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Alfred Vance Churchill Papers

Identifier: CA-MS-00079

Scope and Contents

There is copious correspondence with important art collectors and figures in the history of Smith College, as well as other educational institutions such as Columbia University. Researchers interested in Oberlin College, family history and the social history of the Midwestern U.S. will find the manuscripts and typescripts of his unpublished book Midwestern of interest. Genealogists will find some mention and dating of family names coming out of New England such as Franklin and Churchill. Art historians will be interested to note Churchill's writings and lectures on the teaching of art, and his role in developing an American taste for French Romantic painters.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1828 - 1965


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Alfred Vance Churchill was born on August 14, 1864 in Oberlin, Ohio. He was the son of Charles Henry Churchill, a professor at Oberlin College and his second wife, Henrietta Vance Churchill. Alfred was the second child of Henrietta Vance Churchill, and was the sixth of Charles Henry Churchill's nine children. After studies at Oberlin, Alfred studied art in Berlin, Leipzig, and Paris from 1887-1890. He married Marie Marschall in 1890. Their son Louis Nelson Churchill was born in 1897. In 1892 Churchill directed the art department at Iowa College, Grinnell, Iowa. From 1893-1897, he taught art in the High and Normal Schools of St. Louis, Missouri. In 1897, he was made professor of art and Director of the Department of Fine Arts at Teachers College, Columbia University. He received the degree of Master of Arts from Oberlin College in 1898. Columbia University dismissed Churchill in 1904, but gave him a grant to study and paint in Paris 1904-1906. Smith College hired him in 1905 as the first resident professor in the appreciation and history of art. During his years at Smith, he expanded the Smith College Art Museum into one of the outstanding collections in the United States. A noted art critic, lecturer as well as a teacher and painter (whose work appeared in the Armory Show in Chicago in 1913), he influenced the standards of art teaching, especially as vice-president of the College Art Association. After 27 years of service to Smith, Churchill retired in 1932, staying in Northampton, Massachusetts, and devoting himself to painting and writing. He died on December 29, 1949.


1.75 linear feet (4 containers)

Language of Materials



Professor of Fine Arts. Collection contains biographical material, correspondence, material related to museum and art collecting, publications, and teaching materials.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. I. Biographical Materials
  2. II. General and Professional Correspondence
  3. III. Museum and Art Collecting
  4. IV. Publications and Teaching Materials


There is some overlap in categories, but it was thought best to retain where possible the arrangement of certain folders which Churchill himself devised.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Alfred Vance Churchill donated letters, photographs, poems, etc. from his own papers in 1941. Later in the same year he donated more files for his biographical record. Two letters written to the Smith College Archivist in 1941 or 1942 substantiate this as the year of donation, although nothing precludes the possibility of donations at an earlier date. On April 26, 1966, Mrs. Bernard A. Churchill [daughter-in-law] donated on behalf of Mrs. A. V. Churchill, a "MS of Oberlin book-typescript and carbon," written by Alfred Vance Churchill, which corresponds to the folders titled "Midwestern."

Processing Information

Processed by Joel Tansey

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.

Finding aid to the Alfred Vance Churchill Papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Joel Tansey
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: manosca79 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2018-11-02: Containers added and finding aid updated as part of the College Archives Survey

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063