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Reeves van Hettinga papers

Identifier: Mss 0210

Collection Overview

The collection consists of papers of Reeves van Hettinga, artist, chef, and restauranteur. Biographical papers include his birth certificate, various materials relating to his high school and college education, including diplomas and report cards, assorted photographs of van Hettinga as a child and as an adult. The collection also includes materials relating to van Hettinga’s art, mostly color photographs of his trompe l’oeil paintings. There are also loose sketches, sketchbooks, and materials relating to an exhibition of van Hettinga’s artwork of food. Professional papers include menus, wine lists, and reviews of restaurants where van Hettinga worked as a chef. Correspondence contains letters and postcards received from friends and family, mostly relating to trips abroad and daily life. There are also materials relating to van Hettinga’s brother, William. Materials relating to William van Hettinga include educational materials, correspondence, and clippings. Family papers include photographs and scrapbooks documenting the van Hettinga and Jones families. There are also genealogical materials relating to research on a familial connection to Alexander Hamilton.


  • Creation: 1860-2018


Language of Material

Materials predominately in English; some materials in French

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials. The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical Note

Reeves Hamilton van Hettinga was born on November 18, 1933 in Muscatine, Iowa, to Henry and Virginia Ruth Jones van Hettinga. He had two brothers, William Lance and John Quincy van Hettinga. van Hettinga spent most of his childhood in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and his family moved to La Grange, Illinois, when he was in high school. After graduating from high school, he attended Yale University from 1951 to 1955. He was in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1957, stationed in West Germany. After his honorable discharge, he lived in New York City. In the 1960s van Hettinga began working as a chef in Greenwich Village, later opening his own restaurant called Reeves. He continued to work as a chef in the 1970s after closing his restaurant, and transitioned to working primarily as an artist by the 1980s, specializing in trompe l’oeil painting. He retired to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1992, where he continued to create trompe l’oeil works. He died on April 28, 2018.

Reeves’ brother William Lance van Hettinga was born on February 8, 1938 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After graduating from Duke University with an M.A. in English Literature in 1961, van Hettinga worked as college English teacher for ten years. His research on writing and printing led him to become an artist, specializing in calligraphic and abstract art. He eventually moved to Charleston, where he worked at the Tradd Street Press. He founded the free weekly newspaper Poor William’s Omnibus, which ran from 1985 to 1994. He died on September 18, 1989, and was one of the first public victims of AIDS in Charleston.


4.40 linear feet (2 cartons, 2 oversize boxes, 3 volumes)


Papers of Reeves van Hettinga, French-style chef and trompe l’oeil artist from 1860 to 2018. He spent most of his adult life in New York City before retiring to Charleston, South Carolina. The collection includes biographical materials, art, professional papers and photographs and genealogical materials documenting the van Hettinga and Jones families. There are also materials relating to his brother William, artist and founder of the Charleston newspaper Poor William’s Omnibus.

Collection Arrangement

  1. Biographical papers, 1933-2017
  2. Professional papers, 1944-2007
  3. Correspondence, 1950-2018
  4. Memorabilia, circa 1950s, circa 2013-2016
  5. William van Hettinga papers, circa 1940s-1989
  6. Family papers, 1860-2012

Custodial History

After Reeves van Hettinga’s death in 2018, his papers were inherited by his friend Harriet P. McDougal. McDougal donated the papers to the College of Charleston Special Collections.

Acquisitions Information

Materials donated in 2018 by Harriet P. McDougal.

Related Material

Related materials in Special Collections include Poor William's Omnibus(F279.C4 P79).

Separated Material

Published materials were removed from the papers and cataloged separately.

Processing Information

Processed by Rebecca Thayer, June 2019.



Inventory of the Reeves van Hettinga Papers, 1860-2018
Processed by: Rebecca Thayer; finding aid created by: Rebecca Thayer
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Funding from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supported the processing of this collection and the creation of this finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Special Collections
College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424
(843) 953-8016
(843) 953-6319 (Fax)