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Margaret Ayer papers

Identifier: Ax 506

Scope and Contents note

The Margaret Ayer papers contain correspondence from friends as well as letters from the Thai government granting permission for Ayer to sketch certain places and works of art. This series also has receipts and postcards from Ayer's travels to Thailand. The manuscript series contains research notes and drafts for the book Animals of Southeast Asia, as well as the final draft and page proofs. It contains early drafts for the book Made in Thailand. These are only two of the six books she wrote and illustrated during her life. In this collection, (in the publications series) are several of the serials as they were published, including The First Easter, The Girl Who Helped Her Master, Jesus and the fisherman, The Little Shepherd, and Through the Roof to Jesus, all of which were published by C.R. Gibson. Other stories in this collection are "Paklat's Lucky Day," published in the Trailblazer serial (of which this collection contains two), which have in them chapters three and four of "Packlat's Lucky Day." Also included are three issues of Young Wings magazine of The Junior Literary Guild, containing the articles: "Hobby Happiness Abroad", "My Part in the Secret Spring", and "I Must See Mauna Loa." Ayer's short story "The Stone Jungle" is included in a copy of the American Red Cross Youth News magazine.. While not a complete collection, the stories and articles are a good example of the Ayer's work. In the illustrations series are many of Ayer's works in ink and crayon. As an illustrator she did the drawings for at last 52 children and adult books.

Overall this collection contains manuscripts, publications, illustrations in ink and crayon, research materials, and correspondence that demonstrate Ayer's artistic and narrative style, as well as her interest in the culture and natural world of Thailand.


  • 1918-1970


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Margaret Ayer was born in New York City on June 29, 1894 to Ira Ayer, a physician, and Louise (Foster) Ayer. She was educated at the Philadelphia Museum of Industrial Arts and received private art instruction in Paris and Rome. For eleven years, between 1916-1927, Ayer lived and worked in Thailand, teaching art to students including Princess Pilai. She returned to Thailand to research a book and visit friends in 1962-1963.

She married Alfred Babbington Smith on February 27, 1931. "Babs," a banker, had worked previously for the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation as an accountant, from offices in Tasmania, Bangkok, and on the African continent. Prior to their marriage, Babs took a banking job in New York, so that Ayer could pursue her professional art career in the city.

Ayer wrote and illustrated six children's books and illustrated fifty-two books, both for children and adults. She also wrote short stories, serials and articles for children's magazines. She was the member of several organizations including: The Asia Society, The Society of Illustrators, The Women's National Book Association and Artist's Guild of New York. Margaret Ayer died in 1981 in Castro Valley, California.


3.67 linear feet (2 containers)

Language of Materials



Margaret Ayer (1894-1981) was a free-lance writer, artist and illustrator of literature, with an emphasis on children's literature. The collection includes manuscripts, illustrations and correspondence that reflect her interest in art and in Asia.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series:

Series I: Correspondence

Series II: Literary Manuscripts

Series III: Publications

Series IV: Illustrations

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Margaret Ayer in 1969.

Processing Information note

Collection processed by processing staff, June 2006.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Margaret Ayer papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by processing staff
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English.
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA