Mifflin: Lloyd Mifflin Collection, 1751-1965

Object ID:  MG0059    https://collections.lancasterhistory.org/en/permalink/44a8170c-e467-452e-8cdb-075997491039

2 boxes     26 folders     1 cubic ft.

Repository:  LancasterHistory (Organization)

Shelving Location:  Archives South, Side 2

Scope and content:  This collection contains the papers of Lloyd Mifflin, including diaries, his poetry, typescripts, galleys with marginal notes, Mifflin family material, and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings. Lloyd Mifflin was a poet and painter from Columbia, Pa. He is best known as a writer of sonnets, publishing over 500.

Creator:  Mifflin, Lloyd, 1846-1921.

Conditions for Access:  No restrictions.

Conditions Governing Reproductions:  Collection may not be photocopied. Please contact Research Staff or Archives Staff with questions.

Language:  English

Administrative/Biographical HistoryLloyd Mifflin: Artist and Poet from Columbia, PA

Lloyd Mifflin (1846-1921), artist of landscape and portraiture, was also “America’s greatest sonneteer.”  He was born and lived much of his life in Columbia, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where he was free to wander the banks of the Susquehanna River and its tributaries.

His father, J. Houston Mifflin, of English Quaker descent, was Lloyd’s first teacher in drawing and sketching.  His mother, Elizabeth A. Heise, came from German heritage.  She was born in Columbia and died when Lloyd was very young.  His father, a kind and patient man, noted that Lloyd was a rather weak child and provided equestrian and water sports to improve his health.

Lloyd was taught in the public schools in Columbia, including the Washington Classical Institute.  The Mifflin family supported local education by bequeathing two houses from their estate, the cottage known as “Norwood” and the grand house, “Cloverton,” as well as the estate itself.  The school district annually planted a flower on his birthday, September 15, and read one of his sonnets, “A Picture of My Mother.”

At the age of 14, Lloyd undertook drawing and sketching with his father.  He also had Thomas Moran as an instructor in painting and worked with Isaac Williams of Philadelphia for a short time.  In 1869, he traveled to Europe where he studied with Henry Herzog at Dusseldorf, Germany. His adventures also took him to Italy, France, England, and Scotland.  He returned to Columbia from Europe and continued painting scenes from along the Susquehanna—from Cooperstown, NY to the Chesapeake Bay.  As did most other painters of the time, he earned money from portraiture.

In his paintings, he captured the natural with refined color and light, which yielded firm and balanced forms.  He preferred to capture the peacefulness of a woodland path or other quiet spots, rather than the noise of an industrial area.  Later in his life he liked seasonal paintings, since they gave him a chance to probe deeper into a philosophical spirit.

Mifflin turned to poetry at the age of 51.  According to what he wrote in The Hills, his first volume of poetry (1896), he claimed that the fumes of the paint made him sick.  In his lifetime he filled twelve books of verse with two hundred poems and more than six hundred sonnets.  He wrote more sonnets than William Shakespeare, John Milton, and William Wordworth.  John Keats, however, was his favorite.  He preferred Keats for his expression regarding the love of beauty, both real and ideal; his forms were always poised and dignified.  During this time he also taught himself the art of etching, using this technique to illustrate The Hills.

Mifflin stressed a strong love of beauty in his poetry as he did in his painting.  His imagination and beautiful sense of harmony characterize his verse.  The main source of his ambition, inspiration and consolation are clearly seen in The Invocation.

He devoted his greatest efforts to the category of the sonnet, considering it the most distinguished and exalted of all forms of English poetry.  He enjoyed the structure, the metrical and rhythmic beauty, the plan of metrical rhyme and diction.  Mifflin found it much like a musical composition.

Sonnets bipartite in structure usually have a combination of eight lines followed by six.  The rhyme schemes and diction include many metaphors and an extensive vocabulary.  His one hundred and fifty nature sonnets emphasize the descriptive, not the intuitional.  To sample his poetic styles, one should turn to his three hundred and fifty collected sonnets, published in 1905 with a second edition in 1907.  A large number came from earlier books.

As a poet, Mifflin was an idealist and respected the ideal of Greek mythological beauty.  In the Echoes of the Greek Idylls and Slopes of Helicon, we find no roughness of spirit.  There was a conscience of a spiritual presence.  His religious sonnets were grounded in the faith of a personal God which related more to his aesthetic feelings than to traditional Christianity.  Themes of life and death occur in many sonnets.  His poetry inspired faith, hope and deep emotion.  These sonnets were more descriptive than philosophical.

Mifflin’s personal ambition was to excel; he wanted to write the perfect sonnet.  Like the classical Greeks, he hoped his poetry would obtain an immortality.  Mifflin thought the world had largely ignored him, even though his poetry received high praise.  At his life’s end he changed his opinion and credited his readers with more accolades than he had earlier thought.  Perhaps he was too hard on himself.  Lloyd Mifflin carried the name “Hermit of the hills” who walked the ‘world as one entranced’ and ‘in life’s turbid wave’, dropped ‘ the crown-jewel of his melody.’”

E. Hershey Sneath. America’s Greatest Sonneteer. The Clover Press (Geo. D. Hall): Columbia, PA.,1928.

Source of Acquisition:  Some items were a gift of Grace Minnich and Loretta Minnich, February 1957.

Accruals:  No further accruals are expected.

Preferred Citation:  Lloyd Mifflin Collection (MG-59), Box #, Folder #, LancasterHistory, Lancaster, Pa.

Subject Headings:
Mifflin, Lloyd, 1846-1921 (LHo-LOC n 87141439)
Poets, American (LHo-LOC sh 85103735)
Painters (LHo-LOC sh 85096653)
Scrapbooks (LHo-LOC sh 85118923)
Wills (LHo-LOC sh 85146810)
Diaries (LHo-LOC sh 85037601)
Sonnets (LHo-LOC sh 85125233)
Poetry (LHo-LOC sh 85103704)
Susquehanna River (LHo-LOC sh 85130903)
Columbia (Pa.) (LHo-LOC n 82070874)

Search Terms:








Susquehanna River

Columbia, Pa.

Related Materials:

J. Houston Mifflin Collection, MG-150

Lloyd Mifflin paintings and other items in the Curatorial Collection

Photograph Collection

Processing History:  Processed and finding aid prepared prior to 1997. This collection has been documented, preserved and managed according to professional museum and archives standards. The finding aid was updated using DACS conventions.


Box 1

Folder 1

Insert 1 Biography of Lloyd Mifflin from Who’s Who.  Lists published sonnet collections, 1896-1909. No date.

Insert 2  Images of Lloyd Mifflin. No date.

Folder 2  Miscellaneous Poems chiefly of Divine Subjects in Two Books.  Williamsburg: William Hunter, 1751.  (Boards are loose).

Folder 3 Modern Story Teller. Philadelphia: Peter Stewart, 1802.  Owned by Elizabeth Ann Bethel Heise, n.d.  Epitome of Workman’s Geography. Philadelphia, W. McCullough, 1811.  On end paper: “Joseph Mifflin 5 mo 1813.”  On fly leaf, in pencil: “Wm. Atlee 5 mo 1813.”

Folder 4  Lloyd Mifflin Diary, 1870; Diary of a Lady from the Mifflin Family, 1877.  Patent self-closing diary for 1870.

Folder 5  “Decoration Day Ode,” by Lloyd Mifflin. Ms cover.  Text in print, 8 pp. F. X. Reuss. May 1878.

Folder 6  Galleys.  Sonnets.  Also published in Collected Sonnets, first edition 1905.  London: Frowde, 1907.

Folder 7  Lloyd Mifflin,  A Hundred Sonnets, edited by Edmund Stanley Brooke with notes.  Index of first lines. 108 pp.  1895.  Typescript copy.  Paper cover damaged.

Folder 8  Lloyd Mifflin, The Slopes of Helicon and other Poems.  Illustrated, Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1898.

Folder 9  Lloyd Mifflin, Year-Book: Birth-days of Distinguished Americans with Quotations from Poems of [L.M.] Edited by E[dmund] S[tanley] B[rooke], Philadelphia: The Levytype Co. 1897, copyright 1896. (3 copies)


Box 2

Folder 10  Two poems: “Under Elder Blooms” and “From the Hammock.”  Edited typescript. Two sheets. 1898 and 1899.

Folder 11  Lloyd Mifflin, The Fields of Dawn and Later Sonnets. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company.  Unbound galleys. Forty two pieces with annotations. 1900.

Folder 12  Lloyd Mifflin, At the Gates of Song. Illustrated including author’s portrait.  Galleys for second edition with annotations by the editor.  Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1897. (fifty pieces; cut from bound 1897 ed.)


Folder 13   Lloyd Mifflin, The Fields of Dawn and Later Sonnets.  Inscribed by author.  Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company. VIII, pp. 105.  Added at back “Robert Fulton 1765-1815 (part 2 1909) and “From the Battlements” (From the Slopes of Helicon and other Poems) and letter from author to Miss Martha B. Clark. 20 June 1905.  Copy 1.

The Fields of Dawn and Later Sonnets.  Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company. 1900. Numerous galley pages missing.  Copy 2.


Folder 14  Lloyd Mifflin, Lyrics.  Mount Joy: The Hoffer Press, 1904. One of fifteen copies. (back cover detached)


Folder 15  Lloyd Mifflin, As Twilight Falls: Poems by Lloyd Mifflin. New York: New York University, 1916.  One of fifty copies, uncut and unbound; pp. 5-20 missing. 102 numbered pages.


Folder 16  Various Poems by Lloyd Mifflin

Insert 1  “In memoriam”

Insert 2  “ The Voice of the Forest” [1908]

Insert 3  “ La Primavera”

Insert 4  “ A Winter Sketch” and “Now Like a Red Leaf” [1900]


Folder 17   Lloyd Mifflin, “An Ode (Upon the Semi-centennial of Franklin and Marshall College: June, 1903.”  Mount Joy, PA: Hoffer Press, 1903.


Folder 18  Press Reviews and Notices of Lloyd Mifflin’s Writings

Insert 1  Press notices of Echoes of the Greek Idylls.  Boston, 1899.  8 pp.

Insert 2  Press reviews of At The Gates of Song,  Boston, Estes and Lauriat, 1897. Third edition, London: Henry Frowde, 1901.

Insert 3  Henry Frowde, “Some opinions of the British Press upon the Collected Sonnets of Lloyd Mifflin.”  Second edition, Oxford University Press, 1907; first edition, 1905. (2 copies)

Insert 4  Leaflets listing Lloyd Mifflin’s works

Leaf with photo: “Titles, 1896-1905”

Quartos, “ A New Book.” Titles 1896-1905.  Note: Front page shows cover of The Fleeing Nymph and Other Verse. Boston: Small, Maynard and Co., 1905.

Single leaf, on one side, “Titles, 1896-1916.”

Insert 5  “New and Recent Publications of the Clarendon Press, The British Museum, and other Books Published by Henry Frowde.” London: Oxford University, December 1905, p 39 (pictures of Mifflin).


Folder 19  Opinion of Lloyd Mifflin in The Artsman. Rose Valley, PA: November, 1904, pp 72, 73.


Folder 20  Illustrations and galley proofs from The Slopes of Helicon and Other Poems. Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1898.

Insert 1 Leaves from The Slopes of Helicon and Other Poems [incomplete: pp 5-20 and 53-68.]

Insert 2  Nine of ten illustrations for The Slopes of Helicon and Other Poems with advertisement for At the Gates of Song and The Slopes of Helicon and Other Poems.  Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1897.

Insert 3  Galley proofs from AT the Gates of Song. London: Henry Frowde, 1901, originally 1897 at Boston: Estes and Lauriat. 11 pieces.


Folder 21  Scrapbook of Newspaper Clippings, etc. regarding Published Volumes of Lloyd Mifflin from 1897-1900.

In addition to newspaper clippings provided by clipping bureaus, the volume contains:  Dummy for unidentified volume where most poems have been removed. Several references to “The Sequence,“ an expense and mailing list. Titles of many sonnets grouped in alphabetical order (a number dated). 22 pieces.


Folder 22  “Lloyd Mifflin” in “Honorary Degrees,” University of Pennsylvania, See “Old Penn: weekly Review of the University of Pennsylvania,” Vol. 6, no. 37, 15 June 1908, pg. 1. Includes picture, article incomplete.


Folder 23  Lloyd Mifflin Properties and State Education

Insert 1  Plot plan of the Lloyd Mifflin Memorial Home. [1929]

Insert 2  Pennsylvania School Journal, Vol. 78, no. 6, December 1929, pp 41-46, 51. Convention program shows possibilities of use and finances for Norwood (see picture on p. 44) and for Cloverton (see picture on p. 46).

Insert 3  “The Lloyd Mifflin Memorial Home,” Pennsylvania School Journal, Vol. 78, no. 6, February 1930, pp 331-33.  With plot plan and Norwood and Cloverton images.  Also discusses the role of his brother Dr. Houston Mifflin. (see also folder 25)

Insert 4  The Lloyd Mifflin Memorial: A Home For Those Whose Lives Have Been Spent in Teaching Ambitious  Youth.  A pamphlet reprint from Pennsylvania State Education Association, Vol. 80, no. 3, 1931.


Folder 24  The Mifflin Homes

Insert 1  Martha Seider, “Home Life at ‘Cloverton’, (Lloyd Mifflin Memorial),”  Pennsylvania State Education. [ Reading, PA], no date.  Picture of Mifflin in academic regalia on frontice piece.  Also pictures of Dr. Houston Mifflin, p.1, Cloverton, p. 5 and Norwood, p.7.

Insert 2  The Lloyd Mifflin Birthplace, Bill of Sale with room pictures as furnished recently, 165 Walnut St., Columbia. Four unnumbered pp.  Jack Johnson Associates, no date.


Folder 25  Houston Mifflin wills his Art Collection to the Pennsylvania State Education Associate (for $1.00), 27 March 1929.  Document “A” lists painting titles, some subject descriptions, artists, media and size.  39 items.


Folder 26  Letter from Shirley Howarth, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, to Nevin A. Stauffer, Columbia, regarding the conservation of paintings on display at the Archives of the William Penn Memorial Museum.  23 November 1970. (1 item, 2 pieces, formerly attached)