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Walter Horn papers, 1908-1992, bulk 1943-1950

Walter Horn papers, 1908-1992, bulk 1943-1950

Horn, Walter William, 1908-1995

Art historian

Collection Information

Size: 2.7 linear feet

Biographical/Historical Note

Walter Horn (1908-1995) was an art historian in Berkeley, Calif. Horn was born in Waldangeloch, Germany, and grew up in Heidelberg and received his Ph.D. at the University of Hamburg in 1933, later immigrating to the United States in 1938. He taught in the History of Art Department of the University of Calif. at Berkeley, and served as chair of the Department of Art History at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1946 until his retirement in 1974. A leading Medievalist, Horn is often credited with establishing the study of art history in the Western United States. After the Second World War he was assigned to the Army Intelligence Unit of Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives, the division that was responsible for locating and restoring to original owners art looted by the Nazis and hidden in salt mines in Bavaria. Among his colleagues are Thomas Carr Howe and George L. Stout. Since 1937 Horn had devoted himself to the study of classical concepts in medieval art and the principles of architectural design in the bar system of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.


Walter Horn donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in 1989. Additional papers were donated by his wife Dr. Alberta Parker Horn in 1998 and 2002.


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

Scope and Contents

The papers of art historian and World War II Monuments Man Walter W. Horn measure 2.7 linear feet and date from 1908 to 1992, with the bulk of material dating from 1943 to 1950. Walter Horn taught art history at the University of California, Berkeley from 1938 to his retirement in 1974. During World War II, Horn served as Head of the U. S. Army Intelligence Unit of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section (MFAA.) The papers contain biographical materials; professional correspondence; records documenting his service in the MFAA; administrative files relating to his work at the University of California, Berkeley; and scattered photographs.

Biographical materials include certificates, transcripts, registration books, and diplomas, immigration papers and supporting documentation, birth certificate, passports, and Horn's application for U.S. citizenship. Also found here are papers relating to Horn's academic work, such as bibliographies, curriculum vitae and a few other miscellaneous materials.

The bulk of the papers consist of professional correspondence between Horn and his colleagues. Many of the letters relate to Horn's scholarly publications and projects, especially his seminal work The Plan of St. Gall: A Plan of the Architecture and Economy of, and Life in a Paradigmatic Carolingian Monastery (1979). Prominent correspondents include Meyer Schapiro, Wilhelm Koehler, Fred Charles, Christopher Eggenbacher, Johannes Duft, Hunter Dupree, Peter Harbison, H.R. Sennhauser, and John T. Smith.

Papers and records documenting Horn's World War II service in the the U. S. Army Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives Section have been arranged in one series. There are scattered letters, including ones from Erwin Panofsky, Charles J. Kunzelman, and Helmuth and Edeltraut von Hummel. There are also letters of inquiry about the recovery of the crown jewels of The Holy Roman Empire. Also found in this series are official Army documents, including a directory and inventory of recovered gold coins; receipts for transporting recovered artwork; art looting investigation, interrogation, and arrest reports; and reports on Horn's investigation and recovery of the crown jewels and the gold coin investigation. There is scattered printed material and photographs of the recovered gold coins and of Helmuth and Edeltraut von Hummel.

Horn's papers also contain a few administrative files from his tenure at the University of California, Berkeley, and one folder of color photographs of Horn's papers being prepared for shipment to the Archives of American Art.

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

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