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Edward H. Dwight Papers, 1821-2001, bulk 1950-1979

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Stephanie Ashley
Scope and Contents
The papers of Cincinnati art historian, museum director, and Audubon and Peale scholar, Edward H. Dwight (1919-1981), measure 18.6 linear feet and date from 1821-2001, with the bulk of the material dating from 1950-1979. Dwight's papers include biographical material, writings by Dwight, and research files on John James Audubon, Raphaelle Peale, and others, documenting Dwight's extensive contribution to the study of American painting, particularly naturalist, portrait, and still life painting.
Dwight's biographical material includes two address books, a calendar, a small amount of personal correspondence including letters and postcards from Schomer and Ruth Lichtner, and printed material documenting his work as a museum curator and director.
Writings and notes include correspondence about Dwight's writings, drafts and typescripts of articles on Audubon and other artists, and lecture notes.
The bulk of the collection comprises Dwight's research material on Audubon and includes correspondence related to his research with scholars, collectors, publications, museums, and libraries, including: the American Museum of Natural History, the Audubon Society, the Cincinnati Historical Society, the Louisiana State Museum, Annie R. coffin, Waldemar H. Fries, John Francis McDermott, and the collections of G. Edmund Gifford, Jr., Paul F. Laning, and Morris Tyler.
Copies of Audubon's correspondence, including letters from Audubon's father-in-law, Benjamin Bakewell, son Victor G. Audubon, and grandchildren, form a substantial portion of Dwight's research files. Notes and card files reflecting Dwight's research by categories such as life event, activity, geographical area, and subject of study, further illuminate his research and provide cross references to the Audubon letters and other material.
Data compiled and supplemented with reproductions of Audubon's artwork forms another substantial portion of Dwight's research, and provides detailed information about individual Audubon works and works attributed to him.
Dwight's subject files on Audubon house collated research on individuals, subjects, and events that intersected with Audubon's life and work, as well as Audubon research from other sources and scholars. They include copies of documents, such as the journal of Audubon collaborator John G Bell, and a scrapbook of granddaughter, Maria Audubon; documents relating to Audubon collaborators such as John Bachman and Maria Martin; material related to collections of Audubon's work; and information concerning editions of his prints, such as the Havell Edition, engraved and hand-colored by the firm of Robert Havell Sr. and Jr. in the 1830s.
Printed material used by Dwight in his research includes original American newspapers, from states including New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, dating from 1821 to the 1870s, which include articles on Audubon, as well as later magazines, journals, catalogs, and news clippings on Audubon. A small number of photographs, slide transparencies, and negatives of Audubon's artwork can be found at the end of the series.
Dwight's research material on Raphaelle Peale, Charles Willson Peale, Rembrandt Peale, James Peale, and other Peale family members, includes correspondence requesting and responding to requests for information; material collated by subject on Peale collectors, family history, miniatures, portraits, silhouettes, still lifes, and other subjects; and photographs of artwork.
Other research files document Dwight's interest in other artists such as Aaron H. Corwine, Robert S. Duncanson, and artists from the Cincinnati area in general. They include catalogs of data compiled on individual works of art, subject files, notes and index card files, printed material, and photographs of artwork. Of special note are eleven issues of John Held, Jr.'s, mail art correspondence sent to Dwight by the Mohammed Center for Restricted Communications.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Audubon materials were donated to the Archives of American Art by Dwight's widow, Ruth R. White, in 1982-1983. The Peale material was donated in 2002 by the Barra Foundation, Inc., which had received them from Ruth R. Dwight as they relate to the Foundation's mission to support scholarship in cultural history in the Philadelphia area. In 1983, the Barra Foundation loaned the documents to Dr. William H. Gerdts, an art historian, who was to continue Dwight's work on a catalog raisonné of Raphaelle Peale. Dr. Gerdts made limited use of the materials and the Barra Foundation then transferred them to the Archives of American Art in 2002.
This collection was processed with funding from the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Stephanie Ashley in 2017 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund.