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John Davis Hatch papers, 1790-1995

John Davis Hatch papers, 1790-1995

Hatch, John Davis, 1907-1996

Art historian, Museum director, Collector

Collection Information

Size: 24.9 linear feet

Summary: The papers of art historian, collector, educator, and museum administrator John Davis Hatch measure 24.9 linear feet and date from 1790-1995. Within the papers are biographical materials; correspondence; personal business and legal documents; diaries; research, organization and teaching files; writings; printed materials; photographs; and works of art (mostly sketches) by American artists. Research files regarding artists and specific subjects comprise the bulk of this collection.

Scattered biographical materials include an invitation to the Hatch's anniversary party in 1964, short biographical sketches and resumes, certificates, report cards, a silhouette of the Hatch Family circa 1904, and a typecript of a diary written by Olivia Hatch as a child.

Correspondence includes professional correspondence between Hatch and colleagues; letters from family and friends; and some materials regarding exhibitions from the Hatch Collection. The bulk of correspondence spans Hatch's professional career although there are scattered letters from 1915-1943 from Hatch to his parents. Also found are letters addressed to an unidentified "Henry." Correspondence is also found in the research files.

Personal business and financial records consist of inventories, bills, receipts, and other records for artworks purchased, loaned, or donated by Hatch. Also found are records from the J. D. Hatch Associates Cultural Consultants, a draft of Hatch's will, stock and tax materials, and travel papers and passports.

Scattered diaries and journal fragments and a transcript date from 1925-1965. Thirteen "Daily Reflection Journals" date from 1975-1987.

Research files on artists and subjects are extensive, comprising one-half of the collection. Files are varied and may include primary research materials, correspondence, printed materials, notes, and writings. Some of the artists' letters and other materials dated from 1790-early 1800s may have been purchased by Hatch. Among many other items, there is an illustrated letter written by Oscar Bluemner and photographs of Bluemner; primary research materials dating from the early 1800s on John Vanderlyn including a will, receipts, and correspondence; a letter from Rembrandt Peale dated 1830, and an autograph letter from John Trumbull dated 1790. Also found is an index card file.

Organization files contain files and records related to Hatch's affiliations with many cultural organizations. A small amount of teaching and education files consist of Hatch's notes and lectures from the Universities of Oregon and Massachusetts, and from the continuing education courses he took at St. John's College, in Maryland. Writings and notes include short essays by Hatch, mostly concerning art, exhibitions and museum administration; book reviews; general notes, lists, and reports.

Printed Materials are comprised of exhibition catalogs and announcements, including those from the American Drawing Annual in the 1940s-1950s; printed articles annotated by Hatch; clippings; pricelists; and published works.

A small number of photographs are of Hatch, some by Dorothy Frazer; of his family and friends; and of artists. The bulk of the photographs are of works of art including those owned by Hatch.

Artwork includes two sketchbooks - one by Kenneth Callahan and another by Lloyd McNeill; and additional drawings and sketches by Julian Scott, Henry Kirke Browne, Kenneth Callahan, Ezra Clark, John Cranch, Jasper Francis Crospey, F. O. C. Darley, C. H. Granger, Seymour J. Guy, George Harvey, Edward Lamson Henry, Henry Inman, as well as unsigned or illegible names.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Davis Hatch (1907-1996) was an art historian, collector, art consultant, and museum director, in Boston, Massachusetts.


John Davis Hatch and the John Davis Hatch estate donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in several installments between 1960-1996. Many of the primary materials relating to John Vanderlyn were acquired by Hatch from a photographer in Kingston, New York who received them from a niece of Vanderlyn. Robert Graham of James Graham and Sons gave Vanderlyn's will to Hatch.

Related Materials

The Archives of American Art holds two oral history interviews with John Davis Hatch: June 8, 1964 conducted by H. Wade White and 1979-1980 conducted by Robert F. Brown. Also found is a separately cataloged photograph of Hatch and Henry Francis Taylor from 1933.

Additional research materials complied by Hatch are located in the Albany Institute of History and Art, the Metropolitan Museum, the library of the National Gallery of Art, and the Senate House, Kingston, New York.

Hatch donated two hundred and seventy American drawings to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.


Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the John Davis Hatch Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical Note
Art historian, collector, educator, and museum administrator John Davis Hatch (1907-1996) worked in the Boston and New England area, as well as the Pacific Northwest, and New York state. Hatch served as director of the Art Institute of Seattle, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Albany Institute of Art and History, and the Norfolk Museum of Art and Sciences.
John Davis Hatch was born in San Francisco, California in 1907. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were architects and Hatch studied landscape architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. He served as an apprentice to Lockwood de Forest. After abandoning landscape architecture, he accepted a position as director of the Seattle Fine Arts Society (1928-1931) at the age of twenty-one and taught art history courses at the University of Washington.
In 1932, Hatch accepted the position of assistant director of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. He also directed the federal Public Works of Art Project in New England. Additionally, Hatch served from 1940-1948 as director of the Albany Institute of Art and History and from 1950-1959 of the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences. Hatch worked as an art advisor for exhibitions at five historically African-American colleges in Atlanta and in San Simeon in California. He founded the American Drawing Annual exhibition.
Hatch conducted extensive research on artists Oscar Bluemner and John Vanderlyn, American silverwork, and American drawing. In addition, Hatch collected American drawings and later donated many of works of art from his personal collection to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Aside from his early teaching in Washington state, Hatch taught at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Oregon. He was a member of numerous professional arts-related organizations.
In 1939, Hatch married Olivia Stokes with whom he had four children: Sarah, John, Daniel and James. He died in 1996.
The collection is arranged as 11 series:
Series 1: Biographical Information, circa 1900-1980s (Box 1; 8 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1903-1990s (Box 1-3; 2 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business and Legal Records, Date (Box 3; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 4: Diaries and Journals, 1925-1987 (Box 3, 23; 1.2 linear feet)
Series 5: Research Files, 1790-1992 (Box 3-13, 20-21, 24; 12.7 linear feet)
Series 6: Organization Files, 1930s-1990s (Box 13-14; 1.0 linear feet)
Series 7: Teaching and Education Files, 1930s-1993 (Box 14-15; 1.0 linear feet)
Series 8: Writings and Notes, 1936-1990s (Box 15; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 9: Printed Material, 1870s-1990s (Box 15-19, 22, 25-26, OV1; 5.9 linear feet)
Series 10: Photographs, circa 1900-1990s (Box 22; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 11: Artwork, 1851-1973 (Box 22; 0.3 linear feet)
John Davis Hatch and the John Davis Hatch estate donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in several installments between 1960-1996. Many of the primary materials relating to John Vanderlyn were acquired by Hatch from a photographer in Kingston, New York who received them from a niece of Vanderlyn. Robert Graham of James Graham and Sons gave Vanderlyn's will to Hatch.
Processing Information
The John Davis Hatch papers were processed to an intermediate level in 2010 by Jayna Hanson with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

Twenty sketches from the collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reel 2814 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

John Davis Hatch papers, 1790-1995. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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