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MaryJane Spooner Collection of Frederic and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Correspondence

An inventory of their correspondence at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MCI
Date: 8 June 2016

Biographical History

Frederic Whitaker (1891-1980) was an award-winning American artist and writer on painting and art. Whitaker began his artistic career as a metalsmith, working for Gorham Manufacturing Company and Tiffany & Co. and later founding two companies of his own. However, it was as a watercolorist that he became most famous and when he retired in 1949 he devoted himself full-time to painting. He was also active in the promotion of the arts, particularly painting; he was a member of the National Academy of Design, a Fellow of Britain's Royal Society of Arts, served seven years as president of the American Watercolor Society, and founded Audubon Artists. He received numerous awards and recognitions for his work, and was the author of two books and numerous articles and essays on painting, art, and political topics of the day.

Whitaker's wife Eileen Monaghan (1911-2005) was also a painter of watercolors; though less widely known than her husband, she was an important artist in her own right. The couple married in 1943 and often exhibited their work in joint shows. Eileen was a member of the American Watercolor Society, the recipient of many awards, and in 1978 she became only the second woman to be elected to the National Academy of Design's watercolor division.

MaryJane Spooner and her husband, Thomas M. Butler, were longtime friends of the Whitakers. She graduated with a bachelor's in illustration from the College of Visual and Performance Arts at Syracuse University in 1971. Spooner previously met the Whitakers as a watercolor student of theirs' in Connecticut and kept in contact throughout her life.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The MaryJane Spooner Collection of Frederic and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Correspondence consists of letters sent by Frederic and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker to MaryJane Spooner. The topics discussed cover the personal lives and work of the Whitakers over three decades, including numerous art shows focused on their paintings. Many of the letters contain enclosures, mostly clippings.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is ordered chronologically. Enclosures remain with the letter they were sent with.


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.

Related Material

See also the Frederic and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Papers within the Special Collections Research Center for additional correspondence, artwork, memorabilia and writings from Frederic and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker.

Subject Headings


Spooner, MaryJane.
Whitaker, Eileen Monaghan, 1911-
Whitaker, Frederic.


Art, American -- 20th century.
Art, American.
Painters -- United States.
Watercolor painting, American.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

MaryJane Spooner Collection of Frederic and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Correspondence,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Thomas M. Butler, 2014.

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