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Thomas Carr Howe papers, 1932-1984

Thomas Carr Howe papers, 1932-1984

Howe, Thomas Carr, 1904-1994

Art consultant, Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 4.4 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Thomas Carr Howe, Jr. measure 4.4 linear feet and date from 1932 to 1984. Howe was director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco for nearly 40 years and during World War II served as one of the Monuments Men in the Monuments, Fine Art and Archives (MFAA) Section of the U.S. Army. The collection contains substantial documentation of Howe's MFAA work in Germany and Austria locating and recovering cultural objects and works of art stolen and hid by the Nazis. There is significant correspondence with friends and colleagues, including Monuments Men S. Lane Faison, Edith Standen, and George Stout. The papers also contain numerous snapshots and annotated photographs documenting recovery, reports, inventories of stolen artwork, maps, a scrapbook, and additional correspondence from the period following the war when Howe served as the Cultural Advisor to the U.S. High Commissioner of Germany. The papers also document Howe's later work at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, but to a lesser degree.

Biographical materials include articles and memorial tributes for Howe's father and grandfather, a short autobiography and resume, and the certificate for the copyright to his book.

The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, the most voluminous of which are letters from Monuments Men S. Lane Faison, Patrick J. Kelleher, Andrew C. Ritchie, Edith Standen, George Stout, Marcelle Minet, Rose Valland, James Rorimer, and others. Additional correspondents include friends and colleagues such as Bernard Berenson, Hume Cronyn, Paul Mills, Christopher Forbes, Margaret Mallory, William A. McGonagle, and Otto Wittman, among many others.

Writings include a brief summary of Howe's book, "Salt Mines and Castles," and a sound cassette of his lecture about the book. Project, membership, and travel files are primarily associated with his professional work at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor and include documentation of member art trips, a feasibility study for merging the California Palace of the Legion of Honor with the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, and a membership list of the Bohemian Club.

The Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) Records and Looted Inventories series contain many records relating to Howe's military service as a Monuments Man. There are several inventory records which contain lists of the contents of Hermann Göring's collection of looted artwork, artwork destroyed in the Flak towers fire in Berlin, and artwork held at several of the central collecting points, though mostly at Weisbaden. There is also a small fold out map of the Altausse salt mines; a U.S. government issued manual of maps marking important cultural monuments and artwork in Germany; a book of U.S. government regulations pertaining to the MFAA section; a government information bulletin; and several official status reports and published U.S. government reports about art looting investigations and safeguarding cultural property.

Professional files consist of papers relating to Howe's job as the director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor and art trips he organized. Documents include a survey of Los Angeles museum curator salaries, a questionnaire about Howe's work as a museum director, and a membership list of Bohemian Club artists. The bulk of the travel papers are itineraries.

The photographs are divided into two subseries: Monuments Men related images and personal photographs. The Monuments Men subseries includes black and white photographs documenting bomb damage to cultural monuments in France and Germany; U.S. soldiers transporting recovered artwork such as Michelangelo's "Madonna and Child" from the Altaussee salt mines in Austria, Neuschwanstein Castle, and Berchtesgaden in Germany, along with other locations of looted art repositories; Weisbaden and Munich collecting points; and documentation of recovered art such as "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" by Hubert and Jan van Eyck as well as Antonio Canova's "La musa Polyhymnia". There are many photographs of the Monuments Men including Thomas Carr Howe, George Stout, Stephen Kovalyak, Lamont Moore, Walker Hancock, Patrick J. Kelleher, Edith Standen and Rose Valland. Personal photographs consists of portraits of Howe and many photographs of events, mostly formal dinners and parties.

Biographical/Historical Note

Thomas Carr Howe, Jr. (1904-1994) was an art consultant in San Francisco, Calif. Howe served as the director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco for nearly four decades and, during World War II, as an officer in the U.S. Army's Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives unit assisting with locating, recovering, and restituting cultural objects and artwork stolen by the Nazis.

Provenance

Thomas Carr Howe donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in multiple installments from 1979 to 1982.

Related Materials

Funding

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

A Finding Aid to the Thomas Carr Howe papers,
1932-1984
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.howethom
Finding aid prepared by Rihoko Ueno
Scope and Content Note
The Thomas Carr Howe papers measure 4.4 linear feet and date from 1932 to 1984. Howe was director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco for nearly 40 years, and he served as one of the Monuments Men in the Monuments, Fine Art and Archives (MFAA) Section of the U.S. Army during World War II. The collection documents Howe's MFAA work in Germany and Austria locating and recovering cultural artifacts and artwork stolen by the Nazis. There is significant correspondence with friends and colleagues, as well as fellow Monuments Men such as Samson Lane Faison, Edith Standen, and George Stout. The papers also includes reports, inventories of stolen artwork, maps, annotated photographs, a scrapbook, and photographs. The papers also document Howe's later work at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor.
Biographical materials include articles and memorial tributes for Howe's father and grandfather, a short autobiography and resume, and the certificate for the copyright to his book.
The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, the most voluminous of which are letters from Monuments Men S. Lane Faison, Patrick J. Kelleher, Andrew C. Ritchie, Edith Standen, George Stout, Marcelle Minet, Rose Valland, James Rorimer, and others. Additional correspondents include friends and colleagues such as Bernard Berenson, Hume Cronyn, Paul Mills, Christopher Forbes, Margaret Mallory, William A. McGonagle, and Otto Wittman, among many others
Writings include a brief summary of Howe's book
Salt Mines and Castles
and a sound cassette of his lecture about the book. Project, membership and travel files are primarily associated with his professional work at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor and include documentation of member art trips, a feasibility study for merging the California Palace of the Legion of Honor with the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, and a membership list of the Bohemian Club.
The Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) Records and Looted Inventories series contain many records relating to Howe's military service as a Monuments Man. There are several inventory records which contain lists of the contents of Hermann Göring's collection of looted artwork, artwork destroyed in the Flak towers fire in Berlin, and artwork held at several of the central collecting points, though mostly at Weisbaden. There is also a small fold out map of the Altausse salt mines; a U.S. government issued manual of maps marking important cultural monuments and artwork in Germany; a book of U.S. government regulations pertaining to the MFAA section; a government information bulletin; and several official status reports and published U.S. government reports about art looting investigations and safeguarding cultural property.
Professional files consist of papers relating to Howe's job as the director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor and art trips he organized. Documents include a survey of Los Angeles museum curator salaries, a questionnaire about Howe's work as a museum director, and a membership list of Bohemian Club artists. The bulk of the travel papers are itineraries.
The photographs are divided into two subseries: MFAA Section images and personal photographs. The Monuments Men subseries includes photographs documenting bomb damage to cultural monuments in various countries, though mainly Germany; U.S. soldiers transporting recovered artwork such as Michelangelo's
Madonna and Child
from the Altaussee salt mines in Austria, and other looted art repositories such as Neuschwanstein Castle and Berchtesgaden in Germany; Weisbaden and Munich collecting points; and art recovery of
The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb
by Hubert and Jan van Eyck. There are many photographs of the Monuments Men including Thomas Carr Howe, George Stout, Stephen Kovalyak, Lamont Moore, Patrick J. Kelleher, Edith Standen, and Rose Valland. Personal photographs consists of portraits of Howe and photographs of events, mostly formal dinners and parties.
Printed materials are clippings, postcards, fundraising pamphlets, essays, and memorial tributes for colleagues.
Biographical Note
Thomas Carr Howe, Jr. (1904-1994) served as the director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco for nearly four decades and, during World War II, as an officer in the U.S. Army's Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives unit assisting with locating, recovering, and restituting cultural objects and artwork stolen by the Nazis.
Howe was born in Kokomo, Indiana in 1904. He studied at Harvard University where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees. Howe was the assistant director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco from 1931-1939 and director from 1939-1968. Howe was also the art commissioner for the San Francisco Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-1940) for which he organized an exhibition showcasing Mexican muralists.
During World War II, Howe joined the U.S. army and served from 1945 to 1946 in Germany and Austria. He began as a naval lieutenant but was soon assigned to serve in the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) section. Howe reported to Lieutenant Commander George Stout at Wiesbaden, and was later promoted to Lieutenant Commander and Deputy Chief of the MFAA at Frankfurt. During his service as one of the "Monuments Men" Howe located hidden and recovered large repositories of cultural objects and works of art stolen by the Nazis. He also helped with the restitution effort. At the Altaussee salt mines in Austria, Howe helped salvage a large cache of stolen artwork that included Michelangelo's
Madonna and Child
and the Ghent Altarpiece or
The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb
by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, Vermeer's
The Artists Studio
, and the Rothschild family jewels. Howe later described his wartime work in his book
Salt Mines and Castles: The Discovery and Restitution of Looted European Art
(1946).
Howe resumed his position as the director of the California Palace of the Legion on Honor after the war, a position he held until his retirement in 1968. Through his career as a prominent art director, Howe was close with many American and international museum professionals, collectors and socialites. Friends and colleagues include Agnes Mongan and Paul Sachs (both former directors of Harvard's Fogg Museum), Whitney Warren, and Gerda and Hans-Erich Von Schmidt auf Altenstadt.
For his wartime service as a Monuments Men, Howe was honored with the Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor and the Officier of the Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau in 1946. At the request of the federal government, Howe also later served as the Cultural Affairs Advisor to the High Commissioner of Germany from 1950-1951, during which time he returned to Germany with S. Lane Faison, another MFAA official, to assist with closing the central collecting points where the recovered artworks has been held for restitution. From 1960-1968, Howe was a member of the Fine Arts Committee for The White House and he continued to serve on numerous panels and commissions as an art advisor.
Howe married Francesca Deering. Together they had one daughter Francesca.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 10 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1934-1955, 1974 (Box 1; 6 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1932-1984 (Box 1-3; 2.1 linear feet)
Series 3: Writings, circa 1946 (Box 3; 2 folders)
Series 4: Professional Files, circa 1945-1975 (Box 3, 5; 0.3 linear feet folders)
Series 5: Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Records and Looted Inventories, circa 1942-1950 (Box 3, 5, OV 6; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, 1938-1970 (Box 3-5; 1.2 linear feet)
Series 7: Scrapbook, 1936-1948 (Box 4; 0.1 linear feet)
Series 8: Printed Materials, 1934-1980 (Box 4; 0.4 linear feet)
Provenance
Thomas Carr Howe donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in multiple installments from 1979 to 1982.
Processing Information
This collection was fully processed by Rihoko Ueno in May 2012 with funding provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

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

Thomas Carr Howe papers, 1932-1984. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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