The Rockwell Kent papers measure 88.0 linear feet and date from circa 1840 to 1993 with the bulk of the collection dating from 1935 to 1961. The collection provides comprehensive coverage of Kent's career as a painter, illustrator, designer, writer, lecturer, traveler, political activist, and dairy farmer.
Scope and Content Note:
The Rockwell Kent papers measure 88 linear feet and date from circa 1840 to 1993 with the bulk of the collection dating from 1935 to 1961. The collection provides comprehensive coverage of Kent's career as a painter, illustrator, designer, writer, lecturer, traveler, political activist, and dairy farmer.
Circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the papers are highlighted in an article by Garnett McCoy ("The Rockwell Kent Papers," in the Archives of American Art Journal, 12, no. 1 [January 1972]: 1-9), recommended reading for researchers interested in the collection. The collection is remarkably complete, for in the mid 1920s Kent began keeping carbon copies of all outgoing letters, eventually employing a secretary (who became his third wife and continued her office duties for the remainder of Kent's life).
Series 1: Alphabetical Files contain Kent's personal and professional correspondence, along with business records of the dairy farm and associated enterprises; also included are printed matter on a wide variety of topics and promotional literature relating to organizations and causes of interest to him. Voluminous correspondence with his three wives, five children, and other relatives, as well as with literally hundreds of friends, both lifelong and of brief duration, illuminates Kent's private life and contributes to understanding of his complex character. Among the many correspondents of note are: his art teachers William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, and Kenneth Hayes Miller; fellow artists Tom Cleland, Arthur B. Davies, James Fitzgerald, Hugo Gellert, Harry Gottleib, Marsden Hartley, Charles Keller, and Ruth Reeves; collectors Duncan Phillips and Dan Burne Jones; critics J. E. Chamberlain and Walter Pach; and dealers Charles Daniel, Felix Wildenstein, and Macbeth Galleries. Kent corresponded with such diverse people as Arctic explorers Peter Freuchen, Knud Rasmussen, and Vilhjalmar Steffanson; composer Carl Ruggles and songwriters Lee Hays and Pete Seeger; civil rights pioneers Paul Robeson and Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois; writers Bayard Boyesen, Scott and Helen Nearing, and Louis Untermeyer; and art historian and print curator Carl Zigrosser.
Kent's interest and involvement in the labor movement are reflected in correspondence with officials and members of a wide variety and large number of unions and related organizations, among them: the Farmers' Educational and Cooperative Union of America, Farmers' Union of the New York Milk Shed, International Workers Order, National Maritime Union, and United Office and Professional Workers of America. Of special interest is his participation, often in leadership roles, in various attempts to organize artists. Files on the American Artists' Congress, Artists League of America, The Artists Union, United American Artists, and United Scenic Artists contain particularly valuable material on the movement.
A supporter of New Deal efforts to aid artists, Kent was actively interested in the various programs and often was critical of their limitations; he advocated continuing federal aid to artists after the Depression abated. The Kent papers include correspondence with the Federal Arts Project, Federal Fine Arts Project, Federal Writers Project, and the War Department, as well as correspondence with the Citizens' Committee for Government Art Projects and President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the subject.
Kent's professional correspondence documents exhibitions, sales, consignments, and reproduction of prints and paintings. He kept meticulous records of his advertising commissions and illustration work. Detailed correspondence with publishers and printers indicates Kent's involvement in the technical aspects of production and provides a good overview of the publishing industry during the mid-twentieth century.
Business records of Asgaard Farm include records of the dairy and transfer of ownership to its employees, tax and employee information, and documents concerning several related business ventures such as distributor ships for grain, feed, and farm implements.
Series 2: Writings consists of notes, drafts, and completed manuscripts by Rockwell Kent, mainly articles, statements, speeches, poems, introductions, and reviews. The Kent Collection given to Friendship House, Moscow, in 1960, was augmented later by a set of his publications and the illustrated manuscripts of many of his monographs. Also included are a small number of manuscripts by other authors.
Series 3: Artwork consists mainly of drawings and sketches by Kent; also included are works on paper by other artists, many of whom are unidentified, and by children.
Series 4: Printed Matter consists of clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, brochures, broadsides, programs, and newsletters. These include items by and about Kent and his family, as well as articles written and/or illustrated by him, and reviews of his books. There is also material on a variety of subjects and causes of interest to him. Additional printed matter is included among the alphabetical files, mainly as attachments to correspondence.
Series 5: Miscellaneous includes biographical material, legal documents, and memorabilia. Artifacts received with papers include textile samples, a silk scarf, dinnerware, ice bucket, and rubber stamp, all featuring designs by Rockwell Kent. Also with this series are a variety of documents including a phrenological analysis of an ancestor, lists of supplies for expeditions, a hand-drawn map of an unidentified place, and technical notes regarding art materials and techniques.
Series 6: Photographs includes photographs of Kent, his family and friends, travel, and art number that over one thousand. Also included here are several albums of family and travel photographs.
The collection is arranged into six series. Series 1 is arranged alphabetically. The arrangement of the remaining series is explained in each series description. Note that sealed materials that became available in 2000 were microfilmed separately on reels 5740-5741, but have integrated into this finding aid.
Series 1: Alphabetical Files, circa 1900-1971, undated (Reels 5153-5249, 5256, 5740-5741)
Series 2: Writings, 1906-1978, undated (Reels 5249-5252, 5741)
Series 3: Art Work, 1910-1972, undated (Reels 5252, 5741)
Series 4: Printed Matter, 1905-1993, undated (Reels 5252-5254)
Series 5: Miscellaneous, 1859-1969, undated (Reels 5254, 5741)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1840-1970, undated (Reels 5254-5255, 5741)
Rockwell Kent (1882-1971), an energetic and multitalented man, pursued many interests and careers during his very long and active life. At various times he was an architect, draftsman, carpenter, unskilled laborer, painter, illustrator, printmaker, commercial artist, designer, traveler/explorer, writer, professional lecturer, dairy farmer, and political activist.
While studying architecture at Columbia University, Kent enrolled in William Merritt Chase's summer school at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island. He then redirected his career ambitions toward painting and continued to study with Chase in New York. Kent spent a summer working and living with Abbott H. Thayer in Dublin, New Hampshire, and attended the New York School of Art, where Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller were his teachers.
Critically and financially, Kent was a successful artist. He was very well known for his illustration work--particularly limited editions of the classics, bookplates, and Christmas cards. He was a prolific printmaker, and his prints and paintings were acquired by many major museums and private collectors. During the post-World War II era, Kent's political sympathies resulted in the loss of commissions, and his adherence to artistic conservatism and outspoken opposition to modern art led to disfavor within art circles. After many years of declining reputation in this country and unsuccessful attempts to find a home for the Kent Collection, Kent gave his unsold paintings--the majority of his oeuvre--to the Soviet Union, where he continued to be immensely popular.
An avid traveler, Kent was especially fascinated by remote, Arctic lands and often stayed for extended periods of time to paint, write, and become acquainted with the local inhabitants. Between 1918 and 1935, he wrote and illustrated several popular books about his experiences in Alaska, Tierra del Fuego, and Greenland. In the 1930s and 1940s, Kent was much in demand as a lecturer, making several nationwide tours under the management of a professional lecture bureau; he spoke mainly about his travels, but among his standard lectures were some on "art for the people."
In 1927, Kent purchased Asgaard Farm at AuSable Forks, New York, in the Adirondacks, where he lived for the remainder of his life, operating a modern dairy farm on a modest scale for many years.
As a young man, Kent met Rufus Weeks, became committed to social justice, and joined the Socialist Party. Throughout his life, he supported left-wing causes and was a member or officer of many organizations promoting world peace and harmonious relations with the Soviet Union, civil rights, civil liberties, antifascism, and organized labor. Kent was frequently featured as a celebrity sponsor or speaker at fund-raising events for these causes. In 1948, he ran unsuccessfully as the American Labor Party's candidate for Congress. Kent's unpopular political views eventually led to the dissolution of his dairy business, resulted in a summons to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and prompted the U.S. State Department to deny him a passport, an action that subsequently was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kent wrote two autobiographies, This Is My Own (1940) and It's Me, O Lord (1955). In 1969, he was the subject of an oral history interview conducted by Paul Cummings for the Archives of American Art.
1882 -- born, Tarrytown, New York
1887 -- death of Rockwell Kent, Sr.
1894-1896 -- attended Cheshire Academy
1895 -- toured Europe with Aunt Jo
1896 -- attended Horace Mann School, New York City
1900-1902 -- studied architecture at Columbia University
1900-1902 -- attended William Merritt Chase's summer school, Shinnecock Hills, Long Island
1903 -- studied with William Merritt Chase, New York City
1904 -- first sale of a painting
1904 -- met Rufus Weeks and attended first Socialist meeting
1905 -- lived and worked with Abbott H. Thayer, Dublin, New Hampshire
1905 -- first painting trip to Monhegan Island, Maine
1907 -- first one-man show, Claussen Galleries, New York City
1908 -- marriage to Kathleen Whiting
1908 -- studied with Robert Henri
1908 -- joined Socialist Party
1909 -- birth of Rockwell, III
1910 -- ran Monhegan Summer School of Art
1910 -- first trip to Newfoundland
1910 -- helped to organize first Independent Exhibition
1911 -- birth of Kathleen
1912 -- moved to Winona, Minnesota
1913 -- birth of Clara
1914 -- settled in Newfoundland
1915 -- deported from Newfoundland
1915 -- birth of Barbara
1917 -- served as full-time organizer and administrator of Independent Exhibition
1918-1919 -- in Alaska with son Rocky
1919 -- purchased Egypt Farm, Arlington, Vermont
1919 -- incorporated self
1920 -- publication of Wilderness
1920 -- birth of Gordon
1922 -- traveled to Tierra del Fuego
1924 -- publication of Voyaging
1925 -- trip to France
1925 -- divorced from Kathleen
1926 -- marriage to Frances Lee
1926 -- traveled to Ireland
1927 -- purchased Asgaard Farm, AuSable, New York
1927 -- editor of Creative Art
1927 -- helped organize National Gallery of Contemporary Art, Washington, D.C.
1929 -- sailed to Greenland on Direction
1930 -- publication of N by E
1932-1933 -- returned to Greenland
1934-1935 -- final trip to Greenland
1935 -- publication of Salamina
1936 -- trip to Puerto Rico
1937 -- trip to Brazil
1937-1938 -- Post Office Department mural commission and controversy over Eskimo-language message interpreted as encouraging Puerto Rican independence
1939 -- divorced from Frances
1939 -- General Electric Co. mural commission for New York World's Fair
1940 -- publication of This Is My Own
1940 -- marriage to Shirley Johnstone (Sally)
1942 -- solo exhibition, Know and Defend America, at Wildenstein Galleries, New York City
1946 -- elected to Executive Committee of American Labor Party
1948 -- congressional candidate, American Labor Party
1948 -- transferred ownership of dairy to remaining employees after boycott resulting from support of Wallace for president
1949 -- attended World Congress for Peace, Paris
1950-1958 -- denied U.S. passport; lawsuit, appeals, and Supreme Court decision reinstating right to travel
1953 -- testified before House Un-American Activities Committee
1955 -- publication of It's Me, O Lord
1958 -- one-man show at Hermitage Museum, Leningrad
1959 -- publication of Of Men and Mountains
1960 -- gift of Kent Collection to Friendship House, Moscow
1960 -- exhibition at Pushkin Museum, Moscow
1963 -- publication of Greenland Journal
1966 -- elected to Academy of Arts of the USSR
1967 -- awarded Lenin Peace Prize, Moscow
1969 -- oral history interview, Archives of American Art
1969 -- home at Asgaard destroyed by fire; papers survived with some water and smoke damage
1969 -- first installment of Rockwell Kent Papers donated to Archives of American Art
1971 -- died, Plattsburgh, New York
1971 -- gift of additional Rockwell Kent Papers to Archives of American Art
1979 -- gift of textile samples to the Archives of American Art
1996 -- gift of additional Rockwell Kent Papers to Archives of American Art
2000 -- death of Sally [Shirley Johnstone] Kent Gorton
2000 -- previously sealed correspondence of wives Frances and Sally (Series 1) opened to researchers
2001 -- gift of additional Rockwell Kent papers to the Archives of American Art from the Estate of Sally Kent [Shirley Johnstone] Gorton
In 1969, Rockwell Kent donated his papers to the Archives of American Art; textile samples were received in 1979, and his widow gave additional papers in 1971 and 1996. Letters to Rockwell Kent from wives Frances and Sally, sealed during Sally Kent Gorton's lifetime, became available for research after her death in 2000, and further material was donated to the Archives of American Art in 2001 by the Estate of Sally Kent [Shirley Johnstone] Gorton.
The microfilm of this collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Use of material not microfilmed or digitized requires an appointment.
The Rockwell Kent 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, painter, and printmaker John Henry Bradley Storrs measure 20.44 linear feet and date from 1790-2007, with the bulk of the papers dating from 1900 to 1956. The collection contains biographical material, correspondence, personal business records, forty-eight diaries of John Storrs, a few diaries of other family members, additional writings, printed material, photographs of Storrs and his family and friends, artwork, scrapbooks, estate records, and video recordings. Correspondence includes that of John Storrs, Marguerite Storrs, and the Storrs family.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of sculptor, painter, and printmaker John Henry Bradley Storrs measure 20.44 linear feet and date from 1790 to 2007, with the bulk of the papers dating from 1900 to 1956. The collection documents Storrs' career as an artist and his personal life through biographical material, correspondence with family, friends, and colleagues, personal business records, forty-eight diaries and other writings, printed material, photographs of Storrs and his family and friends, artwork, scrapbooks, estate records, and video recordings. There is also a substantial amount of Marguerite Storr's correspondence as well as scattered correspondence of other members of the Storr's family.
Biographical material consists of chronologies detailing the life of John Storrs, identification records, certificates, Storrs family documents, and records of John and Monique Storrs' French resistance activities during World War II.
Correspondence within this collection is divided into John Storrs Correspondence, Marguerite Storrs Correspondence, and Storrs Family Correspondence. The bulk of correspondence is John Storrs with friends, colleagues, art critics, patrons, art organizations and galleries. Correspondents of note include artists, architects, and writers such as Hendrick Andersen, Sherwood Anderson, Edward Bennett, George Biddle, Jerome Blum, Georges Braque, Louise Bryant, William Bullitt, Alexander Calder, Walter Cole, Paul Phillippe Cret, Katherine Dreier, Marcel Duchamp, Max Eastman, R. Buckminster Fuller, Marsden Hartley, Jane Heap, Jean Helion, Fernand Leger, Jacques Lipchitz, Man Ray, Charles Sheeler, Gertrude Stein, Joseph Stella, Maurice Sterne, Alfred Stieglitz, Leopold Survage, and William and Marguerite Zorach. There are also many letters to his wife Marguerite.
Marguerite Storrs' correspondence is with friends, family, colleagues, and others, including many letters to her husband. The letters are about general and family news, social activities and invitations, her work as a writer, and her husband's career. Storrs' family correspondence includes John and Marguerite's extensive correspondence with their daughter Monique as well as Monique's correspondence with others. Additional family correspondence is between John, his sister Mary ("Mae") and their parents David William and Hannah Storrs, much of it dating from 1900 to 1913.
Personal business records include address books, records regarding the sale and loan of Storrs' artwork, commission files regarding major public sculptures by Storrs, contracts, appraisals, financial records, and other documents regarding his professional activities. Of note are several files documenting Downtown Gallery's representation of Storrs' work during the 1960s, including correspondence between Edith Halpert and Monique Storrs. Various other documents include records of the Ecole de la Loire artists group (all in French.) Additionally there are records relating to Chateau de Chantecaille, an estate purchased by Storrs in the early 1920s as his primary residence and studio.
Forty-eight diaries contain scattered documentation of John Storrs' daily activities. Other writings by Storrs include four volumes of his memoirs that detail family history and his life from birth to 1906, notebooks, poetry, and personal accounts including the death of Auguste Rodin. Writings by others include poetry by Jessie Dismorr, essays by Zoltan Hecht and Maurice Raynal, and notebooks belonging to Storrs family members.
Printed material consists of books, art bulletins, brochures, invitations, announcements, and programs for art and social events. Also found are catalogs for exhibitions of Storrs' work and work by other artists; magazines, including a bound volume of the first ten issues of The Liberator; and clippings which include news about Storrs, his family, and friends.
Photographs depict John Storrs, his family, friends such as Arthur Bock and Gertrude Lambert, travels, and residences. Included are photographs of Storrs in his studio and in art classes. Also found are four photograph albums, primarily documenting his time in Europe from 1905 to 1907, exhibition photographs, and numerous photographs of his artwork.
Original artwork includes a portfolio of artwork created by Storrs as a youth, loose sketches, one sketchbook, 31 lithographs, and drawings for mural projects.
Four scrapbooks and a portfolio kept by John and Marguerite Storrs contain newspaper and magazine clippings of articles and illustrations as well as printed material from exhibitions, social events, and professional activities. Also found is a portfolio containing scattered items regarding the publication of Song of Myself with original wood engravings by John Storrs. One additional scrapbook was created by John Storrs around 1945 for his daughter, Monique Storrs, to document her service as a nurse in World War II.
This collection also includes records of John Storrs' estate immediately following his death in 1956, as well as records of several galleries that represented the estate in managing Storrs' artwork from the 1970s to 2002.
Three videocassettes, transferred from an unknown reel format, contain footage of Storrs' family life at Chantecaille and in Chicago, Illinois, in the 1930s.
The collection is arranged as 11 series.
Some box and folder numbers in the container listing intentionally display out of sequence. An accretion was added in 2012 and integrated into the intellectual order, but not into the physical container order. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1837, 1860-1984 (Box 1, 20, 25, OV 23; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1857-2007 (Box 1-7, 25; 5.8 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1790, 1855-1987 (Box 7-9, 25, OV 24, 28; 2.9 linear feet)
Series 4: Diaries, 1874-1955 (Box 9-10; 0.9 linear feet)
Series 5: Writings, 1888-1989 (Box 10-11, 25; 1.1 linear foot)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1867-1987, 2005 (Box 11-14, 25, OV 24; 3.6 linear feet)
Series 7: Photographs, circa 1885-1980 (Box 14-16, 18, 20-22, 25, MGP 1, MGP 2, MGP 5, MGP 6; 3.2 linear feet)
Series 8: Artwork, 1895-1935 (Box 18, 20, OV 23; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 9: Scrapbooks, 1895-1963 (Box 18-21, 25; 0.7 linear feet)
Series 10: Estate Records, 1956-2002 (Box 26; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 11: Video Recordings, circa 1980s (Box 26-27; 0.2 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
John Henry Bradley Storrs (1885-1956) worked primarily in Chicago, Illinois, and Mer, France, as a sculptor, painter, and printmaker.
John Storrs was born in 1885 in Chicago, Illinois, to David William Storrs, an architect, and Hannah Bradley Storrs. Upon completing his schooling in 1905 he went to Berlin with the intention of studying music, but instead chose to study sculpture with the Arthur Bock in Hamburg, Germany. He also spent time in Paris and traveled throughout Europe, Turkey, and Egypt, returning to the US in late 1907. Storrs took night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, followed by periods of study at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, with Bela Pratt, and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with Charles Grafly. In 1912 he returned to Paris where he studied at the Académie Julian and with the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin. During this period his work was greatly influenced by cubism and futurism. In 1914 he married French writer Marguerite Deville-Chabrol. After briefly returning to the US to exhibit his work, Storrs worked at a hospital in Paris throughout World War I and in 1918 his daughter Monique was born. He and his family settled in Mer, France, at the Chateau de Chantecaille in 1921.
The following two decades were very productive for Storrs and he frequently travelled between the US and France to exhibit and create work. He showed in many notable exhibits such as the Société Anonyme's International Exhibition of Modern Art in New York in 1926, and he completed several commissions such as a statue for the Chicago Board of Trade in 1929. During this time Storrs completely moved away from representational work and refined his non-objective, machine-like sculpture. Besides sculpture, he also produced many paintings, woodcuts, lithographs, and other works on paper. He created works for the Century of Progress International Exposition in 1933 and also worked for the Public Works of Art Project in 1934.
During World War II Storrs was twice arrested and imprisoned by the German occupation forces, once for six months from 1941 to 1942 and again in 1944 along with his daughter Monique who was part of the French Resistance. These events greatly impacted his health and he produced very little work in the late 1940s and 1950s. He continued to exhibit his work and was also president in 1954 of the Ecole de la Loire, a group of 75 artists working in the Loire Valley. John Storrs died in 1956.
Also available at the Archives of American Art is the Noel Frackman research material on John Henry Bradley Storrs, 1972-2003. In addition, Archives of American Art microfilm reels 1463 and ND/S-1 contain the John Henry Bradley Storrs scrapbook and studio book, 1909-1972.
The Booz family also loaned approximately 1,000 drawings by John Storrs and select family photographs for microfilming. Loaned material is available for viewing on reel 1555, but is not described in this container listing of this finding aid.
The John Henry Bradley Storrs papers were donated in several installments from 1979 to 1987 by Storrs' daughter, Monique Storrs Booz, and her daughter, Michelle Storrs Booz. A portion of these papers were loaned for microfilming in 1977 and subsequently donated in 1980. Additional papers were donated by Michelle Storrs Booz in 2011.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.
The John Henry Bradley Storrs 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.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Underground movements Search this
Portfolios (groups of works)
John Henry Bradley Storrs papers, 1890-2007, bulk 1900-1956. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.