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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 761: T-396: Vt-192: DVD-72

Papers of Ann Sayre Wiseman, 1930-2013 (inclusive), 1953-1999 (bulk)


Papers of artist, writer, teacher, art and dream therapist Ann Sayre Wiseman contain childhood drawings; school papers and yearbooks; diaries; sketchbooks; articles and writings; and lectures and presentations.


  • Creation: 1930-2013
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1953-1999

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. Researchers must contact Research Services for access to audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ann Sayre Wiseman is held by her sons Piet Vermeer and Erik McKibbon Denzer until January 1, 2060 or until the deaths of both sons. After such dates, copyright transfers to the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


25.1 linear feet ((51 file boxes, 4 folio boxes) plus 7 photograph folders, 30 audiotapes, 10 videotapes, 1 DVD, and electronic records)
42.20 Megabytes (28 files)

Collection includes childhood art, school papers, and over fifty years of journals and sketchbooks documenting the life, art, and travels of artist, writer, teacher, art and dream therapist Ann Sayre Wiseman. These diaries and sketchbooks illustrate, through her own words and art, her triumphs and struggles from the 1950s through the 1990s, covering a wide range of topics including her career as an artist and teacher; her dreams and their analysis; world travels; a life-long search for self-discovery; self-employment; solo parenting; romantic relationships; friendships; writing and publishing books; working with dream therapy clients and colleagues; etc. Audiovisual materials document Wiseman's workshops, lectures, dream client work, and radio and television interviews. Wiseman's original folder titles appear in quotation marks in the inventory, while all others were designated by the archivist. Electronic records were received in 41 3.5" disks. Disks were imaged using FTK imager. Selected data has been converted to PDF/A for preservation and delivery.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1930-2013 (#1.1-3.4, 55.1, PD.1, E.1-E.10) includes account books; childhood art; art sale lists; exhibit announcements; clippings; work-related correspondence; school papers by Wiseman and yearbooks from Nightingale-Bamford School; a timeline of Wiseman's life; memorial booklets with stories from friends and family after Wiseman's death; and notes on workshops Wiseman conducted or in which she participated. For personal correspondence see also Series II and Series III. Folders are listed in alphabetical order by subject and chronologically within.

Series II, DIARIES, 1941-2007 (#3.5-23.11, PD.2-PD.3) contains bound diaries that document Wiseman's daily life, often used as a vehicle to sort out difficult feelings and issues, as well as draft letters to friends and family. Subjects discussed throughout include the challenges of raising two sons as a single parent; divorce; love affairs; relationships with her parents; working and struggling as an artist; writing and publishing books (on bread sculptures, crafts, clothing, and dream therapy); teaching; friendships; dream descriptions; dream therapy sessions with clients; etc. Wiseman traveled extensively, but some places she would return to with frequency: Block Island, Rhode Island; her family's compound of vacation cottages in Bridgehampton, New York; Zihuatanejo, Mexico; Peak's Island, Maine, and Provincetown, Massachusetts. "The Garden," which is referred to often in entries, is Wiseman's childhood neighborhood in Greenwich Village, MacDougal-Sullivan Garden, where she frequently visited throughout even her adulthood. Diaries frequently include photographs, correspondence, postcards, sketches, meeting notes, and clippings. Wiseman created an extensive index to the diaries while preparing her papers for donation to the Schlesinger Library (#23.11); particularly notable events or topics discussed in each volume appear in this inventory. See also Series III, as the content of Wiseman's sketchbooks often overlap with the diaries and in some cases fills in missing gaps. Material found loose within the diaries has been foldered and listed separately. The diaries are arranged in chronological order.

Series III, SKETCHBOOKS, 1944-2000 (#23.12-48.4, 51FB.1v - 54FB.4, 55.2-55.4, PD.4-PD.7) contains Wiseman's bound sketchbooks with pencil and pen sketches which were quickly done in the moment and then often later washed with watercolor or crayon to fill in color. Subjects include trips (Mexico, India, Provincetown, Italy, etc.), conference participants and presenters, art class models, portraits, animals and plants. On occasion, Wiseman would document images from her and her client's dreams. All sketchbooks contain graphic material. Most include descriptions and stories to document a trip and identify people and places. Postcards, brochures, business cards, letters, and clippings can also be found in the sketchbooks. The original sketchbook Wiseman presented to the publisher for Making Things can also be found in this series. See also corresponding dated diaries in Series I. Folders are arranged in chronological order. Original sketchbook titles appear in quotation marks.

Series IV, WRITING, ca.1975-2010 (#48.5-50.14, E.11-E.29) includes published articles and book drafts by Wiseman on dream therapy, children's nightmares, making crafts, and traveling. Wiseman wrote multiple memoir-themed novels with different titles, which focused on her love affair with a married Italian count when she was nineteen and ended with her visit to him many years later to confront him. "The Hungry Voice: Unfinished Business" and "Un Cantico D'Amor..." document this episode, with name changes. Her two fellowship applications propose writing and publishing her memoir, using her diary entries and sketchbooks. Folders may contain drafts, correspondence, marketing flyers, and notes. Wiseman also frequently published sketches from conferences in dream therapy-related publications and in booklet form to be given away or sold to participants. See also #52FB.1v for a sample of her craft book Making Things. Folders are arranged chronologically by publication date; dates of items within folders may vary by several months or years.

Series V, AUDIOVISUAL, 1967-2010 (#T-396.1 - T-396.30, Vt-192.1 - Vt-192.10, DVD-72.1) includes a pilot episode for WGBH television, based on Wiseman's Making Things craft book; sessions with dream clients using the collage technique; presentations and lectures; chakra and astrological chart readings for Wiseman; an audio reading of her memoir chapters; interview with children on Block Island about ghost sightings; and sessions between Wiseman and her therapists. This series is arranged by format.

Ann Sayre Wiseman's web site is being captured periodically as part of Schlesinger Library’s web archiving program.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


Ann Sayre Wiseman was born July 20, 1926, to Mark and Evelyn Sayre Norton Wiseman. She grew up in Greenwich Village in New York City, where she graduated from high school (Nightingale-Bamford School, 1944) and went on to study at the Art Students League (1944-1947), financially supporting herself by designing window displays for Bliss Display Company. Her art studies led her to the Grande Chaumiere in Paris, France, where she lived sporadically from 1947 to 1949. In the 1950s, Wiseman designed fabrics for Fuller Fabrics in New York City and, while there, met and married Dr. Weyer Vermeer in 1953; son Piet was born 1955. The marriage ended in divorce; Wiseman married writer Peter W. Denzer in 1958; son Erik "Kiko" was born in 1959. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Wiseman, Denzer, and the two boys lived in Maine and eventually Italy, while Denzer pursued his writing. The marriage ended in divorce in 1966.

Wiseman and her sons lived in Princeton, New Jersey, in the 1960s, where she taught art and served as Art Director of the Stuart Country Day School. In 1970, the family moved to the Boston area where Wiseman became Program Director at the Boston Children's Museum. Through the 1970s and 1980s, Wiseman taught in the Department of Expressive Therapies at Lesley College, while earning a Master of Arts (1980) from the same institution. An art and dream therapist, Wiseman worked with private clients, and conducted workshops on creativity, dreams as metaphor, and body work, which explores perceptions of self using outlines of participant's bodies to express their feelings through collage and painting.

Wiseman wrote numerous books on crafts, creativity, children and nightmares, and expressive therapy. If publishers were not interested in her manuscripts, Wiseman would often self-publish through her own Ansayre Press, established in 1985. Her craft activity book Making Things (1975) was very popular and she continued to write books into her later years, self-publishing a memoir, Spinning Straw: Life Stories and Ghosts with Legs (2010), and Satisfy the Image (2013), a complete guide to the numerous ways she used imagery for therapeutic purposes. She also illustrated and wrote a children's book, Tony's Flower (1961), about the MacDougal-Sullivan Gardens where she spent her childhood.

Wiseman taught art and led workshops for numerous institutions throughout her career, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York City), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, Massachusetts), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), Cambridge Center for Adult Education (Cambridge, Massachusetts), and the DeCordova Museum School (Lincoln, Massachusetts). Wiseman's art spanned a variety of mediums, producing sketches, paintings, drawings, rag tapestries, and kinetic sand sculptures, which were shown in numerous galleries and museums. Some of these works are in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Rockefeller Collection, and Chase Manhattan Bank.

Wiseman was also a member of the Society of Women Geographers, Harvard's Theological Opportunities Program (TOP), and the International Association for the Study of Dreams. She died on April 23, 2013, of ovarian cancer, in Corvallis, Oregon.


The collection is arranged in five series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1930-2013 (#1.1-3.4, 55.1, PD.1, E.1-E.10)
  2. Series II. Diaries, 1941-2007 (#3.5-23.11, PD.2-PD.3)
  3. Series III. Sketchbooks, 1944-2000 (#23.12-48.4, 51FB.1v - 54FB.4, 55.2-55.4, PD.4-PD.7)
  4. Series IV. Writing, ca.1975-2010 (#48.5-50.14, E.11-E.29)
  5. Series V. Audiovisual, 1967-2010 (#T-396.1 - T-396.30, Vt-192.1 - Vt-192.10, DVD-072.1)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2010-M236, 2013-M174, 2023-M3, 2023-M125

The papers of Ann Sayre Wiseman were given to the Schlesinger Library by Ann Sayre Wiseman in December 2010 and by her son Erik McKibbon Denzer in October 2013. Additional material was given to the Schlesinger Library by Darrah Cole in January 2023 and AmyBeth Auerbach in September 2023.


Donors: Ann Sayre Wiseman

Accession number: 2010-M236

Processed by: Stacey Flatt

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection:

  1. Cent Idees Pour Recevoir ou R.S.V.P., by Anita Pereire, illustrated by Wiseman, 1957.
  2. 78 MacDougal Street, Ansayre Press, 1986.
  3. Nightmare Help for Children from Children: A Guide for Parents and Teachers, Ansayre Press, 1986.
  4. Sketching in a Greek Kitchen, Ansayre Press, May 1989
  5. Provincetown Sketchbook, Ansayre Press, 1990
  6. Zihuatanejo Sketchbook, Ansayre Press, 1992
  7. Dream as Metaphor: The Power of the Image, Ansayre Press, 1996

Processing Information

Processed: October 2013

By: Stacey Flatt, with assistance from Emily Underwood.

Updated and additional material added: July 2017

By: Pablo Morales Henry Updated and additional material added (#55.1-55.4): January 2024 By: Johanna Carll The access restriction requiring researchers to sign a form for access was removed from the collection in April 2024.

Wiseman, Ann Sayre, 1926-2013. Papers of Ann Sayre Wiseman, 1930-2013 (inclusive), 1953-1999 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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