The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture will be closed for renovations from August 31, 2014 through December 2016. Please check back in the fall for details of our exciting new galleries and installations.
"A Visit from St. Nicholas" was published anonymously in the Troy, New York Sentinel in 1822. Clement Clarke Moore, a theologian and Hebrew scholar, whose large family estate was in the Manhattan neighborhood currently known as Chelsea, has generally been accepted as the author of the poem. Although his claim has sometimes been in dispute, Moore publicly acknowledged authorship in 1838. In 1862, at the request of the Librarian of the New-York Historical Society, he wrote out this manuscript copy of the poem.
Moore's Santa Claus, described only a few years after the Alexander Anderson image was produced, has been transformed into a more familiar figure:
His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
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New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street)
New York, NY 10024