Skip to main content

Nancy Douglas Bowditch and Brush family papers, circa 1860-1985

More Information

Jayna M. Hanson
Scope and Contents note
The papers of painter, author, and designer Nancy Douglas Bowditch and the George de Forest Brush family measure 6.2 linear feet and date from circa 1860 to 1985. The majority of the collection consists of Bowditch's correspondence with family and friends and her notes and writings, particularly concerning her biography of her father George de Forest Brush The Joyous Painter, and her unpublished biography of her husband painter William Robert Pearmain. Brush family material includes scattered correspondence of George de Forest Brush and other family members, notes, sketches, clippings, and the family home building files, five scrapbooks, including two on William Robert Pearmain, and numerous photographs of the Brush family, Bowditch, and William Robert Pearmain. There is also correspondence between William Robert Pearmain and his family and artwork by Pearmin.
Scattered family biographical materials include invitations, biographical sketches of George de Forest Brush, a ship's register, certificates, an obituary, and a sound recording of Nancy Bowditch.
Scattered personal business records include deeds of gift from various institutions and agreements from the publishing of The Joyous Painter.
One-third of the collection is correspondence with Nancy Douglas Bowditch, William Robert Pearmain, George de Forest Brush, and other members of the Brush, Pearmain, and Bowditch families. The majority of Nancy Douglas Bowditch's correspondence is from family and friends, although professional correspondence is also found. Nancy's notable correspondents include Jane Clemens, Barry Faulkner, Rockwell Kent, members of the Abbot Handerson Thayer family, and Nelson C. White. Also found are Nancy's letters to her first husband, William Robert Pearmain. Pearmain's correspondence includes letters from his parents, siblings, and his father-in-law, and a few letters from Pearmain to his family. George de Forest Brush's correspondence includes letters from friends and a few copies of letters written by Brush.
Writings and notes are primarily by Nancy Douglas Bowditch, the majority of which pertain to her biography of George de Forest Brush, The Joyous Painter, and her unpublished biography of William Robert Pearmain. Other writings are by George de Forest Brush, Tribbie Brush, Barry Faulkner, and William Robert Pearmain.
Artwork consists of approximately 78 drawings and sketches by William Robert Pearmain, 5 drawings and paintings by Nancy Bowditch, and one drawing by George de Forest Brush.
Brush family home and building files contain materials relating to a log cabin in New Hampshire, and the family home Brushwood which was built by William Robert Pearmain in 1911.
Five scrapbooks were compiled by members of the Brush, Pearmain, and Bowditch families. Two are about Pearmain, two are about George de Forest Brush, and one was organized by Harold Bowditch that contains family photographs.
Within printed materials are exhibition announcements and catalogs for George de Forest Brush, Barry Faulkner, Stephen Parrish, and Abbot Handerson Thayer.
Extensive photographs are of members of the Brush family, the Pearmain family, the Bowditch family, friends, and works of art by Bowditch, Brush, Pearmain and Douglas Volk. Included are portraits, snapshots, travel photos, wedding photos, and photos of the Brush family homes.
The Nancy Douglas Bowditch papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in several installments by Nancy Douglas Bowditch between 1968 and 1979. Bowditch's daughter, Mary A. Marlowe donated additional materials in 1982. In 2008, Joan Morgan, biographer of George de Forest Brush, donated additional papers she had acquired during her research.
Related Archival Materials note
Also among the collections at the Archives of American Art are the William Robert Pearmain and Pearmain family papers, 1888-1955, and an oral history with Nancy Douglas Bowditch conducted on January 30, 1974 by Robert F. Brown.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Processing Information
Portions of the collection were microfilmed in increments upon receipt on reels 2826-2831 and 3134; these reels are no longer in circulation. In 2011, all accessions were merged, including a small collection that was previously cataloged separately, and fully processed and described by Jayna Hanson and digitized in 2011 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.