Legacy – Gest died in 1965, having willed much of her estate to Haverford College because of its renown as a center of religious studies. She left her artwork and the remainder of her estate to partner Miriam Thrall. Looking back to the conversations she and Gest shared about fostering the “college’s desire for intercultural expansion,” Thrall actively advocated for such a place at Haverford and, in 1972, the Gest Center opened as a center of religious studies. When Thrall died in 1976, she left her entire collection of Gest’s art to the College. Today, the Gest Fellowship continues to support scholars seeking to engage in religious studies through interdisciplinary approaches, while Ashok Gangadean, the Emily Judson Baugh Gest and John Marshall Gest Professor and Professor of Philosophy, continues to enrich the legacy of Gest and Thrall’s dream by encouraging new generations of students in the Global Philosophy program. The Margaret Ralston Gest collection in Haverford College’s Quaker and Special Collection includes 362 unique works of art and constitutes the largest corpus of her work in the world.
At Haverford College:
See the entire collection on TriArte by searching “Margaret Ralston Gest.”
On campus, visit the permanent exhibit “Margaret Ralston Gest: ‘a bit more modern'” in the Gest Center Lounge or its auxiliary gallery in the Sharpless Hall psychology student lounge.
Religious studies scholars should consider applying for the Gest Fellowship awarded annually by Quaker & Special Collections.
Learn more about the Gest’s intellectual legacy, the Global Philosophy program, by visiting the home page of program director Ashok Gangadean, the Margaret Gest Professor of Global Philosophy.
Selected bibliography for Margaret Ralston Gest and Miriam Mulford Hunt Thrall:
Jeremy Taylor, The House of Understanding: Selections from the Writings of Jeremy Taylor, trans. Margaret Ralston Gest (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1954).
Miriam Mulford Hunt Thrall and Margaret Ralston Gest, Handsworth Harvest: Margaret Ralston Gest, 1900-1965 (Kutztown, Pennsylvania: The Kutztown Publishing Company, 1974).
Miriam Mulford Hunt Thrall, The Odes of Horace with Five Prefacing Epodes, ed. and trans. Margaret Ralston Gest (Kutztown, Pennsylvania: The Kutztown Publishing Company, 1973).
Miriam Mulford Hunt Thrall, Rebellious Fraser’s: Nol Yorke’s Magazine in the Days of Maginn, Thackeray, and Carlyle (New York: Columbia University Press, 1934).
Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co., The Library of the Late Margaret Ralston Gest (New York: Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., 1977).
Woodmere Art Museum holds two pieces by Gest.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum holds five paintings by Gest.
Gest sold Handsworth, her family home, to neighboring St. Joseph’s University to be acquired by the school upon her death. The building was renamed Wolfington Hall and is, today, the home of the SJU Campus Ministry. SJU Special Collections holds a a dozen paintings and a small collection of furnishings donated to the University by Miriam Thrall when she turned over the house following Gest’s death.
This site was authored by Rachael A. Beyer, who was art registrar at Haverford College and is a PhD candidate and Fellow of the Hagley Program in the History of Capitalism, Technology, and Culture.