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Oral history interview with Alice Winchester, 1993 September 17-1995 June 29

Oral history interview with Alice Winchester, 1993 September 17-1995 June 29

Winchester, Alice, 1907-1996

Curator, Educator, Author

Collection Information

Size: 3 sound cassettes (3 hrs., 46 min.) : analog.

Format: Originally recorded on 3 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 46 min.

Summary: An interview of Alice Winchester conducted 1993 September 17-1995 June 29, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art, over three sessions, in Winchester's home, Danbury, Connecticut.

Winchester recalls her childhood in the family of a Congregational minister in New England; attending Smith College (BA 1929) as had her mother and sisters, including her junior year abroad in France; her clerical employment in New York City; her position as office secretary and then associate editor of "The Magazine "Antiques"; working with Homer Eaton Keyes, its founding editor; learning about antiques; and meeting many dealers, curators, and collectors (1930-38).

Winchester continues discussing her early years as editor of "The Magazine Antiques," 1938- ; expanding the scope of the magazine, particularly to include articles on folk art and regular features on outstanding public and private collections; her highly specialized, though small, staff, including Helen Comstock; her close associations with important New York dealers, such as Israel Sack and his sons, Harold and Albert, and members of the Ginsburg and Levy firm; her role in establishing the annual Antiques Forum at Colonial Williamsburg, 1949- , which put her in touch with many potential authors for her magazine; the importance of steady travel to view collections and meet collectors and curators; her several books on antiques; and the wealthy collectors whom she met, including Electra Havemeyer Webb, of Shelburne, Vermont.

Winchester talks further on great collectors of American antiques at mid-century, especially Henry Francis Du Pont and Mr. and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Flynt of Deerfield, Massachusetts. and collector's habits and tastes in general. She also talks about other authorities on antiques, including Marshall and "Petey" Davidson and Joseph Downs of the American Wing of the Met.

Biographical/Historical Note

Alice Winchester (1907-1996) was an art editor and author of Danbury, Connecticut. Winchester was editor of the magazine, "Antiques," 1938-1951 and its successor "Antiques," 1951-1972; and curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1972-1974.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.


Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

Use requires an appointment.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Alice Winchester, 1993 September 17-1995 June 29. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.