To celebrate the Statue of Liberty’s 126th birthday, we’ve pulled together some of her baby pictures. These earliest images of Lady Liberty, from our National Design Library’s George A. Kubler Collection, depict her before her dedication in 1886 on Bedloe’s Island—now Liberty Island. You might notice a few differences from the statue we know today, most notably the pedestal she is standing on.
A gift from France by sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi, the United States had agreed to provide a base for Miss Liberty. After many failed attempts to raise the funds needed for the pedestal, Joseph Pulitzer spearheaded a campaign that raised the equivalent of $2.3 million through small donations from over 120,000 people. Richard Morris Hunt, the first American architect to attend École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, was selected to design the base in 1881.
This engraving from 1875 pre-dates Hunt’s design for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. And, a more recent image from the National Park Service Digital Image Archives.
With millions of digital images at our fingertips, it is easy to forget the long history of picture collections that preceded the internet. Many public and academic libraries collected images from books, magazines, as well as assorted ephemera for those seeking knowledge and inspiration from visual materials. These picture collections, in physical (and many now in digital) formats, continue to meet the needs of artists, illustrators, designers, teachers, students, and general researchers. Explore more from the Kubler Collection which contains more than 60,000 historic illustrations like these.
From top to bottom: The laying of the cornerstone for the base designed by Hunt, 1884; Lady Liberty’s head on view at the 1878 World’s Fair in Paris.
The Statue of Liberty was dedicated 126 years ago today.