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Daniel Varney Thompson papers, 1848-1979, bulk 1923-1979

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Catherine S. Gaines
Scope and Contents
The papers of art conservator and historian, professor, engineer, and writer Daniel Varney Thompson (1902-1980) are dated 1848-1979, with the bulk of the material dated 1923-1979. The collection measures 10.1 linear feet and consists of biographical material, correspondence, subject files, writings, artwork, printed material, and photographs.
Biographical information includes certificates and diplomas, passports, and wills. Correspondence documents Daniel Varney Thompson's personal and professional life. Personal correspondence centers heavily on family members including his brother, the composer Randall Thompson. Professional correspondence concerns Thompson's academic career, research, writing, and work as a technical consultant and engineer. Among the correspondents are colleagues from Harvard, Yale, the Courtauld Institute, publishers, and academic and technical journals, in addition to corporate clients.
Subject files are comprised of varying correspondence, printed matter, photographs, notes and writings relating to Thompson's areas of interest. Personal and professional subject files include many relating to his research interests and engineering consulting projects. Of particular interest are numerous letters from Bernard Berenson. There is also correspondence with Belle da Costa Greene, as well as files concerning the Kermes beetle (a source of crimson dyes in the middle ages). Food and gardening subject files reflect Thompson's career as a writer and columnist on these subjects.
Writings consist mainly of manuscripts, drafts, research and miscellaneous notes; also included are diaries, poems, miscellaneous items, and a music score. Daniel Varney Thompson's personal and professional writings include two diaries, poems, and student writings. Most of his extant writings are on art-related topics, science and technology. Among the notes is an index to medieval manuscripts on craftsmanship in major European libraries was compiled by Thompson in 1935. His work on the subject remains unpublished and his notes are extremely valuable since some of the materials noted were lost in World War II. Scientific and technical notebooks, along with various wirings and reports, document projects undertaken as a technical consultant and engineer. The food and gardening writings are extensive and consist of manuscripts and notes for articles and columns, and for a book-length compilation of these writings. Among the writings by other authors are diaries of his mother and wife, and a music score by his brother, Randall Thompson.
Artwork by Daniel Varney Thompson, Mary Sargent McKean, and Henry Winslow consists of drawings, prints, watercolors, a sketchbook, and an oil painting. Printed material includes articles and book reviews by Daniel Varney Thompson, and items about or mentioning him and his family. Also found are articles and books about art, history, medieval studies, science and technology, and food and gardening topics.
Photographs are of artwork, people, places and miscellaneous subjects. Images of people are mainly Thompson and family members.
The Daniel Varney Thompson papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in increments between 1974-1981 by Mr. Thompson and his estate.
Related Material
Also found in the Archives of American Art are oral history interviews conducted with Daniel V. Thompson by Robert Brown, September 25, 1974-November 2, 1976. There are also three letters from Thompson to his sister-in-law Edith Simonds Moore.
Processing Information
A portion of the collection, including 81 letters from Bernard Berenson, was originally loaned in 1973 and microfilmed on reel 888. It was subsequently donated and is now integrated within the papers. The collection was processed by Catherine S. Gaines in 2007.