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Dorothy Blair Papers

Identifier: MS-0012

Scope and Contents

These papers of an Asian glass curator and Japanese glass scholar consist of five series:

Series 1: _A History of Glass in Japan_ Correspondence and Research Files, 1958-1977

Series 2: Asian Glass Research Files, 1915-1977

Series 3: Translations of Japanese Literature about Glass, Undated

Series 4: Personal Papers, 1890-1982

Series 5: Miscellaneous Materials, 1920s-1987


  • Creation: 1890-1987


Language of Materials

Materials are in English and Japanese.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Biographical / Historical

Dorothy Lilian Blair was born on September 19, 1890, in Webster Groves, Missouri to Edmund Hugh Blair and Grace Preston Abbott Blair. She grew up in Alton, Illinois and attended Mount Holyoke College, where, after graduation in 1914, she was an Assistant in the Art and Archaeology Department at the College until 1916. Subsequently, Blair was Secretary to the Director of The Cleveland Museum of Art from 1917 to 1921, an Assistant Curator in the Department of Oriental Art at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1921 to 1922, and Assistant Director and Curator of European Art and Prints at the John Herron Art Institute from 1922 to 1926.

In 1927, Blair traveled to Japan as a special student in the Department of Archaeology, College of Literature, Kyoto Imperial University, which led to an interest in Japanese art, culture, and life and ultimately in Japanese glass. Returning to the States in 1928, Blair served as Assistant Curator of Oriental Art at The Toledo Museum of Art. She soon realized there was little Asian glass in American museums and decided to study East Asian glass. From 1937 to 1941, she enrolled in a two-year graduate program as a part-time postgraduate student at the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan to study the written Japanese language, and she made research trips to Japan until the outbreak of World War II. Unable to complete her studies due to the war, Blair continued to work at The Toledo Museum of Art until her sem-iretirement in 1952. In 1952, Blair became an Assistant Director at the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies in Okayama, Japan. In 1954, Blair began an independent study of glass in East Asia, and in 1956, she returned to the University of Michigan to resume her part-time postgraduate study in the written Japanese language.

Blair's interest in Japanese glass and knowledge of the written Japanese language brought her in contact with The Corning Museum of Glass in 1958, which appointed her a Research Fellow. As a Research Fellow, she traveled to Japan and Korea to study the development of Japanese glass. By 1961, Blair returned to Corning, New York to dedicate her time to the preparation of her book, _A History of Glass in Japan_, published concurrently by Kodansha International Ltd. of Tokyo and The Corning Museum of Glass in 1973.

As a result of her research, Blair was regarded as the leading Western authority on Japanese glass of her time. The remaining years of her life were spent as a Japanese language translator and consultant for The Corning Museum of Glass. Dorothy Blair died on March 16, 1989, in Corning, New York at age ninety-eight.


11.7 Linear Feet (18 Hollinger boxes, 2 half Hollinger boxes, 1 card file box, and 1 flat box)

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Stereographs in Box 11, Folders 5 to 9, and documents in Box 12, Folder 5 and Box 13, Folder 12 suffered flood damage in 1972. Researchers should wear nitrile gloves and apron when using this material. Researchers should also limit access to flood damaged materials to two hours per day.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from Dorothy Blair between circa 1966 to 1987.

Related Materials

Dorothy Blair donated a number of glass objects, not exclusively Asian, to The Corning Museum of Glass. For more information search the Museum's glass collection online or contact the Museum Registrar.

Another collection of Dorothy Blair's papers is held by Mount Holyoke College: Dorothy Blair Papers, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, MA.

Processing Information

Processed by Ashley Beavers in 2019.

Dorothy Blair Papers, 1890-1987
A Guide to the Collection
Ashley Beavers
March 27, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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