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Catalog Data

Creator:
Pearmain, William Robert, 1888-1912  Search this
Names:
Industrial Workers of the World  Search this
Berkman, Alexander, 1870-1936  Search this
Bowditch, Nancy Douglas  Search this
Brooks, John Graham, 1846-1938  Search this
Brush, George de Forest, 1855-1941  Search this
Clemens, Samuel Langhorne, 1835-1910  Search this
Dole, Charles F. (Charles Fletcher), 1845-1927  Search this
Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971  Search this
Pearmain, Alice  Search this
Pearmain, Jack  Search this
Pearmain, Margaret  Search this
Pearmain, Mary  Search this
Pearmain, Summer  Search this
Sanger, Margaret, 1879-1966  Search this
Sanger, William, b. 1888?  Search this
Trautmann, W. E. (William Ernst), b. 1869  Search this
Upton, Sarah  Search this
Extent:
0.4 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Writings
Photographs
Sketches
Watercolors
Diaries
Date:
1888-1955
Summary:
The papers of painter and activist William Robert Pearmain (1888-1912) and the Pearmain family measure 0.4 linear feet and date from 1888-1955. Papers are found for William Robert Pearmain, his wife Nancy Douglas Brush (later Bowditch), their daughter Mary "Polly" Pearmain, and other members of the Pearmain family. There are biographical materials; family correspondence; a watercolor; a travel diary and school essays by Pearmain; printed materials, including clippings and two publications by the Industrial Workers of the World; and photographs of the Pearmain family and artwork.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter and activist William Robert Pearmain (1888-1912) and the Pearmain family measure 0.4 linear feet and date from 1888-1955. Papers are found for William Robert Pearmain, his wife Nancy Douglas Brush (later Bowditch), their daughter Mary "Polly" Pearmain, and other members of the Pearmain family. There are biographical materials; family correspondence; a watercolor; a travel diary and school essays by Pearmain; printed materials, including clippings and two publications by the Industrial Workers of the World; and photographs of the Pearmain family and artwork. Scattered biographical information includes materials concerning the Pearmain and Upton families including a wedding invitation, school transcripts, biographical sketches and a debutate ball program from 1931. Much of the correspondence is from William Robert Pearmain to his family written while in school and in Europe. Pearmain's correspondence with his family discusses his career, marriage, daughter, travel, and political views. Later correspondence is from both Robert and Nancy to family members. Other family correspondence is between Nancy, Polly, Sarah Upton, Sumner, Alice, Margaret, and Jack Pearmain. There are a few incoming letters to Robert, including one from Margaret Sanger. There are condolence letters to Nancy from John Graham Brooks, Rockwell Kent, William Sanger, and Alexander Beckman. A letter from George de Forest Brush to Robert's mother, possibly dated 1906, discusses her unhappiness about Robert leaving Harvard and staying with the Brushs' in Italy. A photocopy of a letter from Samuel Clemens to George de Forest Brush is found. Additional correspondents include Charles F. Dole and William E. Trautmann. Artwork consists of one watercolor by William Robert Pearmain. Writings and notes include one diary written by Robert while in Europe (1907), school essays, and a list of European trip expenses. Printed materials include clippings, and one issue each of Solidarity , and Mother Earth. Photographs are of a drawing of William Robert Pearmain by Will Loring and family snapshots of Robert, Nancy, and Polly Pearmain in New Hampshire (1911).
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 6 series: Series 1: Biographical Material, 1888-circa 1955 (Box 1; 5 folders) Series 2: Correspondence, 1899-1955 (Box 1; 0.25 linear feet) Series 3: Artwork, circa 1910 (Box 1; 1 folder) Series 4: Writings and Notes, circa 1900-1908 (Box 1; 3 folders) Series 5: Printed Material, 1907-1913 (Box 1; 3 folders) Series 6: Photographs, circa 1900-1911 (Box 1; 2 folders)
Biographical Note:
William Robert Pearmain (1888-1912), known as Robert, was a painter and political activist working in Boston and New York City. Born to a wealthy family in New England, Pearmain attended Harvard University to study architecture and studied painting in Italy under George de Forest Brush. Between 1907 and 1908, Pearmain travelled through France and Italy studying with Brush and other artists. Upon returning to the United States, Pearmain married the eldest daughter of his mentor, Nancy Douglas Brush in Dublin, New Hampshire. Also an artist, Nancy settled with Robert in Boston and later in New York City. While in New York, Pearmain worked as an assistant to muralist Barry Faulkner. In 1911, the Pearmains welcomed their daughter Mary Alice, whom they called Polly. While in New York, Pearmain grew dissatisfied with his artistic career. He discovered an interest in the conditions of the working class and his social and political viewpoints became increasingly radical. Despite his privilaged upbringing, he immersed himself in the world of manual labor. Leaving his wife and daughter behind, Robert walked from New York City to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to work at the Westinghouse Electric Company. Additionally, Pearmain became associated with the Industrial Workers of the World organization and participated in anarchist demonstrations. Soon after arriving in Pittsburgh, Pearmain's health started to fail. His family believed the hard working conditions caused his illness and a doctor suggested that he return to Massachusetts to recover. In September of 1912, Robert Pearmain died of leukemia. Later, Nancy remarried Dr. Harold Bowditch.
Related Material:
Also found in the Archives of American Art is the Nancy Douglas Bowditch papers, circa 1900s-1970s that contain materials relating to her first husband, William Robert Pearmain and an oral history interview with Nancy Douglas Bowditch conducted on January 30, 1974 by Robert F. Brown.
Separated Material:
That Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reel 4589) including a drawing by Will Loring of William Robert Pearmain as a child. This item was returned to the lender and is not described in the collection container inventory.
Provenance:
Nancy Bowditch and Edward F. McClennen, Pearmain's widow and grandson, donated the William Robert Pearmain and Pearmain family papers in 1973 and 1974. The photograph of the drawing on microfilm reel 4859 was lent for microfilming by William Robert Pearmain, Pearmain's nephew, in 1974.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Rights:
The William Robert Pearmain and Pearmain family papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Topic:
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Travel -- Europe  Search this
Painters -- Massachusetts -- Boston  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Political activists -- Massachusetts -- Boston  Search this
Political activists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Writings
Photographs
Sketches
Watercolors
Diaries
Citation:
William Robert Pearmain and Pearmain family papers, 1888-1955. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.pearwill
See more items in:
William Robert Pearmain and Pearmain family papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-pearwill