Collection ASM0034 - Theodore Bolton papers

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Theodore Bolton papers


  • 1861-1977 (Creation)
  • 1915-1977 (Creation)


8 Boxes

Name of creator

Biographical history

Theodore Bolton was a librarian, art historian, and artist. He was born in Columbia, South Carolina, on January 12, 1889. Bolton received a diploma in the arts from that Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, in 1915. He studied library science at the same institute, receiving a diploma in that subject in 1924. He pursued formal academic work later in his life as well, receiving in 1937 a B.S. in education, and a M.A. in education in 1940, both from New York University. Thereafter, he received an M.F.A. from Columbia in 1955. In addition, he studied at Harvard during the summers from 1937 to 1939.

Although he illustrated editions of Adelbert von Chamisso's Peter Schlemihl (1923) and Prosper Merimee's Diane de Turgis (1925), which he also translated, and had his works shown in a number of exhibitions, his hoped-for career as an artist was cut short when his elbow was shattered in a gymnasium accident. Thereafter, he spent his time writing about art more than creating it.

Bolton's first major published work in the field was Early American Portrait Painters in Miniature, a volume of brief biographical sketches of artists of the genre together with a checklist of their extant portraits. His later publications include Early American Portrait Draughtsmen in Crayons, American Book Illustrators: Bibliographic Check Lists of 123 Artists, and Ezra Ames in Albany.

Bolton served various posts in the Washington, D.C. Public Library from 1911 to 1913, the Library of Congress from 1918 to 1921, and the Brooklyn Public Library from 1924 to 1926. From 1926 until his retirement in 1958, Bolton was librarian of the Century Association in New York City.

Bolton was elected to membership in the American Antiquarian Society at the semiannual meeting in 1950. At the meeting a year later he read a paper printed in the Proceedings as "The Book Illustrations of Felix Octavius Carr Darley."

Upon his retirement, Bolton and his wife moved to Coconut Grove, Florida. Theodore Bolton died at his Coconut Grove home on Friday, December 7, 1973.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The Theodore Bolton Papers contains materials that span from across the entirety of Bolton's life. Bolton was active as a book illustrator and as an art historian, and so there are typescripts, manuscripts, reprints, and periodicals, as well as sketches, prints, drawings, engravings, and sketchbooks.

Bolton's sketches are primarily illustrations for books or Christmas Card designs. Also among the sketches are several done by other illustrators. These include an original illustration by Timothy Cole, as well as a number of original sketches by James Daugherty. Many of these sketches are on Christmas cards sent to Theodore Bolton and Helen, his wife.

Beside his manuscripts and illustrations, of special notice are travel journals by Bolton spanning across several decades, each of which contain illustrations of the places that he visited, and 20 Confederate States of America Banknotes.

System of arrangement

The Theodore Bolton Papers are divided into three series: I. Writings, II. Sketches, Illustrations, and Sketchbooks, and III. Assorted Materials.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

This collection is open for research.

Physical access

University of Miami does not own copyright. It is incumbent on the user to obtain copyright from the original creator.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Theodore Bolton Papers Finding Aid © 2009 University of Miami. All rights reserved. Requests to reproduce or publish materials from this collection should be directed to

Languages of the material

  • English
  • French
  • German

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Selected materials from this collection have been digitized.

Related archival materials

Helen and Theodore Bolton donated a number of books to the University of Miami Libraries, including some of Theodore Bolton's own writings and books that he illustrated:

Bolton, Theodore. American Book Illustrators. New York: R. R. Bowker company, 1938.

Spec Coll Transfer Z1023 .B71 

Dickens, Charles. Barnaby Rudge, A Tale Of The Riots Of '80. New York: The Heritage Press, 1953.

Spec Coll PR4555 .A1 1953 

Greenaway, Kate. A Christmas Letter From Kate Greenaway. New York: G. Arents, 1954.

Spec Coll NC1860 .G68 1954 

Hearn, Lafcadio. Japanese Fairy Tales. Mount Vernon, NY: The Peter Pauper Press, 1936.

Spec Coll PZ8.H35 J93 1936 

Trollope, Anthony. The Last Chronicle Of Barset. London: Smith, Elder, 1867.

Spec Coll PR5684 .L45 1867

Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. Mark Twain; an exhibition selected mainly from the papers belonging to the Samuel L. Clemens Estate, on deposit in the Huntington Library. San Marino, CA: 1947.

Spec Coll Z8176 .H4 

Crothers, Samuel McChord. Miss Muffet's Christmas Party. New York: G. Arents, 1957.

Spec Coll PZ7.C883 M8 1957 

Whitman, Walt. Walt Whitman's America: Being Selections From Leaves of Grass, Democratic Vistas, Specimen Days, and Portraits of Lincoln. Cleveland: World Pub. Co., 1964.

Spec Coll PS3204 .D37 1964

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