Creator: Atwater, Mary Meigs


Provenance Note: An original typewritten letter by Mary M. Atwater was donated to Montana State University by Merrill G. Burlingame in 1967. A second folder of printed weaving patterns created by Atwater formerly accessioned as Collection 2001 was added on March 26, 2012.


Historical Note: Mary Meigs Atwater was born in Rock Island, Illinois on February 28, 1878. She received her early education by private tutors, and studied design in France around the turn of the twentieth century. She married Maxwell W. Atwater, a mining engineer, in 1903 and the couple had two children, Montgomery and Elizabeth. She organized a hand loom weaver's guild while living in Basin, Montana around 1916 and eventually offered correspondence courses for the craft based on her research of various designs. Atwater wrote numerous articles and books on weaving during her career, and she died in 1956.


Content Description Note: In early 1936 Mary Atwater was contacted by Harold Guy Merriam, an English professor at Montana State University in Missoula, for information on her weaving school. Merriam had been appointed state supervisor of the Federal Writers' Project and his work would culminate in the publication of Montana, A State Guide Book in 1939. Atwater responded to Merriam's request by providing this detailed four page typewritten letter describing her guild, her weaving correspondence courses, her promotion of weaving for therapeutic work in rehabilitation and mental hospitals, and some personal information on her family. A second folder of printed weaving patterns designed or presented by Atwater is included.

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Updated: 4/19/22