Photo of Thomas Farnham

Dr. Thomas J. Farnham

Textile Museum Trustee and Charles Grant Ellis Archives Research Associate


Thomas J. Farnham was born in Vermont, raised in Massachusetts, and educated at the University of North Carolina, where he received a Ph.D. in 1964. Farnham spent his professional career teaching American history—first at the University of North Carolina, then later in the Connecticut State University system. While a professor, he wrote seven books, including a biography of Nathan Hale.

His interest in carpets and textiles was ignited by his research into the life of Charles T. Yerkes, one of the so-called Robber Barons of the late nineteenth century. Yerkes was also a major carpet collector, an avocation that seemed out of character for a man who made a fortune watering stock and bribing politicians. Farnham first presented his paper on the Yerkes collection at the Philadelphia International Conference on Oriental Carpets in 1993, and it was subsequently published in HALI magazine. Farnham's research interests have since foucsed on the provenance of classical carpets, the collectors of classical carpets, and the dealers who have bought and sold them.

A Joseph V. McMullan Award recipient, Farnham is a Textile Museum Trustee and Charles Grant Ellis Archives Research Associate, and a member of the International Conference on Oriental Carpet’s Executive Committee and chair of its Publications Committee. He and his wife, Gwen, have five adult children and nine grandchildren, and live in Bloomfield, Connecticut.