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Images of Exploration, Discovery, and Early Settlement in the Pacific Northwest: Sarah Cheney Willoughby

Sarah Cheney Willoughby

Port Townsend resident (art from circa 1885-87)

Her interest in art extended to the end of her life. Port Townsend by then had quite an art colony, and Mrs. McCormack [Adeline Willoughby McCormack, Sarah's daughter] says: Mother often came and posed for us by the hour.[49]

Introduction and Biography

Sarah Cheney Willoughby (1841-1913) left her native state of Massachusetts in 1862, and sailed to Seattle via Panama to become an art instructor at the University of Washington. Lacking art students she taught music instead and finally moved to Port Townsend for another teaching post. There she met and married Captain Charles Willoughby, United States Office of Indian Affairs agent. Willoughby and her family were close friends of James Swan. Willoughby died in Port Townsend, in 1913, at the age of 72.


A) Original artwork

UW Libraries holds 11 original pencil and crayon sketches, made during Willoughby's stay in Quinault, which are displayed in the Special Collections Conference Room. Willoughby's daughter, Adeline Willoughby McCormack, donated them to Special Collections in 1950.

Note: The alpha-numeric code (example: NA4035) refers to the negative number and can be used in searching UW Libraries Digital Collections.

  1. Beach at Taholah, 1886. NA4035
  2. Homes and fields along the river, Quinault Indian Reservation, circa 1885. NA4044
  3. Wreck of the British bark off Point Elizabeth, December 1, 1887. NA4036Sir Jamsetjee Family
  4. Indian graves across the river from the village of Taholah, circa 1885. The large canoe contained the remains of eight brothers and sisters from a single family. NA4043
  5. Sunset near Point Elizabeth, circa 1886. NA4038
  6. Top: High Tide. Below: Beach scene with heavy surf, circa 1885. NA4045
  7. Woman carrying firewood. Point Grenville, three miles south of the Quinault River, circa 1885. NA4037
  8. Village of Taholah, with agents house at left and old boiler from a wrecked steamship. NA4039
  9. Extreme low tide at the mouth of the Quinault River, Point Elizabeth in the distance; catching salmon with a drift net and spearing them from a sand bar. NA4042
  10. Quinault Chief Salmon napping on an old chopping block, his hat decorated with flowers. NA4040
  11. Tower for hunting sea otters, between Copalis and Point Grenville, circa 1885. NA4041

B) Personal papers

The Charles Willoughby Papers, 1832-1888, Accession number 4972, includes stories and correspondence by Sarah Cheney Willoughby.

[49] Lucile Saunders McDonald, "A Woman Artist in Early-Day N.W.," The Seattle Times, January 28 1951, 4.