Skip to main content

Charles H. Woodbury and Elizabeth Ward Perkins papers, 1878-1959

Charles H. Woodbury and Elizabeth Ward Perkins papers, 1878-1959

Woodbury, Charles H. (Charles Herbert), 1864-1940

Painter, Teacher, Etcher, Illustrator

Collection Information

Size: 2.3 linear ft. (partially microfilmed on 2 reels)

Summary: Correspondence, writings, inventory of paintings, art work, and printed material, some pertaining to or compiled by Elizabeth Ward Perkins.

REEL 268: Twenty-three letters received by Perkins, 1940-1952, concerning the disposition of Woodbury's paintings; notes and essays by Woodbury on the technique and philosophy of drawing, painting and etching, and a paper by Woodbury and Perkins "The Modern School and Its Sources"; sixty-two drawings, one etching, and two paintings by Woodbury; lists of art work; and miscellaneous items.

REEL 2788: A card file (circa 900 cards) of watercolors and oils painted by Woodbury between 1886 and 1942. Information includes the title of the work, the date painted, the size, and the disposition of the work.

UNMICROFILMED: Circa 340 letters from Woodbury to Perkins written from Maine, Massachusetts, and various locales; circa 40 letters from Woodbury to his mother, mostly written from Holland. Included with the letters from Holland is a card file containing notes on the letters. Other letters are to Woodbury from Edward Filene, John B. Paine, and Thomas Allen, regarding the painting Mid-Ocean; a letter from Sam Houghton regarding his purchase of a watercolor; letters to Woodbury from William Merrit Post, Charles C. Curran (of the National Academy of Design), Benjamin Kimball, Malvina Hoffman, George W. Eggers (of the Art Institute of Chicago), and Leila Mechlin (of Southern Art Projects); letters to Woodbury from Arthur Wesley Dow, John C. Pierson, Hughes Mearns, Philip R.V. Carol, Ruth E. Hutchins, Charles W. Eliot, and Vernon M. Cady regarding Woodbury's manuscripts, "The Art of Seeing and Observation: Visual Training Through Drawing"; letters to Woodbury and Elizabeth Perkins, Woodbury's teaching colleague, from Charles J. Connick, various institutions, and the Assistant Secretary of State regarding Woodbury's art; legal correspondence to Perkins regarding Woodbury's estate taxes. Also included are letters to Anna Perkins, daughter of Elizabeth Perkins, from Castano Galleries.

Printed material includes a scrapbook of clippings relating to Woodbury and Perkins and the Woodbury Training School in Applied Observation and their other art education endeavors; a book, "Descendants of Alexander Robinson and Angelica Peale," owned by Perkins; exhibition price lists; venue lists and typescripts of reviews for Woodbury's traveling exhibition with the Federation of Arts.

Biographical/Historical Note

Woodbury was a marine painter, instructor, writer, etcher, illustrator; Ogunquit, Maine. Perkins was an art patron and Woodbury's teaching collaborator. Woodbury studied engineering at MIT, 1882-1886, while continuing to paint and exhibit. Upon graduation he began teaching art. He married a pupil, Marcia Oakes, in 1890, and travelled often to Europe to paint, frequently to Holland. In 1897, he built a studio in Ogunquit, Me., and began offering summer classes in 1898. His successful school turned Ogunquit into a major art colony. Woodbury wrote three books on the subject of teaching art, one with Perkins.


Many papers of Woodbury were in Perkins' possession at the time of his death. The card file on reel 2788 was donated in 1957 from the American Art Research Council, Whitney Museum of American Art, which had received it from Perkins' heirs. Material on reel 268 was owned jointly by Perkins' heirs, and donated in 1957 with the assistance of Giovanni Castano (Castano Galleries, Boston, Mass.), along with Charles C. Perkins' (Elizabeth Perkins' father-in-law) diary and art works, and Samuel Gray Ward's (her grandfather) art works and photographs, each described and housed separately. The scrapbook (unmicrofilmed) probably came at the same time. The remainder of the unmicrofilmed material was donated by Perkins' daughters, Anna W. Perkins and Mary Perkins Ryan, 1989 and 35 items donated 2009 by John H. Mansfield, grandson of Elizabeth Ward Perkins. (Additional Woodbury papers, described and housed separately, were donated by the Woodbury family.)

Alternative Forms Available

Microfilm reels 268 and 2788 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Charles H. Woodbury and Elizabeth Ward Perkins papers, 1878-1959. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.