A Finding Aid to the Nancy Douglas Bowditch Papers,
1888-1979, in the Archives of American Art, by Jayna Hanson
Funding for the processing 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
Nancy Douglas Bowditch (1880-1979)worked primarily in the New Hampshire area as a painter, author, and costume and set designer. Bowditch's father was painter George de Forest Brush and she married painter William Robert Pearmain, who died at an early age.
Nancy Douglas Bowditch was born to Mary and George de Forest Brush on July 4, 1880 in Paris, France. Early in her life, she often served as a subject of her father's paintings. Along with her parents and siblings, Nancy traveled between New York City, Dublin, New Hampshire and Europe throughout her childhood. The family lived in the artist coloby of Dublin, New Hampshire where Nancy became close friends with their neighbor Samuel Clemens' (Mark Twain) daughter Jean Clemens.
Nancy also met and became close to one of her father's pupils, William Robert Pearmain while traveling through Europe in 1907. Two years later, Nancy married Robert at the Brush family farm in Dublin, New Hampshire. Together, they had one daughter, Mary Alice whom they called Polly. Robert developed a strong political interest in growing anarchist movements and, in 1912, gave up painting and went to Pittsburgh to work in a factory. Shortly after, he became seriously ill and, upon the advice of a doctor, moved back to New Hampshire with Nancy. He soon died from Leukemia in September 1912. In 1918, Nancy married Dr. Harold Bowditch from Boston, Massachusetts. With her second husband, Nancy had a son whom she named after her father, George de Forest Bowditch.
Professionally, Nancy worked as a painter, wrote plays, and designed theatrical sets and costumes. In 1971, Bowditch published a biography of George de Forest Brush entitled The Joyous Painter. Nancy Douglas Bowditch died in 1979.
Overview of the Collection
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter, author, and designer Nancy Douglas Bowditch measure 3.9 linear feet and date from 1888 to 1979. The papers reflect Bowditch's relationship with her first husband William Robert Pearmain and her father George de Forest Brush, and other family members. The majority of the collection consists of Bowditch's correspondence with family and friends and her notes and writings, particularly concerning her father and her biography of him, The Joyous Painter, and her unpublished biography of her husband. There is also correspondence between Pearmain and his family. Also found are scattered family and biographical materials and personal business records; artwork by William Robert Pearmain, Bowditch, and George de Forest Brush; printed materials; and photographs of family and works of art.
A large portion of the collection consists of the correspondence of Nancy Douglas Bowditch, William Robert Pearmain, George de Forest Brush as well as that of other members of the Brush, Pearmain and Bowditch families including: Harold Bowditch, Selma Bowditch, Georgie Brush, Jane Brush, Mary Brush, Tribbie Brush, Mary Alice (Polly) Pearmain, and Jack Pearmain. The majority of Nancy Douglas Bowditch's correspondence is from family and friends. Notable correspondents include Jane Clemens, Barry Faulkner, Rockwell Kent, Abbot Handerson Thayer and family, and Nelson C. White. Also found are Nancy's letters to her first husband, Robert. William Robert Pearmain's correspondence contains letters from his parents, siblings, and some letters from his father-in-law. A few letters are from Pearmain to his family. George de Forest Brush's correspondence includes letters from friends and a few copies of letters written by Brush.
Writings and notes are primarily by Nancy Douglas Bowditch, the majority of which pertain to her biography of George de Forest Brush, The Joyous Painter. Also found is a short unpublished biography of Robert Pearmain by Bowditch. Other writings are by George de Forest Brush, Tribbie Brush, Barry Faulkner, and William Robert Pearmain. Artwork consists of approximately 78 drawings and sketches by William Robert Pearmain, 5 drawings and paintings by Nancy Bowditch, and one drawing by George de Forest Brush. Within printed materials are exhibition announcements and catalogs for George de Forest Brush, Barry Faulkner, Stephen Parrish, and Abbot Handerson Thayer. Photographs depict members of the Brush family, the Pearmain family, friends, and works of art by Bowditch, Brush, Pearmain and Douglas Volk.
Arrangement and Series Description
The collection is arranged into 7 series:
- Series 1: Biographical Information, 1909-1956 (Box 1; 6 folders)
- Series 2: Personal Business and Financial Records, 1908-1974 (Box 1; 3 folders)
- Series 3: Correspondence, 1895-1979 (Box 1-2; 1.6 linear feet)
- Series 4: Writings and Notes, circa 1900-circa 1970s (Box 2-3; 1.0 linear feet)
- Series 5: Artwork, 1898-1950 (Box 3, 6-7; 4 folders)
- Series 6: Printed Material, 1889-1974 (Box 3-4; 0.2 linear feet)
- Series 7: Photographs, 1888-1968 (Box 4-5, 8; 0.4 linear feet)
Subjects and Names
This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following terms:
- Brush, George de Forest, 1855-1941
- Faulkner, Barry, 1881-1966
- Parrish, Stephen, 1846-1938
- Pearmain, William Robert, 1888-1912
- Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921
- Authors -- New Hampshire
- Designers -- New Hampshire
- Painters -- New Hampshire
- Women artists
- Types of Materials:
- Bowditch, Harold, 1883-1964
- Brush, George de Forest, 1855-1941
- Clemens, Jane Lampton, 1880-1909
- Faulkner, Barry, 1881-1966
- Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971
- Pearmain, William Robert, 1888-1912
- Thayer, Abbott Handerson, 1849-1921
- White, Nelson C.
The Nancy Douglas Bowditch papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in several installments by Nancy Douglas Bowditch between 1968 and 1979. Bowditch's daughter, Mary A. Marlowe donated additional materials in 1982.
Separated and Related Materials
Also among the collections at the Archives of American Art are the William Robert Pearmain and Pearmain family papers, 1888-1955 and an oral history with Nancy Douglas Bowditch conducted on January 30, 1974 by Robert F. Brown.
How the Collection was Processed
Portions of the collection were microfilmed as separate accretions on reels 439, 2826-2831 and 3134; this film is no longer in circulation. In 2009, all accretions were merged and fully processed and described by Jayna Hanson with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
How to Use the Collection
Restrictions on Use
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership & Literary Rights
The Nancy Douglas Bowditch 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.
How to Cite this Collection
Nancy Douglas Bowditch papers, 1888-1979. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Detailed Description and Container Inventory
Series 1: Biographical Information, 1909-1956 (Box 1; 6 folders)
Found are invitations to Nancy's and Robert Pearmain's wedding, American consolate registration cards pertaining to the Bowditch family (circa 1914), biographical sketches on George de Forest Brush, a portion of a ship's register that carried the Brush family to Europe, Polly Pearmain's wedding invitation, and certificates from the International Correspondent School and an obituary for William Robert Pearmain.
|1||1||Bowditch, Nancy Douglas, 1909, 1935|
|1||2||Bowditch Family, 1914|
|1||3||Brush, George de Forest, 1941-1956|
|1||4||Brush Family, 1913|
|1||5||Pearmain, Mary Alice (Polly), 1932|
|1||6||Pearmain, William Robert, 1911-1912|
Series 2: Personal Business and Financial Records, 1908-1974
This series consists of scattered personal business records that include deeds of gift from various institutions and agreements from the publishing of The Joyous Painter. Also found are scattered bills and a lease from 1911 signed by William Robert Pearmain.
|1||7||Personal Business Records, 1947-1974|
|1||8||Bills, William Robert Pearmain, 1908-1912|
Series 3: Correspondence, 1895-1982 (Box 1-2; 1.6 linear feet)
Correspondence is between Nancy Douglas Bowditch and family and friends. There are smaller amounts of the correspondence of Harold Bowditch, Selma Bowditch, George de Forest Brush, Georgie Brush, Jane Brush, Mary Brush, Tribbie Brush, Mary Alice Pearmain, Jack Pearmain, Sumner Pearmain and William Robert Pearmain. Notable correspondents include Abbot Handerson Thayer and his family, Jane Clemens, Nelson C. White, and Barry Faulkner. Additional letters are from Rockwell Kent and Margaret Sanger.
The correspondence is arranged into 4 subseries:
- Subseries 1: Nancy Douglas Bowditch, 1903-1979
- Subseries 2: William Robert Pearmain, 1904-1912
- Subseries 3: George de Forest Brush, 1895-1918
- Subseries 4: Other Family Members, 1904-1979
Subseries 1 Nancy Douglas Bowditch, 1903-1979
This subseries contains the correspondence of Nancy Douglas Bowditch as well as outgoing letters to William Robert Pearmain. Letters from George de Forest Brush and Robert Pearmain to Nancy are found in this subseries.
|1||11||Notes Concerning Corresondence, 1974|
|1||13||General, 1907 January - September|
|1||14||General, 1907 October - December|
|1||15||General, 1908 January - April 15|
|1||16||General, 1908 April 16 - December|
|2||1-4||General, circa 1910s-1950s (4 folders)|
|2||5||Fragments, circa 1910s-1940s|
|2||6||to William Robert Pearmain, 1905-1907 September|
|2||7||to William Robert Pearmain, 1907 October - December|
|2||8||to William Robert Pearmain, 1908|
|2||9||to William Robert Pearmain, 1909-1910|
|2||10||to William Robert Pearmain, circa 1910s|
Subseries 2 William Robert Pearmain, 1904-1912
The majority of letters in this subseries are written to Pearmain from his mother Alice, his father Sumner, and brother Jack. Letters from George de Forest Brush to his son-in-law Robert Pearmain are found in this subseries.
|2||14||General, circa 1910s|
Subseries 3 George de Forest Brush, 1895-1918
This subseries contains scattered correspondence between Brush and friends and some family members.
|2||16||General, circa 1910s|
Subseries 4 Other Family Members, 1904-1944
Found are letters written between various family members related to Nancy Bowditch.
|2||17||Bowditch, Harold, circa 1910s-1944,|
|2||18||Bowditch, Selma, 1914-1916|
|2||19||Brush, Georgie, 1904-1905|
|2||20||Brush, Jane, 1926-1941|
|2||21||Brush, Mary, 1904-1907|
|2||21||Brush, Tribbie, 1904-1907|
|2||21||Pearmain, Mary Alice (Polly), 1920, 1979|
|2||22||Pearmain, Jack, 1904-1907|
|2||21||Pearmain, Sumner, circa 1910s|
Series 4: Writings and Notes, circa 1900-1975, (Box 2-3; 1.0 linear feet)
The majority of this series consists of drafts, editing notes, and research notes for Nancy's biography of her father, The Joyous Painter. Also found are general notes and a typescript of a biography of William Robert Pearmain which contains original photographs of the Pearmain family. Writings by others are found in a separate subseries.
The Writings and Notes series is arranged into 2 subseries:
- Subseries 1: by Nancy Douglas Bowditch, circa 1910-1975
- Subseries 2: by Others, circa 1900-circa 1970s
Subseries 1 by Nancy Douglas Bowditch, circa 1910-1975
|2||26-27||The Joyous Painter- Typescript, circa 1970s (2 folders)|
|2||28||The Joyous Painter- Dedication and Outline, circa 1970|
|2||29-30||The Joyous Painter- Draft, circa 1970 (2 folders)|
|3||1-2||The Joyous Painter- Draft, circa 1970 (2 folders)|
|3||3||The Joyous Painter- Corrections, circa 1970|
|3||4-5||The Joyous Painter- Edited Pages, circa 1970 (2 folders)|
|3||6-11||The Joyous Painter- Research Notes, circa 1970 (6 folders)|
|3||12||The Joyous Painter- Editing Notes, circa 1970|
|3||13||The Joyous Painter- Layout Notes, circa 1971|
|3||14||The Joyous Painter- Typescript (Duplicate), circa 1971|
|3||15||A Brief Biography of Robert Pearmain, 1888-1912, 1975|
|3||16||Notes on William Robert Pearmain, circa 1975|
|3||16||Notes on Samuel and Jane Clemens, circa 1968|
|3||16||Notes on Paint Colors, circa 1970s|
|3||16||Speech Text, 1970 May 5|
|3||17||General, circa 1910s-1950s|
Subseries 2 by Others, circa 1900-circa 1970s
|3||21||Notes by George de Forest Brush, circa circa 1900|
|3||22||Notes by Tribbie Brush, 1902|
|3||23||Notes by Barry Faulkner circa 1941|
|3||24||Concerning Various Artists, circa 1940s|
|3||25||Lists of Works of Art by Brush, circa 1970|
|3||26||Writings by William Robert Pearmain, circa 1970 (2 folders)|
Series 5: Artwork, 1898-1950 (Box 3, 6-7; 4 folders)
Artwork is by Nancy Douglas Bowditch, William Robert Pearmain, and George de Forest Brush. Nancy Douglas Bowditch's work consists of one sketch, one study, and three completed drawings of William Robert Pearmain and Alan Seeger. Pearmain's artwork comprises twenty-four sketches including one watercolor, twelve studies, and forty-two completed drawings. Also found is one pencil sketch by Brush.
|3||27||Nancy Douglas Bowditch, Pencil Sketches, 1912-1950|
|3||28||George de Forest Brush, Pencil Sketch, 1912 (Oversized item housed in OV 7)|
|3||29||William Robert Pearmain, Pencil Sketches and Drawings, 1898-1909 (Oversized items housed in OVs 6-7)|
|3||30||William Robert Pearmain, Tempera and Oil Sketches, 1908|
|6||Oversized Sketches by William Robert Pearmain, 1898-1909|
|7||Oversized Sketch by George de Forest Brush and Oversized Sketches by William Robert Pearmain, circa 1900-1912|
Series 6: Printed Material, 1889-1974 (Box 3-4; 0.2 linear feet)
This series consists of materials concerning Nancy Douglas Bowditch, George de Forest Brush, Barry Faulkner, Stephen Parrish, and Abbot Handerston Thayer. Also found is a collection of clippings kept by William Robert Pearmain and the calling cards of various family members and friends.
|3||31||Archives of American Art Publications, 1967-1973|
|3||32||Articles Concerning Nancy Douglas Bowditch, 1965-1971|
|3||33||Articles Concerning George de Forest Brush, 1889-1971|
|4||1||Book Reviews, The Joyous Painter, 1971-1974|
|4||2||Calling Cards, circa 1900|
|4||3||Clippings, file kept by William Robert Pearmain, 1910-1912|
|4||4||Clippings, Concerning Nancy Douglas Bowditch, 1970|
|4||5||Clippings, Concerning George de Forest Brush, 1923-1941|
|4||6||Clippings, Concerning Cornish Colony Artists, circa 1970s|
|4||7||Clippings, General, 1913-1973|
|4||8||Dust Jacket, The Joyous Painter, 1970|
|4||9||Exhibition Catalogs and Announcements, George de Forest Brush, 1930-1971|
|4||10||Exhibition Catalogs and Announcements, Barry Faulkner, 1956-1967|
|4||11||Exhibition Catalogs and Announcements, Stephen Parish, 1970|
|4||12||Exhibition Catalogs and Announcements, Abbot Handerson Thayer, 1923, 1961|
|4||13||Mark Twain Quarterly, Winter 1957, 1957|
|4||14||Miscellaneous, 1912, circa 1940|
|4||15||Reproductions of Artwork, by Nancy Douglas Bowditch circa 1960s|
|4||16||Reproductions of Artwork, by George de Forest Brush, circa 1960s|
Series 7: Photographs, 1888-1968, (Box 4-5, 8; 0.4 linear feet)
Found are photographs of members of the Brush and Pearmain families as well as Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Barry Faulkner, and Abbot Handerson, Gerald, Gladys, and Mary Thayer. Other photos depict the Brush family farm in Dublin, New Hampshire; Nancy and Robert's home; and landscapes. Photographs of works of art by Nancy Douglas Bowditch, George de Forest Brush, and Douglas Volk are also found.
|4||17||Brush Family, circa 1888-1939|
|4||18||George de Forest Brush, 1898, 1926|
|4||19||Brush Family and Friends, 1905-1909, 1964|
|4||20||Pearmain Family, 1888-circa 1890s|
|4||21||Homes and Landscapes, 1909-1911|
|5||1||Works of Art, by Nancy Douglas Bowditch, 1911|
|5||2-5||Works of Art, by George de Forest Brush, 1911-1970s (Oversized item are housed in OV 8; 4 folders)|
|5||6||Works of Art, by William Robert Pearmain, 1909-1910|
|5||7||Works of Art, by Douglas Volk, 1909|
|8||Oversized Photos of Works of Art by George de Forest Brush, circa 1920|