Helen Damrosch Tee-Van papers , 1900-1969

Overview of the Collection

Tee-Van, Helen Damrosch, 1893-1976
Helen Damrosch Tee-Van papers
1900-1969 (inclusive)
3 linear feet, (4 containers)  :  4 solander cases
Collection Number
Ax 715
Collection comprises papers of American artist, illustrator and author Helen Damrosch Tee-Van, and includes illustrations from her books (both rough sketches and final drawings), sketch books, educational dioramas, murals, backgrounds for exhibits, manuscripts, articles, underwater illustrations from oceanographic expeditions, photographs, letters, and habitat maps.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Additional Reference Guides

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Helen Damrosch Tee-Van, artist, illustrator and author, was born in New York City in 1893. She attended Veltin School in New York. In 1909 she dropped out of Veltin School, but continued her art education. She studied with George de Forest Brush, attended an anatomy class at the Columbia Medical School with a group of artists, and belonged to Jonas Lie's Memory Sketch Club for several years. Many memory sketches, made from notes or rough sketches in New York, are included in sketch books in the Collection.

Mrs. Tee-Van was an artist on 13 expeditions of the Tropical Research Department of the New York Zoological Society, under the direction of William Beebe. She was sent to British Guiana in 1922. In 1923 she married John Tee-Van and returned to British Guiana the next year. She participated in the Arcturus Oceanographic Expedition, 1925; Haiti, 1927, where she made underwater sketches with e lead pencil on zinc plates while wearing a 60 pound glass helmut at a depth of 60 feet; the Bermuda Oceanographic Expeditions, 1929-1933; Rancho Grande, Venezuela, 1946; and was a guest artist in "Simla," Trinidad, in 1956, 1960 and 1963. Drawings from both the British Guiana expeditions and the Bermuda expedition are included in the Collection.

In 1937 Mrs. Tee-Van graduated from the New York School of Display. Between 1943 and 1947 she designed 16 educational dioramas for United Service to China. She created murals for the Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1938 and 1939, and for the Bronx Park Zoo in 1941-1942 and 1949. She made the background for exhibits in the New York Zoological Society's building in the 1939-1940 World's Fair. She has also designed textiles.

In addition, Mrs. Tee-Van has been an active illustrator of books and articles, specializing in natural history. She did color plates for both the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Collier's Weekly Encyclopaedia and has done illustrations for many scientific journals. She has written and illustrated Red Howling Monkey, 1926; The Trees Around Us, 1960; Insects Are Where You Find Them, 1963; and Small Animals Are Where You Find Them, 1966, and has illustrated A Birthday Greeting and Other Songs, by Emily Niles Huyck, 1918; Creative Music in the Home, by Satis Coleman, 1927; Reluctant Farmer, by Elswyth Thane, 1950; Mosquitoes in the Big Ditch, by Roger Burlingame, 1952; Reptiles Round the World, by Clifford Pope, 1957; Sea Monsters, by William Knowlton, 1959; The Story of the Platypus, by Alfred G. Milotte, 1959; Imported Insects, by Naomi Talley, 1961; The Story of the Hippopotamus, by Alfred G. Milotte, 1964; and The Story of an Alaskan Grizzly, by Alfred G. and Elma Milotte, 1969.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Illustrations from 13 books are included in the Collection, from the linear, nearly stylized pen and ink drawings for Red Howling Monkey to the softer, shaded pencil drawings of The Story of an Alaskan Grizzly Also included are the finished illustrations for Nature's Protection of the Animal Kingdom, unpublished, and 26 sketch books from 1900-1929.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Illustration of books--United States
  • Natural history illustration
  • Women artists--United States
  • Women authors, American--20th century
  • Women illustrators--United States

Personal Names

  • Tee-Van, Helen Damrosch, 1893-1976
  • Tee-Van, Helen Damrosch, 1893-1976

Corporate Names

  • New York Zoological Society

Form or Genre Terms

  • Book illustrations
  • Manuscripts for publication
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sketchbooks