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Thornton and Amy Oakley collection

Identifier: MSS 0509

Scope and Content Note

The Thornton Oakley and Amy Oakley Collection consists of pen and ink drawings on boards, water colors, manuscripts, a promotional display board, scholarly journals, disbound leaves, printer's proofs, and booklets related to Thornton Oakley. The collection spans the dates 1927-1947, and provides a glimpse not only of Thornton Oakley's artistic work and Amy Oakley's literary achievement, but also of Thornton Oakley's involvement in the scholarly and artistic community of the Delaware valley.

Series I. and II. contain manuscripts, pen and ink drawings on boards and disbound leaves from The Cloud-Lands of France (Century Co., 1927) and Enchanted Brittany (Century Co., 1930). The disbound leaves of both works include only those pages with illustrations, the dust jackets from the first printings, and two brown envelopes signed by Thornton Oakley. Some of the pen and ink drawings from Series I. and II. include display notices for Philadelphia art and local events. In addition, the folders housing the pen and ink drawings for Enchanted Brittany also include six drawings that did not appear in the published version of the book. Series I. and II. were purchased in 1986.

Series III. contains pen and ink drawings on boards and a promotional display board for The Heart of Provence (D. Appleton-Century, 1936). Series IV. contains five water colors and Series V. contains two articles written by Thornton Oakley published in scholarly journals as well as three items that show his involvement in the Philadelphia area art and educational community. Series III. — V. of the collection were acquired as a gift from Roger Garland in 1984.


  • Creation: 1927-1949


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

The illustrator Thornton Oakley (1881-1953) was a student of Howard Pyle, founder of the Brandywine School. Oakley illustrated numerous books and magazines, including Harper's , Century Magazine , Collier's Weekly , and Everybody's Magazine during the 20th century. Known for his paintings of industrial America, his work is found in the collections of numerous institutions, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, Boston Public Library, New York Public Library, and the British Museum.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Oakley graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in architecture. He then studied at Pyle's school in Wilmington, Delaware. During part of his time with Pyle, Oakley was in charge of the school's supply store. He was responsible for sales, inventory, and collecting students' monthly accounts. He married Amy Ewing in 1910, and they had one child. Together they published numerous travel books, which she wrote and he illustrated. In 1914, Oakley was hired to head the Department of Illustration at the Philadelphia Museum's School of Industrial Art, now the Philadelphia College of Art. He taught at the school until 1936. During World War II, the National Geographic Society commissioned 48 paintings of war plants and related topics.

Falk, Peter Hastings, ed.Who Was Who in American Art. Madison, Connecticut: Sound View Press, 1985. Pitz, Henry C.Howard Pyle: Writer, Illustrator, Founder of the Brandywine School. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1975.


1 linear foot (3 boxes)

3 oversize box


This collection houses pen and ink drawings on boards, water colors, manuscripts, a promotional display board, scholarly journals, disbound leaves, printer's proofs, and booklets related to Thornton Oakley (1881-1953) and Amy Oakley (. Oakley illustrated numerous books and magazines, includingHarper's,Century Magazine,Collier's Weekly, andEverybody's Magazineduring the 20th century.


Gift of Roger Garland, 1984; and purchases, 1986.

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0192, Frank E. Schoonover - Thornton Oakley Correspondence related to Howard Pyle.

MSS 0278, Thornton Oakley diaries

Shelving Summary

  1. Boxes 1-3: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes
  2. Boxes 4-6: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (20 inches)


Processed by Karalee Kopreski, October 2005. Encoded by Natalie Baur, September 2009.

Finding aid for Thornton and Amy Oakley collection
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2009 September 15
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA