Skip to main content

Arthur Wesley Dow papers, circa 1826-1978, bulk 1879-1922

Contents and Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 6 series:

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.

Series 1: Correspondence , circa 1885-1934
(Box 1; 3 folders)

Found in this series are two folders of letters sent to and from Arthur Wesley Dow and letters sent to Minnie Pearson, Dow's future wife. Arthur Wesley Dow's correspondence consists of letters from Dow to his family, primarily his younger brother Dana. Most of his letters were written during his stints painting in Pont Aven and they include references to his efforts to produce paintings for the Paris Salons. Four of these letters are photocopies and one is an original. Other letters include a letter from Dow to Dr. Russell, Dean of the Teacher's College at Columbia University. According to Dow's travel diary, he received a telegram from Russell, officially appointing him as the head of the Department of Fine Arts; this letter may be in response to this appointment. The correspondence of Minnie Pearson consists of a long letter from her mother and a friend named "Eva" that were sent to the future Mrs. Dow, while she was studying art in Brittany. Finally the file "Notes on Dow Letters" consists of an annotated chronology of Dow correspondence, which includes synopsis of letters that are no longer extant, compiled by the Dow biographer, Arthur Warren Johnson.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.
Description Container Select
Arthur Wesley Dow, circa 1885-1919
1
1
Minnie Pearson (Dow), circa 1888
1
2
Notes on Dow Letters (by Arthur Warren Johnson), circa 1925-1934
1
3

Series 2: Diaries , 1861-1904
(Box 1; 6 folders)

This series is comprised of diaries by Dow and family members. The diary of Mary Patch Dow, Arthur Dow's mother, contains entries written between 1861 and 1865 noting visits and correspondence sent and received, particularly from her nephew Charles H. Dow, who died while fighting in the Civil War. There are few references to her son, although there are brief entries concerning his early education and childhood illnesses.
The remaining diaries record a world trip undertaken by Dow, accompanied by his wife and brother Dana Fitz Dow, among others. The party departed Boston in early September 1903 and headed westward through Canada to San Francisco where they sailed for Japan, which the party explored for three months before continuing on to China, India, Egypt, Greece and parts of Europe. Dow's travel diary provides an account of the early stages of the trip, most importantly the period spent in Japan, where he visited ancient temples, tea houses, museums, art schools, viewed private collections, and purchased prints. His brother's travel diaries, four in total, document the entire trip and record his impressions of the cities and sites that the party visited, paying particular interest to landscaped gardens and native plants. Sketches and plans of garden layouts can be found amidst his entries.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.
Description Container Select
Mary Patch Dow Diary, 1861-1865
1
4
Arthur W. Dow Travel Diary ("Trip Around the World"), 1903 September-December
1
5
Dana F. Dow Travel Diary, Volume I, 1903 September-December
1
6
Dana F. Dow Travel Diary, Volume II, 1904 January-February
1
7
Dana F. Dow Travel Diary, Volume III, 1904 February-April
1
8
Dana F. Dow Travel Diary, Volume IV, 1904 April-June
1
9

Series 3: Notes and Writings , circa 1900-1977
(Box 1; 0.4 linear feet)

Found in this series are manuscripts and typescripts of Dow's lectures and writings about art, lecture notes, syllabi, price lists, as well as a handwritten fragment of his last will and testament. Most of the notes in this series document Dow's lectures on art appreciation, composition and art historical topics ranging from prehistoric art to Japanese art that he delivered to his classes at Teacher's College Columbia University. A folder of miscellaneous lectures also includes class syllabi and suggested arts curriculum. Writings attributed to others include research notes by Dow biographer Dr. Frederick Moffatt and handwritten copies of papers attributed to a Mr. Heatois on "The Spirit of the Later Renaissance" and "The Monumental Arts."
The Notes and Writings series is arranged into 2 subseries:
  • 3.1: Notes and Writings by Arthur Wesley Dow, circa 1900-1922
  • 3.2: Notes and Writings by Others, circa 1918-1977
This series has been scanned in its entirety.
3.1: Notes and Writings by Arthur Wesley Dow, circa 1900-1922
Description Container
Last Will and Testament Fragment, circa 1900-1922
1
10
Lectures on Art in Gardens, 1904-1905
1
11
Lectures on The Art of the Cave Men, 1913-1916
1
12
Lecture on Buddhist Art, 1905 December 11
1
13
Lectures on Color, 1904-1906
1
14
Lecture on Willow Patterns, 1904 November 21
1
15
Lectures on Egyptian Art and Architecture circa 1905-1915
1
16
Lectures on Italian Art: The Great Florentines 1905-1908
1
17
Lecture series on Italian Art, circa 1905-1908
1
18
Lectures on Japanese Art, 1905-1917
1
19
Lectures on Romanesque and Gothic Art and Architecture, circa 1907-1913
(2 folders)
1
20-21
Writings on Teaching Art, circa 1908-1912
1
22
Notes on Composition and Principle of Fine Arts
circa 1905-1922
1
23
Miscellaneous Curricula, Syllabi and Lecture Notes, circa 1905-1922
1
24
Price Lists, 1915-1916
1
25
3.2: Notes and Writings by Others, circa 1918-1977
Description Container
Copy of Papers by Mr. Heatois, 1918-1919
1
26
Frederick Moffatt Research Notes on Dow, circa 1970-1977
1
27

Series 4: Printed Material , circa 1826-1978
(Boxes 1-2; 5 folders)

This series contains exhibition catalogs, clippings, ephemera, and pulications, including 50 volumes of Antiquarian Papers, a four page monthly serial published from 1879-1886, that focused on the history of Ipswich, Massachusetts. Dow published this serial with his mentor Augustine Caldwell and produced woodcuts of the town's historical buildings that were used as illustrations. They represent some of his earliest artistic efforts.
The bulk of the exhibition catalogs pertain to exhibitions of Dow's paintings and prints in solo and group exhibitions. However there is also a catalog of objects from the Freer Collection that were exhibited at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in 1913. The sections "Oriental Paintings" and "Miscellaneous Oriental Objects" are heavily annotated in pencil. Ephemera incudes a postcard of Dow's summer studio in Ipswich, Massachusetts, announcements for the Ipswich Summer School of Art and publication of new editions of his book Composition, among other items.
This series has been scanned in its entirety. In most cases, only the cover and title page of exhibition catalogs have been scanned.
Description Container Select
Antiquarian Papers, 1879-1885
1
28
Clippings, circa 1880-1930
1
29
Ephemera, circa 1826-1977
1
30
Exhibition Catalogs, 1895-1917, 1975
1
31
Oversize Publication, The Visitor, 1890 May
(See box 2)
1
32
Oversize Publication, The Visitor, 1890 May
2 (sol)

Series 5: Photographs , circa 1880-1977
(Boxes 1-2; 0.6 linear feet)

This series includes vintage photographs and copy prints of portraits and group shots, as well as color snapshots and photographs of works of art. Notable among the nineteen vintage photographs are a platinum print portrait by Gertrude Käsebier and another platinum print of Dow taken at the Grand Canyon by Mrs. Coburn (mother of the Pictorialist photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn). Additionally there are albumen prints of Dow in his Paris studio and with a class of students from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, a carte de visite of Dow and a cabinet card portrait of his wife Minnie Pearson Dow.
Copy prints include duplicate images of the vintage photographs of in this collection as well as additional photographs of landscapes, seascapes, Dow portraits and groups including family members and students. However the majority of the copy prints are reproductions of works of art. The copy prints originally were compiled by Frederick Moffatt as part of his research on Dow, which culminated in an exhibition and catalog, Arthur Wesley Dow (Smithsonian Press, 1977).
Copy prints have not been scanned.
Description Container Select
Portraits of Arthur Wesley Dow, circa 1880-1900
(1 carte de visite and 2 vintage platinum prints)
1
33
Portrait of Arthur Wesley Dow by Gertrude Käsebier, circa 1900
(1 vintage platinum print; see box 2)
1
34
Portraits of Arthur Wesley Dow by Herbert Arthur Hess, circa 1900-1903
(3 vintage platinum prints)
1
35
Dow in Studio, circa 1900
(1 vintage print; see box 2)
1
36
Portrait of Arthur Wesley Dow by Kenneth Alexander used in announcement for the second edition of Composition, circa 1905
(1 vintage photogravure; see box 2)
1
37
Dow at the Grand Canyon by Mrs. [Fannie] Coburn, 1911
(1 vintage platinum print)
1
38
Portrait of Arthur Wesley Dow attributed to James S. Radcliffe, 1913
(1 vintage platinum print; see box 2)
1
39
Portrait of Minnie Pearson Dow and Group Photographs with Dow and Others, circa 1894-1919
(4 vintage prints)
1
40
Académie Julian, Paris, France, circa 1886
(1 vintage print)
1
41
Dow and Henry R. Kenyon in Dow's Ipswich Studio, circa 1890
(1 vintage albumen print; see box 2)
1
42
Dow with Class, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, circa 1899
(1 vintage print)
1
43
Dow and Craft Class at Ipswich Summer School of Art, 1902
(1 vintage print)
1
44
Copy Prints of Vintage Photographs from Collection, circa 1977
(Not scanned)
1
45
Copy Prints of Dow Family Members, circa 1970s
(Not scanned)
1
46
Copy Prints of Family Gatherings and Classes, circa 1970s
(Not scanned)
1
47
Copy Prints of Landscapes and Seascapes, circa 1970s
(Not scanned)
1
48
Copy Prints of Dow Publications, circa 1970s
(Not scanned)
1
49
Color Photographs of Works of Art, circa 1970
(Not scanned)
1
50
Black and White Photographs of Works of Art, circa 1971
(Not scanned)
1
51
Copy Prints of Works of Art, circa 1970s
(3 folders; not scanned)
1
52-54
Contact Sheets: Works of Art, circa 1970s
(Not scanned)
1
55
Negatives: Works of Art, circa 1970s
(Not scanned)
1
56
Portrait of Arthur Wesley Dow by Gertrude Käsebier, circa 1900
(1 vintage platinum print)
2 (sol)
Portrait of Arthur Wesley Dow by Kenneth Alexander (used in announcement for the second edition of Composition, circa 1905
(1 vintage photogravure)
2 (sol)
Portrait of Arthur Wesley Dow by Radcliffe, 1913
(1 vintage platinum print)
2 (sol)
Dow and Henry R. Kenyon in Dow's Ipswich Studio, circa 1890
(1 vintage albumen print)
2 (sol)

Series 6: Artwork , circa 1879-1906
(Boxes 1; 3 folders)

Found in this series are prints from Dow's Ipswich Prints series, a set of engraved facsimiles of his woodcuts, ink drawings, and watercolors, that were meant to be used as examples of color and composition for art students. There is also an unsigned and undated pencil drawing of a colonial house.
This series has been scanned in its entirety.
Description Container Select
Unsigned Pencil Drawing of Colonial House, circa 1879-1885
1
57
Ipswich Prints (second set), 1902
1
58
Loose Prints, circa 1901-1906
1
59

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.