Skip to main content

Paul M. Hollister Papers

Identifier: MS-0071

Scope and Contents

The Paul M. Hollister Papers are comprised of materials that Hollister created and collected during his career as a glass scholar, professor, and lecturer. These materials document Hollister’s interest in a variety of glass subjects during his lifetime. The papers are divided into six series:

(1) Research Files: Major Projects, Circa 1851-2012

(2) Research Files: Glass Topics, 1719-2013

(3) Correspondence, 1966-2003

(4) Lectures and Interviews, 1966-1999

(5) Photographic Materials, 1919-1990

(6) Ephemera, 1956-2004


  • Creation: 1719-2013
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1950-1990


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English, with some materials in Chinese, French, German, and Portuguese.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for public research. Researchers must make an appointment to view the collection.

Conditions Governing Use

The Copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. The user agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rakow Research Library against all claims, demands, costs and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of Library materials.

Researchers wishing to publish portions of or entire interviews are advised to seek permission of the interview subject(s) prior to publication.

Biographical / Historical

Author, lecturer, and painter, Paul Hollister (1918-2004) was one of the foremost scholars in 17th to 19th century glass studies, glass paperweights, and contemporary studio art glass. He wrote over 150 articles and half a dozen books on the topic of glass. Born in New York City and raised in Boston, Hollister graduated from Harvard College in 1941 with a B.F.A. He was a self-taught painter, working mostly in oils, and first exhibited his work in 1947 at a juried show in New York City. Throughout his life he continued to display his art in solo and group shows. Some of his paintings are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA and the Montana Museum in Helena, MT. He also taught journalism at the New York University Department of Journalism and was a freelance journalist, writing book reviews for the New York Times, the New York Post, and the Manchester Guardian.

Upon the death of his mother, he inherited ten paperweights she had collected over the years while traveling in Europe. He decided to research the history and properties of these paperweights and eventually started collecting his own paperweights at antique shows and auctions. Hollister kept file cards on each paperweight in his collection and the information he gathered became so extensive that his wife, Irene, suggested he write a book on the topic. Published in 1969, The Encyclopedia of Glass Paperweights was the first comprehensive examination of the history and production of paperweights and remains one of the best resources on the topic. Hollister would go on to publish several more books and museum catalogs on the subject of paperweights including Glass Paperweights of the New-York Historical Society (1974), Glass Paperweights: An Old Craft Revived (1975) and Paperweights: Flowers Which Clothe the Meadows (1978), the catalog for an exhibition of over 300 paperweights that he curated with Dwight Lanmon for The Corning Museum of Glass.

In 1977 Hollister sold his personal collection of antique and contemporary glass paperweights, and though somewhat difficult to give up, he later stated “At that point I was writing about all sorts of other types of glass and getting into that…. It was time to start something new” (Paperweight News). These new topics included medieval windows, the glazing of the Crystal Palace, the depiction of glass in the paintings of Vermeer, and the contemporary Studio Glass Movement. He was the editor of The Glass Club Bulletin from 1975-1985 and became a frequent lecturer at institutions such as The Corning Museum of Glass, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New-York Historical Society. From 1984 to 1993, Hollister taught the glass survey course for the Cooper-Hewitt Master’s Program in Decorative Arts. He was also an adjunct associate professor at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts from 1993 to 1994. He donated his collection of literature on glass to form the basis of the Bard Graduate Center’s glass library.

He and his wife, Irene, moved to Hanover, New Hampshire in 1997 where he continued to paint and contribute to scholarly research on glass studies. Hollister passed away on July 2, 2004. In 2007 Irene established the Paul and Irene Hollister Endowed Lecture on Glass at the Bard Graduate Center.


25.1 Linear Feet (25 Hollinger boxes, 1 half Hollinger box, 4 card file boxes, 7 flat boxes, 1 lantern slide box)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from Paul and Irene Hollister, 1993-2018.

Accession 2015.003 Accession 2018.018

Related Materials

"Jefferson's Garden" (2015.4.22) by Paul Hollister is in the collection of The Corning Museum of Glass. Related archival materials include the Paul Hollister Papers, Circa 1883-2004 at the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C.

Processing Information

Processed by Sandra Glascock in 2017. Reprocessed by Amanda LaLomia in 2019.

Paul M. Hollister Papers, 1719-2013
A Guide to the Collection
Sandra Glascock (2017) and Amanda LaLomia (2020)
May 2017; edited and revised in March 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Financial support for the processing of this collection was provided by the Estate of Irene Hollister.

Repository Details

Part of the The Rakow Research Library Manuscript Collection Repository

The Rakow Research Library
The Corning Museum of Glass
Five Museum Way
Corning NY 14830 USA