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Thomas Weston Fels (AC 1967) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MA.00237

Scope and Contents

The Thomas Weston Fels Papers document the professional activities of Thomas Weston Fels (AC 1967), including research, writing, correspondence, and exhibition planning documents and notes from throughout his professional education and career as a curator and writer. Also included are materials relating to Fels' book Farm Friends: From the late sixties to the west seventies and beyond, which chronicles his life on a communal farm in Montague, Massachusetts in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and follows the lives and activities of selected farm members.

Dates

  • 1972-2009
  • Majority of material found within 1983-2004

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Some series and subseries of the Thomas Weston Fels Papers are temporarily restricted for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Thomas Weston Fels Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Published material in the collection may be subject to copyright restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Weston Fels (AC 1967) is an art historian, curator and writer specializing in American culture, photography and art. Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1946, Fels attended The Putney School in Vermont before enrolling at Amherst College. He was part of a group of Amherst College alumni and others who established and lived on a communal farm in Montague, Massachusetts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He attended the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art, earning his MA in 1984. Since 2005, Fels' research and writing has focused on the era of the 1960s, including the founding of the Famous Long Ago archives at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Fels resides in southern Vermont, and is active in arts programming locally and beyond.

Thomas Weston Fels has worked as consultant and curator to a number of museums, including the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Elizabeth de C. Wilson Museum at the Southern Vermont Arts Center. In 1986 he was named a Chester Dale Fellow of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in 1998-1999, he was a Fletcher Jones Foundation Fellow of the Huntington Library in California. Among the numerous exhibitions he has organized are presentations of the work of the photographers Eadweard Muybridge, and A. J. Russell. His exhibition Carleton Watkins: Western Landscape and the Classical Vision was presented at the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1990. Fire and Ice: Treasures from the Photograph Collection of Frederic Church at Olana, was shown at the Dahesh Museum, in New York, and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. Its companion volume, published by Cornell University Press in 2002, was nominated for numerous awards. Fels is the author of many other catalogs and articles, including O Say Can You See: American Photographs 1839-1939 (MIT Press and the Berkshire Museum, 1989), Watkins to Weston: 101 Years of California Photography, 1849-1950 (Roberts Rinehart Publishers and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1992), Sotheby's Guide to Photographs (H. Holt, 1998), and Farm Friends (RSI Press, 2008). He has given public lectures at the Boston Athenaeum, the Addison Gallery, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others.

See Appendix A for a list of Fels' exhibitions, projects, and publications.

Extent

25 Linear feet (23 records storage boxes, 2 flat boxes, 1 media box)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Thomas Weston Fels Papers document the professional activities of writer and curator Thomas Weston Fels (AC 1967), including research, writing, correspondence, and exhibition planning documents and notes from throughout his professional education and career. Also included are materials relating to his book Farm Friends: from the late sixties to the west seventies and beyond.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into four series:

  1. Series 1: Curatorial Projects and Exhibitions 1978-2006, undated
  2. Series 2: Arts and Cultural Organizations 1987-2009, undated
  3. Series 3: Writings and Research 1972-2008, undated
  4. Series 4: Biographical Material 1969-2008, undated

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The material in this collection was gathered and maintained by Thomas Weston Fels. The collection was gifted to the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections in 2009-2011 and is ongoing.

Related Materials

  • The Marshall Bloom (AC 1966) Papers at Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, and the Famous Long Ago Archive founded by Fels at the Department of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst contain materials related to the Montague Farm and its residents.
  • Curatorial Office Records of Thomas Weston Fels, 1994-1996, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA.
  • Thomas Weston Fels, Carleton Watkins: Photographer (Williamstown, MA: Williams College/Clark Art Institute, 1983).
  • Robert J. Phelan and Thomas Weston Fels, (Organised, and with essays by), Eadweard Muybridge. Animal Locomotion. Images from the Philadelphia years 1885-1985 (University Art Gallery, State University of New York at Albany, 1985).
  • Thomas Weston Fels (edited, and with an afterword by), Thomas Hart Benton, Frank Lloyd Wright : a transcript of the addresses and exchanges between Frank Lloyd Wright & Thomas Hart Benton, Providence, Rhode Island, November 11, 1932 (Williamstown, Mass.: Williams College Museum of Art, 1985).
  • Fels, Thomas Weston. Destruction and Destiny: the Photographs of A.J. Russell; Directing American Energy in War and Peace, 1862-1869. (Pittsfield, Mass.: Berkshire Museum, 1987).
  • Fels, Thomas Weston. O Say Can You See: American Photographs, 1839-1939: One Hundred Years of American Photography from the Collection of George R. Rinhart. (Berkshire Museum and MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1989).
  • Fels, Thomas Weston. Watkins to Weston: 101 Years of California Photography, 1849-1950. Santa Barbara, Calif: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1992.
  • Thomas Fels (essay), Kevin Avery (introduction). Fire and Ice: Treasures from the Photographic Collection of Frederic Church at Olana. (New York: Dahesh Museum of Art; Ithaca [N.Y.]: Cornell University Press, 2002).
  • Fels, Thomas Weston. Farm Friends: from the late sixties to the west seventies and beyond (North Bennington, Vt.: RSI Press, c2008).
  • See Appendix A for a fuller list of Fels' publications.

Processing Information

Processed in 2011-2012 by Sara Smith, Archives and Special Collections Specialist; Christina Barber, graduate student intern, Simmons College; and Lauren Delapenha (AC 2014), Student Assistant.

Status
Completed
Author
Sara Smith, Archives and Special Collections Specialist
Date
2012
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299