Constance Garland (1907-1988) always felt she was Number Two Daughter. Not only in order of birth, four years after her sister Mary Isabel, but also in the affections of her father. Remarkably enough, this seems to have done little to hold her back. She and her sister remained close through their adolescence, marriages and divorce, even into their old age, and neither wavered in upholding their devotion to both parents.
Though their father’s possessiveness could be a trial, each in her own way -- Mary Isabel as a writer and Connie as an artist -- tried to make it up to him that he had not produced a son. For his part, Hamlin often made it clear that he wished Connie had pursued art as a career, but she chose to put marriage and motherhood ahead of applying her talents, with the notable exception of the hundreds of drawings she made for her father’s books.
Whatever her broader potential might have been, Constance by age 18 had developed a tidy skill at pen-and-ink drawings, especially as applied to the stories her father wrote. Her first illustrations were in the last two Middle Border books, continued through his ‘literary log-books’ and the final edition, in the author’s lifetime, of the expanded Main-Travelled Roads.
If there is a point to be made about Connie’s drawings, beyond their simple appeal, it is that a single generation sufficed to place a frame of nostalgia about the stories which had been “cutting-edge reality” in her father’s youth. This is precisely the effect of her work in Trailmakers of the Middle Border and the 1931 reissue of Main-Travelled Roads. Thanks to her skills, the stories convey an appropriate sense of “long ago.”
For a period of years, Connie also provided the senior Garlands with their own Christmas card designs, as seen in these two examples from the USC Collection:
In the 1930s, after her parents had moved to California not least to be closer to Connie’s children, their artistic daughter fulfilled a long-standing promise to design a bookplate for her father, with which he soon ‘papered’ all the books in his library.
In a letter to the USC University Librarian, written after her father’s death, Connie described her creation as follows:
The plate was supposed to indicate the various phases in Father’s life. In the upper left corner is New York; the lower left the cornstalk, signifying Iowa. In the center at the top are the plains of Dakota. The large central block represents the Rocky Mountain country. The center (bottom) is a coulee in Wisconsin, and the one at the upper right is my uncle Lorado Taft’s statue of Black Hawk which stands on the bluffs over the Illinois River, near the artists’ colony where Mother and Father met. And the yucca on the right is for California, at the ‘end of the trail.’ (Letter dated June 12, 1942, from the USC Hamlin Garland Collection)