Scope and Content Note
The Thomas Carr Howe papers measure 4.4 linear feet and date from 1932 to 1984. Howe was director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco for nearly 40 years, and he served as one of the Monuments Men in the Monuments, Fine Art and Archives (MFAA) Section of the U.S. Army during World War II. The collection documents Howe's MFAA work in Germany and Austria locating and recovering cultural artifacts and artwork stolen by the Nazis. There is significant correspondence with friends and colleagues, as well as fellow Monuments Men such as Samson Lane Faison, Edith Standen, and George Stout. The papers also includes reports, inventories of stolen artwork, maps, annotated photographs, a scrapbook, and photographs. The papers also document Howe's later work at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor.
Biographical materials include articles and memorial tributes for Howe's father and grandfather, a short autobiography and resume, and the certificate for the copyright to his book.
The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, the most voluminous of which are letters from Monuments Men S. Lane Faison, Patrick J. Kelleher, Andrew C. Ritchie, Edith Standen, George Stout, Marcelle Minet, Rose Valland, James Rorimer, and others. Additional correspondents include friends and colleagues such as Bernard Berenson, Hume Cronyn, Paul Mills, Christopher Forbes, Margaret Mallory, William A. McGonagle, and Otto Wittman, among many others
Writings include a brief summary of Howe's book Salt Mines and Castles and a sound cassette of his lecture about the book. Project, membership and travel files are primarily associated with his professional work at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor and include documentation of member art trips, a feasibility study for merging the California Palace of the Legion of Honor with the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, and a membership list of the Bohemian Club.
The Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) Records and Looted Inventories series contain many records relating to Howe's military service as a Monuments Man. There are several inventory records which contain lists of the contents of Hermann Göring's collection of looted artwork, artwork destroyed in the Flak towers fire in Berlin, and artwork held at several of the central collecting points, though mostly at Weisbaden. There is also a small fold out map of the Altausse salt mines; a U.S. government issued manual of maps marking important cultural monuments and artwork in Germany; a book of U.S. government regulations pertaining to the MFAA section; a government information bulletin; and several official status reports and published U.S. government reports about art looting investigations and safeguarding cultural property.
Professional files consist of papers relating to Howe's job as the director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor and art trips he organized. Documents include a survey of Los Angeles museum curator salaries, a questionnaire about Howe's work as a museum director, and a membership list of Bohemian Club artists. The bulk of the travel papers are itineraries.
The photographs are divided into two subseries: MFAA Section images and personal photographs. The Monuments Men subseries includes photographs documenting bomb damage to cultural monuments in various countries, though mainly Germany; U.S. soldiers transporting recovered artwork such as Michelangelo's Madonna and Child from the Altaussee salt mines in Austria, and other looted art repositories such as Neuschwanstein Castle and Berchtesgaden in Germany; Weisbaden and Munich collecting points; and art recovery of The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Hubert and Jan van Eyck. There are many photographs of the Monuments Men including Thomas Carr Howe, George Stout, Stephen Kovalyak, Lamont Moore, Patrick J. Kelleher, Edith Standen, and Rose Valland. Personal photographs consists of portraits of Howe and photographs of events, mostly formal dinners and parties.
Printed materials are clippings, postcards, fundraising pamphlets, essays, and memorial tributes for colleagues.