The National Academy of Design minutes and committee files consist of official, original, and transcribed proceedings for the council, annual, business, and some committee meetings, as well as related correspondence, reports, financial documents, notes, drafts, and ballots pertaining to the Academy's administration and activities from its 1825 founding until 2006.
As an organization actively engaged in the development of art and art education in the United States, the Academy minutes and committee files are a valuable resource on subjects and topics including the Academy's history; the formation, development, contents, and loans of its art collection; art and design education; Academy exhibits and public programs; relationships with other art and educational organizations in the United States and Europe, including Columbia University, New York University, National Arts Club, and many others; interactions with officials of the City of New York; the Academy's role in shaping the architectural and sculptural environment of New York City and Washington, DC; contemporary art movements and schools; the development of American art, and the integral role that Academy members, faculty, and students played in that development; the role of women artists at the Academy; and the Academy's involvement in the standardization of materials for painters and sculptors, such as analysis of colors in oil and pigments.
Official council minutes (subseries 1.1) have been approved by the appropriate governing body and consist of seven bound volumes of handwritten minutes and, after May 1894, unbound typewritten pages housed in folders and boxes. The official minutes were copied from the handwritten notes in bound books, identified as the original council minutes (subseries 1.2). Official minutes contain the proceedings of the council, officers, trustees, and committees, as well as related records inlaid or pasted among the pages. These items include council officers' reports, resolutions, correspondence, occasional drafts and notes, constitutions and by-laws for some of the early years, obituaries of Academy members, and other assorted materials. Gaps in the official minutes may be filled in or appear to be more complete in the original minutes.
Original council minutes (subseries 1.2) are the most original of the minutes and consist of handwritten notes in bound books, supposedly from draft notes taken during meetings. Minutes are comprised of the proceedings of the council, officers, trustees, and committees, and related material including drafts, notes, leaflets, brochures, and correspondence. The distinction between official and original minutes essentially disappeared after 1916. Minutes after 1916 are arranged in subseries 1.4.
The council minutes excerpts (subseries 1.3) are handwritten summaries of the Academy minutes, thought to have been prepared from 1915-1919 by the Academy librarian George W. Maynard. Occasionally, reports, loose notes (some of which might be initial draft notes from meetings), and bookmarks with short annotations presumably created in the late 1970s are included. Box 4, folder 10 contains handwritten committee reports, agreements, and other documents referred to in the council minutes, requested to be transcribed, but ultimately not transcribed. The excerpts for 1863-1878 were typed at some point and are included in this subseries. All excerpts are indexed: indices for the years 1825-1863 are included in their respective folders; an index for the years 1863-1909 is in box 3, folder 13; an index for the years 1909-1916 is in box 4, folder 11; and an index for the years 1916-1919 is in box 4, folder 16. The last folder contains correspondence related to the transcription project.
Minutes and reports (subseries 1.4) include proceedings for the council, annual, business, election, and committee meetings, as well as annual, financial, librarian, and committee reports. Committees include or have included the Abbey Fund, building, exhibition, executive, finance, membership, nominating, school, Ranger Fund, women's, and various ad-hoc committees. Over the years the structure, powers and duties of committees were modified. Occasional correspondence, notes, exhibition catalogues, and handwritten texts (mostly original drafts of minutes) are included. This is especially true for the period 1897-1913, when handwritten drafts and notes of minutes were more or less consistently incorporated with typewritten minutes in chronological order.
Committee files (subseries 1.5) contain the same types of materials found in subseries 1.4, including committee minutes, reports, and related material.
The series is arranged as five subseries. The original order of the minutes and committee files have undergone several alterations over the years. Subseries 1.4 and 1.5 both contain extensive committee records. Minutes and reports (1.4) are arranged chronologically while committee files (1.5) have been arranged alphabetically.
1.1: Official Council Minutes, 1825-1916
1.2: Original Council Minutes, 1825-1898
1.3: Council Minutes Excerpts, 1902-circa 1919
1.4: Minutes and Reports, 1826-2001
1.5: Committees, 1826-2006
This bulk of this collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
National Academy of Design records, 1817-2012. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.