Contact Us

The Magnet and the Iron: John Brown and George L. Stearns The Stories Behind the Busts

Collections at Tufts

Tufts University has been accumulating books, documents, artwork, and historic furniture ever since it was first founded in the mid-19th century. These objects have not always been well documented throughout the university’s history, but today most objects are managed by one of three entities: Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives (Tufts University Libraries), which manages archival materials and digital collections; the Tufts University Permanent Collection, which manages artwork, antique furnishings, and decorative arts; and Tufts University Facilities Services Department, which manages buildings.

Tufts Digital Collections and Archives

Many of the university photographs and documents featured in this exhibit were provided by the Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives (Tufts DCA), part of the Tufts University Libraries. Tufts DCA is located in the Tisch Library on the Medford-Somerville campus and is a repository for Tufts-related physical records as well as digital materials.

Tufts:ms054.003.do
View of the Hill from Stearn's estate
Tufts:ua065.003.006.00001
Old College Hill Railroad Station site now occupied by Tufts College Press
Tufts:ms036.011.do
Alfred C. Lane excavating the Stearns Estate, November 22, 1934
Tufts:ua021.002.028
Map of Tufts College
Tufts:ua021.002.028
Lefavour Map of Tufts College in Medford and Boston
Tufts:ua021.002.028
Chase Map of Tufts College in Medford and Boston

Tufts University Permanent Collection

This exhibit features a number of artworks from the Tufts University Permanent Collection, which is a collection of around 2,000 objects ranging from paintings and photographs to sculptures and busts. The busts of John Brown and George L. Stearns belong to the Permanent Collection.

Thumb 1
Bust of George Luther Stearns (Morse), Before Restoration
Image courtesy of the Tufts University Permanent Collection
Thumb 1
John Brown
Image courtesy of the Tufts University Permanent Collection
Thumb 1
Bust of Reverend Hosea Ballou II
Image courtesy of the Tufts University Permanent Collection, AI 01500
Thumb 1
The Stearns Estate, 1899
Image courtesy of the Tufts University Permanent Collection
Thumb 1
Portrait of Hosea Ballou
Image courtesy of the Tufts University Permanent Collection, AI 01565
Thumb 1
Untitled (College Hill from Medford)
Image courtesy of Tufts University Permanent Collection, AI 07400

Tufts also possesses a number of historic furniture pieces that serve both decorative and practical functions. The two pieces seen in this exhibit were originally located in the Stearns Estate mansion and were willed to the university by Mary E. Stearns. Both objects are located in Ballou Hall.

Thumb 1
Stearns Highboy
Image copyright Tufts University
Thumb 1
Stearns Grandfather Clock
Image copyright Tufts University

Tufts University Facilities Services Department

Not to be forgotten are the university’s buildings on the Medford-Somerville campus. These buildings have their own rich histories and many play a part in the stories exhibited here: Ballou Hall, the university's first building; Cousens Gymnasium, which was built on the former Stearns Estate; Goddard Chapel, where the Edwin H. Chapin plaque is located; and Tisch Library, where the busts of John Brown and George L. Stearns are currently displayed.

Tufts:ua136.002.do
Ballou Hall, ca. 1860
Tufts:ua136.002.do
Cousens Gymnasium, 1952
Tufts:ms223.001.001
Goddard Chapel
Tufts:ua206.001.085
Stock photos of the Medford/Somerville campus, including the outside of Tisch Library, East Hall, Dowling Hall, Carmichael Hall, and the Hillel Center. Photo 003