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S. Lane Faison papers, 1922-1981, bulk 1950-1976

Faison, S. Lane (Samson Lane), 1907-2006

Arts administrator, Educator, Art historian

Collection Information

Size: 5.1 linear feet

Summary: The papers of art historian and Monuments Man S. Lane Faison measure 5.1 linear feet and date from 1922 to 1981, bulk from 1950-1976. Faison was an art history professor at Williams College, Massachusetts and, during World War II, he was a member of the Art Looting Intelligence Unit (ALIU) of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services. The collection includes scattered correspondence; writings; teaching files; subject files on exhibitions and projects; artists files; and printed materials. There are two folders of documents and photographs related to Faison's World War II work in the U.S. Art Looting Intelligence Unit.
Six folders of scattered correspondence relate to Faison's teaching, lectures, and writings.
Writings include bound student notebooks, lecture notes, typescript drafts, published articles, and material related to his book, "Handbook of the Collection: Williams College Museum of Art." Eighteen bound notebooks are filled with Faison's college class notes. There are typescript drafts of Faison's articles and speeches, as well as printed versions. Papers relating to Faison's book, "Handbook of the Collection: Williams College Museum of Art" include several drafts, a correction copy, and a folder of illustrations to accompany the text.
Teaching files consist of course files containing miscellaneous notes for classes taught by Faison. The syllabi for classes he taught are filed separately.
Subject files are arranged into three groups: Monuments Men/ALIU files, projects and exhibitions files, and general research files. There are only two folders relating to Faison's World War II work in the ALIU. They contain photographs of looted artwork and documents about the controversial decision to ship recovered artwork to the U.S. for storage in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Projects and exhibitions files document Faison's curatorial work on the Oberlin Project (a traveling exhibition of college art) and the Carnegie International Exhibition, and other miscellaneous collaborative projects. Research files contain documents organized according to Faison's original folder headings and include miscellaneous images and clippings loosely grouped together by topic: architecture, advertising, housing, poster design, etc.
Artist files are Faison's documents on specific artists that mostly contain images of artwork, clippings and articles. Artist files were mostly used for teaching and reference.
Printed materials include news clippings, exhibition catalogs, press releases, reports and other miscellaneous materials.

Biographical/Historical Note

Samson Lane Faison Jr. (1907-2006) was an art history professor at Williams College and director of the Williams College Museum of Art, Massachusetts. During World War II, Faison served in the Art Looting Investigation Unit of the Office of Strategic Services, an intelligence unit related to the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Division of the U.S. Army.


The S. Lane Faison papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by S. Lane Faison, Jr. in 4 installments from 1978 to 1982.

Related Materials


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.