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Collection Overview

Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. (Ananda Kentish), 1877-1947
Stella Bloch Papers Relating to Ananda K. Coomaraswamy
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1890-1985 (mostly 1917-1930)
9 boxes and 6.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-9


The Stella Bloch Papers Relating to Ananda K. Coomaraswamy consists of manuscripts, correspondence, drawings, photographs, printed material, and postcards of the American dance critic, art historian, and artist Stella Bloch (1898-1999). This collection documents the relationship between Bloch and the Anglo-Indian art historian, philosopher, and author Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877-1947) who embodied the roles of mentor, husband, and friend. The papers primarily contain correspondence by Coomaraswamy to Bloch, as well as a small amount of other letters. Writing was a vital form of communication for Coomaraswamy and Bloch, especially during their marriage, since they always resided in different cities; he lived in Boston while she lived in New York. There are also drawings by Coomaraswamy and by Bloch, as well as photographs-some taken by Coomaraswamy-that include portraits and assorted images from their travels to India and Southeast Asia. The articles in both manuscript and printed form provide a sampling of Coomaraswamy and Bloch's writings on art, religion, and philosophy. Furthermore, there is a small selection of printed material about Coomaraswamy and Bloch, and a series of memento postcards.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

This collection consists primarily of correspondence by Coomaraswamy to Bloch from 1917 to 1942. These letters document both professional and personal issues, particularly their long-distance marriage. Also present is a small amount of correspondence by Bloch to Coomaraswamy, and miscellaneous correspondence between Coomaraswamy and Bloch and others, such as Charlotte Bloch ["Binney"] [Bloch's mother], Elizabeth Coomaraswamy [Coomaraswamy's mother], and S. Durai Raja Singam.

There are also manuscripts of Coomaraswamy's articles, lectures, and radio broadcasts-including two co-authored by Bloch-on topics of Indian art, religion, and philosophy. The variety of printed material comprises books by Coomaraswamy ( Domestic Handicraft and Culture: A Lecture Read before the Association of Teachers of Domestic Science, 28 May 1910 [1910], The taking of Toll: Being the Dāna Līlā of Rājendra [1915] [English translation], and Twenty-eight Drawings [1920]) and by Bloch ( Dancing and the Drama East and West [1922]), articles by Coomaraswamy and by Bloch, assorted material about Coomaraswamy and Bloch, and other miscellaneous material.

The drawings capture some images of Coomaraswamy and Bloch, but the main subject is anonymous female figures. The drawings by Coomaraswamy include three figures in pen-and-ink that also appear in Twenty-eight Drawings (1920), and three prints of drawings of Bloch. The drawings by Bloch consist of four unbound pencil drawings of she and Coomaraswamy, and two sketchbooks from their travels to Bali and Java. The photographs include portraits of Coomaraswamy and Bloch individually, together, and with others, as well as the couple's trips to Southeast Asia, Maine, and Wyoming, and a small selection of miscellanea. The series of un-mailed postcards were collected as mementos to document scenery, people, and dance from India and several Southeast Asian countries, as well as a few natural domestic landscapes.

Collection Creator Biography:

Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. (Ananda Kentish), 1877-1947

Ananda K. Coomaraswamy was a noted art historian and champion of Ceylonese and Indian culture. Born in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), in 1877, Coomaraswamy moved to England in 1879 and attended Wycliffe College, a preparatory school, from the age of 12. In 1900, he graduated from University College, London, with a degree in geology and botany, and in 1906, he received a doctor of science for his study of Ceylonese mineralogy. He served as director of the Mineralogical Survey of Ceylon from 1902 to 1907 before moving to the United States to serve as curator of Indian art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where he stayed for the remainder of his life. Coomaraswamy devoted himself to the study of traditional Ceylonese and Indian arts and crafts, the cataloging of Indian art collections, and research on Indian art, religion, metaphysics, and culture. He died in 1947.

Collection History


This collection is part purchase and part gift from Stella Bloch and her family.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Karla J. Vecchia in 2002. Finding aid written by Karla J. Vecchia in 2002.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Stella Bloch Papers Relating to Ananda K. Coomaraswamy; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-9