Scope and Contents
The Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family Papers measure 10.54 linear feet and date from 1789 through 2000, with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1870-1996. The collection presents an overview of the personal lives and careers of painter, Oliver Ingraham Lay and his son, landscape architect, Charles Downing Lay. In addition, there are the papers of Lay family members and friends, including those of the Marian Wait Lay family (wife of Oliver Ingraham Lay) and of the Laura Gill Lay family (wife of Charles Downing Lay). Also found are the papers of the landscape and nature painter Fidelia Bridges. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, diaries, writings and notes, scrapbooks, family business records, exhibition files, printed material, as well as original artwork, sketches, a sketchbook, landscape designs, and photographs.
The extensive correspondence files illustrate the interaction between the Lays' and their extended circle of family members and friends, offering a view of the social and cultural milieu of a cross section of New England and New York gentry, from the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries. The papers also provide a resource to study the work of Oliver Ingraham Lay and of Charles Downing Lay through original drawings, sketches, and landscape designs.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
George C. Lay, grandson of portrait painter Oliver Lay and the son of Charles Downing Lay donated the Oliver Ingraham Lay, Charles Downing Lay, and Lay Family Papers to the Archives of American Art in 2002.
A small collection of Oliver Ingraham Lay papers were loaned for microfilming and are available on reel 801. The originals are at the New-York Historical Society. The bulk of Charles Downing Lay's papers, 1898-1956 reside in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Joy Weiner in 2006.