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Francis Davis Millet and Millet family papers, 1858-1984, bulk 1858-1955

Millet, Francis Davis, 1846-1912

Muralist, Painter, Author

The papers of Francis Davis Millet in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2006 from 8 reels of microfilm. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 6,921 images.

Collection Information

Size: 3.3 linear feet

Summary: The Francis Davis Millet and Millet family papers measure 3.3 linear feet and are dated 1858-1984, with a few scattered early eighteenth-century items, such as legal documents and printed matter. The bulk of the material dates from 1858 to 1955. Found are biographical materials, diaries/journals, family letters, notes and writings, art work, printed matter, miscellaneous records, and photographs documenting Millet's wide-ranging artistic and writing career and personal life, including his death aboard the Titanic. Also of interest are approximately twenty ink caricatures attributed to John Singer Sargent. An addition received in 2013 includes two Harvard University diplomas, Bachelor of Arts, June 29, 1869 and Master of Arts, June 26, 1872 for Francis Davis Millet.
Biographical material consists of biographical and genealogical notes; also, memorial resolutions, invitations, and programs with several related items tipped in. Diaries/journals for the period 1858-1911 (16 vols., plus excerpts and transcripts) record Civil War experiences, the Russo-Turkish War, travels throughout Europe, to the northwest United States and Alaska, the Orient, and Panama.
Letters from F. D. Millet to his family date from his years at Harvard, art training in Antwerp, residence in Italy, and service as a correspondent during the Russo-Turkish War. Millet's letters include a few received from friends and associates, original letters sent by Millet to others, along with typescript copies of incoming letters. Also included is a file of letters addressed to Millet and others concerning the purchase and restoration of the Grange, his Broadway studio. There are four letters from Millet to his girlfriend Velma Marie Morse and scattered letters to Velma's father, A.P. Morse, and Fred Chapman. Photocopies of letters from sister Kathleen Millet to her friend Margherita describe her brother's adventures during the Russo-Turkish War, and include an account of his wedding. His sister Lucia Millet's letters to her family were written while she was in England living as a member of her brother's household, and are rich with details of Frank's daily life, work, travels, friends, and the American colony in Broadway. The letters of Lily Millet consist mainly of condolence messages sent upon the death of her husband, but also include letters from Samuel L. Clemens, Henry James, Ellen Terry [Carew], Charles Dudly Warner, her children, and others.
Included in the collection are Millet's extensive research notes about costumes and artifacts of various historical periods and locations that served as reference for details in his murals. Also included are his notebooks about Italian art, Bulgarian history and costume, and the Philippines. Writings by Millet consist of articles, short stories, lectures and speeches. Writings about him include texts by various relatives (all but one are unpublished). The most extensive written piece is by niece Hilda Millet Booth and son John [Albert] Parsons Millet, and is accompanied by early drafts, notes, and related correspondence.
Art work by Millet includes twelve volumes of sketchbooks dating from his student days in Antwerp through 1896, along with loose sketches, drawings, and two watercolors. Most were executed while traveling, and include landscapes, building, and local peoples. Works by other artists include 20 caricatures drawn in ink, attributed to John Singer Sargent.
Among the printed matter are newspaper articles by F. D. Millet, along with clippings about or mentioning him, reproductions, exhibition catalogs and announcements. Of interest are Vienna Exposition memorabilia, and a full length biography, Soldier of Fortune: F. D. Millet, 1846-1912 by granddaughter Joyce A. Sharpey-Schafer. Miscellaneous records include drawings sketches, notes, printed matter, and photographs relating to the Abbot's Grange in Broadway that served as Millet's studio.
Photographs of people include F. D. Millet, his father Asa Millet with granddaughter Kate, and Mary Anderson. Photographs of works of art are by Millet and other artists.

Biographical/Historical Note

Francis Davis Millet (1846-1912) was a painter and muralist from Washington, D.C., New York, N.Y., and England. Millet established an artists' colony with close friends John Singer Sargent, Henry James, and Edwin Abbey in the village of Broadway, Worcestershire. He played a major role in the founding of the American Federation of the Arts, was extensively involved in the World Columbian Exposition, worked on the Fine Arts Commission in Washington, D.C., during the terms of presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Millet went down with the Titanic, April 15, 1912.


Material lent for microfilming by Charles S. Millet, grandnephew of Francis D. Millet on reels 849 & 1080 in 1974-1976. Material filmed on reels 5903-5907 donated 1974 by Charles S. Millet, 1975 by John A. P. Millet, son of Francis D. Millet, 1977 by Francis (Frank) D. Millet II, grandson of Francis. D. Millet, 1987 by Joyce A Sharpey-Schafer, granddaughter of Francis Davis Millet, and 1996 by David M. Emerson, Millet's grand-nephew. Four letters and three envelopes donated 2003 by Frank D. Millet II and Millet's granddaughter, Mrs. Josephine Millet Flynn and her husband Harry L. Flynn, and two additional letters and two diplomas donated by Frank D. Millet II in 2006 and 2013 (one letter, Oct. 20, 1887 was lent for filming on reel 5460, frames 422-437, along with a transcript of the letter, by Peter Engstrom in 1998.)

Related Materials

Found within the holdings of the Archives of American Art are several collections related to Francis Davis Millet, including five letters from Millet to Miss Ward and "Ticknor" and a collection of Francis Millet Rogers research material regarding Francis Davis Millet. The Philip Martiny papers contains two group photographs that include F. D. Millet. A letter describing a visit to Millet's studio is among the William Cushing Loring Papers. The American Academy in Rome records include documents created by F. D. Millet in his capacity as Secretary from 1904-1907 and as Chief Administrator in Rome, 1911-1912.

Location of Originals

  • Reels 849 & 1080: Originals returned to Charles S. Millet after microfilming.