The papers of Holger Cahill (1887-1960) date from 1910 to 1993, with the bulk of the material dating from 1910-1960, and measure 15.8 linear feet. The collection offers researchers fairly comprehensive documentation of Cahill's directorship of the Works Progress/Projects Administration's (WPA) Federal Art Project (FAP) in addition to series documenting his work as a writer and art critic. Material includes correspondence, reports, artist files, scrapbooks, printed material, and photographs.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of Holger Cahill (1887-1960) date from 1910 to 1993, bulk 1910-1960, and measure 15.8 linear feet. The collection offers researchers fairly comprehensive documentation of Cahill's directorship of the FAP in addition to series documenting his work as a writer and art critic. FAP records include national and state administrative reports, records of community art centers, photographic documentation of state activities, artist files, divisional records about teaching, crafts, murals, and poster work, files concerning the Index of American Design, scrapbooks, and printed material.
The collection is arranged into nine series:
Series 1: Biographical Material and Personal Papers, 1931-1988 (Box 1; 19 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence Files, 1922-1979, 1993 (Boxes 1-2; 1.5 linear ft.)
Series 3: Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project, 1934-1970 (Boxes 2-14, 18, MMs009; 10.75 linear ft.)
Series 4: Writings, Lectures and Speeches, 1916-1960 (Boxes 14-15, 18; 1.0 linear ft.)
Series 5: Minutes of Meetings and Panel Discussions, Non-FAP, 1939-1947 (Box 15; 5 folders)
Series 6: Notes and Research Material, 1935-1970 (Boxes 15-16; 0.25 linear ft.)
Series 7: Artwork, undated (Boxes 16, 18; 2 folders)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1910-1985 (Boxes 16-17; 1.8 linear ft.)
Series 9: Photographs, circa 1917-1960 (Box 17; 6 folders)
Holger Cahill was born Sveinn Kristjan Bjarnarson in Iceland in a small valley near the Arctic Circle, on January 13, 1887. His parents, Bjorn Jonson and Vigdis Bjarnadottir, immigrated to the United States from Iceland sometime later in the 1880s. In 1904, his father deserted the family, forcing Sveinn to be separated from his mother and sister to work on a farm in North Dakota. He ran away and wandered from job to job until settling in an orphanage in western Canada, where he attended school and became a voracious reader.
As a young man, he worked at many different jobs and attended night school. While working on a freighter, he visited Hong Kong, beginning his life-long interest in the Orient. Returning to New York City, he eventually became a newspaper reporter, continued his studies at New York University, and changed his name to Edgar Holger Cahill. In 1919 he married Katherine Gridley of Detroit. Their daughter, Jane Ann, was born in 1922, but the couple divorced in 1927.
Cahill met John Sloan circa 1920, and they shared a residence. Cahill also wrote publicity (until 1928) for the Society of Independent Artists, through which he made many friends in the arts. From 1922 to 1931, he worked under John Cotton Dana at the Newark Museum, where he received his basic experience in museum work, organizing the first large exhibitions of folk art.
From 1932 to 1935, he was the director of exhibitions for the Museum of Modern Art. In 1935, Cahill was appointed director of the Works Progress/Projects Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project (FAP), until its end in June 1943. In 1938, Cahill organized a countrywide exhibition "American Art Today" for the New York World's Fair. He also married MoMa curator Dorothy Canning Miller in that year.
Profane Earth, Cahill's first novel, was published in 1927, followed by monographs on Pop Hart and Max Weber, miscellaneous short stories, and a biography of Frederick Townsend Ward, entitled A Yankee Adventurer: The Story of Ward and the Taiping Rebellion. Following the end of the Federal Art Project, Cahill wrote two novels, Look South to the Polar Star (1947) and The Shadow of My Hand (1956).
Holger Cahill died in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in July 1960.
The Holger Cahill papers were donated to the Archives of American Art through a series of gifts by Cahill's widow, Dorothy C. Miller, between 1964 and 1995.
The microfilm of this collection has been digitized and is available online via the Archives of American Art website.
The Holger Cahill papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
The papers of sculptor and art instructor, Eugenie Gershoy, measure 7.2 linear feet and date from 1914 to 1983. The collection documents Gershoy's career through biographical material, correspondence, business records, notes, writings, artwork, printed material, and photographs.
Scope and Content Note:
The Eugenie Gershoy papers date from 1914 to 1983, measure 7.2 linear feet, and reflect Gershoy's career as a sculptor and teacher. The collection contains biographical material, correspondence, business records, notes, writings, artwork of Gershoy and others, printed material including exhibition catalogs, and photographs with subjects including Gershoy, her friends and colleagues, her studio, and her artwork.
Correspondence forms the bulk of the collection and includes correspondence between Gershoy and her siblings and their families regarding her activities, as well as with colleagues, many of whom were associated with the Woodstock Artist Association, and many of whom were museum colleagues.
The collection is arranged into eight series according to material type. The contents of each series have been arranged chronologically.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1939-1971 (boxes 1, 8-9; 3 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1914-1983, undated (boxes 1-6, 8-9; 5.8 linear ft.)
Series 3: Business Records, 1952-1978 (box 6; 5 folders)
Series 4: Notes, 1967-1970, undated (box 6; 3 folders)
Series 5: Writings, 1970, undated (box 6; 2 folders)
Series 6: Artwork, 1932-1978, undated (boxes 6, 8-9, OV 10, 26 folders)
Series 8: Photographs, 1916-1983, undated (boxes 7, 9; 12 folders)
Born in Krivoi Rog, Russia on January 1, 1901, Eugenie was the youngest of the Gershoy children. The family immigrated to New York City in 1903. She later became a U.S. citizen.
With the aid of two scholarships, she attended the Art Students League and studied under A. Stirling Calder, Leo Lentelli, Kenneth Hayes Miller, Boardman Robinson, and Carl Walters. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, she maintained a studio with Harry Gottlieb in Woodstock, New York. From 1936 to 1939, under the WPA Federal Art Project, she worked in conjunction with Max Spivak on murals for the children's recreation room in the Astoria branch of the Queens Borough Public Library, New York.
Gershoy's first solo show was at the Robinson Gallery in New York in 1940. Following a year of teaching at the New Orleans Art School, she moved to San Francisco in 1942. In 1946 she taught ceramics at the California School of Fine Arts, and in May 1950, she studied at Yaddo.
In addition to visits to England and France in the early 1930s, Gershoy travelled to Mexico and Guatemala in 1947, 1948, and 1961. She worked in Paris in 1951 and toured Africa, India, and the Orient in 1955.
Eugenie Gershoy died in 1986.
Related material in the Archives of American Art includes a transcribed oral history interview with Eugenie Gershoy conducted by Mary McChesney for the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts Oral History Program, October 15, 1964. A link to the transcript is provided from the online catalog.
The Eugenie Gershoy papers were donated to the Archives of American Art between 1975 and 1983 by the artist.
The collection is open for research. Patrons must use microfilm copy.
The Eugenie Gershoy papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.