Warner, Langdon, 1881-1955. Langdon Warner personal archive, 1914-1954: an inventory
Harvard University Archives
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: HUG 4872.1010
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Warner, Langdon, 1881-1955
Title: Langdon Warner personal archive
Quantity: 6 cubic feet (14 document boxes, 2 flat boxes, 1 legal half document box, 1 half document box,
1 oversize folder
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Langdon Warner (1881-1955) was a curator of Far Eastern Art at Harvard University's
Fogg Art Museum from 1923 to 1950, and was an advisor to the United States military
on Far Eastern shrines and art centers in World War II. The Langdon Warner personal
archive documents Warner's career as a curator, art historian, and lecturer and illustrates
his roles as an authority on Oriental art and culture, especially on Japanese and
Chinese art and culture. The collection provides a view of United States' relations
with Asia before, during, and after World War II, as Warner worked to improve political
relations through arts initiatives in the civilian and military spheres.
The Langdon Warner personal archive was donated to the Harvard University Archives
by Caleb N. Warner in 1980.
The Langdon Warner personal archive was processed in July 2017 by Hyunjin Cho. Additional
description was provided by Sarah Demb in August 2017.
Processing included rehousing materials in the appropriate archival containers, the
establishment of series and subseries hierarchy, photocopying news clippings, and
the creation of this finding aid.
Warner's original folder titles were retained; any folder titles, dates, additional
descriptive information, and dates supplied by the archivist appear in brackets.
The Langdon Warner personal archive is open for research use with the following exceptions:
some records concerning individuals, personnel and student records in particular,
are closed for research for 80 years from the date of creation. Restrictions on access
are noted at the folder level.
Warner, Langdon, 1881-1955. Langdon Warner personal archive, 1914-1954. HUG 4872.1010,
Harvard University Archives.
At the Harvard University Archives:
- Course materials for Fine Arts 15a : museum practices and museum problems, 1930-1931
At the Houghton Library, Harvard University:
- Langdon Warner correspondence, 1906-1946 (MS Am 2126)
- Langdon Warner travel diary: Kobe to Luchu : manuscript, 1909 November 2-14 (MS Am
- Langdon Warner additional and family papers (97M-2)
- Langdon Warner additional papers (85M-71, 84M-42)
- Langdon Warner additional papers, ca. 1964-1990 (*99M-39)
- Langdon Warner additional papers (66M-193)
- Langdon Warner additional papers (83M-88)
- Langdon Warner letters to Horace Howard Furness Jayne, 1923-1953 and undated (MS Am
At the Fine Arts Library, Harvard University:
- Langdon Warner photograph collection glass negatives of Japan
- Rubbings from China in the Rübel Collection, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University,
At the Harvard University Art Museums:
- Sketch of Eagles (Object Number, 1969.13)
Langdon Warner (1881-1955) was a curator of Far Eastern Art at Harvard University's
Fogg Art Museum from 1923 to 1950. He graduated from Harvard in 1903 with a specialty
in Buddhist art and an interest in archeology. Warner was one of the country's leading
authorities on Oriental art and culture, especially Japanese and Chines art and culture.
Warner achieved much in the way of travel and research as well as technical work in
several well-known museums. Before being a director of the Fogg Art Museum, he worked
for a time at Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology and was associated
with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts for several years. Widely known as an art historian
and scholar, Warner also served as art director for the Golden Gate Exposition at
San Francisco in 1939.
Warner's travels started in 1910 when he was awarded the Sheldon Traveling Fellowship
for research in Japan. He lived in Japan for varying periods and traveled extensively
in China, crossing the Gobi desert and leading expeditions to remote corners of China,
Turkestan and Mongolia. While in Asia, Warner researched a variety of topics from
tracing the original routes of Marco Polo to studying revolutionary conditions in
Russia after World War I for the United States State Department.
In 1913, the Smithsonian Institution sent Warner to China to investigate sites for
the establishment of an American school of archeology in Peking. Warner then returned
to the United States and served as the director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
from 1917 to 1923. After his tenure at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Warner returned
to Harvard in 1923 as a lecturer in Fine Arts and was named Curator of Oriental Art
at Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum. Warner participated in expeditions sponsored
by the Fogg Art Museum to China in the 1920s, and also traveled to Japan in the 1930s
on behalf of the Nelson Art Gallery (now Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art) in Kansas City,
Missouri, assembling a collection of 900 Japanese art objects for institution.
During World War II, Warner was credited with saving the two cities, Nara and Kyoto,
from destruction, persuading the United States Army to protect monuments and material
of cultural importance. Following the end of World War II, Warner was named Expert
Consultant to the Arts and Monuments Division of the Civil Information and Education
Section under the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in March 1946 and was sent
to Tokyo. He returned to his curataorial position at the Fogg Art Museum in 1946.
He retired in 1950. In recognition of his service to Japan, Warner was posthumously
awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasures by the Japanese Government.
Warner married Lorraine Roosevelt (1887-1965), who was a second cousin of President
Theodore Roosevelt in 1910.
The collection is arranged in nine series:
- American Defense-Harvard
- Monuments Commission
- Buddhist Collection
- Photographs of Okinawa
- Teaching materials
- Report on the proposed American school in Peking
- Letters from Edouard Chavannes
The Langdon Warner personal archive predominantly documents Warner`s academic and
professional career as a curator, art historian, scholar, and museum director and
illustrates his roles as an authority on Japanese and Chinese art and culture as well
as Oriental art and culture, more generally.
The collection also documents United States relations with Asian relations with the
United States before, during, and after World War II, and in particular with Japan
as Warner worked to improve political relations through arts initiatives in both civilian
and military spheres.
The Correspondence series is the largest part of the collection and chiefly contains
professional correspondence to, from, and about Warner, dating from 1925 to 1954.
A considerable number of letters in this series discuss the acquisition and loan of
artifacts to and from the Fogg Art Museum, where Warner served as a curator of Oriental
Art from 1923 to 1950. Some letters relate to insurance and invoices of artifacts.
Other materials include memoranda, reports, and newspaper clippings. Much of the
correspondence relates to lecture invitations from a variety of professional organizations,
museums, and universities.
Warner's involvement in World War II is documented in both the American Defense, Harvard
series, and the Monuments Commission series. The American Defense-Harvard series
contains correspondence to Warner and lists drafted by Warner of Asian monuments and
cultural treasures warranting protection in Asia during World War II. The Monuments
Commission series highlights Warner's service as a special adviser to the American
Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War
Areas and his role in the preservation of Asian monuments and artifacts. Included
are preliminary lists of monuments to be preserved in Korea, China and Siam. The
Buddhist Collection series contains lists of illustrations and Buddhist Gods; it is
unclear how Warner used this information. The series Photographs of Okinawa documents
the architecture and landscape of Okinawa, Japan during the 1940s. The black and white
photographs were taken by Warner's colleague and Japanese philosopher Yanagi Muneyoshi,
credited as S. Yanagi. Warner's taching materials document his teaching activities
in fine arts at Harvard from 1941 to 1949. The series includes reading lists, examination
questions, assignment information, and letters to Langdon Warner. The Report on the
proposed American school in Peking documents Warner`s investigation of sites for the
establishment of an American institute of archeology Classical studies in China.
This document last updated 2018 February 22.
- Series: Correspondence
Processing Information: As received in the Harvard University Archives, Wagner's correspondence files were
arranged in four groups: Alphabetical correspondence, Blanche Magurn, American Council
of Learned Societies, and Kansas City.
Conditions Governing Access: Restricted correspondence is housed in box 19. Restrictions on access are noted at
the folder level.
Scope and Contents
: Contains correspondence to, from, and about Warner, from 1925 to 1963. The correspondence
is mainly professional in nature; in some cases, some enclosures include reprints,
memorandas, reports, and newspaper clippings are also present. Warner's correspondence
with professional organizations such as the American Council Institute of Pacific
Relations, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Society for Japanese
Studies, reveal Warner's expertise in Oriental Art. Much of Warner's correspondence
includes his comments on his work with other institutions, invoices, and consulting
In addition to Warner's correspondence, the Blanche Magurn subseries contains correspondence
from Magurn (later Blanche Magurn Leeper), acting curator at the Fogg Art Museum while
Warner was working in Japan in 1946, documenting Warner's audience with the Imperial
Household of Japan and loans to the Fogg Art Museum.
The Kansas City subseries contains correspondence chronicling Warner's working relationship
with the Nelson Gallery (now the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art) in Kansas City, Missouri.
: This series is divided into four subseries as arranged by Warner:
- Alphabetical correspondence
- Blanche Magurn
- American Council of Learned Societies
- Kansas City
- Blanche Magurn
Arrangement: Blanche Magurn correspondence was arranged alphabetically by the archivist during
Scope and Contents: Contains correspondence to, from, and about Magurn who was an acting curator of the
Fogg Art Museum in 1946 while Warner was in Japan. The correspondence chiefly relates
to Warner's audience with the Imperial Household of Japan, a legislative bill to establish
a national Japanese Museum, and loans from Warner to the Fogg Art Museum.
Biographical note on Blanche Magurn: Blanche Magurn, later Blanche Magurn Leeper, (1911-1992) was assistant curator of
Oriental Art at the Fogg Art Museum in the 1940s. She later served as assistant to
the director of the Pasadena Art Museum and as a librarian at the Marion Koogler McNay
Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas.
- Blanche Magurn  Box 11, Folder 24
- Blanche Magurn  Box 11, Folder 25
- Blanche Magurn  Box 11, Folder 26
- Blanche Magurn  Box 11, Folder 27
- American Council of Learned Societies
Arrangement: American Council of Learned Societies Correspondence was arranged alphabetically by
the archivist during processing.
Historical note : Langdon Warner was chairman of the Council's Committee on Japanese Studies.
Scope and Contents: Contains correspondence pertaining to the American Council of Learned Societies, 1927-1950.
Also included are meeting agendas of the American Council of Learned Societies, and
plans to organize an Institute of Chinese Studies. Some of the correspondence discusses
grants and fellowships.
- D. Goodchild Box 12, Folder 1
- Mortimer Graves  Box 12, Folder 2
- Mortimer Graves  Box 12, Folder 3
- Graves, Greene: Japanese Committee Box 12, Folder 4
- W. Leland Box 12, Folder 5
- Miscellaneous Box 12, Folder 6
- Kansas City
Arrangement: Correspondence files were was arranged alphabetically by the archivist during processing.
Scope and Contents: Contains correspondence to, from, and about Warner, from 1930 to 1950. The correspondence
is mainly from William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art (now the Nelson-Atkins Museum
of Art) in Kansas City, Missouri. Some correspondence is from Yamanaka, a Japanese
company that sent artifacts to Kansas City.
Historical note on Langdon Warner and the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art: Langdon Warner traveled to China on behalf of the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery
of Art in the 1930s to collect Chinese art.
- W. E .Cox Box 12, Folder 7
- W. E .Cox, 1 photograph Box 12, Folder 8
- Paul Gardner  Box 12, Folder 9
- Paul Gardner  Box 12, Folder 10
- Itemized purchases in China and Japan Box 12, Folder 11
- H. V. Jones Box 12, Folder 12
- H. Mansfield Box 12, Folder 14
- J. C. Nicholas Box 12, Folder 15
- Parish-Watson Box 12, Folder 16
- L. Sickman  Box 12, Folder 17
- L. Sickman  Box 12, Folder 18
- L. Sickman  Box 12, Folder 19
- L. Sickman  Box 12, Folder 20
- L. Sickman  Box 12, Folder 21
- Yamanaka  Box 13, Folder 1
- Yamanaka , 3 photographs Box 13, Folder 2
- Yamanaka  Box 13, Folder 3
- Miscellaneous  Box 13, Folder 4
- Miscellaneous  Box 13, Folder 5
- Miscellaneous  Box 13, Folder 6
- Series: American Defense, Harvard Group Box 13, Folder 7
Biographical / Historical: American Defense, Harvard Group was organized by a small group of Harvard faculty
members after the fall of France in June, 1940, to alert Americans to the danger posed
by the Axis powers. Initially launched to aid America's allies in Europe and Asia
and prepare America for eventual participation in the conflict, the Group helped mobilize
support for America's war effort after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December
Scope and Contents: This series documents Warner's role as a member of the American Defense, Harvard Group.
Contains correspondence to Warner, and a preliminary report about Japan. Also included
are lists of monuments in Japan, in Siam, and in China sent to the War Department
for the protection of cultural treasures. The monuments were selected not only for
their artistic and scholarly importance, but also for their importance to the local
Related Materials: For more information on the American Defense, Harvard Group, see the Records of American
Defense, Harvard Group, 1940-1945 (HUD 3139).
- Series: Monuments Commission Box 13, Folder 8
Scope and Contents
: This series contains records documenting Warner's role as a special adviser to the
American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments
in War Areas, also known as the Roberts Commission.
Titled "Monuments Commission" by Warner in his files, this series contains correspondence,
notes, and reports on the preservation of monuments in the Pacific theater of World
War II. Includes reports titled "the training of Japanese-Americans for post-war
service in the Far East" and reports drafted by Warner indicating monuments and cultural
treasures to be preserved in Korea, China and Siam.
Additional correspondence documenting Warner's role with the Monuments Commisson is
found throughout the Alphabetical correspondence subseries.
Historical note on the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic
and Historic Monuments in War Areas: The American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments
in War Areas, also known as the Roberts Commission after its chairman Supreme Court
Justice Owen Roberts, was established in 1943 to assist the United States military
in the rescue and preservation of culturally significant items in war areas. The
Commission worked closely with the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives of the United
States Army in both the European and the Pacific theaters to save cultural and historical
artifacts from damage and to recover items stolen or hidden by the Axis powers.
- Series: Buddhist Collection Box 13, Folder 9
Date: circa 1940s
Scope and Contents: Contains a list of illustration and a list of Buddhist gods from an unidentified collection.
The list of illustration has information of title, material, size, and period. The
list of Buddhist gods cites the name and description of each Buddhist god and the
list is in alphabetical order, in order to avoid repetition in the various items.
It is unclear how Warner used this information.
- Series: Miscellany
Arrangement: The Miscellany series was maintained as received by Wagner.
Scope and Contents: Arranged by Langdon Warner, this series contains correspondence to, from, and about
Warner, teaching materials, unidentified letters, post cards, and other items. This
series includes Warner's appointments to the War Department and a letter regarding
the preservation of the Tun Huang [Dunhang] caves.
- Miscellaneous  Box 13, Folder 12
- Unidentified Letters and Miscellaneous Box 13, Folder 13
- Series: Photographs of Okinawa
Date: circa 1940s
Former call number: Originally classified as HUG 4872.1070p
Scope and Contents: Includes black and white photographs of architecture and landscape in Okinawa, Japan
taken by Warner's colleague Yanagi Muneyoshi, credited as S. Yanagi.
Biographical note on Yanagi Muneyoshi : Yanagi Muneyoshi (1889-1961), also known as Yanagi Sōetsu, was a Japanese philosopher,
artist, and colleague of Langdon Warner. Yanagi was the founder of the mingei folk
arts movement in Japan. Warner and Yanagi met during Warner's time in Japan between
1907 and 1909 when he began collecting Japanese art objects, including Okinawan folk
items. At Warner's invitation, Yanagi came to the Fogg Art Museum as a Shady Hill
Research Fellow during 1921, and later returned to Harvard to lecture during the 1929-1930
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 1
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 2
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 3
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 4
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 5
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 6
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 7
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 8
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 9
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 10
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 11
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 12
- Photographs of Okinawa  Box 14 Folder 13
- Series: Teaching materials
Former call number: Origianally classified as HUG 4872.1085
Conditions Governing Access: Restricted Teaching materials are housed in box 19. Restrictions on access are noted
at the folder level.
Arrangement: Teaching materials were arranged by the archivist during processing.
Scope and Contents: Contains material related to Warner`s teaching activities at Harvard. Reading lists,
examinations, letters, and course assignments document Warner's Fine Arts courses:
Fine Arts G and Fine Arts 180B.
- Fine Arts G  Box 14, Folder 14
- Series: Report on the proposed American school in Peking Box 14, Folder 16
Former call number: Originally classified as HUG 4872.1016
Scope and Contents: Warner was sent to China by the Smithsonian Institution in 1913 to explore the possbility
of founding the American School of Archaeology in Peking. The report contains suggestions
and recommendations for future work in China. The oubreak of World War I and the
death of a chief donor for the school prevented the plan from moving forward.
- Series: Letters from Edouard Chavannes Box 14, Folder 17
Former call number: Originally classified as HUG 4872.1015
Biographical note on Edouard Chavannes: Edouard Chavannes (1865-1918) was a French Sinologist and expert on Chinese history
Scope and Contents: Contains correspondence in French to Warner and Alice Getty from 1914 to 1915 and
a business card of Edouard Chavannes. Correspondence is mainly professional in nature;
in some cases, letters discuss military service and World War I, as well as Chinese
and Japanese artifacts, and photographs that were taken in China.
Art, East Asian
Art -- Japan
Art -- China
Warner, Langdon, 1881-1955.
American Defense, Harvard Group.
American Council of Learned Societies.
Harvard University. Department of Fine Arts -- Faculty
Harvard University. -- Faculty
Fogg Art Museum
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Institute of Pacific Relations. American Council
Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-1940 : San Francisco, Calif.)
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Chavannes, Edouard, 1865-1918
Yanagi, Muneyoshi, 1889-1961
Leeper, Blanche Magurn, 1911-1992
William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art and Mary Atkins Museum of Fine Arts
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art