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Henry Ossawa Tanner papers, 1860s-1978, bulk 1890-1937

Contents and Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 6 series:

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  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
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Series 1: Biographical Material , circa 1890-1937
(Box 1, 4, OV 5; 0.8 linear feet)

Found here are published biographies, including Tanner's 1937 obituary; identification documents, such as passports and Red Cross identity card; a one-page handwritten record of Tanner family marriages, possibly removed from a family bible; a small personal bible and larger family bible; membership documents for the Societe Artistique de Picardie, and the American Expeditionary Forces. A few documents concern his father Benjamin Tucker Tanner's estate. There is one file regarding a lawsuit with the Bethel A. M. E. Church over the church's failure to pay for a commissioned work of art by Tanner. Also found are three of Tanner's address books, loose addresses, scattered notes, lists, and a few receipts regarding the sale of his paintings. Award certificates and medals include his Legion of Honor medal and National Academy of Design membership certificate.
Items are arranged in chronological order within each folder.
Description Container Select
Published Biographical Summaries, circa 1905, 1925, 1937
1
1
Identification Documents, 1915-1918, 1936
(See also OV 5)
1
2
Tanner Family Marriage Record, circa 1890
1
3
Societe Artistique de Picardie Documents, 1914
1
4
American Expeditionary Forces Documents, 1918-1921
1
5
Benjamin Tucker Tanner Estate Documents, circa 1923-1935
1
6
Bethel A. M. E. Church Legal Documents, 1929
1
7
Address Books, circa 1900-1920s
(2 folders)
1
8-9
Loose Addresses, circa 1900-1930
1
10
Documents regarding sale of paintings, circa 1890-1937
1
11
Award Certificates, 1901-1927
(See also OV 5)
1
12
Award Medals, 1900-1927
(2 folders)
1
13-14
Personal Bible, circa 1920s
(Not scanned)
1
15
Family Bible, 1899
(Not scanned)
4 (hol)
Identification Documents, 1915
(See also Box 1, F2)
OV 5
Award Certificates, 1901-1927
(See also Box 1, F12)
OV 5

Series 2: Correspondence , circa 1890-1978
(Box 1, OV 5; 0.6 linear feet)

This series contains Henry Ossawa Tanner's personal and professional correspondence, with the bulk of the letters dating after 1900 until his death in 1937. Found here are letters from members of the Tanner family, including his sisters Mary and Belle, several nieces, and one letter from Benjamin Tucker Tanner to Jessie Olssen Tanner. These letters primarily discuss family news. Also found is correspondence between Tanner and his wife Jessie, including telegrams and letters from Jessie while Tanner was traveling in Jerusalem and while serving in the Red Cross in 1918. A small amount of correspondence with his son Jesse Ossawa Tanner exists here. Also found is correspondence with Tanner's friend J. S. Carpenter, president of the Des Moines Association of Fine Arts, that concerns sales of Tanner's work in the mid-west, and with his closest friend Atherton Curtis and his wife Ingeborg. Additional correspondence is with Grand Central Art Galleries in who represented his art in the New York area, with J. J. Haverty who purchased Tanner's work for the High Museum in Atlanta, and with Tanner's brother-in-law Charles Tough. Tanner also received numerous letters of condolence after the death of his wife in 1925.
General chronological correspondence includes letters from friends, patrons, dealers, galleries, and others. Business letters concern loans of paintings for exhibitions, requests for photograph reproductions, information requests for articles, commissioned artwork, and inquiries about purchasing paintings. Also included are more intimate correspondence with friends, letters of congratulations, and correspondence with his wife's family. A small amount of the general correspondence is in French. Additional material found in this series is a letterbook containing carbon copies of letters Tanner wrote during 1918 while working for the Red Cross, and Jesse Tanner's correspondence with others concerning Henry Tanner's death and his artwork.
Items are arranged chronologically within each folder.
Description Container Select
Tanner Family, 1910-1937
1
16
Tanner, Jessie Olssen, 1899, 1918, 1925
1
17
Tanner, Jesse Ossawa, 1909-1934
1
18
Bateman, Jessie, 1931-1935
1
19
Carpenter, J. S., 1919-1936
1
20
Curtis, Atherton & Ingeborg, 1904-1937
1
21
Grand Central Art Galleries, 1927-1936
1
22
Haverty, J. J., 1929-1934
1
23
Tough, Charles C., 1927-1935
1
24
White, Clarence Cameron, 1932-1935
1
25
Letters of Condolence, 1925
(See also OV 5)
1
26
Calling cards, circa 1890-1930
1
27
Greeting Cards, circa 1890-1937
1
28
Invitations, circa 1920s
1
29
Letter Book, 1918
1
30
General Correspondence, 1892-1937
1
31
General Correspondence, 1904-1917
1
32
General Correspondence, 1918-1924
1
33
General Correspondence, 1924-1925
1
34
General Correspondence, 1926-1928
1
35
General Correspondence, 1929-1930
1
36
General Correspondence, 1931-1933
1
37
General Correspondence, 1934
1
38
General Correspondence, 1935
1
39
General Correspondence, 1936-1937
1
40
Undated Correspondence, circa 1892-1937
1
41
Jesse O. Tanner Correspondence with Others, 1937-1978
1
42
Letters of Condolence (List of Letters), 1925
(See also Box 1, F26)
OV 5

Series 3: Writings and Notes , 1897-circa 1950s
(Box 1-2, OV 5; 9 folders)

This series contains writings by and about Henry Ossawa Tanner. Writings by Tanner include two pocket-sized notebooks, one of which was kept during his travels in Europe and Palestine in 1897. Also found are loose writings and notes, primarily fragments of his autobiographical writings, and also draft essays and notes on various subjects. Writings by others include an essay by Jessie Olssen Tanner about women's lives in France during WWI. Writings by Tanner's son Jesse include a two volume manuscript with attached news clippings and additional notes about the life and work of his father. Also found is an essay about Tanner by the writer and journalist Eunice Tietjens, and a few unidentified writing fragments.
Description Container Select
Henry Ossawa Tanner, Notebooks, 1897, circa 1913
1
43
Henry Ossawa Tanner, Writings & Notes, circa 1900-1930s
(2 folders; see also OV 5)
2 (hol)
1-2
Jessie O. Tanner, "Women Behind the Firing-Line In France,", 1914
2 (hol)
3
Jesse O. Tanner, Manuscript, "The Life and Works of Henry O. Tanner,", circa 1950s
2 (hol)
4
Jesse O. Tanner, Notes for "The Life and Works of Henry O. Tanner,", circa 1950s
2 (hol)
5
Jesse O. Tanner, Miscellaneous Writings, circa 1920s
2 (hol)
6
Eunice Tietjens, "H. O. Tanner,", 1914
2 (hol)
7
Unidentified Miscellaneous Writings, undated
2 (hol)
8
Henry Ossawa Tanner, Writings & Notes, circa 1900-1930s
(See also Box 2, F1-F2)
OV 5

Series 4: Printed Material , 1897-1975
(Box 2, OV 5; 9 folders)

Printed material includes exhibition announcements for Tanner and other artists, news clippings from magazines and newspapers (mostly American publications) about Tanner and exhibitions of his artwork, and news of art events in France. Also found is a two part article "The Story of an Artist's Life," by Henry Ossawa Tanner in World's Work from June and July 1909. Other miscellaneous printed material includes brochures, pamphlets, progams and other miscellanoues printed items mostly relating to religion and the civil rights of African Americans.
Items are arranged chronologically within each folder.
Description Container Select
Exhibition Announcements, 1913-1975
2 (hol)
9
News Clippings, 1897-1934, 1970
(5 folders)
2 (hol)
10-14
Reproductions of Artwork, circa 1900-1920
(Not scanned)
2 (hol)
15
The World's Work Magazine, 1909
(Partially scanned)
2 (hol)
16
Miscellaneous Printed Material, circa 1910-1933, 1964
(See also OV 5)
2 (hol)
17
Miscellaneous Printed Material, circa 1910-1933, 1964
(See also Box 2, F17)
OV 5

Series 5: Photographs , 1860s-1943
(Box 3, OV 5; 0.4 linear feet)

Found here are numerous photographs of Tanner, his family, and friends. Included are several portraits of Tanner - a photograph of him on horseback as a young man, in his military uniform during WWI, and painting in his studio. Also found is a circa 1890 photograph of Tanner with other fellow students at the Académie Julian, and another dated circa 1900 taken with members of the American Art Club in Paris. Other photographs of Tanner depict him with his wife Jessie, son Jesse, and friends at social gatherings, and together in Morocco. Additional family photographs include portraits of Jessie as a young woman, Jesse as a small child and playing with friends, and several portraits of Jessie and Jesse together, including one in which they are posing for Tanner's painting "Christ Learning to Read." Also found are photographs of Tanner's parents, Benjamin Tucker Tanner and Sarah Tanner, a tintype of Sarah Tanner's sister, and other Tanner family members, including portraits of Henry Tanner's sisters Mary, Sadie, Bertha, and Isabella, and a few of his nieces. The collection contains several photographs of Tanner's close friend Atherton Curtis and his family, including his first wife Louise and his second wife Ingeborg. Photographs of Tanner's teacher Benjamin Constant, other friends, and an ambrotype of an unidentified woman are found here. Additional photographs are of Tanner's studio in Paris, his tent and campground in Palestine, his residences, including his home in Trepied, Normandy, and of exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago. Also found are numerous photographs of Tanner's paintings and drawings.
Items are arranged chronologically within each folder.
Description Container Select
Photographs of Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1890-1935
2 (hol)
18
Photographs of Henry Ossawa Tanner with Family & Friends, circa 1890-1935
(Includes a circa 1890 photograph of Tanner with fellow students at the Académie Julian and one depicting Tanner with members of the American Art Club in Paris, circa 1900)
2 (hol)
19
Photographs of Jessie & Jesse Tanner, circa 1890-1943
2 (hol)
20
Photographs of Benjamin Tucker Tanner & Sarah Tanner, circa 1897-1920
2 (hol)
21
Photographs of Tanner Family Members, circa 1890-1900
2 (hol)
22
Photographs of Atherton Curtis & Family, circa 1895-1935
3 (hol)
1
Photographs of Others, circa 1870s-1910
3 (hol)
2
Unidentified Portrait of Woman, 1860s
(See Black Cabinet, Drawer 3: Cased Photographs)
3 (hol)
3
Photographs of Henry Ossawa Tanner Studio, circa 1937
3 (hol)
4
Photographs of Tanner's Tent in Palestine, circa 1899
3 (hol)
5
Photographs of Tanner Residences, circa 1917
3 (hol)
6
Photographs of Exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago, 1905, 1913, 1910
3 (hol)
7
Photographs of Exhibition, Exposition at de Touquet, 1913
3 (hol)
8
Photographs of Artwork, circa 1920s
(see also OV 5)
3 (hol)
9
Photographs of Artwork, circa 1920s
(see also OV 5)
3 (hol)
10
Photographs of Artwork, circa 1920s
(see also OV 5)
3 (hol)
11
Photographs of Artwork, circa 1920s
(see also OV 5)
3 (hol)
12
Photographs of Artwork, circa 1920s
(see also OV 5)
3 (hol)
13
Photographs of Artwork, circa 1920s
(see also OV 5)
3 (hol)
14
Photographs of Artwork, Glass Plate Negatives, circa 1920s
(Not scanned)
3 (hol)
15
Photographs of Artwork, circa 1920s
(See also Box 3, F9-F14; not scanned)
OV 5

Series 6: Artwork , 1891-1893
(Box 3; 2 folders)

This series contains two examples of artwork executed by Henry Ossawa Tanner early in his career - an ink wash drawing of a studio in Paris, and a book, The Wreck of the Schooner "Storm" by Dwight Williams, with added pencil and ink illustrations by Tanner.
Items are arranged chronologically.
Description Container Select
Illustrations for The Wreck of the Schooner 'Storm', 1891
3 (hol)
16
Drawings of Paris Studio, 1893
3 (hol)
17

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.