Photographs made by Hale G. Smith documenting archeological excavations in the United States, Cuba, Haiti, the Canal Zone, and Panama. Included are images of archeological excavations, filming equipment, Smith's friends and fellow archeologists, maps, skeletons and burials, carved pictoglyphs, pottery, projectile points, tools, shells, field camps, aerial views of Haiti, basket making in Panama, and copies of photographs published in "The First Floridians," sent to Smith by Robert Brown.
Hale G. Smith founded the Department of Anthropology at Florida State University and was one of the first Spanish colonial historical archaeologists in the Southeast.
The collection consists of photographs documenting archeological excavations at Powell Farm in Fairmont, Illinois, 1931; Safety Harbor, Florida, 1930; and Canaveral, Florida, 1932. The photographs are mounted on unbound pages from a photograph album and the covers are included with collection.
Gene M. Stirling was a Harvard-educated archeologist who led excavations for the Smithsonian Institution and Bureau of American Ethnology.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 86-55
The collector of the photographs has been identified largely on the basis of the images' content, including views of Gene Stirling's work in Illinois.
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Additional photographs as well as writings by Stirling can be found in the National Anthropological Archives in MS 4307.
Correspondence from Stirling can be found in the National Anthropological Archives in Matthew Williams Stirling's correspondence file, Frank Maryl Setzler's papers, and the Division of Archeology Reference File for 1828-1962.
Photographs and drawings mostly relating to archeological subjects, collected and arranged by Jesse Walter Fewkes for his reference. Subjects include burial mounds, excavations, drawn maps, as well as urns, implements, idols, pottery, and other artifacts found in excavations, and Hopi, Zuni, and Piegan ceremonies and dances. Many of the photographs and drawings were probably made by Fewkes. Publication information is noted on some. The collection also includes newspaper clippings and correspondence.
Photographs were taken in Alabama, Arizona (including Casa Grande, Elden Pueblo, Navajo National Monument, and Wupatki National Monument), Colorado (including Mesa Verde and Montezuma Valley), Florida (including Weeden Island), Illinois (Cahokia Mound), Louisiana, Maryland, Mexico (including La Huasteca Region), Mississippi Valley, New Mexico (including Chaco Canyon, Hawikuh, and Mimbres Valley), South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah (including Hill Canyon, McElmo Canyon, and McLean Basin Ruins), Hovenweep National Monument, the West Indies (including Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and Cuba), and West Virginia.
Jesse Walter Fewkes (1850-1930) was a naturalist, anthropologist, and archeologist, and chief of the Bureau of American Ethnology from 1918 to his death in 1928. Fewkes received a Ph.D. in marine zoology from Harvard in 1877, and acted as curator of lower invertebrates at the Museum of Comparative Zoology until 1887. While on a collecting trip in the western United States, he developed an interest in the culture and history of the Pueblo Indians. In 1891, Fewkes became director of the Hemenway Southwestern Archeological Expedition and editor of the Journal of American Archeology and Ethnology, studying and recording Hopi ceremonials. In 1895, he embarked on various archeological explorations for the Bureau of American Ethnology, excavating ruins in the Southwest, the West Indies, and Florida. He was appointed chief of the Bureau in 1918, and played an important role in the creation of Hovenweep National Monument in Colorado and Wupatki National Monument in Arizona.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 4321
Location of Other Archival Materials:
The National Anthropological Archives also holds the Jesse Walter Fewkes Papers (MS 4408), his photographs of excavations in Mesa Verde (Photo Lot 30), his negatives (Photo Lot 86), and other manuscript collections by and related to Fewkes' ethnological research and archeology and his work with the Bureau of American Ethnology.
Correspondence from Fewkes held in the National Anthropological Archives in the George L. Beam papers (MS 4517), the Henry Bascom Collins, Jr. papers, the Anthropological Society of Washington records (MS 4821), the Herbert William Krieger papers, the J.C. Pilling papers, the Walter Hough Papers (in the records of the Department of Anthropology), and the records of the Bureau of American Ethnology.
The Department of Anthropology collections holds several accessions of artifacts collected by Fewkes, including USNM ACC 048761 (relating to Casa Grande excavations) and USNM ACC 050765 (relating to Mesa Verde excavations).
Numbered manuscripts 1850s-1980s (some earlier)
See others in:
Jesse Walter Fewkes photograph collection related to archeology circa 1890-1928
Original nitrate negatives are in cold storage and require advanced notice for viewing.
The bulk of the photographs document Mayan reliefs and hieroglyphics at ancient sites, including Chichen Itza, Palenque, and Yaxchilan. Additional photographs depict items in the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico, including a necklace, the Stone of Tizoc, and a stone altar disk to Tlaltecuhtli. The collection includes photographs made by Alvarez y Medina, Kildare y Cia, and a photograph of a drawing by Frederic de Waldeck.
Cyrus Thomas (1825-1910) was an archeologist for the Bureau of American Ethnology best known for his work on American Indian burial mounds in the American Midwest. Born in Kingsport, Tennessee, Thomas was educated in law and served as Deputy County Clerk under his brother-in-law, the County Clerk of Jackson County, Illinois (1850-1853). In 1858, Thomas helped found the Illinois Natural History Society, through which he met John Wesley Powell. Thomas served for a brief period as an Evangelical Lutheran minister (1864-1866) before becoming an entomologist for the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories (1869-1873), Illinois State Entomologist (1874-1876), and a member of the US Entomological Commission (1876-1882). In 1876, he also worked as a professor of natural history at Southern Illinois Normal College and founded the school's Museum of Natural History (now the University Museum). During this time, Thomas also became interested in Mesoamerican ethnology, publishing articles about Mesoamerican codices and writing systems. In 1881 Thomas joined the Bureau of American Ethnology at the Smithsonian and served as the Director of the Division of Mound Exploration, a position he maintained until his death in 1910.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 169
Location of Other Archival Materials:
This collection has been relocated from Photo Lot 123.
Additional Cyrus Thomas materials relating to Mesoamerica held in the National Anthropological Archives are in MS 103, MS 1328, MS 3705, MS 3956, MS 3530, MS 3941, MS 3260, MS 2337, and MS 3920-b.
Correspondence from Thomas is held in the National Anthropological Archives in MS 4821, the J. C. Pilling papers, and records of the Bureau of American Ethnology.
Photographs and copies of drawings documenting the structures at Mitla archeological site, including the Columns Group and palace building and associated sculptures. There is also a photograph of the Beau Relief at Palenque, published in the Field Columbian Museum's journal "Anthropology." Some of the copy photographs were likely made by De Lancey Gill.
Edgar Lee Hewett (1865-1946) was an archeologist and anthropologist known for his work in the American Southwest and his role in the passage of the Antiquities Act. Born in Illinois, Hewett taught at several country schools before becoming Superintendent of Schools in Missouri and Colorado (1889-1898) It was during his superintendency in Colorado that he conducted his first archeological field work on the Pajarito Plateau and at Pecos. He continued in education administration and served as president (1898-1903) of the Normal University at Las Vegas, New Mexico, where he organized archeology courses and led field expeditions. In 1906, Hewett left education to work as Director of American Research for the Archaeological Institute of America, a position he held until his death. Over three seasons (1910-1912), Hewett excavated the Maya site of Quiringua and explored Maya sites in Guatemala. His Maya studies were exhibited at the San Diego Museum, which he founded and directed (1917-1929), and published in his second major book, Ancient Life in Mexico and Central America (1935).
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 172
Location of Other Archival Materials:
This collection has been relocated from Photo Lot 123.
Additional Hewett photographs are held in National Anthropological Archives Photo Lot 78 and Photo Lot 14.
Correspondence from Hewett is held in the National Anthropological Archives in the Ales Hrdlicka papers, John Peabody Harrington papers, Neil Merton Judd papers, records of the Bureau of American Ethnology, MS 4558, and MS 4372(8).
The collection is open for research.
Access to the collection requires an appointment.
Photo Lot 172, Edgar L. Hewett photograph collection relating to Mitla, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
University of Chicago -- archeological expeditions Search this
3 Linear feet (5 boxes)
South Dakota -- Fort Randall Reservoir -- archeology
Illinois -- Fulton County -- archeology
Illinois -- Massac County -- Kinkaid Site -- archeology
Colorado -- Lawry Ruin -- archeology
North Dakota -- Heart Butte Reservoir -- archeology
Scope and Contents:
This collection is comprised of the professional papers of archaeologist Paul Lemen Cooper, who conducted extensive field work in Nebraska, the Dakotas, and the Missouri River Basin. Included are correspondence, field notes, survey forms, published writings, photographs, maps, research materials, and clippings from periodicals, as well as various personal documents. Though the collection spans Cooper's entire life, the majority of the papers focus on his work as archaeologist and field director of the Missouri Basin Project (a division of the River Basin Survey).
A significant portion of the correspondence and River Basin Survey files are duplicates created through reflex copying, a process that creates a negative copy. These materials are consequently difficult to read.
Collection is arranged into the following series: 1. Correspondence, 1933-1960 (bulk 1950-1953); 2. Research, 1946-1954; 3. Writings, 1950-1958; 4. Personal, 1909-1962 (bulk 1938-1954); 5.Photographs, circa 1950s.
Paul Lemen Cooper was born February 11, 1909 in Cuba City, Wisconsin. Shortly after receiving his B. A. in sociology and anthropology from the University of Wisconsin in 1931, Cooper traveled to the Southwest as part of an archaeological expedition from the Field Museum of Natural History. This experience piqued his interest in archaeology, and for the next two decades he would spend at least a portion of each year conducting field work.
During the 1930s Cooper's field research was largely conducted in Illinois, the Tennessee Valley, and Nebraska. He specifically worked as an archaeologist with the Nebraska State Historical Society under the direction of A. T. Hill, with whom he collaborated on several publications. It was also at this time that Cooper developed the site numbering system still used in archaeology today. In addition, Cooper also worked for a time as a graduate assistant in the Anthropology Department at the University of Nebraska.
In 1938, Cooper was designated the Supervisor and State Director of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Archaeological, Paleontological and Museum Project. It was here that he gained the necessary skills to create an adequate laboratory and administration with a limited budget, skills that would become necessary in later field research. After three years with the WPA, Cooper returned to school. He worked as an assistant at Columbia University, while completing coursework towards a Ph.D. At the same time, Cooper also acted as editorial assistant for the Society for American Archaeology.
From 1946 to 1954 Cooper devoted the majority of his time to the Missouri Basin Project of the River Basin Survey (RBS) in Lincoln, Nebraska. A large portion of his research and publications reflect his work in this particular area. From 1950 to 1952, Cooper was the Field Director of the Missouri Basin Project under the Director of the RBS, Frank H. H. Roberts, Jr. Despite some minor problems Cooper faced with personnel, he was able to appraise entire sites on the basis of a limited collection, as well as work proficiently on a small budget.
Cooper spent the last few years of his life in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, working with the firm of Robert G. Cooper and Associates. He passed away on April 14, 1961, at the age of 52.
Sources Consulted: Kivett, Marvin, F. 1962. Paul Lemen Cooper 1909-1961. American Antiquity 27(4): 571-572.
1936 -- Archaeology of Certain Sites in Cedar County, Nebraska. Chapters in Nebraska Archaeology 1(1): 5-145.
1937 -- with A. T. Hill. The Schrader, Champe, and Fremont I Sites. Nebraska History Magazine 17(4): 221-292.
1938 -- with A. T. Hill. The Archaeological Campaign of 1937. Nebraska History Magazine 18(4): 237-359.
1940 -- Report of Explorations. Nebraska History Magazine 20(2): 94-151.
1946 -- The Institute Explores the Norton Site. Cranbrook Institute of Science News Letter 15(6):71-73.
1949 -- Recent Investigations in Fort Randall and Oahe Reservoirs, South Dakota. American Antiquity 14(4): 300-310 An Archaeological Survey of the Fort Randall Reservoir, South Dakota. Proceedings of the Fifth Plains Conference for Archaeology, University of Nebraska Laboratory of Anthropology, Note Book 1.
1955 -- The Archaeological and Paleontological Salvage Program in the Missouri Basin, 1950-1951. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 126(2).
1958 -- Archaeological Investigations in the Heart Butte Reservoir area, North Dakota. River Basin Surveys Papers No. 9, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 169: 1-40.
1909 -- Born February 11 in Cuba City, Wisconsin
1931 -- Works in the Southwest as a member of the archaeological expedition from the Field Museum of Natural History Receives B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in Sociology and Anthropology
1933-1935 -- Conducts field research in Illinois
1934 -- Graduate assistant in Anthropology at the University of Nebraska
1936-1938 -- Serves as archaeologist for the Nebraska State Historical Society, where he originates the site numbering system
1938-1941 -- Supervisor and State Director of the WPA Archaeological, Paleontological and Museum Project
1941-1944 -- Acts as an assistant in Anthropology at Columbia University while completing his Ph.D.
1943-1946 -- Editorial Assistant for the Society of American Archaeology
1946-1955 -- Archaeologist with the Missouri Basin Project of the River Basin Survey in Lincoln, Nebraska
1950-1952 -- Acts as Field Director to the Missouri Basin Project
1955-1961 -- Associated with the firm of Robert G. Cooper Associates of Rice Lake, Wisconsin
1961 -- Dies on April 14 at the age of 52
Other materials relating to Paul Lemen Cooper at the National Anthropological Archives can be found in the William Duncan Strong papers, the Frederick Johnson papers, Manuscript 4846, the Records of the Bureau of American Ethnology, and the River Basin Surveys Records.
The Paul Lemen Coopers papers are open for research.
Access to the Paul Lemen Cooper papers requires an appointment.
Paul Lemen Cooper papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
12.11 Cubic feet ((1 shoebox) (7 slide and card cabinets))
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of approximately 6000 color slides and over 2000 negatives/prints (a mixture of color and black and white) of civil and military aircraft taken by Seele, circa 1950s-1970s. The shots were taken in the United States, specifically in the Midwest. Aircraft from the following manufacturers are represented: Aero Commander, Arrow, Aeronca, Beechcraft, Bell, Bellanca, Boeing, Bristol, Bucker, Callair, Cessna, Consolidated, Convair, Curtiss, Dassault, de Havilland, Davis, Dart, Douglas, ERCO, Fairchild, Fleet, Ford, Goodyear, Great Lakes, Grumman, Howard, Hawker Siddeley, Hughes, Heinkel, Jodel, Junkers, Lockheed, Ling-Temco-Vought, Lawson, Parsons, Pitts, Pitcarin, Piper, Pazmany, Piaggo, Porterfield, Republic, SAAB, Sikorsky, Stampe, Stearman, Stinson, Swearingen, Taylor, Vickers, and Waco. In June of 2001 the Smitihsonian's Museum of American History transferred an additional shoebox of Seele photography that had been sent directly to them from the widow. This color images included balloon events as well as aircraft shots. The ballooning images are color prints taken mostly around Topeka, Kansas, while the aircraft images are color transparencies of aircraft taken, again, mostly around Topeka.
Biographical / Historical:
Jean Warren (J. W.) Seele (1924-1993) was born in Topeka, Kansas, and spent almost his entire life there. After his graduation from Topeka High School he was enrolled for about one and a half years at the Spartan School of Aeronautics, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Although he worked for a few years at Bendix Aviation Corp, Kansas City Division during the 1950s, most of his professional career was spent as an engineering technician for the Kansas Department of Transportation. While he was not directly employed in the aviation field, Seele's hobby was photographing aircraft. Over a twenty year period, Seele photographed aircraft and at various times he was the official photographer for the National Antique Airplane Association, and for the annual fly-in sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association at Rockford, Illinois. Seele's photographs often appeared in the publications of both organizations, and several of this photographs also appeared in Jane's All the World's Aircraft during the 1970s.
Additional materials: photographs taken by Seele of the Kansas countryside, including many of threshing demonstrations, were transferred to the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History.
Charline Seele, Gift, 2000, 2000-0057, NASM, except for images not taken by Seele.
No restrictions on access
New School for Social Research (New York, N.Y.) -- Faculty Search this
6.9 Linear feet
The papers of painter and teacher Julian E. (Edwin) Levi date from 1846 to 1981, and comprise 6.9 linear feet. They include biographical information and extensive correspondence with museums and galleries, as well as letters written to his family, circa 1927, while Levi was living in Paris. Also found within the papers are scattered drawings and sketches by Levi, writings and notes, financial records, two scrapbooks, printed material, miscellaneous records and photographs that document Levi's professional career and personal life.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter and teacher Julian E. Levi date from 1846 to 1981, and comprise 6.9 linear feet. They consist of biographical information, correspondence, artwork, writings and notes, financial records, scrapbooks, printed material, miscellaneous records and photographs that document Levi's professional career and personal life.
Biographical information includes French documents regarding his trips to Paris in 1920 and 1926-1927. Julian E. Levi's Correspondence, 1914-1981, and undated, concerns professional and personal matters and consists primarily of incoming letters from friends and colleagues, arts organizations, museums, schools, and galleries. Also found are approximately sixty letters he wrote to his family circa 1927, while living in Paris. In addition, a small number of Henderson Family letters, 1846-1886, are included with the Julian E. Levi papers; their relationship to Levi is unclear. Found within the correspondence are illustrated letters and original artwork in the form of greeting cards. Additional Artwork consists mainly of pencil drawings and sketches by Levi, including a large number of stage costume designs.
Writings by Levi consist of brief statements concerning his work and other artists, brief reminiscences of friends, a poem, and the text of a speech. Notes contain miscellaneous jottings, lists of paintings, addresses and telephone information, and address books. Among the writings by others are catalog introductions for Levi exhibitions by unknown authors, and by Lewis Mumford and Archibald MacLeish for An American Group, Inc.
Financial Records concern both business and personal transactions and document art sales, commissions, consignments, and gallery expenses. Also included are receipts, a small number of banking and tax records, and scattered documentation of purchases, appraisals, and sales of antiques in his collection.
Scrapbooks (2 disbound volumes) contain clippings, other printed items, and a few photographs documenting Levi's exhibitions. There are a substantial number of exhibition catalogs and announcements. Miscellaneous printed material includes brochures, newsletters and publications, clippings, invitations, announcements of meetings, blank postcards, travel brochures and printed souvenirs. Also found is a copy of his book, Modern Art: An Introduction, and one of the articles he published in the American expatriate periodical Gargoyle.
Items of note among the Miscellaneous Records pertain to the American Artists' Congress, An American Group, Inc., Downtown Gallery, and New York City Council for Art Week. Other items of interest are a blueprint of plans for Levi's studio at his home in Easthampton, New York, and records regarding the New School for Social Research where Levi taught for many years.
Photographs of artwork include a disbound album of Levi's work and exhibition installation views that show paintings by Levi. Pictures of Levi include some taken when he was a young child, along with many views of him in his studio, with students, and others. Many views of places probably were used as reference for paintings. Other places recorded in photographs include Downtown Gallery, Stuart Davis's grave, and studios he occupied while in Paris, circa 1926-1927 and at the American Academy in Rome, 1967-1968. Of particular note are copies of Resettlement Administration and Farm Security Administration photographs.
The collection is organized into 9 series. Correspondence and Scrapbooks are arranged chronologically. Other series are further categorized by record type or broad topic, with material in each folder arranged chronologically or alphabetically, as noted in the series descriptions.
Series 1: Biographical Information, circa 1906-1980 (Box 1; 14 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1846-1981 (Boxes 1-3, OV 9; 2.3 linear ft.)
Series 3: Artwork, circa 1922-1972 (Box 3; 8 folders)
Series 4: Writings and Notes, circa 1938-1978 (Box 3; 11 folders)
Series 5: Financial Records, 1920s-1980 (Box 3; 0.4 linear ft.)
Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1921-1940(Box 4; 2 folders)
Series 7: Printed Material, circa 1922-1981(Boxes 4-6 and OV 10; 2.3 linear ft.)
Series 8: Miscellaneous Records, circa 1940-1974 (Box 6 and OV 9; 0.2 linear ft.)
Series 9: Photographs, circa 1902-1974 (Boxes 6-8 and OV 11; 1.1 linear ft.)
Julian Edwin Levi was born in New York in 1900, and his family relocated to Philadelphia six years later. At age 17, Levi enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he studied under Henry McCarter and Arthur B. Carles. Upon completing his studies at the Academy in 1919, Levi was awarded one of the Pennsylvania Academy's Cresson Traveling Scholarship which enabled him to travel to Italy during the summer of 1920.
Levi then headed to Paris where he spent the next four years. During this time he became fluent in French, looked at a wide variety of art that influenced him to experiment with abstraction, and had paintings accepted for exhibition the Salon d'Automne of 1921 and 1922. He met many artists in Paris, and developed a close friendship with Jules Pascin. He retuned for a second stay in Paris during 1926 and 1927.
Upon his return to Philadelphia in 1924, Levi and several other modern artists in the city (including his former instructors Carles and McCarter) began exhibiting together under the name "31." The group's work was not well-received. For the remainder of his time in Philadelphia, he continued to paint and on several occasions was able to see Albert Barnes' collection that normally was not open to the public. Levi moved to New York City in 1932 and was attracted to the support and cooperation offered by various artists' organizations. He became a member of An American Group, Inc., in 1933, and was in active in the American Artists' Congress beginning around 1937. Later, Levi was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters, an Associate Artist of the National Academy of Design, and a member of the Century Association.
The sea, beaches, dunes, and shores served as inspiration for many of Levi's paintings. He studied his subjects closely, amassing a wide knowledge of boats, fishing, and related equipment; he even learned professional fishing and sailing techniques in order to better understand his subjects. Levi also focused on painting people, and his wife often served as his model. Paintings by Levi are in many museums, among them: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Art Institute of Chicago, Butler Institute of American Art, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Des Moines Art Center, Detroit Institute of Arts, Guild Hall, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Newark Museum, Norton Simon Museum, Santa Barbara Museum, Springfield Museum of Art, Toledo Museum, University of Illinois, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Many of the paintings Levi produced while employed by the Federal Art Project, 1936-1938, served as the nucleus of his first one-man show held in 1940 at Downtown Gallery. He remained with Downtown Gallery for more than a decade. Later, he was associated with the Alan Gallery, Frank K. M. Rehn Galleries, and Nordness Gallery, each of which staged frequent solo exhibitions of Levi's work. He participated in most of the major national exhibitions and in the Venice Biennale, winning prizes awarded by the Art Institute of Chicago, Carnegie Institute, National Academy of Design, University of Illinois, Guild Hall, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. A large retrospective exhibition of his work was organized by Boston University in 1962, and a small retrospective was held in 1971 at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
A highly respected and much loved teacher, Levi emphasized the importance of drawing and provided individualized instruction. He considered himself a "coach" and viewed his students as less experienced artists (all were encouraged to call him Julian instead of Mr. Levi). His teaching career, which lasted for more than three decades, began in 1946 with his appointments as a painting instructor at the Art Students League and the New School for Social Research in New York City (later the New School appointed him director of its Art Workshop). In 1964 he began making weekly trips to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he taught painting; at the start of the 1977 academic year, he reduced his schedule to once a month and acted as a general critic. During the 1967-68 academic year, Levi was on sabbatical leave while artist-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome. In addition, he taught summer courses at Columbia University in the early 1950s and occasionally served as a guest instructor at other summer programs over the years.
Julian Levi died in New York City, February 28, 1982, after a brief illness.
The papers were a gift received in several accessions between 1969-1982 from Julian E. Levi and his estate (Herman Englander, executor). Portions of the collection were microfilmed upon receipt.
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. office.
The Julian E. Levi 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 surrealist artist Gertrude Abercrombie date from circa 1880-1986, with the bulk of the material dated 1935-1977, and measure 5.9 linear feet. Found within are biographical material; correspondence (mostly incoming letters) with friends, museums, and galleries; files for artists that interested her; writings and notes, including five journal-type notebooks; scattered personal business records; two sketchbooks by Abercrombie and additional sketches and drawings, some by others; printed material, audio recordings, one scrapbook, photographs, and estate records.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of surrealist artist Gertrude Abercrombie date from circa 1880-1986, with the bulk of the material dated 1935-1977, and measure 5.9 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical material; correspondence (mostly incoming letters) with friends, museums, and galleries; artists files; writings and notes, including five journal-type notebooks; scattered personal business records; two sketchbooks by Abercrombie and additional sketches and drawings, some by others; printed material, audio recordings, one scrapbook, photographs, and estate records.
Biographical material consists of biographical notes, Gertrude Abercrombie's will, address books, and a file titled "memorabilia." Personal and professional correspondence consists mainly of incoming letters and some drafts of Gertrude Abercrombie's outgoing letters. Letters from museums and galleries concern loans of paintings and exhibitions. A large amount of the personal correspondence consists of post cards including many antique ones, as well as cards containing original art work by Julio de Diego, Jerry [Jerome] Karidis, Karl Priebe.
Artist files consist of correspondence, printed material, and photographs concerning painters, writers, a jazz musician, and a photographer. The individuals represented are: Dudley Huppler, Jerome Karidis, Karl Priebe, James Purdy, Sonny Rollins, Carl Van Vechten, Wendell Wilcox, John Wilde, and Thornton Wilder.
Writings and notes include reminiscences, miscellaneous writings and notes, and a girlhood diary with brief entries. Five notebooks contain a variety of writings dating from 1953 through 1975, and undated. One volume concerns only her second husband Frank Sandiford.
Business records include a painting catalog on file cards, mailing and guest lists, and miscellaneous sales records. In addition, six notebooks record expenses, sales, inventories, mailing lists, a register of paintings, and a guest book.
There are two sketchbooks, Christmas card designs, sketches and drawings done by Gertrude Abercrombie. There are also prints, drawings, and a painting by Emil Arman, B. Evans, de Diego, and unknown artists.
Printed material consists of articles and clippings about Gertrude Abercrombie, exhibition catalogs, and reproductions. Also included are books by friends inscribed by the authors, among them: Nelson Algren, Richard Armour, Dudley Huppler, James Purdy, Ned Rorem, Paul Warren [pen name of Abercrombie's second husband, Frank Sandiford], Studs Terkel, and Thornton Wilder.
Audio recordings (33-1/3 rpm phonograph alums) are inscribed to Gertrude Abercrombie by the artists. Orlando's album cover, designed by Abercrombie, incorporates one of her paintings.
Records of the Estate of Gertrude Abercrombie and the Gertrude Abercrombie Trust, Donald Baum, Executor, consist mainly of correspondence with the institutions that were offered works of art by Gertrude Abercrombie and from her personal collection. Also included are general correspondence, financial and tax records, and legal documents.
There is one scrapbook dated 1943 containing photographs and printed material.
Photographs are of art work, people, places, and miscellaneous subjects; negatives, slides, and transparencies are included in this series, too. Photographs of art include the work of Gertrude Abercrombie, Karl Priebe, and Charles Sebree. People pictured are Gertrude Abercrombie and family, including her parents, Richard I. Livingston, Dinah Livingston, and Frank Sandiford. There are also 19th and early 20th century photographs of ancestors. Among the images of friends are: Ivan le Lorraine Albright, Arnold Blanch, Dudley Huppler, Doris Lee, Karl Priebe, and Richard Purdy. Photographs of jazz artists include: Louis Armstrong, George Davis, Erroll Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Hines, Orlando, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Sarah Vaughn, and the Modern Jazz Quartet. Of particular note the portraits of Gertrude Abercrombie and Dizzy Gillespie by Carl Van Vechten.Among the photographs of places are interior views of Gertrude Abercrombie's home and studio, unidentified landscapes, travel pictures of San Francisco and commercially produced stereopticon slides of other locations. Miscellaneous subjects are automobiles, cats, exhibition installations, and a still life setup.
The collection is arranged into 11 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1902-1976 (Box 1, OV9; 0.1 linear ft.)
Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1935-1977 (Boxes 1-2; 1.65 linear ft.)
Series 3: Artist files, circa 1935-1977 (Box 2; 0.25 linear ft.)
Series 4: Writings and Notes, circa 1919-1977 (Box 3; 0.1 linear ft.)
Series 5: Business Records, circa 1944-1977 (Box 3; 0.2 linear ft.)
Series 6: Art Work, circa 1939-1975 (Boxes 3, 7; O.2 linear ft.)
Series 7: Printed Material, circa 1906-1977 (Boxes 3-4; 1.6 linear ft.)
Series 8: Audio Recordings, circa 1970-1974 (Box 7; 0.1 linear ft.)
Series 9: Estate Records, circa 1976-1986 (Box 5; o.5 linear ft.)
Series 10: Scrapbook, circa 1943(Box 5; 1 folder)
Series 11: Photographs, circa 1880-1978(Boxes 5-7; OV8, 1.0 linear ft.)
Surrealist painter Gertrude Abercrombie (1909-1977) lived and worked in Chicago and was a prominent member of Chicago's Hyde Park arts community.
Abercrombie was known for surrealist oil paintings featuring dreamlike landscapes and fantasies. Her wide circle of friends included locally and nationally known artists, writers, and jazz musicians who made her home a popular avant-garde salon. She was the inspiration for Richie Powell's "Gertrude's Bounce" and, appeared as a fictional character in Malcolm, Eustace Chisholm, and as herself in Gertrude of Stony Island Avenue all by James Purdy.
The only child of Tom and Lula Janes [Jane] Abercrombie, Gertrude was born in Austin, Texas in 1909, while her opera singer parents were in town with a traveling company. In 1913, the family relocated to Berlin to further Jane's career, but the outbreak of World War I forced their return to the United States. They lived with Tom Abercrombie's family in Alledo, Illinois, before permanently settling in Chicago.
Gertrude Abercrombie had a facility with language and possessed musical and artistic talents. After graduation from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana with a degree in romance languages in 1929, she studied figure drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for a short time. She then enrolled at the American Arcademy of Art, also in Chicago, for a year long course in commercial art. Her first job was drawing gloves for Mesirow Department Store ads, followed by a stint working as an artist for Sears.
By 1932, Gertrude Abercrombie began painting seriously. The following summer, she participated in an outdoor art fair in downtown Chicago where she made her first sale and received favorable mention in a newspaper review of the event. Abercrombie's work that featured self-portraits and recurring images of personal symbols - trees, horses, owls, keys, shells, doors, stairways, ladders - began to attract attention. Beginning in 1934, Gertrude Abercrombie was employment as a painter in the WPA Federal Art Project in 1934, enabling her to feel validated as an artist and move from the home of her conservative, Christian Scientist parents to her own apartment. The Chicago Society of Artists presented a solo exhibition of Abercrombie's work in 1934, and in 1936 she showed at the Katharine Kuh Gallery (along with Rita Stein and Nicola Ziroli). In 1936 and 1938 Gertrude Abercrombie won prizes at the Art Institute of Chicago's Annual Exhibition of Works by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity.
She left the WPA in 1940 and married lawyer Robert Livingston. Their daughter, Dinah, was born in 1942, and they soon moved to a large Victorian house on South Dorchester St. where Gertude lived for the remainder of her life. The couple divorced in 1948. That same year she married Frank Sandiford, a music critic whose pen name was Paul Warren. An accomplished improvisational pianist, Gertrude Abercrombie became friends with many prominent jazz artists whom she met through Sandiford; in fact, Dizzy Gillespie performed at their wedding. Abercrombie and Sandiford separated in 1964.
The 1940s through 1950s were Gertrude Abercrombie's most productive and prolific period. Although she no longer painted many portraits, he work remained focused on the same themes and symbols. She believed that art was about ideas rather than technique and insisted that "It is always myself that I paint." During this period, Amercrombie exhibited widely in group shows and had solo exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago, Associated American Artists (New York), and Leonard Linn, Inc. (Winnetka, Ill.)
By the late 1950s, Gertrude Abercrombie began a long decline. Alcoholism started to take a toll. She suffered serious financial reverses, and in 1964 separated from Frank Sandiford. Debilitating arthritis eventually landed her in a wheel chair, and she became reclusive. In 1977, very near the end of her life, Gertrude Abercrombie was honored with a well-received retrospective exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. She was able to attend the reception and enjoy seeing the many old friends who were at the event.
Gertrude Abercrombie died in Chicago in 1977. Her will established The Gertrude Abercrombie Trust that cared for and distributed to various institutions her own paintings and a personal collection of works by other artists to selected institutions, mainly in the Midwest.
A photograph of Gertrude Abercrombie at home with her painting "Slaughter House", was donated by Donald Baum to the National Collection of Fine Arts in 1979 and transferred to the Archives of American Art that same year.
Donald Baum, executor of both the estate and trust of Gertrude Abercrombie, donated the papers to the Archives of American Art in 1978 and 1986.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
The Gertrude Abercrombie 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.