The Thomas Handforth Digital Collection

The Thomas Handforth Digital Collection, opens a new window is comprised of the artistic output of Thomas Handforth and related items in the collections of Tacoma Public Library. Tacoma Public Library received the Handforth Collection in a number of increments from the Handforth family, and from a number of his friends and associates, along with a small collection from Caroline Schneider of Seattle in 1982. Born in Tacoma, WA, Handforth was well-traveled. His work is generally divided into several parts based mostly on his location in the world. His years in France reflect work produced by many young talented artists of the period, while his work from Morocco, Mexico, China, and India reflect his interpretation of cultures found there. 

Renowned for the breadth and depth of his work which he undertook in a variety of mediums: watercolor, etchings, oil painting, drawing, charcoal and pastel, he was also an author. Thomas Handforth was most well-known for his book, Mei Li, which was awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal for Children’s Illustration in 1939.

In an effort to make the Thomas Handforth collection accessible to the world, Tacoma Public Library applied for and received a grant in 2018 to digitize representative works and writings from its collection. The Thomas S. Handforth Digital Image Archive is the result of that grant. 

Visit the collection homepage to learn more about Thomas Handforth and view the entire image collection, opens a new window.

Funding for the creation of the Thomas S. Handforth Digital Image Collection was provided with LSTA funds through a grant awarded by the Washington State Library, opens a new window and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, opens a new window.

Special Note: We would like to thank Spencer Bowman, recent graduate of the University of Washington’s Masters of Library Science program with a specialization in archival work, who served as an intern for the entirety of this project. The completion of this important endeavor was made possible by his dedication to the mission and goals of this grant and his considerable research and expertise in connecting the work of this accomplished artist to the 21st century through this digital archive.