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Helen Sawyer Farnsworth Papers

An inventory of her papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Farnsworth, Helen Sawyer.
Title: Helen Sawyer Farnsworth Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1920-1964
Quantity: 0.5 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the American painter, teacher.
Abstract: Biographical material; correspondence; photocopies of exhibition notes and clippings (1940-1952); manuscript article by Farnsworth and her journal (1920-1937); published material including exhibition announcements and clippings (1921-1952).
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Helen Sawyer Farnsworth (1900-1999) was an American artist and teacher, known for her still life, landscape, and circus paintings. Born in Washington, D.C., to Wells Moses Sawyer, the well-known painter, she grew up in Scarborough-on- the-Hudson, New York and attended the Master's School in Dobbs Ferry, New York, where her artistic talents were immediately noted. She spent several years with her family in Spain. Upon her return she went to Charles W. Hawthorne's school in Cape Cod. She later took courses at the Art Students League and the old Academy School in New York City.

Her paintings hang in the Carnegie Institute, the International Business Machines Corporation gallery, and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Collection. She has exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Babcock and Ferargil galleries, the 1939 World's Fair, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the San Francisco World's Fair.

Mrs. Farnsworth was a member of the Sarasota (Florida) Art Association, Provincetown (Massachusetts) Art Association and the National Arts Club in New York City. She married fellow artist Jerry Farnsworth; they divided their time between a home in North Truro, Massachusetts and winters in Sarasota, Florida.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Helen Sawyer Farnsworth Papers include biographical material, incoming and outgoing correspondence, exhibition notices, magazine reproductions of her work, newspaper clippings about her and others, articles, and personal journals.

Biographical material includes a 1954 edition of Current Biography with a sketch of Helen Sawyer and her husband, Jerry Farnsworth, and a biographical sketch of Wells M. Sawyer, Mrs. Farnsworth's father. Correspondence contains both incoming (from Robert Nathan) and outgoing correspondence. Subject files contains photocopies of the following: exhibition notices, magazine reproductions of Mrs. Farnsworth's work, newspaper clippings about her and others and a pamphlet. Manuscripts consists of an article by Mrs. Farnsworth and a series of personal journals written by her. Published material includes announcements of showings, magazine clippings about her and others, and newspaper clippings about her and others.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

See also the papers of Ms. Farnsworth's husband, Jerry Farnsworth.

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Subject Headings


Farnsworth, Helen Sawyer.


Art, American -- 20th century.
Art, American.
Painters -- United States.
Women artists -- United States.
Women painters -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Helen Sawyer Farnsworth Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Finding Aid Information

Created by: --
Date: Feb 1967
Revision history: 25 Apr 2008 - converted to EAD (MRC); 22 Oct 2013 - updated inventory (MRC)

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Biographical Material
Box 1 Miscellaneous
Box 1 Incoming undated
Box 1 Outgoing 1964
Subject files
Box 1 Exhibition Notices (photocopies) 1944-1945, 1951-1952
Box 1 Magazine reproductions of work (photocopies) undated
Box 1 Newspaper clippings about (photocopies) 1940, 1948, 1950-1951, undated
Box 1 Newspaper clippings about others (photocopies) undated
Box 1 Pamphlet (photocopy) undated
Articles by
Box 1 "Painting in Oils an Paper" undated
Box 1 "Feb 1 1920 - Journal 1" 1920, Jan-May
Box 1 "May 10, 1920 - Second Book of the Journal" 1920, May-Aug
Box 1 "Journal continued Helen Sawyer" 1920, Sep (3 volumes)
Box 1 "Sixth Book of Journal" 1921, Jan-Feb - begins
Box 1 "Eighth Book of Journal" 1921, May-?
Box 1 "Journal kept in the Vermont Hills" 1921 Jul-Aug
Box 1 "Journal X" 1923
Box 1 "Journal" 1925 Dec-1926 Jan - last page read, "End of Journal No. 1"
Box 1 "Second Journal / Helen Sawyer Farnsworth / c/o National City Bank of N.Y. / Boulevard Hausmann, Paris" 1926, Feb
Box 1 "Third Journal [1926?] May-Aug (2 volumes)
Box 1 "Helen Sawyer Farnsworth / Gran Hotel Almada / [illegible] / (Sonora), Mexico" 1937
Published materials
Box 1 Announcements of showings 1921, 1931, 1943-1945, 1951-1952, undated
Box 1 Magazine clippings about undated
Box 1 Magazine clippings of work undated
Box 1 Newspaper clippings about 1940, 1948, 1950-1951, undated
Box 1 Newspaper clippings about others 1950, undated 1941, undated

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