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Edmund C. Tarbell papers, circa 1855-circa 2000, bulk 1885-1938

Tarbell, Edmund Charles, 1862-1938

Painter, Teacher

This site provides access to the papers of Edmund Charles Tarbell in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2018, and total 5,701 images.

Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by The Walton Family Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 7.0 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Boston painter Edmund Charles Tarbell measure 7.0 linear feet and date from circa 1855-circa 2000, bulk 1885-1938. The collection includes biographical material, correspondence, writings, diaries, personal business records, printed material, photographs, albums, glass plate negatives, and a scrapbook. A small addition donated in 2018 includes nine art instruction books and sketchbooks with childhood drawings and a copper etching plate by Tarbell, all of which were merged with the existing papers.
Biographical material includes a detailed timeline, honorary degree, award certificates, business cards, lists of awards and paintings, sketches, handbooks for organizations, and other documents.
There are three subseries of correspondence: Edmund Charles Tarbell's correspondence, his wife Emeline Tarbell's correspondence, and his daughter Josephine Tarbell Ferrell's correspondence. The first subseries includes Edmund Tarbell's correspondence with artists, museums and arts organizations. Notable correspondents include Frank W. Benson, William Merritt Chase, Henry Clay Frick, Philip Leslie Hale, August F. Jaccaci, Lilla Cabot Perry, and many others. The letters to his brother-in-law Augustus "Gus" Nickerson and sister Nellie Sophia are also significant for their information about his time studying abroad. The bulk of Emeline Tarbell's correspondence consists of letters from her husband regarding his time as a student in Paris. There are letters from her mother and siblings as well. Josephine Tarbell Ferrell's correspondence with people concerns her efforts to preserve the Tarbell house in New Hampshire as a memorial to her father.
Writings include a small amount of material by Edmund C. Tarbell, such as annotated appointment calendars, a notebook, assorted lists and notes, but most of the material in the series consists of other people's writings about the artist. Writing by others include drafts of a biography about Tarbell by his daughter Josephine Tarbell Ferrell and a typescript draft of "About the Artist Edmund C. Tarbell: Recollections of a Daughter" by Mercie Tarbell Clay. There is also a cookbook that was probably Emeline Souther's, before her marriage to Tarbell. There are four diaries: two diaries by Emeline Tarbell, one diary by Josephine Tarbell Ferrell and another by Mercie Tarbell Clay.
Personal business records consist of account books, bills, receipts, checkbooks, estate papers, a ledger, and a deed. Some of the material belonged to Emeline Tarbell.
Printed material includes exhibition catalogs, announcements, event invitations, magazines, books, and newspaper clippings, mostly about Edmund Charles Tarbell. There is one scrapbook of clippings of artwork and articles on Tarbell.
Photographic material consists of albums, photographs, glass plate negatives, and nitrate negatives of Edmund Charles Tarbell, his studio, family, friends, exhibition installations, and artwork. There are extensive photographs of the Tarbell family and the house in New Castle, New Hampshire

Biographical/Historical Note

Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862-1938) was a painter and educator based in Boston, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.


The Edmund Charles Tarbell papers were donated in 1989 by his granddaughter, Mary Josephine Ferrell Cannon and in 2017 and 2018 by William P. Tarbell, the artist's great-grandson. The material on reel N68-103 was lent for microfilming in 1968 by Mrs. John Schaffer (Mary Tarbell), daughter of Edmund Tarbell.

Related Materials


Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by The Walton Family Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Location of Originals

  • Reel N68-103: Originals returned to the lender, Mary Tarbell Schaffer, after microfilming.