James D. Smillie and Smillie family papers, 1853-1957

Smillie, James David, b. 1833 d. 1909

This site provides access to the James D. Smillie and Smillie family papers in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2012. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 9,429 images.

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


Collection size: 5.6 linear feet

Collection Summary: The James D. Smillie and Smillie Family papers measure 5.6 linear feet and date from 1853 to 1957. The collection consists of the papers of four members of the Smillie family including James Smillie, his sons James David and George Henry Smillie, and George's wife, Helen "Nellie" Jacobs Smillie. The majority of the papers are those of James D. Smillie, comprised of correspondence, forty-five daily diaries, a scrapbook, printed materials, and one etching. The papers of James Smillie consist of biographical materials and writings. The George Smillie papers include biographical materials, scattered correspondence, a scrapbook, printed materials, and photographs. The Helen Jacobs Smillie papers include correspondence and photographs. Also found are scattered materials relating to other family members, mostly the children of Helen Jacobs and George Smillie.

Biographical/Historical Note: James Smillie (1807-1885) was an engraver. His son James D. (1833-1909) was a painter, engraver, lithographer, and active in New York City art clubs and societies. Another son, George Henry (1840-1921) was a painter. Helen Jacobs Smillie, known as Nellie, was a member of the American Watercolor Society along with her husband, George, and brother-in-law, and painted in the Hudson River School style.

The Smillie Family papers were donated in several installations between 1978 and 1990 by James Smillie, David Smillie, and Barbara Smillie Curtis.

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 was digitized in its entirety in 2012 and are available via the Archives of American Art's website.
  • 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

Also found in the Archives of American Art is the Brucia Witthoft research material on James Smillie and the Smillie family, 1830-1999. The National Gallery of Canada holds the James D. Smillie Papers.