Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date

Spring 5-30-2017


Anna Safley Houston was an eccentric woman from Chattanooga who had a compulsive desire to collect antiques. Houston’s glass collection is one of if not the finest glass collections in the world. Houston had much in common with other great collectors from the early twentieth century such as William Randolph Hearst, Armand Hammer, Bella King and others. Houston did a large amount of traveling, visiting every state along with Canada and Cuba. Houston also established a social and professional network of friend and family who helped her overcome certain difficulties of collecting. In addition, Houston wanted her work to be admired, refusing to sell many pieces of glassware because she was saving them for a museum. Houston differed from other collectors in the barriers she overcame in gathering her collection. Most great collectors from the early twentieth century attended prestigious universities and had made significant achievements in academics. Houston was forced to drop out of middle school to assume family responsibilities when her mother died. Also, collectors often were very wealthy as collecting tended to be quite costly. While Houston was a successful business woman, she was not wealthy. When the Great Depression came, Houston would chose to sell her house instead of selling part of her precious collection. Houston would go on to construct a barn to live in with all of her antiques. The fact that Houston was able to amass one of the greatest collections in the world without being wealthy or highly educated is truly remarkable.


This paper covered how Anna Safley Houston was similar and different from other collectors from her time period. This paper was also focused on exploring themes of collectors in the early twentieth century.

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