Waldo Peirce Collection

Waldo Peirce (1884-1970) was born in Bangor, Maine, and educated at Phillips Academy in Andover and Harvard University. He later studied at the Art Students League in New York City and at the Julian Academy in Paris.

Waldo Peirce sketching female students - 1944

Waldo Peirce sketching Colby coeds on the steps of the Women’s Union during a visit to Mayflower Hill in April 1944.

As an expatriate American, he drove ambulances for the French Army in World War I and led a bohemian life with notable companions such as Ernest Hemingway and John Reed. His later life was spent in Searsport, Maine, and Newburyport, Massachusetts, where he died at age 85.

His paintings and writings relate strongly to his travels and to the state of Maine.

Our Waldo Peirce Collection includes correspondence, manuscripts, and photographs related to Peirce’s life and work. Notable items are his personal scrapbooks from 1927 and 1928 in Pamplona, Spain, and Key West, Florida, documenting Peirce’s close friendship with Hemingway. The collection is described online.


Colby College awarded Peirce an honorary degree in 1957. However, Peirce’s relationship with Special Collections began in 1966 when Peirce’s friend Gus D’Amico met Curator Richard Cary at a Colby event. Cary expressed interest in Peirce’s correspondence with Ernest Hemingway and contact between Peirce and Cary was established. Peirce donated letters of Hemingway and other correspondents beginning in April 1967, followed by other materials including his 1927-1928 scrapbooks.

Works consulted:

Cary, Richard. Letters to Waldo Peirce. 1966-1969. Colby College Special Collections.

Gallagher, William. “Waldo Peirce and Ernest Hemingway: Mirror Images.” Hemingway Review. Fall 2003.

Peirce, Waldo. Letters to Richard Cary. 1966-1969. Colby College Special Collections.


In addition to primary donor Waldo Peirce:

Julius Seelye Bixler

Richard Cary

Bern Porter ’32