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COLLECTION Identifier: HUGFP 139

Papers of Edward Waldo Forbes and the Forbes family

Overview

Edward Waldo Forbes (1873-1969) was director of the Fogg Art Museum and lecturer in art history at Harvard University, an accomplished artist, and a world traveler. These papers document the personal and professional life of Edward Waldo Forbes and the lives of members of the Forbes family.

Dates

  • 1873-1969

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Extent

37 cubic feet (103 boxes and 15 folders)
These papers document the personal and professional life of Edward Waldo Forbes and the lives of members of the Forbes family. They include Edward Waldo Forbes' personal and professional correspondence and papers, diaries and calendars, writings, account books, school papers, lecture notes, and memorabilia. Of note are the manuscript of Edward Waldo Forbes' history of the Fogg Art Museum, papers relating to Gerry's Landing (a riverfront site in Cambridge), papers relating to Harvard Riverside Associates, and papers relating to Edward Waldo Forbes' World War I Red Cross service. Included are diaries belonging to Margaret Laighton Forbes and Sarah Forbes.

Biographical / Historical

Edward Waldo Forbes (1873-1969) was director of the Fogg Art Museum and lecturer in Fine Arts at Harvard University, an accomplished artist, and a world traveler.

Forbes was born into a prominent family on Naushon Island in Massachusetts. His parents were William Hathaway Forbes and Edith Emerson Forbes; his maternal grandfather was Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1907, Forbes married Margaret Laighton, a notable watercolorist and gardener; they had five children.

Forbes’s long association with Harvard and the arts began when he earned his Harvard A.B. in 1895, having studied with the art historian Charles Eliot Norton. He continued his studies at Oxford and traveled in Europe, returning to Massachusetts n 1902 to establish the Harvard Riverside Associates, an organization dedicated to preserving the landscape adjacent to Harvard. Forbes was appointed a trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1903 and served in that capacity for 63 years. In 1909, he became the second director of Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum. During his 35 years as Director, Forbes and his assistant director Paul Sachs oversaw the impressive growth of the Museum’s collections, staff, property, and reputation. Throughout his life Forbes acquired art, with a particular interest in Italian paintings; gifts and loans from his personal collection contributed significantly to the Fogg Museum’s rise to international prominence.

In addition to his directorship of the Fogg Art Museum, Forbes also served as a lecturer in Fine Arts at Harvard from 1909 to 1935. In 1935, he was named the Martin A. Ryerson Lecturer on Fine Arts, a position he held until 1941. From 1945 to 1957, Forbes was a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was received in installments and processed at various times throughout the years. Accessions of material from Rosamund Forbes (Mrs. Carl) Pickhardt is comprised of twelve accessions received from 1973 through 2001. Material from more one accession is represented in most series. Accession numbers are also recorded with the series descriptions.
  1. Accession 7202, received 1973
  2. Accession 7954, received 8/31/1976
  3. Accession 8729, received 8/15/1979
  4. Accession 8880, received 5/5/1980
  5. Accession 9254, received 8/5/1981
  6. Accession 9540, received 8/26/1982
  7. Accession 9814, received 8/9/1983
  8. Accession 10550, received 8/28/1985
  9. Accession 10831, received 8/26/1986
  10. Accession 11092, received 5/19/1987
  11. Accession 11954, received 6/1/1990
  12. Accession 14266, received 1/19/2001

Related material in the Harvard University Archives

Records of Harvard Riverside Associates (HUD 3748)

Records of the Fogg Art Museum (HUF 401.xxx)

Records relating to Harvard's curriculum (HUC 8xxx).

Edward Waldo Forbes, Yankee visionary catalog of a 1971 exhibition in honor of Edward Waldo Forbes. This book is held in the Harvard University Archives (HUGFP 139.93) and other libraries.http://id.lib.harvard.edu/alma/990030385290203941/catalog

Edward Waldo Forbes personal correspondence, 1923-1946 (HUM 349) https://id.lib.harvard.edu/ead/hua16019/catalog

Processing Information

The collection was re-organized and re-numbered by Barbara Meloni in 1998; it contains material formerly identified as HUG 4401.xx, HUGB F656.xx, and HUH 403. In 2019, Kate Bowers converted to an online inventory with minor edits by Kate Bowers and Robin McElheny.
Link to catalog
Title
Papers of Edward Waldo Forbes and the Forbes family
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
EAD ID
hua20019

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

Contact:
Pusey Library
Harvard Yard
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2461