Our Collections

McGuffey Readers next to the William Holmes McGuffey Museum wordmark

The McGuffey House and Museum and Miami University offer a variety of collections and interpretations of William Holmes McGuffey, the McGuffey Readers, the history of Miami University, and the history of southwest Ohio. Below is a room-by-room view of just a few of the pieces that we have in our collections.

Collection Photographs by Jeff Sabo, Miami University Photographer

Kitchen (1830s)

A room with kitchen furniture, including a table set for a meal, ladderback chairs, a tall cupboard and a short pie safe cupboard displaying dishes and cookware

Kitchen (1830s): food preparation & storage, setting the table, cookies and puddings, butter molds

Pie Safe Cupboard displaying dishes and cookware

Pie Safe Cupboard

Poplar with pierced tin panels, 1840–1850

Cupboards of this type were used for food storage. The pierced tin panels allowed air circulation without letting rodents and large insects foul the foodstuffs.

Dining Room (1850s)

Dining Room furnished with items including grandfather clock, sideboard, needlepoint rug, artwork, and display cases

Dining Room (1850s): special dining occasions, knife rests and salt dips, dual purpose room

Bishop Sideboard

Mahogany, 1790–1815

This sideboard belonged to the first president of Miami University, Robert Hamilton Bishop. President Bishop owned the sideboard during his tenure in Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky (1804–1842). It is thought to have descended through the family of his wife.

The sideboard was brought to Oxford by the Bishops in 1824 and stood in the spacious front entry hall of the Bishop home until the 1930s. it belonged to Robert H. Bishop, MD, from 1940 until 1955. The sideboard was then lent to a cousin in Massachusetts. In 1991, the sideboard was given to Miami University by Dr. Jonathan S. Bishop and placed in McGuffey Museum.

Bishop Sideboard

Formal Parlor (1880s)

Parlor, with furnishings including drapery, lamps, portraits, a round table, and chairs. A mannequin is dressed in the style of a 19th century woman.

Formal Parlor (1880s): fabrics and colors, wallpaper, horse hair, parlor games

McGuffey's Eight-Sided Table

It is thought that McGuffey wrote the first four books in the series in this house, very possibly on this table.

McGuffey Octagonal Table

Alexander McGuffey's Chair


Alexander McGuffey's ChairDetail of Alexander McGuffey's Hand Carved Emblem on Chair

This chair, carved in Cincinnati by the famous woodcarving brothers Fry, sat in the hallway of Alexander's law office. It personifies discomfort and the story is that Alexander would leave clients sitting there until they were ready to agree to his terms when negotiating a legal case. The carved motto, nemo me lacessit impune, freely translated, means that "I will harm you if you harm my good name."

Portrait of Caroline Virginia Rich McGuffey

By Thomas Buchanan Read
Oil on Canvas, 1867

Portrait of Caroline Virginia Rich McGuffey

Caroline Virginia Rich, shown here in her wedding attire, became the second wife of Alexander H. McGuffey in 1866 when she was 27 years old. The Cincinnati home of Caroline and Alexander McGuffey, "Sunbright," has been the source of many items with McGuffey associations that have been placed at McGuffey House and Museum.

Portrait of Unknown Woman

Oil on Canvas, Circa 1830s

Portrait of Unknown Woman

This unidentified woman is believed to be one of a pair of wedding portraits. The paintings are from the Richmond, Indiana area and date to the period of McGuffey's residence in Oxford.

Wintertime Paintings

With the heavy snows and frigid temperatures Ohio receives, it seems fitting to highlight two winter scenes painted by Miami’s most prominent and productive 20th century artist, Marston Hodgin (1903-2003). Both paintings are on exhibit in the museum.

Marston Hodgin painting, February Thaw

The work at left, titled February Thaw, likely depicts Four Mile Creek, aka Tallawanda Creek, circa 1940. Four Mile Creek flows along the north and east sides of the Miami University campus, and has become a favorite outdoor location for hikers and bikers on the newly opened Oxford Area Trail System (OATS). Transfer from Miami University Housing and Dining.

Marston Hodgin painting, 'Hueston Woods'This painting is titled Hueston Woods and was painted in 1937. Calvin Conrad, a long-time resident of Oxford, believes the scene is along or near the road that today provides access to the Maple Sugar Shack at Hueston Woods State Park. The painting predates the establishment of the park. Gift of Molly Shera Lampert.

Bedroom (mid 19th century)

Bedroom furnished with a four-poster bed, nightstand, and dresser

Bedroom (mid 19th century): candlestick, chamber pots, quilts

Peter Bruner's Top Hat and Hat Box

Overcoming years of slavery, voluntary service in the Union Army, and decades of manual labor, celebrated Oxford citizen Peter Bruner's life is a story worth telling and re-telling. Our collection includes his top hat and hat box.

Peter Bruner Hat Box next to a top hat

Band Box featuring Clayton's Ascent

Band Box

Clayton's Ascent, 1835–1836

This oval cardboard box is covered with "Clayton's Ascent" paper printed from hand carved wood blocks.