Historic Photograph Collections

Signature of Gertrude Bass Warner

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Gertrude Bass Warner

The Warner familyGertrude Bass Warner (1863-–1951) was a wealthy American woman who fell in love with Asia. She first traveled there in 1904, married an American engineer in Shanghai, and spent the rest of her life collecting, studying, and promoting Asian art and culture. She was instrumental in building Asian programs at the University of Oregon, in addition to founding the art museum to house the Murray Warner Collection of Asian Art. Mrs. Warner traveled extensively to build her collection, to study, to learn about museum construction and management, and to promote multiculturalism and appreciation for Asian culture.

Left: The Warner family in China. Murray and Gertrude stand in the archway while Gertrude's son, Sam Bass Warner, sits between them. Maude Kerns is at right. Photographer unknown, 1904-1909. PH014-90-07.

Related collections: Special Collections and University Archives hold extensive materials related to Gertrude Bass Warner. As founder and permanent director of the museum, her correspondence and reports fill the early archives of the museum. As a scholar of Shinto rituals, her research notes form Manuscript collection Ax 701. An unpublished manuscript, When East Meets West, is a separate manuscript at F915.2 W244. Additional materials are housed in University Archives in the Warner personal collection. The lantern slides are part of the Historic Photograph collection, PH014. The collections are in the process of being reorganized to improve their utility. Mrs. Warner's research library, which includes many items of remarkable physical beauty as well as important scholarly content, is primarily housed in Special Collections and searchable through the library's catalog. The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, holds the Murray Warner Collection of Asian Art.Warner image of Japanese woman at toilette

Gertrude in the American stall at a Shanghai fete, 1907Left: A page from Social Shanghai, 1907. Mrs. Warner (at right) headed the American contribution, a candy stall, to the International Fete in Shanghai. As a wealthy member of the international community, she was active in the social life of Shanghai, and her entries in her copy of the Ladies Social Register note daily gatherings for tiffin and lunch. Upper-class expatriates did not generally mix with lower class Asians, but Murray Warner made a point of commuting in the third class Chinese coaches, instead of in the first class transportation reserved for foreigners, in private protest against exclusionist policies. Right: a Japanese woman at her toilette, PH140-070-52.