Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt
Rachel Hunt was born 30 June 1882 in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, and died 22 February 1963 in Pittsburgh. From her youth she had a strong affinity for plants and gardens as well as for books. These interests eventually led to her developing an internationally renowned collection of botanical books, in addition to manuscripts and artworks. She began early to collect books in her special areas of interest. Her first gardening book, bought at age 15, was Leonard Meager's The English Gardener, or A Sure Guide to Young Planters and Gardeners, London, Printed for P. Parker, 1670.
Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt
photograph by Edmoud (or Edward) Day, ca.1907. HI Archives portrait no. 7.
She also became interested in bookbinding and studied with Euphemia Bakewell, a student of the English master binder T. J. Cobden-Sanderson. Her considerable mastery of the bookbinder's craft enabled her to produce approximately 90 bindings, many of which are now held by the Institute. Her binding activity is documented in Marianne Titcombe's The Bookbinding Career of Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt, Pittsburgh, 1974. She also began to collect rare books in earnest. In addition to books on plant-related subjects, she also collected works on bookbinding, typography and book production, as well as the products of selected private presses. Much of this non-botanical material resides in the Rare Book and Special Collections department of the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries.
A choice portion of her botanical book collection is documented in the two-volume Catalogue of Botanical Books in the Collection of Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt, compiled by Jane Quinby and published in Pittsburgh by The Hunt Botanical Library, 19581961.
In 1913, she married Roy Arthur Hunt, president and chairman of the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) and son of company founder Alfred E. Hunt, and together they established the Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt Botanical Library. The Hunt Botanical Library was formally opened and dedicated on October 10, 1961.
Above: Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt, photomechanical reproduction of painting by Elizabeth Shoumatoff. Frontispiece for George H. M. Lawrence's The Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt Botanical Library: Its Collections, Program, and Staff (Pittsburgh, Hunt Botanical Library, 1961). HI Archives portrait no. 19.
Right: Mrs. Hunt in her garden. HI Archives portrait no. 21.
Organizations in which Rachel Hunt was active and in some cases a founding or charter member include: American Bookplate Association, American Horticultural Society, Garden Club of America, Garden Club of Allegheny County, Grolier Club, Herb Society of America, Hroswitha Club, National Society of Colonial Dames of America, Pennsylvania Society, Pittsburgh Bibliophiles and Zonta International.
Mrs. Hunt also gave lectures on gardens of Garden Club members using glass lantern slides, which are a part of the Institute's collections.
We feel fortunate to be able to make Mrs. Hunt's collections and the Institute's subsequent acquisitions, research and programs available to scientists, scholars and anyone interested in the various aspects of botany, bibliography, art biography and history represented here.