First known photographs of Adra Newell Discovered Online

By The American Numismatic Society

Some years ago I wrote about Edward Newell and his wife Adra for ANS Magazine (2014/3). Edward, the Society’s president for 25 years (1916–1941), is well known to numismatists. A prolific author and scholar in the area of Greek coinage, his bequest of more than 87,000 coins still ranks as the Society’s largest single donation. Though less familiar, his wife Adra was also a collector, an active member for over 50 years, and, as discussed in my article, a sometimes contentious presence at the ANS. She joined the Society in 1910, was named a patron in 1925, and a benefactor in 1952.

1936.159.1.obv.noscale REDUCED

Uniface medal by Theodore Spicer-Simson (ANS 1936.159.1)

One factor that has prevented us from making a more personal connection with Adra has been the absence of any photographs of her. While there are many of her husband, until recently the only known image of Adra was a profile portrait  on a 1911 medal by Theodore Spicer-Simson.

1923 Adra Passport STRAIGHTENED

Adra Newell passport photograph, 1923

Now, however, thanks to the online sleuthing of researcher Dr. Leah Niederstadt, we have several photographs of Adra. Dr. Niederstadt is an associate professor of museum studies and curator of the permanent collection at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, which in 1966 was the recipient of a bequest from Adra consisting of over a thousand Greco-Roman and Egyptian antiquities. In 2014, Dr. Niederstadt came to New York to have a look at some materials in the ANS Archives, research used for her article, “Building a Legacy for the Liberal Arts: Deaccessioning the Newell Bequest, Wheaton College,” which was published in the book Is it Okay to Sell the Monet? (2018).

1919 Adra Edward Passport CROPPED

Adra and Edward Newell passport photographs, 1919

1921 Adra Edward Passport CROPPED

Adra and Edward Newell passport photographs, 1921

The images she found were passport photographs on, a free genealogical website sponsored by the Mormon Church. The image quality isn’t the greatest on a few of them, but there is one from 1923 that is clear, and it shows, as Dr. Niederstadt points out, a great resemblance to the medal portrait.

A big thank you to Dr. Niederstadt for uncovering these important photographs!