The scattered papers of art critic and writer Charles Henry Caffin measure 1.2 linear feet and date from circa 1883-1973, bulk circa 1883-1918. Found within the papers are an interview transcript, two letters, printed materials, one scrapbook, and family photographs dating from circa 1883 to circa 1911, many by noted photographers Arnold Genthe, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Gertrude Käsebier, Edward Steichen, and Alfred Stieglitz. The scrapbook contains Caffin's columns for the New York American, 1913-1915.
Scope and Content Note:
The scattered papers of art critic and writer Charles Henry Caffin measure 1.2 linear feet and date from circa 1883-1973. Found within the papers are an interview transcript, two letters, printed materials, one scrapbook, and family photographs dating from circa 1883 to circa 1911, many by noted photographers Arnold Genthe, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Gertrude Käsebier, Edward Steichen, and Alfred Stieglitz. The scrapbook contains Caffin's columns for the New York American, 1913-1915.
Biographical information includes an autograph book, and a transcript and written summary of a 1973 interview with Caffin's daughter, Donna Layton, conducted by Wanda Corn and Deborah Loft concerning Charles Henry Caffin. The two letters found within the papers are written to Caroline Caffin. Printed material consists of play announcements, a play written by Charles Rann Kennedy, and excerpts from a 1974 published book on photography mentioning Caffin.
Photographs are of the Caffin family, including Charles Henry, Caroline, Donna, Freda and Charles's mother Harlet. Also found are photographs of Ben Greet. Notable photographers include Arnold Genthe, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Gertrude Käsebier, Edward Steichen, and Alfred Stieglitz. There is one scrapbook containing Charles Henry Caffin's articles written for the New York American magazine from 1913-1915.
The collection is arranged into 5 series:
Series 1: Biographical Information, 1915, 1973 (Box 1; 2 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1920 (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 3: Printed Material, 1908, circa 1920, 1973 (Box 1; 3 folders)
Series 4: Photographs, circa 1883-circa 1910s (Box 1, 3-4; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1913-1915 (Box 2; 0.4 linear feet)
Charles Henry Caffin was born in 1854 in England. After graduating from Oxford University, Caffin served as stage manager for outdoor productions with Ben Greet and His Shakespearean Players. During this time, he met actress Caroline Scurfield, whom he later married and had two daughters, Freda and Donna. Caffin moved to United States in 1892 where he began to write about art, drama, and dance. He was an early supporter of the Photo-Secessionists and American modern art.
Initially, Caffin worked for several years executing murals from designs prepared by other artists for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the new Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Shortly thereafter, however, he began writing for Alfred Stieglitz's Camera Notes and later Camera Work. He moved to the New York City area and worked as a critic for the New York Evening Post, New York Sun, and later for the New York American. Caffin wrote many books about art, drama, and dance, including Photography as Fine Art (1901), American Masters of Painting (1902), How to Study Pictures (1905), and Art for Life's Sake (1913).
Charles Caffin died in 1918.
Donna Caffin Layton, daughter of Charles Caffin, donated most of the papers in 1974. Stephen D. Rockstroh, Caffin's son-in-law, donated additional material in 1985.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
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Extensive correspondence and subject files, ca. 1864-1977, containing mainly letters received from photographers, photography clubs and societies, authors, friends, models, colleagues, and others, and some drafts of letters sent. Some of the files contain writings, printed material, photographs, or correspondence of the Norwood Historical Society, 1961-1977. The correspondence refers to Day's photography, the 1904 fire which destroyed Day's studio, his involvement with literary groups and the Linked Ring, requests for articles on photography from publishers, requests for Day to exhibit and judge photography exhibitions, his interest in John Keats and collecting Keatsiana, and fine printing and his firm Copeland and Day.
Several notable files are "Day," containing correspondence, letters from his father, Lewis Day, 1870-1904, writings by Day, "Is Photography Art?", "Sacred Subjects in Photography," and reviews and essays Day contributed to "Knight Errant," an article on Day by Ralph Hazell, "A Visit to Mr. Fred Holland Day," 1899, clippings on Day, 1899-1935, and an annotated photograph regarding Day's photo collaboration with Estelle Baston. "Photography" containing: letters from Roger Clark, George C. Cox, Sylvester Rosa Koehler, Charlotte Perkins, Robert Redfield, Mathilde Weil and others, exhibition catalogs and announcements, undated and 1901-1902; "Gertrude Kasebier," consisting of a letter from Arthur B. Davies to Day and her own letters to Day, which give a sense of tension between Day and Alfred Stieglitz, and her own frustration with Stieglitz; "Ralph Adams Cram," with correspondence, 4 photos of Cram, excerpts from his book "My Life in Architecture," and obituaries; and "Copeland and Day," containing correspondence with authors and artists, material on book and printing exhibitions, and letters from customers.
Other notable subjects and/or correspondents include: C. Yarnell Abbott, W. Fred Allen, Anthony Angotti, J. Williams Beall, Curtis Bell, Lord Alfred Douglas, Edgar Farwell, Kahil Gibran, Bertram Goodhue, Laura Hills, Maxfield Parrish, William Ordway Partridge, Eva L. Watson Schutze and Anne Whitney.
Also included are ca. 150 photographs and tintypes of Day, 1865-ca.1930, some taken by Alvin Langdon Coburn, Reginald Craigie, Frederick H. Evans, Fred Hollyer, Gertrude Kasebier, Edward Steichen, Thomas Walter, Clarence White, and Jennie Woodbury; and photos of Lewis Day. Other photographs included are: photos by Day (and some probably by Day but unidentified), of Herbert Copeland, Anna Day Smith, Lewis Day, Alice Brown, Louise Guiney, and other subjects; photographs of Day's home in Norwood and his chalet in Maine; and photographs of various subjects by Frederick Evans, Gertrude Kasebier and Clarence White, Sr.
Files are arranged alphabetically by file title and photographs and photograph albums are arranged in random numerical order as assigned by the Norwood Historical Society which owned the original papers at the time it was lent for microfilming.
Biographical / Historical:
Photographer; Norwood, Mass. Day began photography in the late 1880s. By 1895 he had established a reputation as a pictorial photographer, and was elected to the Brotherhood of the Linked Ring. In 1900 he arranged in London the first major exhibition of pictorial photography in Europe. A fire in his Boston studio destroyed over 2,000 glass negatives in 1904, which ended his photography career. Day was also a collector of Keatsiana. He published fine books of poetry and other literary works at his firm of Copeland and Day from 1893-1899.
Material on reels 3565-66 was lent for microfilming by the Norwood Historical Society in 1985. Material on reels 4950-4956 was lent in 1994. Six letterpress books, files of his publishing firm of Copeland and Day, and a scrapbook of European travel clippings were not microfilmed.
The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.