Collection ID: MS 550

Collection context


Weir, John F. (John Ferguson), 1841-1926
1838-1957, bulk 1861-1928
Correspondence, addresses and writings, papers relating to the Yale School of the Fine Arts, and other papers of John F. Weir, artist, painter and first director of the Yale School of the Fine Arts, serving from 1869-1913. Correspondents include many persons prominent in the art world between 1870 and 1920. There is also much material on the origins and development of art education in this country and at Yale.
12 Linear Feet


Acquisition information:
Gift of Mrs. James DeWolf Perry, 1939; gift of DeWolf Perry, 1977; transferred from departmental publications, 2002.
Rules or conventions:
translation missing: en.enumerations.resource_finding_aid_description_rules.Finding aid created in accordance with Manuscripts and Archives Processing Manual
Scope and Content:

The John Ferguson Weir Papers contain many letters from persons prominent in the art world from the 1870s to the 1920s and a wealth of information about Weir's own life and beliefs. There is also material on the origin and development of art education in the United States and at Yale. Researchers interested in this aspect of the Weir Papers should also consult the Archives of the Yale School of the Fine Arts, located in Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.


The CORRESPONDENCE series contains both Weir's personal and professional correspondence. He was familiar with most of the prominent artists and architects of his time, and as Director of the School of the Fine Arts, he frequently invited famous artists to lecture at Yale. This correspondence tends to be brief and businesslike. Some of the personal correspondence, however, is more expansive. Among the correspondents are: John W. Alexander (15 items), Charles Henry Caffin (11 items), John Merven Carrere (9 items), Kenyon Cox (10 items), Frank Miles Day (6 items), Sanford Robinson Gifford (26 items), William Henry Goodyear (14 items), James Mason Hoppin (14 items), Jervis McEntee (3 items), Donald Grant Mitchell (9 items), Frederic Remington (4 items), Paul Sabatier (1 item), Truman Seymour (8 items), Launt Thompson (3 items), and Peter Bonnett Wight (3 items). Filed at the end of this section are two folders of Mrs. Mary French Weir's correspondence and a folder of letters of Weir's daughter, Edith Weir Perry.

The second series, ADDRESSES AND WRITINGS, contains articles, lectures, and speeches by Weir. Included is a copy of Weir's partially completed memoirs. Some of the addresses and writings are in manuscript form; others have been printed.

The third series, PAPERS, PLANS, AND NOTES RE: YALE SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS, contains material relating to Weir's activities as Director of the School. This includes notes on the founding and organization of the School and on the development of the curriculum. There is also material on School finances, scholarships, and the like. Most of this material consists of notes or drafts of proposals in Weir's own hand. Also filed in this section are exhibition programs and lecture syllabi from the Yale School of the Fine Arts.

The fourth series, PERSONAL PAPERS AND MEMORABILIA, contains a wide variety of material relating to Weir's personal life, including several diaries and sketchbooks. In addition there are newspaper clippings collected by Weir, including reviews of his own books. There are also numerous photographs of Weir and his family and a folder of notes and writings by Mary French Weir.

Note: Additional Weir papers are in the possession of Rev. DeWolf Perry of Princeton, Massachusetts.

Biographical / Historical:

John Ferguson Weir was born at West Point, New York in 1841. The son of the well-known artist Robert Walter Weir, he achieved fame as a painter early, and in 1869 was appointed the first Director of the new Yale School of the Fine Arts. Starting with little more than a new building and a slim endowment, Weir developed the School into a highly respected and well-known institution.

In many ways, the Yale School of the Fine Arts was a pioneer. It was the first American art school connected with an institution of higher learning. It was the first School at Yale to admit women. And Weir and Yale were prominent in efforts to establish courses in the art and science of architecture.

Although his duties as Director of the Yale School of the Fine Arts occupied much of his time, Weir continued to paint throughout his life. He also lectured on art and related subjects and published many articles in both scholarly and popular journals. A deeply religious man, Weir wrote three books on religion and mysticism. After guiding the Art School for forty-four years, Weir retired in 1913. He died thirteen years later in his 85th year.


Arranged in five series and two additions: I. Correspondence. II. Addresses and Writings. III. Papers, Plans, and Notes: Yale School of the Fine Arts. IV. Personal Papers and Memorabilia. V. Bicentennial Art Exhibition.

Indexed Terms

Art -- Study and teaching
Yale University -- Faculty
Yale University. School of Fine Arts
Alexander, John White, 1856-1915
Atterbury, Grosvenor, 1869-1956
Baldwin, Simeon E. (Simeon Eben), 1840-1927
Blashfield, Edwin Howland, 1848-1936
Brush, George Jarvis, 1831-1912
Caffin, Charles H. (Charles Henry), 1854-1918
Carrère, John Merven, 1858-1911
Cesnola, Luigi Palma di, 1832-1904
Chase, William Merritt, 1849-1916
Chittenden, R. H. (Russell Henry), 1856-1943
Clarke, Caspar Purdon, Sir, 1846-1911
Coffin, William A. (William Anderson), 1855-1925
Cook, Albert S. (Albert Stanburrough), 1853-1927
Cook, Clarence, 1828-1900
Cook, Walter, 1846-1916
Cortissoz, Royal, 1869-1948
Cox, Kenyon, 1856-1919
Dana, Edward Salisbury, 1849-1935
Day, Frank Miles, 1861-1918
Day, George Parmly, 1876-1959
Delano, William Adams, 1874-1960
Dexter, Franklin Bowditch, 1842-1920
Dwight, Timothy, 1828-1916
East, Alfred, Sir, 1844-1913
Eaton, D. Cady (Daniel Cady), 1837-1912
Eliot, Charles William, 1834-1926
Embree, Edwin R. (Edwin Rogers), 1883-1950
Farnam, Henry W. (Henry Walcott), 1853-1933
Farnam, William Whitman, 1844-1929
Fisher, George Park, 1827-1909
Fisher, Irving, 1867-1947
French, Daniel Chester, 1850-1931
Frothingham, Arthur L., Jr. (Arthur Lincoln), 1859-1923
Gifford, Sanford Robinson, 1823-1880
Gilbert, Cass, 1859-1934
Gilman, Daniel C. (Daniel Coit), 1831-1908
Godwin, Parke, 1816-1904
Goodyear, W. H. (William Henry), 1846-1923
Hadley, Arthur Twining, 1856-1930
Hamlin, A. D. F. (Alfred Dwight Foster), 1855-1926
Hastings, Thomas, 1860-1929
Hawthorne, Charles Webster, 1872-1930
Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878
Homer, Winslow, 1836-1910
Hoppin, J. M. (James Mason), 1820-1906
Hunt, Richard Morris, 1827-1895
Huntington, Daniel, 1816-1906
Isham, Samuel, 1855-1914
Jesup, Morris K. (Morris Ketchum), 1830-1908
Johnson, Eastman, 1824-1906
Jones, Frederick Scheetz, 1862-1944
Kendall, William Sergeant, 1869-1938
Keppel, Frederick P. (Frederick Paul), 1875-1943
La Farge, Bancel, 1865-1938
La Farge, John, 1835-1910
Langzettel, George Henry, d. 1953
Longfellow, William P. P. (William Pitt Preble), 1836-1913
Low, Will Hicok, 1853-1932
Mansfield, Burton, 1856-1932
Marquand, Henry Gurdon, 1819-1902
Marshall, Henry Rutgers, 1852-1927
McEntee, Jervis, 1828-1891
McKim, Charles Follen, 1847-1909
Metcalf, Willard Leroy, 1858-1925
Millet, Francis Davis, 1846-1912
Mitchell, Donald Grant, 1822-1908
Mosler, Henry, 1841-1920
Mowbray, H. Siddons (Harry Siddons), 1858-1928
Munger, Theodore Thornton, 1830-1910
Niemeyer, John Henry, 1839-1932
Norton, Charles Eliot, 1827-1908
Olmsted, Frederick Law, 1870-1957
Parker, Horatio W. (Horatio William), 1863-1919
Partridge, William Ordway, 1861-1930
Perkins, Charles C. (Charles Callahan), 1823-1886
Perrin, Bernadotte, 1847-1920
Phelps, Edward John, 1822-1900
Pierrepont, Edwards, 1817-1892
Porter, Noah, 1811-1892
Pyle, Howard, 1853-1911
Raymond, John H. (John Howard), 1814-1878
Remington, Frederic, 1861-1909
Sabatier, Paul, 1858-1928
Salisbury, Edward Elbridge, 1814-1901
Sanders, Frank Knight, 1861-1933
Seelye, Laurenus Clark, 1837-1924
Seymour, George Dudley, 1859-1945
Seymour, Thomas D. (Thomas Day), 1848-1907
Seymour, Truman, 1824-1891
Shirlaw, Walter, 1838-1909
Simmons, Edward, 1852-1931
Smillie, James David, 1833-1909
Smith, Francis Hopkinson, 1838-1915
Stedman, Edmund Clarence, 1833-1908
Stoeckel, Carl, 1858-1925
Stokes, Anson Phelps, 1874-1958
Street, Augustus Russell, 1791-1866
Sturgis, Russell, 1836-1909
Sumner, William Graham, 1840-1910
Taft, Lorado, 1860-1936
Thompson, Launt, 1833-1894
Twachtman, John Henry, 1853-1902
Tyler, Morris Franklin, 1848-1907
Van Dyke, John Charles, 1856-1932
Vinton, Frederick Porter, 1846-1911
Walker, John Brisben, 1847-1931
Ware, William R. (William Robert), 1832-1915
Watrous, George Dutton, 1858-1940
Weir, John F. (John Ferguson), 1841-1926
Weir, Julian Alden, 1852-1919
Weir, Robert Walter, 1803-1889
Whittredge, Worthington, 1820-1910
Wight, P. B. (Peter Bonnett), 1838-1925
Wolf, Henry, 1852-1916
Woolsey, Theodore Salisbury, 1852-1929


Sterling Memorial Library
Yale Campus
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