Virginia on June 26, 1892. Living the first 40 years of her life in China, the role of Miss Buck’s mother was definitive in her education. Her parents, Absalom and Caroline Sydenstricker, sacrificed much to provide a Confucian tutor to expose her to the culture and education of China. Carie, also having had some college education, home-schooled Pearl. Their further sacrifice, in a family that was not wealthy, included a college education for all of their children. Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Virginia was the school that Miss Buck and her family decided on for her formal education. She grew up in a family where intelligent discussion and study were paramount to play and social activities.

As a daughter of Presbyterian missionaries, Pearl was immersed in the study of scripture and the literature of the Bible. Often, the syntax of her writing is reflective of the scripture she studied. When she married in 1917 to John Lossing Buck, her fluent use of the Chinese language would help him in his agricultural work as well. Together they traveled to Cornell University in New York State to pursue their Master’s degrees, hers in literature.

On learning soon after the birth of their first child that their daughter would require continuous care resulting from developmental disabilities, Pearl made a life change. She decided to write “seriously”, with the intention of earning money to provide for her daughter's care. Pearl's first novel East Wind: West Wind was published, followed by The Good Earth. Soon there after her first marriage deteriorated. She left China for the United States, never being able to return due to the political changes in China. With her return and settled life in the United States, Pearl married again to her publisher, Richard Walsh.

The success of her prolific writing led her to win numerous awards, 13 doctorate degrees over 30 Keys of Welcome to cities world wide, and the credit of nearly 1,000 published pieces of literature to her name. She was the first American woman to receive both the Nobel Award for Literature in 1938 and the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1932. She held that distinction until 1993. She lived through both World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam Wars and Chinese uprisings and revolution while living in China. Her work reflects the life she lived and historical events she lived through. She championed causes for the rights of women and the physically and mentally disabled. Miss Buck spoke against racial injustice in her many public addresses. She corresponded with world leaders of the day, voicing her opinion at every opportunity to make a difference for all.

Once when being suspect of resting on the success of the proven and successful name of Pearl S. Buck, she wrote under a nom de plume, John Sedges, and met with great success as well.

Her personal life included seven adopted children and a large number of fostered children in her care. She started Welcome House, the first adoption agency in the United States to place biracial children. She also created Opportunity House, an organization which provided humanitarian aid to children internationally. Today, her legacy continues with Pearl S. Buck International, and her mission of helping children continues to thrive world wide.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes
Curator, Green Hills Farm

Artifact of the Month - Pearl S. Buck's NAACP Pin

Selected in Observance of Black History Month

Lifetime Member Pin
Gold with blue enamel
Size: .5 x .5 inches

“…only two white Americans understood the reality of black life, and both were women: Eleanor Roosevelt and Pearl Buck”. -Walter White of the NAACP, 1942

Soon after settling in the United States in 1934 from her first forty years of life in China, Pearl S. Buck became active in the American civil rights movement. She also became a regular contributor to Crisis, the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and to Opportunity, published by the National Urban League.

On November 12, 1941 the New York Times published an editorial article “The Other Side of Harlem” accusing the near epidemic crimes of Harlem a result of “poverty, overcrowding, and neglect….not a problem of race.” Three days later Pearl Buck answered with a 2,300 word rebuttal condemning the editorial for essentially misunderstanding the reality of black life, not just in Harlem, but in America.

The longtime executive secretary of the NAACP Walter White, said at a 1942 Madison Square Garden rally that only two white Americans understood the reality of black life, and both were women: Eleanor Roosevelt and Pearl Buck. Mary White Ovington one of the founders of the NAACP once remarked that “Pearl Buck has never failed us.”

Buck served on the Urban League board and was an active trustee of Howard University, a college primarily established for the education of African Americans for many years. She received an honorary degree from Howard in 1942, and spoke on an important and complex issue of black patriotism in World War II, and its significance in the fight for a free and fair United States. Her commencement speech at Howard University was her first of many such addresses. She accepted the invitation to speak as she resolutely believed that education had the power to eliminate prejudice.

Throughout the 1940s, Buck worked with writer W. E. B. Du Bois in opposing British colonialism in high profile writings and discussions. In 1949, Buck and Eslanda Robeson co-authored a book called American Argument, a dialogue on American racism. Decades before many whites began to speak out on racial injustice, Pearl Buck made major contributions to the American struggle for civil rights.
In 1951 the 59 year old Pearl Buck and 63 year old husband Richard Walsh adopted 5 year old Henriette, the daughter of an African American serviceman and a German mother. Henriette became one of their 7 adopted children.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes
Curator, Green Hills Farm

Artifact of the Month - Golden Lotus Slippers for Women of Bound Feet

Silk fabric
Silk thread
Circa 1920
4.5 inches long

A common goal throughout history in all cultures is the pursuit of beauty. From culture to culture the definition of beauty varies. For a period of time in the 1800’s in America, the definition of beauty included corsets, cinching a woman’s waists to a hand span. In the late 1700’s in France, Empress Josephine insisted on diaphanous gauzy fabrics even in harsh winters. This resulted in epidemic pneumonia in many fashion followers of France. In the east, particularly in China, foot binding was practiced for centuries by women to achieve perceived beauty.
Foot binding (pinyin: chánzú, literally "bound feet") was a custom practiced on young girls and women for approximately one thousand years in China, beginning in the 10th century and ending in the mid 20th century. This practice involved approximately one billion females. Girls between the ages of four and five would undergo a series of foot binding stages with bandages and potions to achieve a cessation in foot growth of three inches in length. A less acceptable but more frequent length of 4-6 inches was also very common. This practice was enforced by the families of females to insure an appropriate groom for the young girl’s future. Pain and sometimes death through infection occurred. Peasant women who worked in the fields did not have the opportunity of bound feet to help negotiate a beneficial marriage.
When the Communists took power in 1949, they maintained strict prohibition on foot binding, although outlaying areas continued the custom for many years beyond 1949. Souvenir golden lotus slippers can still be purchased in China today as many women learned the traditions of creating the slippers from previous generations.

Donna Carcaci Rhodes
Curator, Green Hills Farm
Suggested Reading

Every Step a Lotus: Shoes for Bound Feet
by Dorothy Ko

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
by Lisa See

Three-Inch Golden Lotus
by Feng Jicai