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Thomas Cole papers

Identifier: Thomas Cole papers

Scope and Contents

This collection contains nineteen pieces of correspondence written by Thomas Cole to Daniel Wadsworth (1771-1848) spanning the 1826-1832. Cole wrote to Wadsworth as an artist commissioned to paint works thus the subjects dealt with include the painting of Katerskill Falls (1826), and other works such as the Garden of Eden (1828) done for Wadsworth. Along with discussions of Cole's works from this period, one piece of correspondence from Florence, Italy expressing his desire to return home after having spent the past two years in England, dated July 13, 1832.

The collection also contains a pamphlet about Cedar Cove (Cole's home, now a national historic site), a container for manuscripts, and a folder of transcriptions of letters.


  • 1826 - 1832


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the John M.K. Davis Reading Room of the Watkinson Library, Trinity College Library, Hartford, Connecticut. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws when using this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with the duplication policy of the Watkinson Library.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information (e.g. social security numbers) in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Cole (1801-1848); an illustrious 19th century painter born in Lancashire, England, immigrated to the United States in 1818. Cole lived in Philadelphia, Ohio, and Pittsburgh where he went on to work as a portrait artist, having received little to no formal training. In 1825, Cole began studying and painting the wilderness in the Catskills, and was discovered by Asher B. Durand who made him a fellow at the National Academy. In 1829-1831, he returned to Europe for family business, and traveled throughout France and Italy. During his travels, he met a number of wealthy Americans who from who he would continue on to receive commissions.

Cole returned to New York City in 1832, meeting the successful business man and art gallery owner Luman Reed. During this period, Cole rented a house in Cedar Grove, New York, in the Catskills where he established his first rural studio. In 1836, he married Maria Bartow there, and continued to develop his work expressing strong views on industrialization and its negative impacts on wild beauty with a series of works titled "The Course of Empire." Cole continued to paint until his death in 1848 after an acute attack of pleurisy, becoming a popular figure of the Hudson River School Artists and American art depicting the natural world.


.25 Cubic Feet (1 flat box)

Language of Materials



Correspondence arranged by date.

Existence and Location of Copies

Collection of letters published in the Correspondence of Thomas Cole and Daniel Wadsworth, edited by J. Bard McNulty (Hartford: Connecticut Historical Society, 1983).
Guide to the Thomas Cole papers
Michelle C. Sigiel, with inventory by Kim L. Longo
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Watkinson Library Manuscripts Repository

Trinity College Library
300 Summit St.
Hartford Connecticut 06106