Oral history interview with Miriam Colwell
Portions of this collection are digitized

Collection ID:
Colwell, Miriam, 1917-
Larsen, Susan C.
2005 June 10-11
Physical Description:
46 Pages

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
An interview of Miriam Colwell conducted in her home 2005 June 10-11, by Susan C. Larsen, for the Archives of American Art, in Prospect Harbor, Maine.
Scope and Contents
Colwell discusses her family's long history in Maine; the ancestral home in which she still resides; her mother dying of influenza and her father, an invalid; living with her grandparents, who spoiled her; the dinners her grandmother hosted for Summer residents; graduating as valedictorian and enrolling in the University of Maine, Orono; dropping out after one year; meeting Chenoweth Hall through her friend, Louise, who worked at a restaurant "Chennie" frequented; visiting Chenoweth in New York City and deciding soon afterwards to move there; immersion into the cultural world of New York; working as a salesperson and a consumer researcher; returning to Prospect Harbor with Chenoweth; working as town postmaster; moving into a house on the beach with Chenoweth; their many acquaintances in the arts, particularly Marsden Hartley; Hartley's death; and the different ways in which she and Chenoweth approached the arts. Colwell also discusses her delving into a literary career; the relationships with publishers and literary agents; the inspirations for "Young" and "Wind off the Water"; her and Chenoweth's frequent travels; being on a trans-Atlantic passenger liner that caught fire; a never-published novel about a group of Maine expatriates in Israel; selling the movie rights of "Young" and the movie's failed production; Chenoweth's multiple talents; Chenoweth teaching at University of Maine, Machias; the onset of Chenoweth's Parkinson's Disease; spending winters on Jekyll Island, Georgia; Chenoweth's death; and the subsequent handling of Chenoweth's estate. Colwell also recalls Erle Loran, Christine Watson, Ruth Stone, Ken McCormick, John Marin, Bernice Baumgarten, Katherine Hathaway, Malvin Albright, Ivan Albright, Berenice Abbott, Paul Strand, Vincent Hartgen, and others.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Miriam Colwell (1917- ) is an author from Prospect Harbor, Maine. Susan C. Larsen is an art historian from Tenants Harbor, Maine.

Funding for this interview and transcription provided by the King and Jean Cummings Fund. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Originally recorded on 3 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 3 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 27 min.

Digital Content

More Information

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Authors -- Maine Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women authors Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hall, Chenoweth, 1908-1999 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hartley, Marsden, 1877-1943 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001