Biography and History

Thomas Patton Baird was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on April 22, 1923. He served in the United States Naval Reserve from 1943 to 1946 while he studied at Princeton University. He received his bachelor's degree from Princeton in 1945, and then went on to complete his Master's of Fine Arts in 1950.

He taught art history at Princeton from 1949 to 1951, and again from 1952 to 1953. He served as a lecturer at the Frick Collection in New York City, 1954-1957, and as a member of the curatorial staff at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., 1957-1960. In 1967, he was appointed the associate director at the Dumbarton Oaks research center, also in Washington, D.C., and remained there for three years. In 1970 Baird returned to teaching art history at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. His specialty was medieval and Renaissance art.

Baird completed many novels and short stories during his career as a writer. His most celebrated works include Triumphal Entry (1962), The Old Masters (1963), People Who Pull You Down (1970), Poor Millie (1978), and Villa Aphrodite (1984). He was a concise writer who incorporated his outdoors experience and knowledge of art and art history into many of his novels.

Baird retired from teaching in 1989, but continued to write. Upon his death from a heart attack on March 28, 1990, Baird left his final manuscript, “Controlled Substances,” incomplete.

Source: From the finding aid for C0668

Biography and History

Thomas Baird, a member of the Princeton Class of 1945, collected materials relating to Mayan women.

Source: From the finding aid for WC032


  • Novelists, American -- 20th century..
  • Thomas Baird Papers. 1924-1990 (inclusive), 1941-1990 (bulk).

    Call Number: C0668

    The Thomas Baird Papers consists of the working and personal papers, primarily manuscripts, of the American educator and author Thomas Baird (1923-1990). Also included, and related to both his published and unpublished works, are idea files, notes, writing journals, correspondence with his publishers and editors, and reviews. Furthermore, the collection contains the following materials that encompass Baird's adult life: talks, addresses, and lectures; general, family and travel correspondence; diaries; personal journals; interviews; documents; photographs and audio recordings.

  • "Talking to Women," Thomas Baird's Interviews about Maya Women. 1970s (inclusive).

    Call Number: WC032

    Consists of cassette tapes with typed transcripts of oral history interviews conducted by Thomas Baird (Princeton University Class of 1945) with anthropologists who had talked with Maya women in Chiapas, Mexico.