7/18/2014 10:24 AM
One does not need to be a Chess Champion, a Chess Researcher or a Chess Historian to be touched by the greatness of the John G. White Chess Collection, at the Cleveland Public Library. The enchanting displays of chess, checkers and chess boards can literally transport one through time.
John G. White was a prominent Cleveland attorney who donated an impressive collection of Chess, Checkers, Folklores, and Orientalia to the Cleveland Public Library at the turn of the 20th century. His donation included chess manuscripts, correspondence, history books, literature, serials and many other aspects of chess. Amongst this donation are remarkable portraits of chess players who dominated the game for centuries. In the sea of male portraits, one can find astonishing portraits of women who were Chess Champions as well. Portraits include Madame De Remusat (1780-1824) who played chess with Napoleon Bonaparte at the Malmaison Castle and Mrs. J.W. Gilbert, who achieved worldwide recognition as an accomplishment lady chess player (1875). There are also contemporary players like Irina Krush 2013 U.S Grandmaster, Jennifer Shahade 2004 U.S. Woman's Chess Champion; Phiona Mutesi a girl living in the slums of Uganda with a dream of becoming a Grand master, and has so far so far earned the 2012 title as Woman Candidate Master (WCM).
One can marvel and gain inspiration from the diligence with which these women became power chess players. As one goes these collections of portraits, one thing is certain; no one can underestimate the charismatic power of women as champions of Chess in the modern age. The Special Collections Department of the Cleveland Public Library maintains the J. G. White Collection of Chess Player Portraits and a find aid in OhioLINK. There are presently 209 of the portraits accessible in the Digital Gallery on the Library home page, the rest of the portraits would be scanned and made available for public viewing.
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