Skip to main content

Hattie Bishop Speed collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2018_031

This collection contains personal and biographical materials collected by chief curator Ruth Cloudman while planning an exhibition of Hattie B. Speed. Includes personal correspondence, clippings, and a desk diary Mrs. Speed kept while planning the museum. It also documents the Speed family’s role in Abraham Lincoln memorialization. Correspondence, photographs, pamphlets, and clippings document the commission and 1911 unveiling event of a Weinman statue of Lincoln in the Kentucky State Capitol. Of particular note are letters from African American civic leaders thanking Mrs. Speed for inviting them to the unveiling of the statue.

This collection also consists of records generated and collected by staff in the operations of the Hattie B. Speed Music Room and planning of the Hattie B. Speed Endowed Concert Series. It includes files arranged alphabetically by artist, correspondence, programs, contracts, autographed photographs of musicians, clippings, investment accounts, and a history of the music room. Speed built the music room as an addition to her house at 505 West Ormsby Street in Louisville, Kentucky after her husband died in 1912. Speed hosted concerts in the music room and established the Hattie Bishop Speed Endowed Concert Series that continued after her death in 1942.


  • 1867-1969
  • Majority of material found within 1910-1930



9.225 linear feet (11 boxes)

Biographical / Historical

Hattie Bishop Speed (1858–1942) was a pianist, humanist, and philanthropist who championed music and the arts in Louisville, Kentucky.

Born Harriett Theresa Bishop in Louisville on February 12, 1858, Hattie attended Louisville and Boston private schools before going to Europe in 1886. Her music education continued for six years there in Berlin and Rome at the age of 28. Upon returning to Louisville, Ms. Bishop resumed her life as a piano teacher and performer. As a music student in Rome in the late 1880s and early 1890s, Hattie Bishop became close friends with Anita Vedder, daughter of the American expatriate painter, Elihu Vedder. After visiting the Vedders at their homes in Rome and on the island of Capri, Hattie came to know American painters, Charles Caryl Coleman and George Randolph Barse.

Hattie Bishop married prominent Louisville businessman, James Breckinridge Speed, in 1906. She was 48 and he was 62. His first wife, Cora Coffin Speed, had died the year prior. Traveling extensively throughout the US as well as abroad, the two enjoyed collecting paintings and sculptures.

With James Speed's death in 1912, Hattie established the Speed Art Museum to memorialize of her husband of his love of art. Mrs. Speed served as the first president and director of the art museum.

Mrs. Speed. was also a fervent advocate of Louisville's Red Cross Hospital, which had been founded by African-American physicians and operating the only nurse training program in Kentucky open to black women. Hattie Speed served on the hospital's advisory board and helped fund many of the hospital's operations.

Hattie Speed died in 1942.

Hattie Bishop Speed papers
Heather Fox and Brianna Jacobi
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections Repository

Ekstrom Library, Lower Level Room 17
Louisville KY 40292
502 852-6752