A Finding Aid to the Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family Papers,
(bulk 1881-1950), in the Archives of American Art, by Erin Corley
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Table of Contents:
- Biographical Information
- Overview of the Collection
- How to Use the Collection
- Detailed Description and Container Inventory
Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921) was born in Boston to Dr. William Henry Thayer and Ellen Handerson Thayer. After his birth his family moved to Woodstock, Vermont, and in 1855 settled in Keene, New Hampshire. As a child Thayer developed a love of nature that was encouraged by his close family, which included three sisters, Ellen, Margaret, and Susan. At the age of fifteen he was sent to the Chauncy Hall School in Boston, and while there he met Henry D. Morse, an amateur animal painter. Under Morse's instruction Abbott developed his skill in painting birds and other wildlife and began painting animal portraits on commission. In 1867 he moved to Brooklyn, New York and attended the Brooklyn Academy of Design where he studied under J. B. Whittaker for two years. In 1868 he began showing his work at the National Academy of Design and enrolled there in 1870, studying under Lemuel Wilmarth. He met many emerging artists during this period, including his future first wife, Kate Bloede and his close friend, Daniel Chester French. Thayer became part of progressive art circles, showing his work at the newly formed Society of American Artists, while continuing to develop his skill as an animal and landscape painter.
Thayer and Kate Bloede were married in 1875. They moved to Paris and he studied at the �cole des Beaux-Arts, first under Henri Lehmann, and then with Jean-L�on G�rome. While in Europe he befriended fellow artists Everton Sainsbury, Thomas Millie Dow, George de Forest Brush, and Dwight Tryon. His daughter Mary was born in 1876 and his son William Henry in 1878. The family returned to America in 1879 and settled in his parent's home in Brooklyn, where he changed his focus to portraits. After the tragic deaths of William Henry in 1880 and of their second son, Ralph Waldo, in 1881, the family led a migratory existence living in various parts of New England. In 1881 while living in Nantucket they met Emmeline (Emma) Beach (1850-1924) who would become close friends with Abbott and Kate and would be known as "Addie" to the family. In 1883 their son Gerald was born and in 1886 their daughter Gladys was born. In 1887 Thayer settled his family in Keene, New Hampshire, and began teaching a small group of students. Around this time his wife began suffering from severe depression and went to a sanatorium in 1888. She died in 1891 and that fall Thayer married Emma Beach who had helped to care for him and his children during his wife's illness.
Despite family tragedies, Thayer became a leader in the New York art world during the 1880s and 1890s. He was a successful portraitist and painted allegorical figures of angels, women, and children, which were popular among collectors of this period, including his patrons Charles Lang Freer and John Gellatly. He often used his children as models, especially his eldest daughter, Mary.
In the late 1880s one of Thayer's students, Mary Amory Greene, built a house and studio for the Thayer family on her land in Dublin, New Hampshire, and in 1901 the family settled there permanently. Many of Thayer's artist friends lived nearby, such as Richard Meryman and George de Forest Brush, and the Thayer family frequently entertained prominent visitors such as Edward Waldo Emerson and Samuel Clemens. Abbott Thayer taught painting to his children, and Gerald and Gladys both became artists and art educators. Gladys married David Reasoner, a student of Abbott Thayer who later became his assistant. Other students of Thayer included Rockwell Kent, Ben Foster, Barry Faulkner, and Louis Agassiz Fuertes.
Greatly influenced by transcendentalism and the spirituality of nature, Thayer again began to paint landscapes, especially of nearby Mount Monadnock. He was very interested in the study of protective coloration in the wild, and was an advocate for nature conservation and bird sanctuaries. He published the book Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom in 1909 with his son Gerald, but encountered much resistance to his theories. Thayer also wrote about how his camouflage theories could be applied to military warships and uniforms. These theories failed to gain widespread government interest and after suffering from nervous exhaustion, he spent the rest of his life painting landscapes at his home in Dublin, until his death in 1921.
Overview of the Collection
Scope and Contents
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, and a scrapbook. Photographs are of Thayer, his family, studio, and friends, including artists. 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.
Scattered Biographical Material includes a brief autobiographical statement and chronology by Abbott Thayer, lists of artworks by Abbott Thayer and Gladys Thayer Reasoner, and biographical information about Thayer's granddaughter, Jean Reasoner Plunket. Two linear feet of family correspondence includes Abott Thayer's correspondence with patrons Charles L. Freer and John Gellatly; with many artists, several of whom were close friends, including Samuel Colman, Thomas Millie Dow, Daniel Chester French, Richard Meryman, Everton Sainsbury, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, and E. M. Taber; and former students, such as Ben Foster and Barry Faulkner; and with other friends, many of them prominent members of society, such as Samuel Clemens, Royal Cortissoz, Edward Waldo Emerson, and Stanford White. Also found is Thayer's correspondence with scientists and naturalists discussing his theories on protective coloration in nature. Correspondence of his second wife Emma Beach Thayer, his first wife, Kate Bloede Thayer, his daughter, Gladys Thayer Reasoner, her husband and executor of Thayer's estate, David Reasoner, and other family members are also included in the papers.
Writings and notes by Thayer record his thoughts on concealing coloration, nature, restoration of artwork, and other topics. Writings by others include those by Emma Beach Thayer, daughters Mary and Gladys, and Thayer scholars. The collection also contains correspondence of David Reasoner and other family members, as well as financial and legal documents regarding the estate of Abbott Handerson Thayer and Emma Beach Thayer. Additional financial and legal material includes ledgers, accounts statements, bills, a patent granted to Thayer and Gerome Brush, legal agreements, property deeds, and a map of Thayer's property.
Printed material include books, including one written by Theodore Roosevelt in response to Thayer's book on concealing coloration. Also found are newspaper and magazine clippings, and exhibition announcements and catalogs. Photographs are of Abbott Thayer, his wife Emma; his studio and home in Dublin, New Hampshire; friends, including Rockwell Kent and Ralph Waldo Emerson; and of unidentified people. Artwork includes a few drawings by Thayer, drawings and paintings by his children, and sketchbooks belonging to David Reasoner and Jean Reasoner Plunket. The collection also includes one large scrapbook kept by David Reasoner documenting Abbott Thayer's artwork.
Arrangement and Series Description
The collection is arranged into 10 series. Glass plate negative is housed separately and closed to researchers.
- Series 1: Biographical Material, 1878 - circa 1966 (Box 1; 7 folders)
- Series 2: Correspondence, 1867-1987 (Box 1-3; 2.0 linear feet)
- Series 3: Writings, 1888-1945 (Box 3; 0.8 linear feet)
- Series 4: Estate Papers, 1921-1954 (Box 3-4; 0.5 linear feet)
- Series 5: Other Financial Records, 1889-1957 (Box 4; 7 folders)
- Series 6: Legal Records, 1891-1927 (Box 4; 4 folders)
- Series 7: Printed Material, 1851, 1896-1999 (Box 4-5; 0.4 linear feet)
- Series 8: Photographs, circa 1861-1933 (Box 5, MGP 2; 0.2 linear feet)
- Series 9: Artwork, 1887 - circa 1940s (Box 5-6, 8; 8 folders)
- Series 10: Scrapbook, circa 1910-1920 (Box 7; 0.3 linear feet)
Subjects and Names
This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms:
- Clemens, Samuel Langhorne, 1835-1910
- Colman, Samuel, 1832-1920
- Cortissoz, Royal, 1869-1948
- Dow, Thomas Millie
- Emerson, Edward Waldo, 1844-1930
- Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882
- Faulkner, Barry, 1881-1966
- Foster, Ben, 1852-1926
- Freer, Charles Lang, 1856-1919
- French, Daniel Chester, 1850-1931
- Fuertes, Louis Agassiz, 1874-1927
- Gellatly, John, 1853-1931
- Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971
- Meryman, Richard Sumner, 1881-1963
- Plunket, Jean Reasoner
- Reasoner, David
- Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919
- Sainsbury, Everton
- Taber, E. M.
- Thayer, Emma B., 1850-1924
- Thayer, Gerald Handerson, 1883-1939
- Thayer, Gladys, 1886 or 7-1945
- Thayer, Kate Bloede
- Thayer, Mary
- White, Stanford, 1853-1906
- Art and camouflage
- Camouflage (Biology)
- Painters--New Hampshire--Dublin
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.
Separated and 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 this 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.
How the Collection was Processed
Portions of the collection received a preliminary level of processing after donation. The entire collection was fully processed, arranged, and described by Erin Corley and digitized in 2007 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Glass plate negative re-housed in 2015 with a grant provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.
How to Use the Collection
Restrictions on Use
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Glass plate negative is housed separately and closed to researchers.
Ownership & Literary Rights
The Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
The papers of
Abbott Handerson Thayer and the Thayer family in the Archives of American Art were digitized in
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.
How to Cite this Collection
Abbott Handerson Thayer and Thayer Family papers, 1851-1999 (bulk 1881-1950). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Detailed Description and Container Inventory
Biographical Material, 1878-circa 1966
(Box 1; 9 folders)
Biographical material includes a brief autobiographical statement by Abbott Thayer and a chronology of his artwork and family activities from 1880 to 1921. Also found is the French birth certificate for Thayer's son William Henry Thayer, newspaper obituaries for Emma Beach Thayer, and lists of artworks by Abbott Thayer and Gladys Thayer Reasoner. A biographical sketch written by David Reasoner about the early life of his daughter, Jean Reasoner Plunket, and Jean's genealogy research on the Thayer and Plunket families are filed here.
(Box 1-3; 2.0 linear feet)
Personal and professional correspondence of the Thayer family is found in this series. The bulk of the correspondence belongs to Abbott Handerson Thayer and his second wife Emma Beach Thayer, although several folders are for Thayer's first wife Kate Bloede Thayer. Correspondence is also found for Thayer's daughter Gladys Thayer Reasoner and her husband David Reasoner and other family members, including Mary Thayer Birch, Gerald Thayer, and Jean Reasoner Plunket.
The Correspondence series has been arranged primarily by individual family member or general correspondence into 6 subseries:
- Subseries 2.1: Abbott Handerson Thayer Correspondence, 1881-1921
- Subseries 2.2: Emma Beach Thayer Correspondence, 1865-1924
- Subseries 2.3: Kate Bloede Thayer Correspondence, 1881-1889
- Subseries 2.4: Gladys Thayer Reasoner Correspondence, 1907-1943
- Subseries 2.5: David Reasoner Correspondence, 1918-1954
- Subseries 2.6: General Correspondence, 1883-1987
2.1: Abbott Handerson Thayer Correspondence, 1881-1921
Abbott Handerson Thayer's correspondence consists primarily of letters to Thayer, but includes a few handwritten copies or drafts of his outgoing letters. Found here are numerous personal letters to and from family members, including his daughters Mary and Gladys (Galla), his son Gerald (Gra), and his wife Emma (also known as Addie), as well as nephews, nieces, sisters, cousins, and other extended family. There is correspondence with his patrons Charles L. Freer and John Gellatly; with many artists, several of whom were close friends, including Samuel Colman, Thomas Millie Dow, Daniel Chester French, Richard Meryman, Everton Sainsbury, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, and E. M. Taber; and former students, such as Ben Foster and Barry Faulkner; with other friends, many of them prominent members of society, such as Samuel Clemens, Royal Cortissoz, Edward Waldo Emerson, and Stanford White. A large amount of Thayer's correspondence concerns his research on protective coloration in nature and the publication of his book Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom. To pursue and defend his theories on concealing coloration, especially as applied to birds, he corresponded with many notable naturalists, biologists, ornithologists, and collection curators. Most notable is his extensive correspondence with Sir Edwin Bagnall Poulton, a British zoologist, and draft letters to Theodore Roosevelt, in defense and promotion of his work. He corresponded with many, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, then the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and the War Office in London, promoting his theory on the value of concealing coloration for warships and the military. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by last name of correspondent and chronologically within each folder.
|1||10||Allen, Francis, 1909-1915|
|1||12||Bartsch, Paul, 1914-1917|
|1||13||Beach, Ella, circa 1891-1914|
|1||14||Beach, Moses S. & Chloe, 1882-circa 1890|
|1||15||Beach, Violet, 1890-circa 1915|
|1||16||Birch, Fred & Mary Thayer, 1897-1914|
|1||17||Bowditch, Vincent Y., 1883, 1915-1916|
|1||18||Brewster, William, 1902-1911|
|1||21||Clemens, Samuel L., 1905-1909|
|1||22||Colman, Samuel, 1913, 1915|
|1||23||Cortissoz, Royal, 1916-1917|
|1||26-27||Dow, Thomas Millie, 1883-1896|
|1||29||Eckstorm, Fannie, 1906-1917|
|1||30||Emerson, Edward Waldo, 1910-1914|
|1||32||Forbes, Alexander, 1914-1916|
|1||33||Foster, Ben, 1915|
|1||34||Freer, Charles L., 1893-1916|
|1||35||French, Daniel Chester, 1916-1918|
|1||38||Gellatly, John, 1910-1918|
|1||40||Handerson, Esther, 1889-1895|
|1||42||James, William & Alice, 1910-1920|
J-K, 1903, 1914-1916
|1||44||Longley, W. H., 1916-1918|
|1||46||Meryman, Richard (Wig), 1916-1919|
Ma, 1892, 1908-1919
Poulton, Sir Edward Bagnall, 1898-1915
Poulton, Sir Edward Bagnall, Undated Letters, circa 1898-1915
|1||56||Reasoner, Gladys Thayer, 1897-1919|
|1||57||Roosevelt, Franklin D., 1917-1918|
|1||58||Roosevelt, Theodore, circa 1910|
|1||60||Sainsbury, Everton, 1876-1882|
Taber, E. M. & Frances F. Holt (Taber's sister), 1890-1913
Thayer, Emma Beach, 1881-1919
|1||68||Thayer, Emma Beach, Undated Letters, circa 1881-1919|
T-V, 1890, 1907-1916
|1||70||War Office, London, 1916-1917|
|1||71||Whelpley, Jay & Philip, 1904-1917|
Y-Z, 1889, 1916
|1||75||Unidentified Correspondents, 1891-1918|
|1||76||Unidentified Correspondents, Fragments, circa 1880-1920|
2.2: Emma Beach Thayer Correspondence, 1865-1924
This subseries contains the correspondence of Emma Beach Thayer, also known as Addie by her family, and document her personal life, family relationships, and management of Abbott Thayer's legacy. Found here is a large amount of correspondence with family members, including her step-daughters Mary and Gladys, her step-son Gerald, as well as her parents, sisters, nephews, nieces, and other extended family. Also found is extensive correspondence with her friend, and Thayer's first wife, Kate Bloede Thayer. Much of her correspondence is with the same people who corresponded with Abbott Thayer, but also includes other friends, most notably, Henry Ward Beecher.
After 1916 Emma managed much of Abbott Thayer's correspondence due to his poor health, and included here are a few letters regarding the sale or exhibition of his artwork. Many of the letters found here are condolences to Emma after Abbott's death in 1921, including many letters from artists and friends expressing thoughts and memories of his life. There are also letters from Emma to many of Abbott's friends requesting his letters or copies of his for a planned book of Thayer's correspondence.
Researchers should note that correspondence between Emma and Abbott is arranged in subseries 2.1. Emma's correspondence is arranged alphabetically by last name and chronologically within each folder.
A, 1905, 1921-1923
|1||78||Beach, Moses S. & Chloe (parents), 1865-1866, 1870, 1902|
|1||79||Beach, William & Mabel, 1902|
Beecher, Henry Ward, 1870-1883
|1||82||Benson, Frank W., 1921-1923|
Birch, Mary Thayer, 1891-1923
Ba-Bi, 1878, 1914-1922
|1||92||Clemens, Samuel, circa 1880s, 1905|
|1||93||Cortissoz, Royal, 1917, 1921-1923|
|1||95||Dow, Thomas Millie, 1884-1888|
D-E, circa 1900-1922
|1||97||Freer, Charles L., 1915-1918|
|1||98||French, Daniel Chester, 1917-1922|
|1||99||Fuertes, Louis Agassiz, 1921-1923|
Gellatly, John, 1917-1922
|2||6||James, William & Alice, 1921-1924|
|2||10||Reasoner, David, 1920-1924|
Reasoner, Gladys Thayer, 1910-1923
|2||16||Reasoner, Gladys Thayer, Undated Letters, circa 1910-1923|
|2||17||Rice, James Henry, 1921-1924|
Thayer, Gerald H., 1917, 1921-1923
Thayer, Kate Bloede, 1881-1887
|2||26||Thayer, Kate Bloede, Undated Letters, circa 1881-1887|
T-V, 1891, 1908-1924
Whelpley, Jay & Philip, 1905-1924
|2||33||Whelpley, Jay & Philip, Undated Letters, circa 1905-1924|
|2||35||Unidentified Correspondents, 1867-1923|
2.3: Kate Bloede Thayer Correspondence, 1881-1889
Kate Bloede Thayer's correspondence documents family activities and friendships during the 1880s. Included are letters in German from her grandfather, letters from her brother, Victor, and several letters from her daughter Mary sent during Kate's time at a sanatorium. Also found are letters from artist friends including Arthur Bell, Thomas Millie Dow, and Lewis T. Ives. Dow's letters discuss his travels in Europe, his current artwork, mutual friends such as Arthur Bell, and other general news. Ives's letters also discuss mutual friends and general news. Letters from Kate to her in-laws, William and Ellen Thayer, discuss family news and news of Abbot's work. Other correspondence, arranged alphabetically, contains letters from family and friends. Correspondence between Kate Bloede Thayer and Emma Beach Thayer is found with Emma Beach's correspondence.
|2||36||Bloede, Grandpa, 1881-1884|
|2||37||Bloede, Victor, 1887|
|2||38||Birch, Mary Thayer, 1888-1889|
|2||39||Dow, Thomas Millie, 1881-1886|
|2||40||Ives, Lew. T., 1882-1888|
Thayer, Dr. William & Ellen Handerson, 1881-1887
|2||46||Unidentified letter fragments, 1880s|
2.4: Gladys Thayer Reasoner Correspondence, 1907-1943
The correspondence of Gladys Thayer Reasoner, a.k.a Galla, documents family activities and her friendships. Found here are letters to and from family members, including her sister Mary, her brother Gerald (known as Gra), nephews, nieces, and other extended family, such as her cousins in the Foster and Whiting families. Additional letters are from friends, including Randolph Bourne, Frances Burns, Evangeline Stillman, Blanche Walton, and others. Gladys also maintained correspondence with Thayer family friends, who were friends of her parents, or members of the Dublin, New Hampshire community in which they lived, such as Mary Amory Greene, John Gellatly, Richard Meryman, Raphael Pumpelly, and Jay and Philip Whelpley. Gladys' correspondence is also found in the subseries containing her father and stepmother Emma Beach Thayer correspondence.
|2||47||Birch, Elsie, 1916-1936|
|2||48||Birch, Mary Thayer, 1916-1927|
|2||49||Bourne, Randolph, 1915-1916|
|2||50||Buckley, Lily, 1917-1922|
|2||51||Burns, Frances L., circa 1920-1935|
|2||54||Fisher, Eleanor, 1908-1922|
|2||55||Fisher, Faith H. (Mrs. William F. Fenn), 1928-1936|
|2||56||Fisher, Richard & Nina, 1939-1935|
|2||62||Palmer, H. P., 1935-1937|
|2||64||Reasoner, David, 1921-1923|
|2||66||Stillman, Michael & Evangeline, 1909-1935|
S, 1911, 1920s
|2||68||Thayer, Gerald H., 1908-1936|
|2||70||Walton, Blanche W., 1923-1937|
Whelpley, Jay & Philip, 1907-1937
|2||75||Whiting, Susan Thayer, 1928-1936|
|2||77||First Names Only: A-H, 1912-1936|
|2||78||First Names Only: J-R, 1907-1936|
2.5: David Reasoner Correspondence, 1918-1954
David Reasoner's correspondence is primarily with family and friends, such as Emma Beach Thayer's sister, Violet, and from Mary Thayer Birch discussing Emma's estate, Gerald's ill health, and other family news. David Reasoner also corresponded with John Gellatly concerning the sale of Abbott Thayer's paintings, and with Gerald Thayer concerning financial matters. Other alphabetical correspondence is with Thayer and Reasoner family members, people working on books or requesting information on Abbott Thayer, museums exhibiting Thayer's work, and people interested in purchasing artwork by Thayer. Also found are letters concerning the deaths of Reasoner's mother, his wife Gladys, and his son Allen. The bulk of the David Reasoner correspondence concerning the estates of Abbott H. Thayer and Emma Beach Thayer is found in Series 4: Estate Papers.
|2||79||Beach, Violet, 1924-1932|
|2||80||Birch, Mary Thayer, 1924|
|2||81||Gellatly, John, 1924-1928|
|2||82||Thayer, Gerald, 1922-1930|
|3||1||C-D, 1925, 1946-1947|
|3||4||L-P, 1922-1936, 1950|
|3||6||T-V, 1918, 1943-1950|
|3||8||Unidentified Correspondents, 1942-1954|
2.6: General Correspondence, 1883-1987
This series contains the correspondence of other members of the Thayer and Reasoner families. Included is correspondence between Elsie Birch and her cousins, and the correspondence of her mother, Mary Thayer Birch. Also found are letters to Jean Reasoner Plunket, Abbott Thayer's granddaughter, including many from Nelson C. White, who collected research material for a biography of Abbott Thayer.
Gerald H. Thayer's correspondence discusses concealing coloration, the estate of Abbott and Emma Thayer, and letters of condolence from George Gray Barnard and Edwin H. Blashfield. Additional correspondence found here includes letters to Gerald's wife, Alma, from the family friend and Thayer patron, John Gellatly, letters to Abbott Thayer's parents, Dr. William and Ellen Thayer, and letters to Jay and Philip Whelpley, family friends of the Thayers.
(Box 3-4; 0.8 linear feet)
This series contains writings by Abbott Handerson Thayer and others, including family members and scholars. Writings by Thayer primarily focus on his theories about concealing coloration and nature observations through notes and draft writings. Also found are his writings on other topics such as the restoration of artwork. Writings by others include the writings of Emma Beach Thayer and Abbott Thayer's daughters Mary and Gladys, and writings by scholars about the Thayer's artwork.
The Writings series is arranged into 2 subseries:
- Subseries 3.1: Writings by Abbott Handerson Thayer, circa 1890-1918
- Subseries 3.2: Writings by Others, 1888-1989
3.1: Writings by Abbott Handerson Thayer, circa 1890-1918
Writings by Abbott Handerson Thayer, primarily on the topic of concealing coloration and his observations of nature, include four small notebooks. His notes and draft essays, often written on small scraps of paper or the back of other documents, are on the topic of concealing coloration in nature, and the related topics, the invisibility of icebergs and the concealing coloration in military uniforms and warships. Many of his notes appear to be preparations for lectures or letters to the editor on these topics, or responses to the negative feedback from his book Concealing Coloration in Nature, published in 1909. Also found are draft essays on the restoration of works of art and notes and essays on various subjects such as the Boer war, art, and other thoughts on nature.
Notebooks, circa 1890-1920
Notes & Essays on Concealing Coloration in Nature, circa 1910-1917
|3||24||Notes & Essays on the Invisibility of Icebergs, 1912|
Notes & Essays on Concealing Coloration in Uniforms & Warships, circa 1915-1918
|3||31||Essay, "Restoration: The Doom of Works of Art," 1917|
Typescript, "Restoration of Pictures," circa 1910s
|3||35||Draft Letters to the Editor of The Auk, 1916-1917|
Notes & Essays on Various Subjects, circa 1901-1919
3.2: Writings by Others, 1888-1989
This subseries contains writings by the Thayer family and writings by scholars, primarily about Abbott Handerson Thayer. Included are writings by Emma Thayer, such as a manuscript for a story entitiled "Ernest" and two poems, and Mary Thayer's diary and corresponding hand-made calendar, written when she was ten years old. Writings by Gladys Thayer Reasoner include a brief biographical sketch of her father, a biography of her son, Allen Reasoner, who died in 1943 in a plane crash, and stories and other writings she wrote as a young girl.
Writings by others about Abbott Thayer include a draft manuscript by Nancy Bell, wife of artist Arthur Bell, about Thayer's book on concealing coloration. This series also contains writings by unidentified authors, such as draft writings about George Gray Barnard, possibly written by David or Gladys Thayer Reasoner, and miscellaneous writings and poetry by others. Folders are arranged by author and title of work, if known, and chronologically within each folder.
|4||1||Miscellaneous Writings by Others, circa 1890-1920|
Miscellaneous Poetry, circa 1900-1945
Estate Papers, 1921-1954
(Box 4; 0.5 linear feet)
This series contains the estate papers for Abbott Handerson Thayer, who died in 1921 and Emma Beach Thayer, who died in 1924. Much of material consists of correspondence between David Reasoner, Executor of both estates, and others regarding financial and legal matters. Correspondence of note is with Mary and Gerald Thayer regarding their inheritance, and with E. & A. Milch, Inc. and William Macbeth, Inc. regarding the sale of artwork. Also found are financial and legal documents, forms, lists and notes, and Emma Thayer's will and drafts. Some of the financial account statements and a ledger book have not been scanned.
Items are arranged chronologically within each folder.
Estate Papers of Abbott H. Thayer and Emma B. Thayer, 1921-1924
Estate Papers of Abbott H. Thayer and Emma B. Thayer, 1925-1954
|4||19||Emma Beach Thayer Last Will and Testament, 1923, 1926|
Estate Account Statements, Kingston Trust Company, 1927-1932
(2 folders; not scanned)
Estate Bills, 1922-1938
(2 folders; not scanned)
Ledger Book for Emma Thayer Estate, 1924-1925
Other Financial Records, 1889-1957
(Box 4; 7 folders)
This series contains a small amount of Thayer and Reasoner family financial records not directly related to the estates of Abbott or Emma Thayer. Most of this series has not been scanned.
Items are arranged chronologically within each folder.
Account Statements, 1924-1941
Bills & Receipts, 1889-1919
Liberty Bonds, Cheshire National Bank, 1919-1921
|4||29||Ledger kept by Emma Beach Thayer, 1915-1923|
Ledger kept by David Reasoner, 1921-1930
David Reasoner Bethesda Country Club Membership, 1948-1957
Legal Records, 1891-1927
(Box 4; 4 folders)
Legal records include a copy of the patent office record given to Gerome Brush and Abbott Handerson Thayer for the "process of treating the outsides of ships & for making them less visible." Also included in that folder is a contract handwritten by Thayer giving Brush claim to use of the original invention. Other documents in this series are legal agreements, including a draft agreement among landowners in Dublin, New Hampshire to create a nature reservation, and deeds of property belonging to Abbott Thayer and Emma Beach Thayer. Also found is a map of the property owned by Thayer and surrounding properties in Dublin.
Items are arranged chronologically within each folder.
|4||32||Patent Documents, 1902, 1911|
|4||33||Legal Agreements, 1908-1927|
|4||34||Deeds of Property, 1891-1921|
|4||35||Map of Thayer Property, Dublin, New Hampshire, 1919|
Printed Material, 1851, 1896-1999
(Box 4-5; 0.4 linear feet)
Printed material includes two books, an alphabet book belonging to Abbott Thayer which he inscribed and gave to his daughter Mary, and a bound article written by Theodore Roosevelt in response to Thayer's book on concealing coloration. The article was originally published in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, volume XXX. Also found are newspaper and magazine clippings about Abbott Thayer, about his artwork and exhibitions, and about the Reasoner family. Exhibition announcements and catalogs are for exhibitions by Thayer, his daughter Gladys Thayer Reasoner, and group exhibitions. Other material in this series is about the Woodstock Playhouse, for which David Reasoner was the director, and includes news clippings, programs and newsletters, and the publication Hue and Cry.
Items are arranged chronologically within each folder.
Illustrated Alphabet of Animals, 1851
Revealing and Concealing Coloration in Birds and Mammals, by Theodore Roosevelt, 1911
Clippings about Woodstock Playhouse, circa 1929-1949
Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1896-1983
Newsletters & Event Calendars, 1980-1983, 1999
Newsletters & Programs from Woodstock, New York, 1928-1941
Hue and Cry Newspaper, 1925, 1928, 1929
Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1895, 1914-circa 1966
Photographs, circa 1861-1933
(Box 5, MGP 2; 0.2 linear feet)
This series contains photographs of Abbott H. Thayer, including two portraits of him, a photo of him with a group of people (possibly at Gerald Thayer's wedding), and a photograph of his plaster death mask. Also found are photographs of Thayer's studio, some of which include the painting he was working on at the time, his son Gerald, and other models. There are photographs of Thayer's home in Dublin, New Hampshire. Additional photographs are of his wife, Emma Beach Thayer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and one of his former student Rockwell Kent painting outdoors. Also found are numerous photographs of unidentified people, most likely members of the Thayer family, and a few photographs of artwork by Thayer. Glass plate negative is housed separately and closed to researchers.
|5 (hol)||5||Photographs of Abbott H. Thayer, circa 1861, 1900, 1915|
|5 (hol)||6||Photographs of Thayer's Studio, circa 1895|
|5 (hol)||7||Photographs of Thayer's Home, Dublin, New Hampshire, circa 1905|
|5 (hol)||8||Photographs of Emma Beach Thayer, circa 1870, 1889|
|5 (hol)||9||Photographs of Gladys Thayer Reasoner & Family (Photocopies), circa 1915, 1933|
|5 (hol)||10||Photographs of Lyman and Grace Reasoner, circa 1919|
|5 (hol)||11||Photographs of Ralph Waldo Emerson, circa 1860|
|5 (hol)||12||Photograph of Rockwell Kent, circa 1905|
|5 (hol)||13||Unidentified Portraits, circa 1860-1890|
Unidentified Tintype Portraits, circa 1870-1890
(2 folders; not scanned)
Glass Plate Negative of Unidentified Man, circa 1890
(1 glass plate negative housed in MGP 2)
Glass Plate Negative
Photographs of Artwork, circa 1895
Tintype Photograph of
The Sisters, circa 1884
Original Frame for Photograph of
The Sisters, circa 1884
Artwork, 1887 - circa 1940s
(Box 5-6, 8; 0.2 linear feet)
This series includes two drawings by Abbott Thayer, one depicting an angel and modeled by his daughter Mary. Also found is a large amount of artwork by children, including drawings by Gerald Thayer and other unidentified drawings and paintings, probably by Mary, Gerald, and Gladys Thayer, animal cutouts by Jean Reasoner Plunket, and other small painted cutout figures by an unknown artist. Also found are two sketchbooks, one belonging to David Reasoner, and the other probably belonging to his daughter, Jean Reasoner Plunket.
|5 (hol)||20||Drawings by Abbott Handerson Thayer, 1887, 1912|
|5 (hol)||21||Artwork by Gerald Thayer, 1889|
Artwork by Unidentified Children (probably Mary, Gerald, and Gladys Thayer), circa 1890-1900
|6 (pam)||3||Painted Cutout Figures, circa 1904|
David Reasoner Sketchbook, circa 1910
(See Box 8)
Animal Cutouts by Jean Reasoner Plunket, circa 1940s
|6 (pam)||6||Sketchbook (possibly belonging to Jean Reasoner Plunket), circa 1940s|
David Reasoner Sketchbook, circa 1910
(See also Box 6, folder 4)
Scrapbook, circa 1910-1920
(Box 7; 0.3 linear feet)
This large scrapbook, compiled by David Reasoner, includes photographs and printed reproductions of paintings by Abbott Thayer, as well as a few newspaper clippings about his artwork. The scrapbook also includes a few notations listing the current owners of the paintings.
|7 (sol)||1||Scrapbook about Thayer Artwork, circa 1910-1920|