Thomas Handforth Collection

T. Handforth to his mother from Brooklyn, NY January 12th, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Brooklyn, NY January 24th, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Woodbury, NJ February 5th, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from on board the S.S. Javanese Prince Febuary 15th, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from on board the S.S. Javanese Prince Febuary 22nd, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from on board the M.V. Javanese Prince March 12th, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Kyoto. April 2nd,1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Kyoto. April 6th,1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Tokyo, March 21st ,1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Shanghai, China from April 28th, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Shanghai, China May 11th, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Peking [Beijing], China June 2nd, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Peking [Beijing], China June 7th, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Peiping [Beijing], China June 19th, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Peiping [Beijing], China July 1st, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Peking [Beijing], August 10th, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Peking [Beijing], China September 13th, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Peiping [Beijing], China September 27th, 1931 T. Handforth to his mother from Peiping [Beijing] China, December 20th, 1931 T. Handforth letter to his mother from Peiping [Beijing], China January 10th, 1932 T. Handforth letter to his mother from Peiping [Beijing], China April 3rd, 1932 T. Handforth letter to his mother from Pei Tai Ho [Beidaihe District], China June 29th, 1932 T. Handforth letter to his mother from China July 20th, 1932 T. Handforth letter to his mother from Peking [Beijing], China August 23, 1932 T. Handforth letter to his mother from Peking [Beijing], China November 22nd, 1932 T.Handforth letter to Stan from Peking [Beijing], China September 22nd, 1932 T. Handforth Letter to his mother from China January 20th, 1933 T. Handforth Letter to his mother from China January 31st, 1933 T. Handforth Letter to his mother from Peiping [Beijing], China March 5th, 1933 T. Handforth Letter to his mother from China May 7th, 1933

Identity elements

Reference code

3.5.3

Name and location of repository

Level of description

Title

Thomas Handforth Collection

Date(s)

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Name of creator

(9/15/1897-10/19/1948)

Biographical history

A native of Tacoma, Thomas Handforth won international acclaim as an artist, author, and illustrator. Born in Tacoma on September 19, 1897, Handforth attended Stadium High School (then Tacoma High School). There he created the art for the high school annuals. Post-graduation he attended the University of Washington then moved to New York for art training. During his service in World War I he drew anatomical drawings in Washington, D.C. After the war, he returned to New York and studied under Kenneth Hayes Miller and later with Mahonri Young. Later he trained in draughtsmanship and painting at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He won numerous prizes and became a member of various societies of etchers.
In 1927 he visited Morocco and in 1929 relocated to Mexico. Two years later traveled to China where he stayed until 1937. It was in China where he developed his skills with lithography. From China, he went to Southeast Asia (then Indo-China) and returned to the United States at the approach of World War II. He returned to service in the Army and after his release returned to Tacoma in 1944 and again in 1945 to make portraits of his many former hometown friends. Handforth is best known for his children's book "Mai Li", published in 1938, for which he won the Caldecott Medal for illustration in 1939. The other books he illustrated include Sidonie, Totou in Bondage, and Tranquilinas Paradise. Handforth died at McCornak General Hospital in Pasadena. His death was attributed to acute coronary thrombosis.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This Collection is comprised of the artistic and written output of Thomas S. Handforth. It includes letters, artwork, news clippings, scrap books, photographs, books, and a recording of his Caldecott acceptance speech.

System of arrangement

Handforth's artwork in this collection is generally divided into parts based mostly on his location in the world. His years in France reflect work produced by many young talented artists of the period while his work from Morocco, Mexico, China, and India reflects his interpretation of cultures found there.

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Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Tacoma Public Library received the Handforth Collection in a number of increments from the Handforth family and a number of his friends and associates, along with a small collection from Caroline Schneider of Seattle in 1982.

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