Lincoln, Nebraska resident Eloise Andrews Kruger began collecting miniatures in the late 1930s. Over the course of fifty years, her dedication to acquiring historically accurate pieces led to the development of one of the most impressive miniature collections in the country.
The following is an excerpt from "It's the Little Things: Eloise Kruger and the Kruger Collection" by Renée Laegreid, originally published in In.Form, volume I, 2000:
"Eloise Andrews Kruger was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on June 26, 1914, the eldest of Vernon and Luella Dierks Andrews's four daughters. Her cousin, Carl Rohman, remembers her as "very bright," with "a large strain of self-confidence that seemed to run in the women of the Dierks side of the family." After graduating from Lincoln High in 1933, Eloise enrolled at the University of Nebraska. Although she enjoyed her classes, in 1934 Eloise left the University to help support her mother and sisters. For the next several years Eloise lived with Carl Sr. and Beatrice Rohman, her uncle and aunt, while she worked to help her sisters, Doris, Beatrice, and Jean, with their college expenses (all three did graduate from the University of Nebraska, Doris and Beatrice with Phi Beta Kappa honors).
"Eloise began her working career as a secretary, was quickly promoted to executive secretary, then hired as an accountant for Lee Syndicate. Carl Rohman recalled that although she did not know the first thing about accounting, "she bought accounting books and studied until she became an excellent accountant." During World War II, all male accountants in the office were drafted, and Eloise was given war-time orders of her own - hire women and train them to take the men's place! She succeeded, and ran an all-woman accounting office until the war's end.
"In 1939 Eloise married Carl Kruger, the sales manager for her uncle's firm. As Carl Rohman recalls, it was shortly after their marriage when she became interested in miniatures. What began as a lark, collecting pieces with several of her friends, gradually took on a more serious tone for Eloise. "When she undertook something," Mr. Rohman said, "she did it right. She studied and studied and studied until she got it right." The 1970s and 1980s saw Eloise at her height as a collector. She published articles in Miniature Magazine, commissioned outstanding miniature makers to create scale versions of American Neoclassical antiques, and was in contact with collectors throughout the United States. From the number and quality of American Neoclassical and Victorian pieces purchased or commissioned for the collection, it was clear these were her favorite design periods.
"There are several facets of Eloise Kruger's collecting habits that are quite remarkable. First was her attention to detail. As might be expected of a professional accountant, she kept meticulous records of her collection, documenting where items were bought, who made them, how much she paid, and potential sources for other pieces. Second, and perhaps more important, was her dedication to learning as much as possible about the periods she was recreating in miniature. Part of the gift from the Eloise Kruger Charitable Trust included a collection of over 800 books, covering subjects from architectural history, details, and construction methods, to histories on ceramics, iron work, kitchens, costumes, and textiles."