In the early 1900s, while recovering from one of his periodic illnesses, George Sullivan began visiting art galleries, antique shops, and book dealers. On behalf of his mother and himself, he assembled a large collection of prints and other works of art, rare books, and historical documents. But they soon began disbursing their holdings in gifts to colleges and libraries. Their first major donation was to George Peabody College for Teachers (now part of Vanderbilt University) in Nashville, Tennessee. Mary Mildred had become friendly with a graduate of the college, Mrs. Francis Edwards Hill in 1912 and learned from Mrs. Hill that the art teachers there were in great need of a study collection. She and George agreed that, in George’s words, “we had found a splendid outlet for our desire to aid students.”

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