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Elihu Vedder papers, 1804-1969, bulk 1840-1923

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Jennifer Meehan
Scope and Contents
The Elihu Vedder papers measure approximately 9.2 linear feet and date from 1804 to 1969, with the bulk of the material dating from 1840 to 1923. The collection documents the life and work of the painter and illustrator, who was perhaps best known for his illustrations of the 1884 edition of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Papers include correspondence, writings, diaires, photographs, a limited number of drawings, books and printed material, legal and financial papers, and scattered personal and family papers.
Correspondence consists of incoming and drafts of outgoing letters concerning both personal and professional matters. The majority of the business correspondence was written by Vedder's wife, Caroline R. Vedder, on his behalf and documents the sale and exhibition of Vedder's work, commissions for paintings, and his illustrations for books. Also found is corresondence between and amongst various members of Vedder's immediate and extended family (including early letters between his parents, Elizabeth and Elihu Vedder, Sr.), and between Caroline R. Vedder and her immediate family (including her mother, sisters, and nieces).
Writings consist of drafts, manuscripts, typescripts, and illustrations for various books that Vedder wrote late in his career after he had stopped painting, and for various other poems, essays, and stories, as well as some writings by others. Also found are several diaries belonging to Vedder and Caroline R. Vedder, which record some of the daily activities and travels of Vedder and his wife. Photographs include ones of Vedder, his studio, his friends and family, and his artwork, as well as ones of various residences, from various trips, and of an unidentified exhibition of Vedder's work. Drawings include a study for "The Rubaiyat" and "The Artist's Daughter," along with scattered sketches, plans, and bookplates. Also found are copies of Vedder's published books, and clippings, catalogs, art reproductions, and other printed material.
Also in the collection are scattered legal papers (wills, deeds, and agreements of various family members), finanical papers (such as receipts and statements), notes on family history and other family papers, miscellaney, and numerous annotated envelopes and enclosures that once housed some of Vedder's papers.
The bulk of the collection was donated in 1962-1964 by Lawrence Fleischman and Harold Love (who bought the papers in 1926 from Mrs. Nadia Tomassi, a Vedder family friend who had held the papers since Vedder's death in 1923). Several books were donated by Irving Burton in 1964 and 1977. Some correspondence, writings, notes, and printed material were donated in 1981 by Mrs. John Breck.
Separated Material
Four originals drawings (filmed on Reel 671: 608-610 and 612) were returned to the donor and are not described in the Container Listing.
Related Material
Related material found in the Archives of American Art includes 3 letters written by Elihu Vedder that comprise a small collection donated by Charles E. Feinberg.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Processing Information
The collection was largely processed before being partially microfilmed in 1962-1964 on reels 515-529 and 671, and in 1981 on reel 2323. Two drawings, study for "The Rubaiyat" and "The Artist's Daughter," received conservation treatment at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in 1986. The entire collection was fully processed, arranged and described by Jennifer Meehan in 2006, and the collection was digitized in 2007 and 2009 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.