Edward B. Thomas papers, 1923-1984  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Thomas, Edward B., 1920-1984
Title
Edward B. Thomas papers
Dates
1923-1984 (inclusive)
Quantity
circa 13.13 cubic feet (including 1 sound cassette, 1 folder, 1 flat slide box)
Collection Number
2863
Summary
Museum administrator of Seattle, Washington
Repository
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
98195-2900
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
speccoll@uw.edu
Access Restrictions

Consult the access restrictions information for each of the accessions listed below.

Some material stored offsite; advance notice required for use.

Languages
English


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Edward B. Thomas (1920-1984) was a curator, arts educator, and administrator at the Seattle Art Museum (1951-1967). He was born in Cosmopolis, Washington, in 1920 and earned a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Washington. He joined the staff of the Seattle Art Museum in 1951 as Curator of Education and subsequently served as Education Director (1954-1961), Assistant Director (1961-1963), and Associate Director (1963-1967). He resigned in 1967 but continued to be involved with the museum as a Trustee (1970-82) and as a member of several museum committees until his death in 1984. He was related, by marriage, to museum director Richard Fuller (their wives were sisters). A 1967 article in Seattle Magazine suggested that Thomas was expected to succeed Fuller as director but resigned in 1967 due to tensions with him.

After leaving the staff of the Seattle Art Museum, Thomas joined the faculty of Western Washington College in Bellingham (now Western Washington University) as an arts lecturer. He was later appointed associate professor of art history at Western. He also taught for many years at Cornish School (now Cornish College of the Arts) in Seattle. Between 1955 and 1965, Thomas hosted a weekly television show, “Community Workshop,” on KING-TV, in which he interviewed art personalities and lectured on art.

Thomas was curator of a major retrospective exhibit of the painter Mark Tobey in 1959, which concentrated on Tobey in relation to the Northwest. He was also curator of a 1963 exhibition, “Tobey and the Seattle Public Market,” which was mounted at the Seattle Art Museum but later circulated to the Museum of Modern Art.

During World War II, Thomas served in General Patton’s Third Army and participated in five campaigns, including the Normandy invasion. He was awarded two bronze stars.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Consult the scope and content information for each of the accessions listed below.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Consult the restrictions governing reproduction and use for each of the accessions listed below.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

 

Accession No. 2863-001: Edward B. Thomas interview, 1951-1977Return to Top

1 sound cassette (28 min.) plus 1 transcript (12 pages) and resume.

Scope and Content: Tape recorded interview conducted by Sue Ragen on 12 Dec 1977; transcript covering dates 1951-1977; resume of Edward Thomas. Subjects include Thomas’ biography, Richard Fuller, museum education, and Thomas’ classroom television series “Man’s Story.”

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Donated by E. Thomas, 12/12/1977.

Description
Edward B. Thomas interview

Accession No. 2863-002: Edward B. Thomas papers, 1923-1984Return to Top

11.00 cubic feet

Scope and Content: Correspondence, notes, writings, lecture notes, exhibition files, photographs, and clippings from the period 1923-84 (bulk 1950-80). The bulk of the papers were created during Thomas’ career as an administrator, educator, and curator at the Seattle Art Museum (1951-67). Also included are papers documenting Thomas’ role as an arts educator in his weekly television show, “Community Workshop” (1955-65), his teaching career at the Cornish Institute and Western Washington University, and his additional involvement with the Seattle Art Museum and other arts organizations from the 1950s to the early 1980s. The exhibition series includes material from two retrospective exhibitions, one in 1959 and another in 1963, of the painter Mark Tobey. (See the inventory for accession 2863-2 for a list of other exhibition files in the collection). Correspondents include the Museum of Modern Art.

Organization of this accession generally follows Thomas’ career at the Seattle Art Museum, with subgroups for his tenure as Education Director, Assistant Director, Associate Director, and Trustee (1970-82). Additional subgroups document Thomas’ work on various museum committees and with other regional and national arts organizations, mostly in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Museum of Modern Art’s National Committee on Art Education (1964-65). A subgroup of personal papers (1923-1984, bulk 1933-54) contains correspondence, writings, class notes, sketches and cartoons, photographs, clippings, and ephemera. This material is similar in subject to personal papers in accession 2868-3.

Material regarding major exhibitions that took place during Thomas’ tenure at the Seattle Art Museum has been placed in the subgroup of the directorship he held at the time of each exhibition. Some records in the Education Director subgroup, however, contain material dated later than 1961. Two subject series for Mark Tobey were placed within the subgroup Seattle Art Museum, Education in order to keep the bulk of the Tobey material together and in the same subgroup as the major Tobey retrospective of 1959. Similarly, the record series Subject Series/Background Material/Project and Planning Files has been placed in the Education Director subgroup, although some items have dates much later than 1961. This sprawling series contains mostly undated material. It is possible that some of the folders are lecture notes intended for use at Western Washington University or for the television program at KING, but without dates or clearer labeling this is purely conjecture. It is also possible that some notes have been placed in the WWU and KING-TV subgroups in error. Users should keep in mind that the telegraphic style of the notes made them very difficult to identify; all possibilities should be examined. .

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Records stored offsite; advance notice required for use.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Jeff Butcher, 1/9/1985.

Description
Edward B. Thomas papers

Accession No. 2863-003: Edward B. Thomas papers, 1939-1984Return to Top

1.63 cubic feet

Scope and Content: Correspondence, photographs, diaries, clippings and other records series from the period 1939-84. It is divided into five subgroups: Personal Papers (1940-1984), Seattle Art Museum (1954-75), Western Washington University (1967-83), American Association of Museums (1967), and 1500 42nd Avenue East, Seattle Vigilance Committee (1966-84). Personal papers are divided into several series including correspondence and photographs. Subject series document Thomas’ trip to Europe in 1966 and his “Japan 1956” University of Washington Extension Lecture. This subgroup also includes drawings by Thomas, student work, and student class notes, as well as photographs from World War II.

Material in the subgroup Seattle Art Museum (approximately .42 cubic feet) has not been organized at the series level, but includes museum and personal correspondence, articles Thomas wrote, a Gemberling exhibit file from 1962, and miscellaneous notes. Papers in the subgroup Western Washington University include correspondence regarding Thomas’ employment there, lecture notes, several files marked sabbatical, personal correspondence, and teaching evaluations. Papers in the American Association of Museums subgroup document Thomas’ aborted 1967 campaign for Director of the American Association of Museums. The subgroup Vigilance Committee consists of a folder of correspondence from 1975-84 pertaining to efforts to improve security in Thomas’ neighborhood.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Records stored offsite; advance notice required for use.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Jeff Butcher, 7/21/1987.

Description
Edward B. Thomas papers

Accession No. 2863-004: Edward B. Thomas papers, 1941-1963Return to Top

.50 cubic foot (includes .21 cubic foot flat slide box)

Scope and Content: Biographical features, incoming letters (mostly photocopies), outgoing letters, photographs, calendars, Thomas's list of his own paintings, exhibition catalogs.

Copies of several letters of Mark Tobey are also in this accession.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Jeffrey Butcher, 4/12/1991.

Description
Edward B. Thomas papers

Accession No. 2863-005: Edward B. Thomas papers, 1958-1963Return to Top

1 folder

Scope and Content: Letters, covers, exhibition catalog.

Letters are from Mark Tobey to Edward Thomas, Richard Fuller, and Joanna Eckstein; from Fuller to Thomas to Toby; and the exhibition catalog has a short message written on it by Tobey.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Donated by Jeff Butcher, 3/24/1993.

Description
Edward B. Thomas papers

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Personal Names :
  • Eckstein, Joanna, 1903-1983
  • Fuller, Richard E. (Richard Eugene), 1897-1976
  • Patterson, Ambrose, 1877-1966
  • Thomas, Edward B., 1920-1984--Archives
  • Tobey, Mark
  • Corporate Names :
  • Century 21 Exposition (1962 : Seattle, Wash.)
  • Cornish School of Allied Arts (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Harry Hartman, Bookseller (Firm)
  • Pike Place Market (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Seattle Art Museum
  • Western Washington University
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Tanner, Heather (creator)
    • Tanner, Robin, 1904-1988 (creator)
    • Corporate Names :
    • Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)