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Sanborn Hopper Archive

Identifier: NNWhit.019

Scope and Contents

The Sanborn Hopper Archive at the Whitney Museum of American Art documents the personal and professional life of Edward Hopper and his wife, Josephine Nivison Hopper. Consisting of nearly 4,000 items, the collection is primarily made of paper materials, including typed and handwritten letters, photographs, printed newspapers and magazines, notebooks, ticket stubs, printed illustrations, and ephemera.

The collection focuses on Hopper’s adult life, with the earliest materials documenting his time as an art student, through ephemera from the New York School of Art and letters written to his family as a young man studying in Europe. As evidence of his early career as a commercial illustrator, several printing proofs and clippings of his magazine and advertisement work are included. Early sales of his etchings are recorded through gallery sales records, and the rest of his artistic career is well-documented through materials such as correspondence, sales invoices, media clippings, awards, and personal notes.

Several materials provide information on the Hoppers’ residences in Truro, Massachusetts and home studios at 3 Washington Square in New York City—including several items relating the Hopper’s real estate dispute with New York University. The Hoppers’ travels to Mexico and California are also documented.

Correspondence and other materials illustrate Edward Hopper’s relationship with a number of artistic institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Hopper’s long-lasting relationship with the Frank K. M. Rehn Galleries is also documented in invoices and correspondence.

In addition to the sale and exhibition of Hopper’s work, several materials relate to Hopper’s work judging juried art shows and the publication of the magazine Reality, for which Hopper served on the editorial committee. The correspondence includes letters to and from prominent artists such as Charles Burchfield, Andrew Wyeth, and Raphael Soyer.

The personal life of Edward Hopper is illuminated in material such as decades of correspondence to his sister, Marion, and letters from Alta Hilsdale, an early romantic interest of Hopper’s. A large portion of materials were created, at least in part, by Josephine Nivison Hopper. Most notably, her notebooks and diaries contain several writings about her own experience and marriage to Edward. The collection contains some information on her own artistic practice and extensive documentation of her management of the Hopper’s household, as well as her involvement in Edward Hopper’s career.


  • 1892-1964


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to qualified researchers by appointment. Several fragile or vulnerable items are restricted pending conservation treatment and digitization. Restrictions, where applicable, are noted at the series, subseries, file, or item levels. Accommodations to access and view materials are dependent on an individual item’s material fragility. All requested materials will be assessed to ensure the safety and integrity of the item’s continued preservation.

Conditions Governing Use

The Frances Mulhall Achilles Library Archives at the Whitney Museum of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use only. It is the user's responsibility to determine and obtain any necessary permissions from the Whitney Museum and other rights holders to reproduce and publish material from the collections.

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 reproductions. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or 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.

Privacy and Personally Identifiable Information
Manuscript collections that include twentieth and twenty-first century archival materials may contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state “right to privacy” laws. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal cause for action if facts concerning an individual’s private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person. Researchers agree to make no notes or other recordation of privacy protected information if found within the archival collections, and further agree not to publish, publicize, or disclose such information to any other party for any purpose if found within the archival collections.

Biographical / Historical

Edward Hopper Edward Hopper (1882–1967) was a prominent American painter and printmaker. He produced many important works such as Early Sunday Morning (1930) and Night Hawks (1942). Born in Nyack, New York, he resided in New York City and Cape Cod, Massachusetts with his wife, the artist Josephine Nivison Hopper (1883-1968). Hopper’s first one-person exhibition was held at the Whitney Studio Club in 1920. In 1923, Edward Hopper married the artist Josephine Verstille Nivison, who would become an indispensable element of his art. She posed for nearly all of his female figures and assisted him with arranging the props and settings of his studio sessions; she also encouraged him to work more extensively in the medium of watercolor painting, and kept meticulous records of his completed works, exhibitions, and sales. In 1933, Edward Hopper received further critical recognition as the subject of a retrospective exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art. Edward Hopper died in his studio in Greenwich Village in New York City on May 15, 1967.

Reverend Arthayer R. Sanborn The Reverend Arthayer R. Sanborn (1916-2007) served as a Baptist minister in Nyack, New York, in the church attended by Marion Hopper, Edward’s sister. The Arthayer R. Sanborn Hopper Collection Trust was established for the administration of Hopper related materials in the care of the Sanborn family.


28.22 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into series:

  1. I, Series I: Illustrations, 1908-1925
  2. II, Series II: Business Records, 1920-1966
  3. III, Series III: Edward Hopper Personal Papers, 1892-1974
  4. IV, Series IV: Josephine Nivison Hopper Personal Papers, 1911-1966
  5. V, Series V: Correspondence, 1904-1967

Custodial History

After the deaths of Edward and Josephine Hopper, the collection was in the stewardship of Reverend Arthayer R. Sanborn, of the First Baptist Church in Nyack, New York. Early processing efforts were conducted by Arthayer’s son, Philip Sanborn on behalf of The Arthayer R. Sanborn Hopper Collection Trust. During this time, items were individually housed in plastic sleeves or bags, and organized in binders, portfolios, or record cartons. The collection was accessioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2017.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was accessioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art from the Arthayer R. Sanborn Hopper Collection Trust in 2017.

Related Materials

The following sources provide additional information on Edward Hopper's personal and professional life:

The Sanborn-Hopper Family Archive, held by the Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center in Nyack, New York, includes vast material on the artist’s early life. The collection comprises the artifacts and memorabilia of Edward Hopper's family, juvenilia and other materials from the formative years of his life, and a library of books, articles, papers, and documents from The Arthayer R. Sanborn Hopper Collection Trust. To learn more about the collection and historic home, visit:

The Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) holds material from the Hoppers’ home in Truro, Massachusetts, which provides documentation their life on Cape Cod. This includes drawings by Edward and Josephine, Josephine’s diaries dating between 1933 and 1956, and other archival material chronicling the Hoppers’ lives on Cape Cod and beyond. The public can access more information about the Hopper materials from PAAM at their website:

Physical Description

Many of the items in the collection are fragile and vulnerable to damage or deterioration. Physical description notes of particularly vulnerable materials are provided at the item-level.

Processing Information

The Arthayer R. Sanborn Hopper Collection Trust created item-level metadata for the collection. Prior to the start of processing at the Whitney Museum, this metadata was mapped to new fields consistent with DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard). During processing, the original data from the Trust was edited for accuracy and consistency and standardized to adhere to DACS. All data for the collection is now stored in the Whitney Museum’s ArchivesSpace database. In most cases the titles of series, subseries, and items reflect Sanborn’s original naming convention, but the Whitney has re-named or re-worded in select cases for clarity and accessibility.

The Whitney Museum also assigned each item a unique identifier by, beginning with EJHA. Please note, because these numbers were assigned by the Whitney according to the previous arrangement, the identifiers do not run in numerical order throughout the collection. The Sanborn Collection Trust also assigned identifiers for each item, by subseries. These numbers can be found in the “item number” field in ArchivesSpace.

Sanborn Hopper Archive at the Whitney Museum of American Art
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Whitney Museum of American Art Archives, New York, NY Repository

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.
New York, NY 10014 United States

Access to the Archives:

Researchers may consult archival materials on-site at the Frances Mulhall Achilles Library and Archives in West Chelsea. To request an appointment, please send an email to with the following information:
Note: This platform contains information about archival collections only. To search for Library and Special Collections resources, please visit To search for information about artists and artworks in the Museum’s permanent collection, please visit