W. Atlee Burpee & Company Seed Contests, 1924-1925
W. Atlee Burpee & Co
These letters are presented as a window into life in 1920s and therefore may include terms and expressions that are offensive to contemporary readers. This material in no way reflects the views of the Smithsonian's Archives of American Gardens.
This description is for subseries 3.2 of the W. Atlee Burpee & Company records.
In 1924 and 1925, the Burpee Company launched a prize-contest to recognize its faithful customers by asking them to write "What Burpee's Seeds Have Done for Me." Thousands entered for cash prizes by sending letters and photographs to the Philadelphia offices of the Burpee Company. Entries came from all over the world to express the impact of these special seeds in their lives.
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, W. Atlee Burpee & Company Records
The administration of the United States National Museum required curators to submit regular reports on the activities of the departments, divisions, and sections. Prior to about 1900 these reports were often made monthly and semi-annually as well as annually. The reports were traditionally submitted to the Director of the National Museum to be used in preparing the published Annual Report of the United States National Museum. The individual reports, however, were not reproduced in their entirety in the published Annual Report and generally contain more information than is to be found in the published version.
Reports were stored by the Division of Correspondence and Documents, and later by the Office of the Registrar.
Includes reports submitted to the Director of the United States National Museum by curators and administrators.
Negative log book number 3, or "green book," documenting various Smithsonian museums and events. Information includes negative numbers, subjects of the photographs, persons and departments for whom the pictures were taken, dates the pictures were taken, photographers, and dates the information was entered into the log books.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 10-001, Negative Log Book Number 3, 1972
Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974
Jacques Seligmann & Co.
Waegen, Rolf Hans
de Hauke, César
Parker, Theresa D.
Mackay, Clarence Hungerford
Liechtenstein, House of
Schiff, Mortimer L.
La Fresnaye, Roger de
MM. Jacques Seligmann & fils
Eugene Glaenzer & Co
Germain Seligmann & Co
De Hauke & Co., Inc
Place of publication, production, or execution:
203.1 linear feet
Following is an outline of the arrangement of the collection by series and corresponding box numbers and extent. More detailed information for each series and subseries, along with a box and folder inventory, is found in the Series Descriptions/Container Listings, which can be found by following the series links below. Series 1: Correspondence, 1913-1978 (1-174, 80 linear feet); Series 2: Collectors Files, 1875, 1892-1977, undated (Boxes 175-252, 35 linear feet); Series 3: Auction Files, 1948-1975, undated (Boxes 253-259, 2.75 linear feet); Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1925-1977, undated (Boxes 260-272, 5.5 linear feet); Series 5: Reference Files, 1877-1977, undated (Boxes 273-278, 2.25 linear feet); Series 6: Inventory and Stock Files, 1923-1971, undated (Boxes 279-289, 4.5 linear feet); Series 7: Financial Files and Shipping Records, 1910-1977 (Boxes 290-357, 30.5 linear feet); Series 8: Contemporary American Department, 1932-1978 (Boxes 358-381, 10 linear feet); Series 9: De Hauke & Co., Inc., Records, 1925-1949, undated (Boxes 382-416; 16 linear feet); Series 10: Modern Paintings, Inc., Records, 1927-1950 (Boxes 417-420, 1.25 linear feet); Series 11: Gersel Corp. Records, 1946-1969 (Box 421, 0.25 linear feet); Series 12: Germain Seligman's Personal Papers, 1882, circa 1905-1984, undated (Boxes 422-459, OV 460, 17.1 linear feet)
Access Note / Rights:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., records measure approximately 203.1 linear feet and date from between 1904 and 1978, with bulk dates of 1913-1974. The records include extensive correspondence files, reference material on American and European collectors and their collections, inventory and stock records, financial records, exhibition files, auction files, and the records of subsidiary companies, including de Hauke & Co., Inc., and Modern Paintings, Inc.
Historians and researchers will find the collection an invaluable resource in tracing the provenance of particular works of art. Although in the early 1940s many records in the Paris office were destroyed by Seligmann staff to keep them from falling into the hands of the occupying German military forces, many records survive, as much of the firm's business had previously come to center in the New York office. In all, the remaining records provide a comprehensive view of the activities and transactions of collectors and art dealers in the years leading up to and following World War II.
Correspondence (Series 1) is the largest series of the collection (80 linear feet) and is comprised of extensive correspondence files, primarily between Germain Seligman and his New York office staff with domestic and foreign private clients, collectors, dealers, individuals representing public museums and collections, and international scholars. The New York Office Correspondence (Series 1.1) concerns a wide variety of topics, including routine business matters, but focuses primarily on potential and realized sales and purchases and provenance documentation. Also found is detailed information on financial transactions, commissions, stock inventory, and the travel of Germain Seligman and other staff. Paris Office Correspondence (Series 1.2) is separated into a small subseries and contains correspondence written primarily by Jacques Seligmann from Paris. The subseries General Correspondence (Series 1.3) is the largest subsection of the Correspondence series and contains letters written to and received from clients and other business associates concerning business transactions and inquiries. The subseries Museum Correspondence (Series 1.4) contains letters between the firm and art institutions and museums. The subseries >Germain Seligman's Correspondence (Series 1.5), also arranged in this series, contains not only personal letters but a wealth of information concerning the affairs of the firm. Much personal correspondence was marked "private."
Also of note in the Correspondence series are the Legal Correspondence Files (Series 1.6) and the Inter-Office Correspondence (Series 1.9) and Inter-Office Memoranda (Series 1.13). The Legal Correspondence Files subseries houses correspondence with both U.S. and Paris attorneys and concerns legal affairs and specific lawsuits. Of particular interest are Germain Seligman's attempts to recover Seligmann family and Paris gallery artwork and other assets stolen or confiscated by the Germans in World War II. This small subseries also contains limited information on the stock and inventory holdings of several of the firm's and Germain Seligman's subsidiary corporations, family legal affairs and lawsuits, and other related legal matters. The subseries Inter-Office Correspondence and Inter-Office Memoranda (called fiches by Seligmann staff) include memos between Germain Seligman and his staff about clients, collectors, sales, acquisitions, and other matters. These offer interesting commentary clearly intended to be read by staff only.
Also prominent is Collectors Files (Series 2), which contains numerous reference files documenting the collections of existing and potential clients with whom Seligmann & Co. maintained contacts. The files are arranged by either individual name or institution and reflect the wide scope of collector references maintained by the firm throughout its operating years. The files contain a variety of reference materials, such as photographs, provenance notes, and sales, purchase, and inventory information in cases where the collector purchased from the firm or the firm purchased from the collector. Researchers will find that many of the private and public names that appear in General Correspondence (Series 1.3) appear in the Collectors Files as well. Also found in this series are specific files relating to the Duc d'Arenberg Collection, the Clarence H. Mackay Collection, the Mortimer L. Schiff Collection, and the Prince of Liechtenstein Collection. The firm either handled substantial estate sales for these collections or purchased and sold important pieces from these collections.
Auction Files (Series 3) and Exhibition files (Series 4) trace the sales and exhibition activities undertaken by Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc. In the Auction files, researchers will find documentation of auctions of individual works of art owned by the firm and handled by Christie's, Parke-Bernet, and other auction houses. Of particular interest is the 1948-1949 Parke-Bernet auction of the C. S. Wadsworth Trust, a "dummy" trust set up by the firm to dispose of a portion of its unsold inventory. The Exhibition Files house a variety of documentation, such as catalogs and correspondence, concerning the firm's active exhibition history. Many of the exhibitions featured works of art recently acquired by the firm, such as the 1937 exhibition, Twenty Years in the Evolution of Picasso, which included a number of Picassos the firm acquired from Madame Jacques Doucet that year.
Reference Files (Series 5) includes a card catalog to books and catalogs in the library maintained by Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., and a photograph reference index of works of art. Inventory and Stock Files (Series 6) tracks the firm's inventory through a series of stock books and supporting documentation that include sales and provenance information.
Financial Files and Shipping Records (Series 7) consists primarily of records of the New York office, but some Paris office documents can be found scattered throughout. Found in this series is a wide variety of financial records including purchase receipt files, credit notes, invoices, consignment invoices and books, invoices, consular invoices, sales and purchase account books, ledgers, and tax records. The records appear to be quite complete and date from 1910 to 1977. Of particular interest are the purchase receipts and credit notes and memoranda that contain detailed documentation on acquisitions and sales. The consignment invoices provide information about works of art sold on behalf of other galleries and dealers, as well as which galleries and dealers were handling works of art for Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc. Although quite large and complex, the financial records offer a comprehensive overview of the firm's business and financial transactions.
The records of subsidiary companies that were part of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., such as Contemporary American Department, de Hauke & Co., Inc., Modern Paintings, Inc., and Gersel Corp. are arranged in their own series. In 1935, the firm established the Contemporary American Department to represent young American artists. Under the direction of Theresa D. Parker, a longtime gallery employee, the department initiated an exhibition and loan program. Contemporary American Department (Series 8) includes mostly correspondence files and exhibition files.
The largest subsidiary company to operate under Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., was de Hauke & Co., Inc. De Hauke & Co., Inc., Records (Series 9) dates from 1925 through 1949 and contains domestic and foreign correspondence with clients, collectors, and dealers; inter-office correspondence and memoranda with Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc.; administrative and legal files; and financial records. Modern Paintings, Inc., records (Series 10) contains the legal and financial files of this subsidiary company, which was establis
Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Series 1 and Series 2 of the collection were digitized in 2010 and are available via the Archives of American Art's website.
Processing of the collection was funded by the Getty Grant Program; digitization of portions of the collection was funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
Jacques Seligmann & Co. were international art galleries in New York City and Paris, France. Founded in 1880 in Paris, France and closed in 1978. The company's clients included most of the major American and European art collectors of the era, and the art that passed through its galleries often ended up in the collection of prominent American and European museums. Established as Jacques Seligmann & Cie in 1880 on the Rue des Mathurins, Paris. As American clients increased, the firm opened a New York office in 1904. In 1920, Seligmann's son Germain Seligman (who dropped the last 'n' from his name), a writer and scholar, became a partner and appointed president of the New York office. Jacques Seligmann died in 1923, and in 1924, Germain became president of both the New York and Paris offices. In 1937, the company headquarters moved from Paris to New York. The firm was active in antiquities, decorative arts, Renaissance art, and was among the first to foster contemporary European art, primarily through its subsidiary firm De Hauke & Co. (later Modern Paintings, Inc.), managed by César Mange de Hauke. In 1935, its Contemporary American Department was established, headed by longtime gallery employee Theresa D. Parker. During the years following WWII, the firm was involved in the recovery of looted artwork and property, and the sale of several significant collections. The firm ceased operations upon the death of Germain Seligman in 1978.
Donated 1978-1979 by Mrs. Germain Seligman, daughter-in-law of Jacques Seligmann. Additional material was acquired in 1994 through the Estate of Mrs. Seligman. The Paris archives of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., were destroyed by the Seligmann staff in 1940 to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Nazis.
This site provides access to the records of Jacques Seligmann & Co. in the Archives of American Art, which were were digitized in 2010. The bulk of the collection has been scanned, and totals 330,752 images.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Negative log book number 19, or "green book," documenting various Smithsonian museums and events. Information includes negative numbers, subjects of the photographs, persons and departments for whom the pictures were taken, dates the pictures were taken, photographers, and dates the information was entered into the log books.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 10-001, Negative Log Book Number 19, 1988-1989
Mary Agnes Chase correspondence and notes documenting her research on grasses in Brazil and Puerto Rico, c. 1924-1941, contains a copy of the itinerary of Carl von Martius's 1817-1820 exploring trip to Brazil. (Accession 06-208)
Mary Agnes Chase correspondence and notes documenting her research on grasses in Brazil and Puerto Rico, c. 1924-1941. (Acc. 06-208)
United States National Museum, Division of Grasses, Records, 1884, 1888, 1899-1965
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Materials relate to preparations for her travel to Brazil and Puerto Rico. This includes a list of South American Panicum by group; a letter from T. A. Sprague to A. S. Hitchcock on discussing relevant decisions of the Cambridge Congress relating to Panicum; itinerary of Carl von Martius's 1817-1820 trip to Brazil; letter from P.H. Rolfs to Mary Agnes Chase with travel advice of Brazil; list of American grasses (including introduced species) wanted by the California Academy of Sciences; map of South America showing stations of inland South American Missionary Union; October 1931 brochure Inland South America; letter to Chase from Dr. N Feinbrun about publication reprints; and a letter to Chase from William R. Maxon relating to accessioned specimens.
Many of SIA's holdings are located off-site, and advance notice is recommended to consult a collection. Please email the SIA Reference Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thoughts provoked by the 150th anniversary of the Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cable
National Museum of American History
Smithsonian staff publications
Fri, 14 Oct 2016 17:35:37 +0000
I came to the Smithsonian in the summer of 1962, excited about the opportunity to apply my academic training in the history of science to my curatorial responsibilities for the museum's electrical collections. It has indeed been an exciting time, largely because so much that happened was unanticipated—minor events that led in unexpected and often fascinating directions. One of the earliest of these occurred in 1966 when a Westinghouse engineer named Field Curry asked if I was interested in submarine telegraphy—a subject that had piqued his interest because a distant relative, Cyrus Field, had organized the expedition that laid the first telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean 100 years before.
Indeed! Why not?
The result has been a series of activities that have defined one of the threads of my career. A collecting trip to Heart's Content, Newfoundland, (the western terminus of the Atlantic cable) in the spring of 1968 was followed by a second in the summer of 1974 to be present at the reopening of the cable station as a museum. Numerous research projects, collecting efforts, and exhibitions have occurred since. Most recently the 150th anniversary prompted me to look anew at surviving portions of Cyrus Field's correspondence that had been given to the Smithsonian by his daughter, Isabella Field Judson, in the 1890s. The result is a small display in the entry to the museum's Archives Center, where these letters found their new home. Fortuitously, the center is located in a section of the museum currently devoted to enterprise and innovation: Field was an extraordinary entrepreneur whose achievement rested on technical innovations made by his engineering and scientific colleagues.
It was a new challenge for me: curating a display in which the focus would be on documents rather than objects. This blog is a review of some of my thoughts as I pursued it.
First, some background.
Practical electric telegraphs were invented in England (by Charles Wheatstone) and the United States (by Samuel Morse) in the 1840s. Coincidentally, relatively large steamships were being built and gutta percha (a plastic tree sap similar to rubber) found its way west from Malaysia. Innovative modifications of these would be critical in extending the telegraph lines under deep water: gutta percha as an insulating material that could be extruded around the copper wire, and ships that could be modified to lay the cable in a straight line. A cable across the English Channel in 1850 failed, but a successor in 1851 was eminently successful and was soon followed by others—across the channel and under the waters of the Mediterranean.
In America, Frederick Gisborne saw that a short cable could connect the western edge of Newfoundland to the mainland through Nova Scotia, and if land lines were constructed to the eastern end of the island it would be possible to collect messages off of ships from Europe as they passed on their way to Boston and New York. These messages (especially those of interest to newspapers and financial businesses) could then be transmitted by electric telegraph, beating the ships by two or more days. But Gisborne didn't foresee the difficulty of stringing wires across the island, and his operation went bankrupt.
A chance encounter in 1854 led Cyrus Field to assume responsibility for Gisborne's company and expand its scope to include a telegraph cable from Newfoundland to Ireland.
In earlier studies and exhibitions, I had been content to simply note the role played by Cyrus Field (1819–1892), a young American businessman who had made a modest fortune. Field was looking for something else to do when he became involved with a project to lay a telegraph cable across the Atlantic. After momentary success and wrenching failure in 1858, he led another cable effort that fully succeeded in 1866. My interest was more in the scientific and technological achievements, which lent themselves to being illustrated by objects. Now I was to feature a person as a businessman and promoter.
The cable, and the techniques used to lay and operate it, were innovative. But the focus here would be on Field's leadership of the enterprise—as an entrepreneur. His strengths lay in his sense of purpose, his integrity, his ability to inspire and persuade others, and his resilience. Turning to his correspondence I found that these characteristics almost leaped from the pages. The letters, like objects, provided contemporary evidence, undisturbed by time.
The historical sequence of events provided an organizational framework: his original inspiration was enough to excite others and move things forward both technically and financially, but at a speed that led to incautious judgments and failure. His response was to seek better advice and to try again. It could be seen as a nice case study in entrepreneurship. The letters provided critical support, joined by a few objects and graphics. Here are some that I consider highlights.
At age 20, Field was hired as an accountant at a paper wholesaler in New York. Within a year it went bankrupt and he was left to settle the debts. He promised himself that eventually all creditors would be repaid. This letter was one of several that impressed me.
Initial support came from friends in New York, identified in this document from the Judson collection, but the real money, and the necessary skills, were in Britain. On top of that, he needed help from governments on both sides of the Atlantic. The letters, fortunately, provide a wealth of evidence about his contacts. Several are included in the exhibition, but two were especially telling to me. After failed attempts to lay a cable in 1857, the following year two ships, each with a little more than half the total amount needed, met in mid-ocean. Cable ends were connected and the ships proceeded in opposite directions. Three times the cable broke; it seemed that not enough cable remained and the ships returned to Ireland. This letter displays the resigned despair of the Board of Directors. Field's response was to recalculate the length of cable left and go back to try again. And succeed.
There were celebrations, especially in the United States—which are also amply documented by the Judson papers. But after a month the cable ceased to function; a failure that has been attributed to the haste taken in the operation and the lack of quality control in producing the cable. Most of the blame has been placed on the insistence of the British electrician, Edward Whitehouse, that high-voltage electrical pulses were needed to overcome the resistance of almost 2,000 miles of copper wire, causing a breakdown in the insulation. What Whitehouse didn't realize was that as pulses of negative electricity passed through the cable they attracted positive charges in the water. The result was that the pulses slowed down and spread out, making them difficult to detect. What was needed was a sensitive receiver, not stronger signals.
It is not generally known that Field's confidence in Whitehouse was partly due to his trust in Morse. The two, Whitehouse and Morse, had performed earlier tests on land, where the cable was surrounded by air instead of water.
The embarrassing failure in 1858, and similar problems with a proposed cable to India, promoted an investigation by a Parliamentary commission. It concluded that the major problems could be overcome by improving quality control, and the enterprise continued. Further delays, in part caused by the American Civil War, were fortuitous: the Great Eastern, which had failed economically as a passenger ship, became available. Carrying the entire length, it laid a successful cable in 1866.
The brilliant young Scottish physicist William Thomson was a crucial figure throughout—calculating the shape of the electrical pulses and designing a sensitive detector. He determined the forces needed in laying and retrieving the cable and was a participant in every expedition. I was especially pleased to find this letter in the archival collection.
Field never doubted the ultimate outcome, and for him the cable enterprise was more than just a project. It was a means of expressing his personality, of interacting with people. Among the many letters not included in the display are several from James Anderson whom, Field had met on one of his many trans-Atlantic trips and recommended to be captain of the Great Eastern. It is clear that they developed a warm friendship that endured for the rest of Field's life.
There are difficulties in displaying letters, especially in making the pertinent contents legible. In this modest example, we were content simply to repeat critical words in the accompanying labels. But even if the letters cannot be easily read through protective covers, as objects they still have special strengths: they give us direct physical contact with the authors.
In developing the display, and this blog, I am greatly indebted to Hal Wallace (who now has curatorial responsibility for the electrical collections) and Craig Orr (archivist in the Archives Center). Also I appreciate the opportunity given me by the Archives Center to return to a subject I've always found so intriguing.
Bernard Finn is curator emeritus and namesake of a major scholarly award in the field of electrical history, the Bernard S. Finn Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers History Prize.
William M. Mann and Lucile Quarry Mann field books, 1914-1940
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Rio de Janeiro
Nahuel Huapí, lago
The scrapbook was compiled by Lucile Mann, from materials gathered relating to a trip to Argentina and Brazil (1939), for the purposes of collecting and exchanging live animals with zoos in South America. Materials in the scrapbook cover sites throughout Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) and Argentina (Buenos Aires, Córdoba, La Plata, Lake Nahuel Huapi). The scrapbook appears to be arranged chronologically, and included news clippings, menus, photographs, passenger lists, postcards, original artwork (by Newbery),and advertisements for theatrical events. Journalist William H. Shippen of Washington D.C.'s Evening Star, followed the trip and wrote a series of general interest stories relating to it, which have been included. There are also clippings from Argentinean newspapers. Most photographs with captions. Subject matter includes: farewell dinner; leisure time by the pool on the ship to South America; Buenos Aires Zoo; Córdoba Zoo; La Plata Zoo; buffalo crate; informal images of expedition members and local officials (some identified); the loading of coffee on ships at harbor; general scenes of the local sites and cities visited; and a visit to the Angostura brewery.
Wild animal collecting
Many of SIA's holdings are located off-site, and advance notice is recommended to consult a collection. Please email the SIA Reference Team at email@example.com.