Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer family papers, 1851-1999, bulk 1881-1950

Thayer, Abbott Handerson, b. 1849 d. 1921
Painter, Muralist
Active in Dublin, N.H.; N.Y.

The papers of Abbott Handerson Thayer and the Thayer family in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2007. The the bulk of the papers have been scanned and total 10,074 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.


Collection size: 4.9 linear feet

Collection Summary: The papers of painter and naturalist, Abbott Handerson Thayer, and the Thayer family date from 1851 to 1999, with the bulk of the material dating from 1881 to 1950, and measure 4.9 linear feet. Thayer's painting career, interest in concealing coloration in nature, and relationships with artists, patrons, family, and friends are documented through correspondence, writings, scattered legal and financial records, printed materials, a scrapbook, biographical material, and photographs. The collection also contains family papers created by his second wife, Emma Beach Thayer, his son Gerald, his daughters Mary and Gladys, and Gladys' husband David Reasoner, who managed Thayer's estate after his death.

Biographical/Historical Note: Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921) was a painter from Dublin, N.H. Thayer attended the Brooklyn Academy of Design and the École des Beaux-Arts; published the book "Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom" in 1909 with his son Gerald.

The Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers were donated in 1999 by Abbott Thayer's great-grandson, John Plunket, who received the papers from his mother Jean Reasoner Plunket. In 2005 Bruce Gimelson donated additional material purchased from relatives of Emma Beach Thayer.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

How to Use this Collection

  • Read the Finding Aid for this digitized collection
  • The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Types of materials that have not been digitized include certain printed materials and financial records, unidentifed photographs and photographs of artwork, and certain items related to others, as noted in the folder lists for each series.
  • Reel 3417 (art works): Publication or reproduction must be obtained from: Jean Reasoner Plunket, 5301 41st Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20015.
  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
  • For more information on using the Archives’ resources, see the FAQ or Ask Us.

Also in the Archives

Related Materials

Anne Whiting, a niece of Abbott Handerson Thayer, loaned a diary kept by Thayer, a "Family Record" written by William Henry Thayer, correspondence, printed material, and photographs for microfilming in 1971. These items were returned to Whiting after microfilming and are available to researchers on reel 48. In 1985 Jean Reasoner Plunket, Thayer's granddaughter, loaned original artwork by Thayer which was returned to her after microfilming on reel 3417. These materials are not included in the container listing of the finding aid.
The Archives of American Art holds several collections related to Abbott Handerson Thayer. These include research material on Abbott Handerson Thayer and other artists, 1895-1990, donated by Thomas B. Brumbaugh; the Abbott Handerson Thayer letter and drawings to Caroline Peddle Ball, circa 1890-1893; "The Drawings of Abbott Thayer", by Elizabeth Robins Pennell, circa 1921; and the Nelson and Henry C. White research material, 1898-1978, which includes many letters, photographs, and other material originally belonging to the Thayer family.