The Winterthur Library

 Edward Deming Andrews Memorial Shaker Collection

Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum

5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, DE  19735

302-888-4600 or 800-448-3883





Creator:         Blavatsky, H. P. (Helena Petrovna), 1831-1891.                              

Title:               Collection of materials on theosophy,

Dates:             1884-[1920]

Call No.:         ASC 1198

Acc. No.:        SA 1318

Quantity:        41 items

Location:        29 E 4






Helena Petrovna Blavetsky was a spiritualist, a founder of the Theosophical Society, a writer, and a traveler.  She was born in 1831 in Russia, the daughter of Helena and Peter Hahn.  Helena Petrovna married Nicephore Blavatsky in 1848, but only lived with him a short while.  She then began to travel.


In 1873, Madame Blavatsky came to New York City, where she befriended a number of persons interested in spiritualism.  Two years later, along with Colonel Henry S. Olcott, William Q. Judge, and others, she founded the Theosophical Society.  In 1878, she and her followers established the official headquarters of the society in India.  At the time of Madame Blavatsky’s death in 1891, nearly 100,000 people were acknowledged adherents.


Laura Carter Holloway Langford (1843-1930, her actual dates) was a journalist, author, and lecturer.  A native of Tennessee, she spent most of her adult life in New York, first in Brooklyn and then in Canaan.  She was best known for her first book, First Ladies of the White House, published in 1870.  In the late 1870s, she became interested in theosophy and in 1884, traveled to Europe to meet Madame Blavetsky, a founder of the movement.  In 1903, Mrs. Langford, Elizabeth P. Chapin, and Maude Ralston wrote a children’s book, Atma Fairy Stories, inspired by theosophy.  Mrs. Langford also wrote articles for theosophy journals.  She became friends with Eldress Anna White of the New Lebanon, New York, Shaker community.  The two shared interests in pacifism, feminism, vegetarianism, and cremation.  Mrs. Langford eventually bought land from the Canaan, New York, Shaker community, and wrote The Story of a Piano, which was inspired by Shaker craftsmanship.





This collection includes letters and notes, some presumably in Madame Blavatsky’s own hand, photographs of the leaders of the theosophical movement, several printed articles from late nineteenth and early twentieth century periodicals, and items bearing the name of Laura Langford (at the time Laura Holloway).  Most of the letters and notes are directed to Laura Holloway, and most are from one of the theosophy movement teachers (called mahatmas) with the initials K.H.  The letters encourage Mrs. Holloway to maintain her interest and growth in the theosophy movement.  While no Shaker is specifically mentioned in these items, the Shakers and Theosophists are connected through their common interest in spiritualism and Mrs. Langford’s ties to both movements.





Divided into letters and notes; printed articles; photographs and prints.  Letters are in chronological order.





The materials are in English.





Collection is open to the public.  Copyright restrictions may apply.





Gift of Mrs. Edward D. Andrews.





Additional material related to Laura Carter Holloway Langford is found in ASC 1202, also in the Andrews Memorial Shaker Collection.  See the finding aid for that group for more details.






            Holloway, Laura C. (Laura Carter), 1848-1930.

            Carson, Hiram.

            Chapin, Elizabeth P.

            Judge, William Quan, 1851-1896.

Olcott, Henry Steel, 1832-1907.

Ralston, Maude.






            East Indians – Photographs.

            Black-and-white photographs.





Location:  29 E 4






SA 1318.1e1-2            letter, mostly typed, H. P. Blavatsky, Paris, to “dear sister,” Mrs. L. C. Holloway, Brooklyn, April 24, 1884, with envelope.


                        “I know that … you will be able to understand that all you saw and experienced was true….”  Learn from the mahatmas [teachers].  Will be happy to see her in Paris.



SA 1318.1b1-2            letter, Damodan[?] K. Mavalarkay[?], Adyar (Madras), India, to Laura C. Holloway, Brooklyn, N.Y., May 11, 1884. 


                        Written in response to a letter from Mrs. Langford, in which she expressed a desire to enroll as a pupil.  Goes on to write about general principles of theosophy.                


SA 1318.1d1-3            letter, Isabel Cooper-Oakley, “Oaklands,” Enfield, [England,] to Mrs. Holloway, c/o Miss Arundale, London, August 2, 1884.

                        With envelope, and a separate piece of paper on which part of the above letter has been transcribed.


                        Invitation to visit.  Written in blue pencil across the face of the letter is an additional note, the text of which has been transcribed onto another piece of paper.



SA 1318.1c     typed document, noted as being a duplicate, signed Mahatma K. H., to L.C.H. [Laura Langford], London, August 22, 1884.


About birthdays, and that L.C.H. is not even a year old yet in her “chelaship




SA 1318.26a-c            Master K.H., to L.C.H., Elberfeld, Germany, August 1884, labeled as being the “Most important of all the letters I received.”  [obviously a copy of the original letter, written on stationery of Vaulx Carter, Canaan, N.Y.; Vaulx was the brother of Laura Holloway]


                        Theosophy philosophy.



SA 1318.23     unsigned note, [probably from K.H.], stationery of Hotel Suisse, Kandy, Ceylon, to unknown person [probably Laura Holloway], May 1, 1893.

                        Condemns the Baileys; they are “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and support the C.W.L.[?]-A.B. crowd.



SA 1318.1a     typed statement, signed by Elizabeth P. Chapin and Maude Ralston Sharman; they make a statement about a prediction made by Mrs. [Laura Holloway] Langford about Mrs. Besant, no date.



SA 1318.2       copy of a private and confidential communication received by Miss F. Arundale from K. H., no date


                        Encouraging Miss Arundale to do more to further the society.  The London society needs to make their initiation ceremony more dignified.  It also needs to reach out to other European and American societies. L.C.H. [Laura C. Holloway] has been very active in promoting the society. 



SA 1318.19     titles [presumably of books] written on a piece of paper;

                        On back: note from K. H., recommending a book.  “Do not show this to the Sinnetts.”




SA 1318.20a-j             more notes written by K.H., all in blue pencil, and not always easy to read.  Probably several pages belong together as part of one letter, but it is difficult to arrange them in a meaningful way.


                        Notes about theosophy and about Laura C. Holloway.




SA 1318.21a-d            more notes written by K. H., all on pink paper, some in blue pencil, some in ink.


                        Notes about theosophy and about Laura C. Holloway.  Page one of SA 1318.21b repeats the message about birthdays, and that L.C.H. is not even a year old yet in her “chelaship,” which is found in SA 1318.1c



SA 1318.22     letter, L.C.H. [Laura Holloway], no place, to “Beloved and Revered Master,” i.e. K. H., with responses from K.H. written added to the letter.  Not dated.


                        LC.H. suggests that a notice should be published in the London Times expressing the Theosophy Society’s confidence in Madame B. [Blavatsky].  K.H. concurs. 


L.C.H. asks “permission to form a secret occult society,” to be formed “of those who possess either psychic or literary powers,” preferably are celibate, and “who put implicit faith in the masters” of the Theosophy Society.   K.H.’s response is difficult to read.


L.C.H. asks permission to return home, where she hopes to write a theosophical novel.  K.H. responds with words of encouragement.



SA 1318.24     note, H. P. Blavatsky[?], no place, to “dearest daughter of God” [probably Laura Holloway], no date.


                        Please come when you can.  Did not mean to hurt her by what was said to the Duchess.



SA 1318.25     short note, A.W., 539 Washington Ave., to Miss Anna C. Sweeney, Brooklyn, no date.


                        Why don’t I hear from you?  Please come hear me play. 



SA 1318.34a-d            photograph of a letter and envelope, H. P.  Blavatsky, Philadelphia, to Prof. Hiram Carson, Ithaca, N.Y., no date; envelope postmarked Feb. 16, no year.

                        [SA 1318.13a-c is a typed copy of this letter.]


Generally about theosophy.  Mentions a number of other spiritualists; she approves of some but not of others.


SA 1318.13a-c            typed copy of above letter, H. P. Blavatsky, Philadelphia, to Professor Hiram Carson, no date. 




[no number]     return address torn from an envelope, for T. J. Cox, Brooklyn; postmark on back for Canaan, N.Y., Aug. 12, 1909







SA 1318.27a-d            “Some Reminiscences of a Veteran Theosophist, H.P.B. in Germany.” By Frances Arundale.  Copied from Oct. 1917 issue [magazine title not given].


                        Miss Arundale’s remembers Madame Blavatsky’s visit to Germany.  She also remembers a visit from Laura C. Holloway, and her working with Mohini Chattergi on “Man: Fragments of Forgotten History.” 



SA 1318.28a-e            article, “Madame Blavatsky: A Pen Picture,” by an American newspaper writer.  From The Word, no date.  Penciled corrections. Presumably written by Laura Holloway.



SA 1318.29     Back cover of The Word, no date, perhaps for issue in which above article was published.



SA 1318.30a-e            article, “H.P. Blavatsky,” not signed, from The Word, not dated; pages 70-80 only; missing all pages after page 80.



SA 1318.31a-b            article, “The Mahatmas and Their Instruments: Madame Blavatsky and the Masters – Precipitated Letters and Their Recipients,” by L.C.L. [Laura C. Holloway Langford], p. 69-72 only, from The Word, not dated; with corrections.



SA 1318.32a-h            article, “Colonel Olcott: A Reminiscence,” not signed, p. 7-19, plus a picture of Olcott, from The Word, not dated but after 1906 ; with a correction.







SA 1318.18     photo with printed identification: James M. Pryse, Mme. H. P. Blavatsky, G. R. S. Mead, “The great exponent of occult philosophy, and two of her pupils … made at the Theosophical headquarters, London, in 1891.”  Madame Blavatsky is in a wheelchair or cart.



SA 1318.3       photo identified on back: William Quan Judge. 

Taken by Sarony, New York, no date.



SA 1318.4       copy of a photo of Madame Blavatsky taken at May Cot in 1887. 

On back: note with identification and with a brief history of the unknown writer’s family.



SA 1318.5       photo of a drawing of Mahatma “M” (Morya).

                        On back: note about the drawing and some information about Master M.



SA 1318.6       picture of Mr. Claude Falls Wright, removed from a theosophical publication.

                        Stamped on back: Brooklyn Theosophical Press Bureau.



SA 1318.7       photo of Col. Henry S. Olcott, with what is probably his signature. 

                        Taken by R. Schlegel, Elberfeld, Germany. 

                        Inscription on back: To my dear and valued friend and colleague L. C. Holloway, H. S. Olcott, Elberfeld, Germany, 27-IX-84.



SA 1318.8       photo of Madame Blavatsky with two Indian men.

Taken by Nicholas, Madras, India.

Inscribed on back with message “to my faithful Barker[?],” signed by Mme Blavatsky, London, July 1884



SA 1318.9       photo of Madame Blavatsky holding a large fan.

                        Taken by Elliott and Fry, London, with a sticker for The Path, New York.



SA 1318.10     photo of Madame Blavatsky, with a knitted shawl over her head and holding a cigarette.

                        Taken by Resta, London.



SA 1318.11     photo of Madame Blavatsky, a head shot, with part of a fan, similar to that in SA 1318.9



SA 1318.12     photo of mother and son, with son reclining on a cushion on a fur, identified on back as Mrs. Sinnet and son.

                        Taken by Arthur King, London.



SA 1318.14     photo of the convention group, Adyar, 1884, including Mme Blavatsky with 9 men, mostly Indians



SA 1318.15     photogravure of portrait of Mme Blavatsky painted by H. Schmiechen in 1885



SA 1318.16     photo postcard of a group of men and women, one of whom is holding a camera, labeled on back by E.P.C. “13 members of the [illegible] which in all has 40 members”; the people are identified on the back, mostly by surname; E.P.C. must be Elizabeth P. Chapin.  Maude Ralston is also in the photo.



SA 1318.17     printed photo, Mr. A. P. Sinnett and his dog, from unknown publication



SA 1318.35     photo (damaged) of William Quan Judge and Henry Steel Olcott, copyright 1891