Washington (D.C.) -- Small business -- 20th century
Shaw (Washington, D.C.)
Washington (D.C.) -- African Americans
The collection includes approximately 250,000 photonegatives, photoprints, color transparencies from the photographic business founded by Addison Scurlock in Washington, DC. Collection also includes business records and ephemera.
Scope and Contents:
Photographs includes portraits of famous African-American luminaries such as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and many other artists, intellectuals, educators, entertainers, etc., as well as documentation of Washington, DC, including both the African-American community and national political life, and important photographs of Howard University; also commercial photography, including color materials.
Color separation materials include sets of black-and-white color-separation negatives, sets of matrices for the Kodak Dye Transfer process (full-color Dye Transfer prints are storied in a different series).
Business records: The photography studio records and Custom Craft records are in separate series, reflecting the fact that they were operated as separate businesses.
The collection includes all forms of photographs produced by the studio, such as prints in black-and-white and color, black-and-white and color negatives, color transparencies, black-and-white dye-transfer matrices, slides, etc.; as well as business documents, studio session ledgers, appointment books, business and personal correspondence, tax documents, and books, catalogs, and other publications. This material documents not only the photographic output of the business, both commercial and artistic, as well as the personal and business side of the enterprise.
Some photographs in the collection were not created by the Scurlocks. Some black-and-white and color prints seem to derive from assignments in the Capitol School of Photography, and are therefore student work. Also Custom Craft, the professional color processing service provided by the studio, made prints for other photographers, and samples for printing reference, as well as studio decor, have been retained in the collection. Custom Craft worked for such diverse photographers as artist Robert Epstein and well-known Washington photographer Fred Maroon, for example.
The collection numbers several hundred thousand photographic negatives, prints, and transparencies made by the Scurlocks and other staff photographers of the studio in its various Washington locations. The negatives are estimated at approximately 160,000-200,000 in number, and the prints of all sizes and types at nearly 57,000. The vast majority of the photographs are portraits of individuals, family groups, and organizations, as the primary business of the studio was portrait photography. They date primarily from the 1940s to 1990s. There are also a number of images, made for commercial clients, of building interiors and exteriors, and food. A small group of photojournalistic documentation also exists. The subjects also include architectural and industrial views, scenes in and around Washington, including children and street laborers, political events, social events, and 35mm slides of President Kennedy's funeral, 1964. There are also more personal artistic images, including still lifes with plants and flowers, and a few nudes; Robert's wartime service is also documented by his photographs, including European landscape photographs.
In addition to images taken by the Scurlock studio photographers, there are some prints, especially color, of images by other photographers who were clients, such as Fred Maroon, a prominent Washington photojournalist, and Robert Epstein, a teacher at the Corcoran School of Art. A print of one of Maroon's pictures had been displayed in the studio reception room at the time the studio was closed.
A large group of manuscript items, business documents, ephemera, and office and studio supplies constitutes a separate series from the photographs. An important adjunct to the photographs, a set of ledgers recording and identifying portrait sittings, highlights this group.
Nearly all of the photographs and documents stored in the studio and auxiliary storage locations were accepted for acquisition in order to form a complete history of this family business's production and operations over the better part of a century, whereas a selection of photographic apparatus and studio equipment was acquired by the Photographic History Collection: these items have been inventoried and catalogued separately.
The majority of the surviving photographic negatives and proof prints were made in connection with the studio's portrait work for a wide variety of clients. These portraits include images of famous people, such as political figures, entertainers, and noteworthy persons in a variety of fields, including scientists, writers, intellectuals, and academics. The majority of the figures depicted among both the famous and the not so famous are black. The greatest number of studio portraits, most of which are identified and dated, depict a general clientele who visited the studio for portrait sittings. Although the individual images in this vast quantity have limited research value in the usual sense, the aggregate represents a chronology spanning almost ninety years, which may be useful for demographic and genealogical information and as visual evidence of changing styles in clothing, hair, and accessories. It constitutes a panorama of a significant percentage of Washingtonians of the period, especially the black community.
Portraits of famous personages include George Washington Carver, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Duke Ellington, Marian Anderson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sammy Davis, Jr., Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali, Mayor Walter Washington, and Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, Mayor Marion Barry, DC Council members, statesmen such as Ralph Bunche, and many other noteworthy figures. Of particular interest is a signed group portrait of the US. Supreme Court with Chief Justice Berger presiding. There are also large- format portraits of Justice Thurgood Marshall and J. Edgar Hoover.
Group portraits include both formal sittings and the informal documentation of banquets, convocations, and similar events. This material includes groups at Howard University; Dunbar High School; the Post Office Clerks' Banquet; the Bishops' Meeting of the AME Church; a YMCA camp, cira 1947 1949; the 23rd annual conference of the NAACP, 1932, etc.
Several thousand black and white negatives and prints, 1930s-1960s, depict the people, facilities, and events of Howard University, with which the Scurlocks had a long business relationship. There are various portraits, including Howard University Medical School, represented by 850 negatives and 100 prints. A group of law school and medical school images numbers some 800 negatives and 200 prints. In addition, there are class portraits, as well as images of famous guests speaking at Howard convocations, such as President Herbert Hoover.
An important aspect of any portrait studio's output is wedding photography, and the Scurlock studio was no exception. Bridal portraits, group pictures of wedding parties, and the complete documentation of weddings, in both black and white and color, constitute a significant part of the collection. African-American weddings predominate and provide important insights into this aspect of the society.
The studio's work was shown in special public exhibitions over the years, and several of these are included in toto. The most important was an extensive retrospective display of 121 prints of Addison's work, both vintage and posthumous, prepared by Robert for the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1976. Others include: (1) a set of 32 black and white images made by Robert at the Ramitelli Air Base, Italy, while he was a major in the US Air Force during World War II; (2) a group of portraits from a Black History Month exhibit at Woodward and Lothrop; and (3) a set of sixteen vintage and modern prints which Robert displayed in an interview on the "Today" television show in the 1980s.
This category includes architectural and industrial photography for commercial clients, food and still life photographs, etc. Much of this material is comparatively recent and was made in large format color, and includes transparencies and enlargements. It is possible that some of the prints represent Custom Craft work for other photographers rather than the camera work of Robert and George Scurlock. Thus far, prints by artist Robert Epstein have been identified as extra prints of his work from orders which he placed with the firm. At least one image by Fred Maroon has been identified.
A group of color prints constitutes copies of artworks, primarily in the National Portrait Gallery, for which the Scurlocks worked. Prints in 8" x 10", 11" x 14", 16" x 20" and 20" x 24" sizes are included, and undoubtedly negatives and transparencies corresponding to these subjects will be found.
In addition to the formal studio portraits and pictures documenting formal events, the Scurlocks took candid photographs of the everyday life of their city, as well as extraordinary events of local and national significance, ranging from occasions such as John F. Kennedy's funeral and the 1968 riots to political rallies and demonstrations.
Capitol School of Photography
The collection includes a variety of materials, such as books and ephemera, which document the activities of the Capitol School of Photography, a sideline of the Scurlock business. Some of the photographs apparently represent student work. The most famous student of the school was Jacqueline Bouvier (later Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis), although no documentation of her association with the school has been located thus far. There are 45 photographs, circa 1950s, showing the photography lab, men retouching prints, students with cameras, etc.
A few photographs of the Scurlock family are included in the collection in various forms and formats, including enlarged portraits of Addison and Robert. A self portrait of Addison and Mamie Scurlock is included in the Corcoran Gallery of Art exhibition series. Other photographs which represent personal artistic expression, such as a few nude studies and floral and plant still lifes, are included.
Series 6 consists of photographic materials including color transparencies, slides, film, and proofs but occasionally includes notes, forms, and envelopes associated with the orders.
Series 1: Black and White Photographs:
Dates -- 1888-1993
Extent -- 105 boxes
Contents -- Series 1: Black and White Photographs: The materials are almost entirely black and white photographs, but in the subseries of clients, there may also be job envelopes, order materials, and other photographic material types that were included in the overall order. The series is arranged into two subseries, clients and subjects, and both are arranged alphabetically. The subseries clients documents the orders made by clients of the Scurlock Studio and individuals who were or could be identified but may or may not have actually placed an order at the Studio. The majority of the photographs in the clients subseries are formal portrait sittings but there are photographs of events, organizations, and businesses. The subseries subjects are photographs that were grouped into categories because no known client or individual in the image could be identified. The subjects cover a broad array of subjects but the majority of the subjects include unidentified people in formal portrait sittings and groups. In addition, not all photographs in this series were taken by the Scurlock Studio; there are photos by Abdon Daoud Ackad and other studios or photographers that were sent in to make copies. 1.1: Clients Black and white photographs1.2: Subjects Black and white photographs
Series 2: Color Photographs:
Dates -- 1930-1995
Extent -- 113 boxes
Contents -- Series 2: Color Photographs: The series color photographs consists of color photographs and hand-colored photographs, but there are also order envelopes and materials, and other photographic material types that were part of the order. The subseries are arranged as clients, subjects, weddings, and hand-colored photographs. Clients are arranged alphabetically by last name or the first word of an organization's name. Not all individuals, organizations, or businesses necessarily represent a client of the Scurlock Studio; if an individual or organization could be identified, the photograph was placed under the identified person or organization even if ther were not a known client of the Studio. The majority of the photographs are individual portrait sittings but also included are family portraits, businesses, organizations, and informal images. The subjects are arranged alphabetically, and document images of non-humans and humans that could not be connected to a known client. Weddings and hand-colored are arranged in alphabetical order with clients preceeding subjects. The were a large subject of the overall collection and the majority of weddings are color photographs but also included in the subseries are black and white and hand-colored photographs of weddings. The hand-colored photographs largely reflect the same subject matter of the subseries clients and subjects. In addition, not all photographs in this subseries were taken by the Scurlock Studio; there are photos by Abdon Daoud Ackad and other studios or photographers that were sent in to make copies. 2.1: Clients Color photographs2.2: Subjects Color photographs2.3: Weddings2.4: Hand-colored photographs
Series 3: Framed Prints:
Dates -- circa 1979
Extent -- 3 boxes
Contents -- Series 3: Framed Prints: The series framed prints includes three framed color photographs. The framed prints are arranged by the size, from smallest to largest, of the frame. The photographs are of two important political figures: Washington, D. C., Mayor Marion Barry and Senator Edward Brooke.
Series 4: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin Negatives:
Dates -- 1900-1994
Extent -- 320 boxes
Contents -- Series 4: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin Negatives: The material type of the series is black and white silver gelatin negatives. The negatives are arranged into twelve subseries. The materials document the clients and individuals whose photographs were taken by the Scurlock Studio and a wide variety of subject matters. The subjects represented are individual portrait sittings, organizations, events, businesses, commercial ventures of the Studio, and Washington, D. C. 4.1: Black and white negatives 4.2: Black and white negatives in freezers arranged by job number 4.3: Black and white negatives in freezer storage arranged by client 4.4: Black and white negatives in freezer storage arranged by subject 4.5: Black and white negatives in cold storage arranged by job number 4.6: Black and white negatives in cold storage arranged by client 4.7: Negatives in cold storage arranged by client with index cards 4.8: Negatives in cold storage arranged by subject 4.9: Black and white negatives for publication 4.10: Glass Plate Negatives 4.11: Customcraft Negatives 4.12: Banquet Negatives
Series 5: Color Negatives:
Dates -- 1964-1994
Extent -- 72 boxes
Contents -- Series 5: Color Negatives: The series color negatives primarily of color negatives but it also includes order envelopes and materials. The series is arranged into two subseries: clients and subjects. The subseries clients is arranged by job number, and the materials document the orders placed by clients of the Scurlock Studio and identified persons and organizations. The negatives depict individual portrait sittings, groups, and informal poses. The subseries subjects is arranged in alphabetical order, and the materials document negatives that could not be connected to a client of the studio. The negatives represent subjects such as art, buildings, commercial ventures of the Scurlock Studio, and unidentified people. 5.1: Color negatives arranged by client5.2: Color negatives arranged by subject
Series 6: Color Transparencies, Slides, and Other Formats:
Dates -- 1922-1994
Extent -- 40 boxes
Contents -- Series 6: Color Transparencies, Slides, and Other Formats: The series color transparencies, slides, and other formats consists of black and white and color transparencies, color slides, film, proofs, and order materials. The materials are arranged into four subseries: transparencies, slides, film, and proofs. The subseries are arranged by clients, in alphabetical order by last name, and then subjects, in alphabetical order. The materials document the orders placed at the Scurlock Studio by clients and identified individuals and organizations, and materials that could not be identified and are categorized by subjects. The subjects represented in the materials are primarily individual, family, and group portraits, and events and places. Cut but unmounted slides were typically placed in the subseries transparencies but a small number of cut but unmounted slides are included in the slides. The subseries proofs only contains a form of proof used by the Scurlock Studio that has a fugitive image, and other types of proofs printed on low quality paper or are water-marked and have a lasting image were included in the series Black and White Photographs and Color Photographs if the proof was either black and white or color. 6.1: Transparencies6.2: Slides6.3: Film6.4: Proofs
Series 7: Black-and-White Color Separation Negatives and Matrices:
Dates -- 1955-1957
Extent -- 7 boxes
Contents -- Series 7: Black-and-White Color Separation Negatives and Matrices: The materials in the series are black-and-white color separation negatives and a booklet about how to process black-and-white color separation negatives. The materials are arranged into three subseries: clients, subjects, and the booklet. The materials document orders placed at the Scurlock Studio by clients and individuals and organizations that could be identified but not connected to a specific order. The materials also document negatives categorized by subjects because there was no known client or identifiable individual or organization. The subjects represented are individual portrait sittings and groups, and unidentified people. 7.1: Clients Black-and-White Color Separation Negatives 7.2: Subjects Black-and-White Color Separation Negatives Booklet
Series 8: Scurlock Studio Business Records:
Dates -- 1907-1996
Extent -- 66 boxes
Contents -- Series 8: Scurlock Studio Business Records: The series Scurlock Studio Business Records contains paperwork pertaining to the administration of the business, the financial documentation of the business, the reocrds of sales, the advertising signs and promotions of hte business, the files kept on employees, and other materials kept at the Scurlock Studio. The series is arranged into six subseries: administrative file, financial, sales, advertising and marketing, employee and personnel, and office files. Each subseries is arranged differently according to the types of materials predominantly found in the subseries or in chronological order. The subjects represented in the series are mostly related to the financial records of the Scurlock Studio kept and the invoices of sales records. A wide variety of other subjects relating to the the business records of the Scurlock Studio can also be found including: session registers, construction plans, advertisements for specific holidays, and product information sent to the Studio. Some materials found in this series may be marked Scurlock Studio and Custom Craft, the color division of the Scurlock Studio, and were placed with this series because the Scurlock Studio was the primary business. Other materials with an unclear origin of either the Scurlock Studio or Custom Craft were placed in this series. 8.1: Administrative Files8.2: Financial8.3: Sales8.4: Advertising and Marketing8.5: Employee and Personnel8.6: Office Files
Series 9: Custom Craft Business Records:
Dates -- 1951-1994
Extent -- 57 boxes
Contents -- Series 9: Custom Craft Business Records: The series Custom Craft Business Records consists of paper documents relating to the administrative, financial, sales records, employee and personnel, and other files about the affairs of the Custom Craft business's day-to-day operations. The materials are arranged into five subseries: administrative, financial, sales, employee and personnel, and office files. The materials within a subseries are ordered by types of documents that consisted of a large number of materials listed first and materials with few documents following the grouped materials in chronological order. The materials document the day-to-day business of Custom Craft. The subjects represented are documents relating to the administration of the business, journals kept to document finances, the order invoices, the files kept about employees, product information, and materials accumulated in the office. Some documents may list both the Scurlock Studio and Custom Craft and were kept with the business records of Custom Craft if the materials appeared to fit the activities, color photography, of that business. Other documents relating to the business affairs of Custom Craft may be in the series Scurlock Studio Business Records because these documents did not clearly indicate which business the documents belonged to; in these cases, the materials were put in the series Scurlock Studio Business Records because the business was the primary business of the Scurlocks. There business records seem to indicate that there was not always a clear differentiation between the two businesses. 9.1: Administrative9.2: Financial9.3: Sales9.4: Employee and Personnel9.5: Office files
Series 10: Capitol School of Photography:
Dates -- 1948-1954
Extent -- 4 boxes
Contents -- Series 10: Capitol School of Photography: The series Capitol School of Photography consists of paper documents, photographs, and transparencies. The materials are arranged in chronological order and document the administration of the Capitol School of Photography and the students. The subjects represented are administrative documents, student files, photographs by students, photographs of students and the space used for the School, and transparencies of the same subjects.
Series 11: Washington Stock:
Dates -- 1981-1994
Extent -- 2 boxes
Contents -- Series 11: Washington Stock: The series Washington Stock consists of order materials, orders, and published materials. The materials are arranged chronologically and document the orders placed for Washington Stock and how the materials were used and published. The subjects represented are orders, standard forms used by Washington Stock, and published materials.
Series 12: Background Materials and Publications:
Dates -- 1902-1995
Extent -- 18 boxes
Contents -- Series 12: Background Materials and Publications: The series Background Materials and Publications is composed of paper documents, published materials, and materials from exhibitions. The materials are arranged into four subseries: historical and background information, Scurlock images, reference materials, and exhibition materials. The materials document the Scurlocks, published Scurlock images, published materials lacking Scurlock images, exhibitions of Scurlock images, and other exhibitions of related material. The subjects represented are largely materials related to the Scurlocks' photography and personal interests. Images were placed in the subseries Scurlock images if the photograph was credited to the Scurlocks or was a photograph known to have been taken by the Scurlocks; it is possible that uncredited and less well known images taken by the Scurlocks are present in the subseries reference materials. 12.1: Historical and Background Information12.2: Scurlock Images12.3: Reference Materials12.4: Exhibition Materials
The collection is divided into 12 series.
This collection was processed with numerous changes in arrangement and numbering of boxes. Original box numbers have been retained in this finding aid for cross-reference purposes and to assist anyone with a record of photographs according to the original box numbers.
Biographical / Historical:
The Scurlock photographic studio was a fixture in the Shaw area of Washington, D.C. from 1911 to 1994, and encompassed two generations of photographers, Addison N. Scurlock (1883-1964) and his sons George H. (1920- 2005) and Robert S. (1916-1994).
The turn of the twentieth century saw a mass exodus of African Americans from the South to northern cities in search of better employment opportunities and fairer racial treatment. Although many considered Washington to be the northern-most southern city, it still offered opportunities for African Americans leaving seasonal agricultural work and racial oppression in the South. In Washington, African Americans found stable employment with the U.S. government. In addition, Howard University offered African Americans teaching opportunities, college education, and professional training as doctors, dentists, nurses, lawyers, and ministers. By 1900 a substantial African-American middle class existed in Washington. Despite the fact that Washington was a historically and legally segregated city (and would remain so into the 1960s), this middle class population continued to grow and prosper.
After graduation from high school, Addison Scurlock moved from Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Washington, D.C., with his family in 1900. With a keen interest in photography, he sought out an apprenticeship at the white-owned Moses Rice Studio on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Rice brothers (Amos and Moses) had been in Washington working as photographers since the 1860s and had one of the more prominent and better studios in the city. There Addison learned portrait and general photography. In 1904, he left Rice and began his photographic career at his parents' home. By 1911, when he opened the Scurlock Studio, he had already captured the likeness of Booker T. Washington (1910; see Appendix B), most likely his most well-known portrait. Scurlock quickly identified his market: a self-sufficient African-American community which included students, graduates, and educators affiliated with Howard University; poets; writers; intellectuals; musicians and entertainers; politicians; socialites; fraternal and religious organizations and their leaders. The Scurlock Studio, located at 900 U Street, N.W., became a fixture in the midst of the thriving African-American business community. As with his white counterparts on Pennsylvania Avenue and F Street, N.W., Addison Scurlock inspired passers-by with window displays of his photographs of national leaders and local personalities.
During the 1930s, Addison Scurlock's two sons Robert and George apprenticed in the studio. In addition to portrait and general photography, the sons learned the techniques of retouching negatives and photographic prints, hand-coloring, hand-tinting, and mat decoration. George concentrated on the commercial side of the business while Robert concentrated on the portrait side. The Scurlocks' work changed with the times. From the early 1900s until Addison's death in 1964, the Scurlock Studio was the official photographer of Howard University. In the 1930s the studio began a press service and prepared newsreels on African American current events for the Lichtman Theater chain, which offered some of the few non-segregated venues in the city. Their press service supplied the African-American press with newsworthy photographs of current events, personalities, and social, political, and religious life. Clients included the Norfolk Journal and Guide, Amsterdam News, Pittsburgh Courier, Cleveland Call and Post and the Washington Tribune and Afro-American. George and Robert ran the Capitol School of Photography from 1948 to 1952. Included among their students were African-American veterans under the G.I. Bill, Ellsworth Davis, who later worked as a Washington Post photographer and Bernie Boston of the Los Angeles Times. Perhaps their best-known student was the young Jacqueline Bouvier.
In 1952 Robert opened Washington's first custom color lab. Capitalizing on his knowledge of color processing, Robert was asked to take color portraits of both noted and ordinary individuals. In addition, the studio offered color views of important Washington landmarks and monuments. By the 1960s, Robert added magazine photography to his list of talents, publishing images in Life, Look, and Ebony. Robert continued photographing Washingtonians at his studio until his death in 1994.
According to George Scurlock, the Scurlock studio never had substantial competition in the African American community. Some Washington residents remember it differently, however. Dr. Theodore Hudson, a retired Howard University professor, recalled two other black photographers: Sam Courtney and a man named Sorrell. He said Courtney photographed events in the African American community...?
The collection represents the most comprehensive record of any long-lived, let alone African-American, photography studio, in a public institution. Other twentieth century studio collections exist, such as Robinson Studio, Grand Rapids; Hughes Company, Baltimore, Md. Among African American studio collections in public institutions are James Van Der Zee (New York City, 1912-80s), P.H. Polk (Tuskegee), and the Hooks Brothers (Memphis, Tenn., 1910-1975). The Scurlock Collection covers a greater time period and provides greater depth of coverage of African-American events and personages.
A number of articles have been written about the Scurlock family. Jane Freundel Levey, editor of Washington History magazine, believes that the family went beyond the artful use of light, shadow, and composition. She wrote, "Perhaps the most distinctive hallmark of the Scurlock photograph is the dignity, the uplifting quality of the demeanor of every person captured by photographs who clearly saw each subject as above the ordinary."
Constance McLaughlin Green, one of the leading historians of Washington, D.C., talks about African-American Washington as "the Secret City," a separate world with institutions of its own that remained virtually unknown to the white majority. Addison Scurlock and his sons captured that world on film and in doing so, documented that world in the course of running his business and perfecting his art. Steven C. Newsome, director of the Maryland Commission on Afro-American History and Culture stated that The Scurlocks' photograph "Gave us connections. They tell stories. They let us remember."
The collection includes photographs of the nationally famous Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Mary McLeod Bethune, Mary Church Terrell, Marian Anderson; the locally or regionally important: P.B.S. Pinchback, Judge Miflin Gibbs, Col. Jim Lewis, Ernest Just, Anna J. Cooper; and actors, artists, vaudevillians, and musicians such as Fredi Washington, Madame Lilian Evanti, Oakley & Oakley, and Duke Ellington.
George Scurlock. Interview conducted by David Haberstich and intern Lora Koehler at Mr. Scurlock's apartment, Aug. 2003.
Theodore Hudson, conversation with David Haberstich in the Archives Center, 2 February 2004.
Jane Freundel Levey, "The Scurlock Studio," Washington History, 1989, p. 44.
Robert S. Scurlock, "An Appreciation of Addison N. Scurlock's Photographic Achievements," The Historic Photographs of Addison N. Scurlock. Washington, D.C.: The Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, 1986 (exhibition catalog).
Materials at Other Organizations:
The Historical Society of Washington, DC holds Scurlock-related materials.
The Charles Sumner School Museumn and Archives holds Scurlock-related materials.
Materials in the National Museum of American History:
Cameras and other photographic apparatus, studio furniture, and miscellaneous ephemera from the Scurlock studio are in the History of Photography Collection. An adding machine from the studio is in the Museum's mathematics collection. See accessions 1997.0293 and 2010.0157.
The Museum purchased the Scurlock Studio Records from the Estate of Robert S. Scurlock, through Judge Marjorie Lawson in 1997. During the period of negotiation between the museum and Robert Scurlock's heirs, his widow Vivian and brother George, the collection was on loan to the Museum and was housed primarily in a closed exhibition area on the second floor. Staff of the Archives Center took physical possession of the collection long before the transfer to the Museum was final. The studio records and photographs were housed principally in the 18th Street studio and in two rental storage facilities. The primary move of the collection to the Museum occurred in September 1995. An additional pickup occurred on February 12, 1996 (on tags). There was probably one additional pickup from the studio by David Haberstich and Caleb Fey on an unrecorded date.
Collection is open for research.
Series 8: Business Records, Subseries 8.1: Studio Session Registers are restricted. Digital copies available for research. See repository for details.
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements required to view negatives due to cold storage. Using negatives requires a three hour waiting period. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
When the Museum purchased the collection from the Estate of Robert S. Scurlock, it obtained all rights, including copyright. The earliest photographs in the collection are in the public domain because their term of copyright has expired. The Archives Center will control copyright and the use of the collection for reproduction purposes, which will be handled in accordance with its standard reproduction policy guidelines. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution
The collection was acquired with assistance from the Eugene Meyer Foundation. Elihu and Susan Rose and the Save America's Treasures program, provided funds to stabilize, organize, store, and create digital surrogates of some of the negatives. Processing and encoding funded by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
This collection is primarily the work of one individual, Donald Harvey Sultner, known professionally as Donald Sultner-Welles (1914-1981). The collection forms a written and visual record of Sultner's family, life, and career from 1913-1980. Its major strength is Sultner's photographic documentation of the world during his travels, ca. 1950-1980. Work by other photographers and artists, correspondence, greeting cards, and contemporary memorabilia and ephemera are included, along with fewer than fifty examples of earlier materials, ca. 1790-1900, collected by Sultner.
The entire collection reflects Sultner's lifework and interests. Housed in @ boxes (.W cubic feet), the collection is organized into eleven
series: Personal Papers; Professional Papers; Lecture Materials; Biographical Materials; Transparencies; Photoprints; Photonegatives; Prints, Drawings, Mixed Media; Audio Tapes; Miscellaneous; and Restricted Materials. The arrangement within each series is based as closely as possi-ble on Sultner's own organization of the materials. However, in several instances similar materials were found separated and have been placed together. In addition, obvious filing mistakes and spelling errors have been corrected. The spelling of geographic place names is based on Offi-cial Standard Names prepared by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, Of-fice of Geography, U.S. Department of the Interior. Not all names given by Sultner were found in the gazetteers, so there may be errors.
The bulk of the collection consists of 2-1/4-inch by 2-1/4-inch color transparencies (Series 5). However, the manuscript materials (Series 1-4) provide a detailed complement to the transparencies. For example, from the mid-1950s until the late 1970s, Sultner kept a travel diary (Se-ries 1). Written on the backs of postcards, this stream-of-consciousness journal reflects not only his daily trips, but his impressions of the countries and thoughts on his photography. A juxtaposition of cards with images is especially useful in understanding what Sultner photographed as well as why and how he photographed it. Sultner's professional corre-spondence (Series 2) documents the various types of groups before which he performed and equipment manufacturers dealt with for cameras, projectors, and so on. Notes, drafts, and final lectures (Series 3) present the performance side of Sultner. This material, when viewed with tapes of concerts and slides, begins to recreate the photo-concert as Sultner presented it. Scrapbooks (Series 4), kept by Sultner from the 1940s to the 1980s, present Sultner's life and career in chronological fashion.
The transparency portion of the collection (Series 5), containing over 87,000 images, is especially rich because of its documentation of the countries of the world. People are seen at their daily tasks, such as washing clothes, marketing, shopping, and eating. Cities are documented as they changed over the years. Two areas in particular will be of spe-cial interest to European and Asian researchers. The first is Sultner's USIS Asian tour in 1959. He visited Japan, Java, India, Korea, the Phil-ippines, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The serene, prewar cities and coun-tryside of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam evince nothing of the devastation to come in the 1960a and 70s.
The second area of interest is Sultner's passion for documenting archi-tecture. As a guest of the German government in 1954, Sultner documented the devastation of World War II and photographed both the reconstruction of bombed buildings and the construction of buildings reflecting "new" postwar architectural styles. In addition to photographing post-WW II styles, throughout his career Sultner documented Palladian, baroque and Rococo architecture. This interest manifested itself in several of his lectures.
A third subject area of interest to Sultner was gardens. Among his first lectures following his USIS tour was "Gardens of the World." Sultner de-veloped this theme into an ongoing commitment to ecology, culminating in a filmstrip, "The Time is Now" (Series 10), prepared for the Hudson River Conservation Society in the 1960s. Carl Carmer, a noted author, wrote the text for the filmstrip. Sultner's taped interviews, lectures, and program music (Series 9) complement the transparencies. During his USIS-sponsored Asian tour in 1959, Sultner recorded impressions of his trip on tape. Interviews with people living in the countries he visited, radio interviews, and his own personal reflections are included. Of particular interest are his "No Harm Asking" interviews in Manila (tape #2), his interview of two French hotel managers in Saigon discussing post-French control conditions (tape #9), and--perhaps the most unusual--his discussion with Erna Hanfstaengl about her personal relationship with Adolf Hitler (tape #107). Scripts for lectures (Series 3) round out the documentation of Sultner's profes-sional work.
Because of the arrangement of the transparencies, it is necessary to check several areas for the same subject. For example, Vietnam images are in the "World" section alphabetically under Vietnam (box 81). Sult-ner also lectured on Vietnam, so there are Vietnamese images in the "framed subjects" (Boxes 137-138). Another example, perhaps more compli-cated, but more common to Sultner, was his distinguishing between images of unidentified "People" and identified "Portraits." Transparency stud ies of human beings will be found under the subseries "People." "Subjects --Portraits," various countries in the subseries "World," and "Lectures." There are also individuals in the black-and-white photoprints (Series 6), and photonegatives (Series 8). The painter and print-maker Charles Shee-ler appears in a number of locations, as does tenor Roland Hayes. Another area of complexity with regard to people concerns the transparencies and negatives. Sultner interfiled his transparencies and negatives of iden-tified individuals. For appropriate storage, these two different formats have been arranged in separate series. Therefore, instead of container lists for the two series, there is a combined alphabetical index to both (pp. 166-206).
Of tangential interest are the photoprints (Series 6), etchings, wood-cuts, and other prints (Series 8) collected by Sultner. One particular subseries of interest contains photographs presented to Sultner by Asian photographers during his 1959 tour. Over 45 images were given to Sultner and represent the standards of camera-club photography in the 1950s. Thesecond subseries consists of over 25 prints by the Italian-American art-ist Luigi Lucioni (1900- ). For further information on this artist,see The Etchings of Luigi Lucioni, -A Catalogue Raisonne', by Stuart P.Embury (Washington, 1984). Lucioni also painted Sultner's portrait in1952 and the "People" section of the transparencies contains a number of images of Lucioni at work. Another significant category is the Japanese prints, including two by a major nineteenth-century artist, Ando Hiro-shige (1797-1858).
Series 11 contains restricted letters to Sultner from friends. These materials will become available to the public in the year 2031.
Twenty-three document boxes of clippings and magazine articles found in standard magazines and newspapers (e.g., Time, Life, Look, Modern Ma-turity, etc.) were destroyed. These materials represented general arti--cles being published on a number of topics during Sultner's lifetime. A list of subject file headings Sultner used is with the manuscript mate-rials.
A second grouping of materials destroyed were nine filing cabinet drawers of travel material--maps, guide books, and other tourist pamphlets used by Sultner on his travels. This material, as with the first group of ma-terial, was of the common variety easily found. Any books or pamphlets found with the clippings were sorted out and sent to Smithsonian Institu-tion Libraries. Other library material that came in with the estate was sent immediately to the library and disposed of through their channels. Any office equipment, such as filing cabinets and supplies, etc., has been put to use in the National Museum of American History.
Series 1: Personal Papers, 1923-1981
Series 2: Professional Papers, 1954-1980
Series 3: Lecture Materials, 1952-1980
Series 4: Biographical Materials, 1954-1980
Series 5: Transparencies, 1947-1980
Series 6: Photoprints, 1913-ca. 1980
Series 7: Photonegatives, 1929-1981
Series 8: Prints, Drawings, Mixed Media, ca. 1790-1979
Series 9: Audio Tapes, 1947-1980
Series 10: Miscellaneous, 1947-1980
Biographical / Historical:
Donald Harvey Sultner was bom in York, Pennsylvania, on April 13, 1914, the son of Lillian May Arnold Sultner and Harvey A. Sultner. In 1923 Sultner attended the Lewis Institute in Detroit, Michigan, to overcome a speech impediment. He entered the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1932 and graduated in 1936. Sultner studied merchandising and sang in the glee club, then under the direction of composer Harl MacDonald. Sultner, a baritone, continued his interest in music and studied voice with Reinald Werrenrath and with Florence Benedict and Bruce Benjamin in New York City. In the late 1940s and early 1950s he appeared in concert with accompanists at schools, clubs, and resort hotels along the East Coast.
It appears that photography was always an important part of Sultner's life. Using a small format (120) camera, he recorded his vacation travels around the United States and Canada, parties, and his family. While living in New York, Sultner continued photographing friends and family and began photographing the famous people he encountered on his concert tours. In the early 1950s he began taking 2-1/4-inch by 2-1/4-inch color transparencies (slides) of landscapes and architecture as he traveled giving concerts.
Sultner, who had taken the stage name of "Sultner-Welles," began what was to be his lifework as a professional "photo-lecturer" in 1952. He illustrated his talks on nature, art, architecture, and the environment with his color slides. In 1954 Sultner toured West Germany as a guest of the Bonn government, and in 1959 he lectured in Asia under the auspices of the U.S. State Department. He was dubbed the "camera ambassador." Constantly adding new material to his collection of slides, Sultner traveled extensively throughout the United States, speaking before garden clubs, cultural organi-zations, and schools. He also appeared aboard various ships of the Holland-America line during a number of cruises abroad.
Sultner had established his performance style by the early 1960s. He expanded his lectures to include a combination of art, words, and music. The expanded presentation resulted in the "photo-concert," a unique synthesis of light and sound that Sultner frequently per-formed with a symphony orchestra. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra commissioned "Concertino for Camera and Orchestra" by Eric Knight with Sultner in mind. The world premiere was in Baltimore in March 1979. While he spoke on many art, garden, and architectural topics, Sultner specialized in subjects relating to the baroque and rococo periods and Palladian architecture.
Sultner died of cancer in York, Pennsylvania, on March 25, 1981, at the age of 67.
1914 -- April 13, born York, Pennsylvania.
1929 -- In Detroit at Lewis Institute to overcome a speech impediment.
1932 -- To University of Pennsylvania.
1935 -- Summer trip to Roanoke (VA), Picketts, Hershey (PA); fall trip to New England for fraternity (AXP) convention.
1936 -- Spring glee club trip; graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; summer trips to Newport News (VA), northern trip to Canada, Picketts (PA).
1937 -- Fall trip to Williamsburg (VA), Duke University (NC); Sultner family begins building "Glen Hill" (Dover, PA).
1938 -- Summer at home, and Picketts (PA), Camp Pratt.
1939 -- Spring trip to Washington, D.C.; September trip to The Homestead (WV), Hot Springs (WV), Virginia; Lake Mohonk (NY).
1940 -- Summer trip to New Orleans, Blowing Rock (NC); winter trip to Skytop Club (NY); fall trip to Atlantic City (NJ), Philadelphia (PA), Annapolis (MD).
1941 -- Winter 1941-42 appearance in "Hit the Deck." Lake Mohonk (NY) with Ted Walstrum (Sept. 22-23); Skytop Club (NY) (February); summer trip to Canada, Lake Chazy (NY) (Aug. 17-23).
1942 -- Spring in Atlantic City (NJ); summer to Buck Hill Falls, Lakes Chazy and Mohonk.
1943 -- Summer trip to Mohonk (NY).
1944 -- Summer: To Toronto (Ontario), Muskoka Lake, Bigwin Island, Montreal (Quebec), Mohonk (NY).
1946 -- To Mohonk (NY), Ogunquit (ME), Old Saybrook (CT), Nantucket (RI).
1947 -- Singing tour of Canada and New England; winter-spring tour to Georgia and Florida.
1948 -- To Florida and Nassau, Feb.-Mar., Vermont, July-Aug.; Nassau-Havana-Miami-Bermuda, October.
1949 -- Singing tour of North and South Carolina.
1950 -- Summer trip to South.
1951 -- To District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, [New Jersey?], New York, Vermont.
1952 -- January 9: first public photo-concert, Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts, Philadelphia; trips to Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont.
1953 -- To Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont.
1954 -- Guest of German government for a study tour in the fall. To District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia.
1955 -- To Holland; Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia.
1956 -- To California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia.
1957 -- Holland-America Cruise to Germany, Austria, Italy. To Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia.
1958 -- Holland-America Cruises to Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, Switzerland. To Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota., Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin.
1959 -- United States Information Service (USIS)-sponsored tour of Asia: Burma, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaya, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam. Also visited Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Greece, Iran, Italy, Spain; Alaska, California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania.
1960 -- Holland-America Cruise to Austria, Belgium, Caribbean, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Morocco. To Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.
1961 -- To Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland; Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode.Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.
1962 -- Portfolio, "Autumn in Vermont," with introduction by Carl Carmer, published in Autumn issue of Vermont Life. Holland-America Cruise to Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Sweden. To Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia.
1963 -- Holland-America Cruise to Caribbean, Canada, Sweden, Thailand. To Alabama, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, N;w York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington.
1964 -- Holland-America Cruise to Germany, Canada, England, Holland, Wales. To Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia.
1965 -- Holland-America Cruise to Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Wales. To Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia.
1966 -- Holland-America Cruise to Caribbean, Germany, France, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland. To New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia.
1967 -- Holland-America Cruise to Caribbean, Austria, Denmark, England, Germany, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Wales. To Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia.
1968 -- To Germany; Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia.
1969 -- To England, France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland; Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia.
1970 -- Holland-America Cruise to Caribbean, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden. To Alabama, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia.
1971 -- Holland-America Cruise to Caribbean, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Sweden. To Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania.
1972 -- Holland-America Cruise to Asia, Pacific, Caribbean, Africa, Austria, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Turkey. To California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia.
1973 -- Holland-America Cruise to Austria, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Iceland, Sweden. To California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont.
1974 -- To Germany, Switzerland; California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia.
1975 -- To Austria; California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia.
1976 -- To Canada; Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah.
1977 -- To Canada, Germany; New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia.
1978 -- To Scotland; Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina.
1979 -- To England; Florida.
1980 -- To Florida.
1981 -- March 25: Sultner dies of cancer, York, Pennsylania.
The Donald H. Sultner-Welles Collection, ca. 1790-1981, came to the National Museum of American History in 1982 from the estate of Mr. Sultner. The collection was created by Sultner over his adult life and represents one of the most extensive collections of color transparencies created by one individual and held in a public repository. Sultner's emphasis was on world culture. He took the majority of his photographs in the eastern United States, western Europe, and Asia. Gardens, architecture, and people are the three major subject areas represented in the collection. Of additional interest are Sultner's taped impressions of his 1959 United States Information Service (USIS)-sponsored Asian tour. The collection occupies 309 boxes and covers more than 83 cubic feet.
The Donald H. Sultner-Welles Collection is open to researchers in the Archives Center, third floor east, of the National Museum of American History, between 12th and 14th Streets, on Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20560. The Archives Center is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Written and telephone (202/357-3270) inquiries are welcome and researchers are encouraged to contact the Archives Center before their arrival. The FAX number is 202/786-2453.
This is the eleventh in a series of occasional guides to collections in the Archives Center. Finding aids to other collections are available. The Guide to Manuscript Collections in the National Museum of History and Technology (1978) and an updated compilation contain brief descriptions of all archival holdings in the Museum. All current Archives Center holdings are available for search on the Smithsonian Institution Bibliographic Information System (SIBIS), an online database.
References in notebook to tapes not located:
5/1960 Laddsl--Pasadena, CA (Thornton Ladd, Helen Peabody, me, Mrs. Ladd
Frontispiece: Portrait of Donald Harvey Sultner-Welles by Ludwig Harren, Nuremberg, Germany, May, 1957. Series 6: Photo¬prints, box 6; Series 7: Photonegatives, 700.1.
vii Donald Sultner-Welles inspecting slides at his 2101 E. Market Street apartment. Photograph by Gretchen H. Goughnour, York, Pennsylvania, December 1958. Series 6: Photoprints, box 6, folder 5; Series 7: Photonegatives, Box 11, 696.1.
Sultner-Welles with Rollei, Kobe, Japan, April 1959. Press photograph, photographer unknown. Series 7: Photonegatives, 687.1.
10 Americana by the Roadside" (boy with soda, Beech Creek, North Carolina). Series 5, Subseries 5: Subjects, Box 102: 6.3.
20 "Americana in Europe" (sign: "To the Elephant Kraal," South Africa). Series 5, Subseries 5: Subjects, Box 102: 6.33.
39 North Miami Beach Motel, Florida, February 1960. Series 5, Subseries 1: United States, Box 8: 9.11. SI Neg. 87-326, Videodisc Frame 2942.
40 Beech Creek, North Carolina (portrait of elderly woman), June 1956. Series 5, Subseries 1: United States, Box 28: 12.10. SI Neg. 87-327, Videodisc Frame 10156.
97 Brookgreen Sculpture Garden, South Carolina, ca. 1963. Series 5, Subseries 1: United States, Box 35.35.11. SI Neg. 87-328; Videodisc Frame 12747.
98 "Six Irrigation Paddlers Outside Hue," South Vietnam, 1959. Series 5, Subseries 2: World, Box 81: 35.11; also Series 7: Photonegatives, 658.1 (copy neg.). Videodisc Frame 27960.
151 Alkmaar Cheese Market, The Netherlands, September 1969. Series 5, Subseries 2: World, Box 70: 17.9. SI Neg. 87-329; not shown on videodisc.
152 African Cruise: Victoria Falls, Rhodesia, February 1972. Series 5, Subseries 3: Cruises, Box 83: 9.12. SI Neg. 87-330, Videodisc Frame 28344.
166 Il Galero, Italy, July 1966. Series 5, Subseries 4: European Architectural Styles, Box 99: 48.4. SI neg. 87-331.
179 "Baroque--Germany: Alterding," July 1965. Series 5, Subseries 4: European Architectural Styles, Box 94: 1.8. SI Neg. 87-332, Videodisc Frame 31310.
180 Design Elements, Hotel Fontainebleau, New Orleans,, Louisiana, April, 1961. Series 5, Subseries 5: Subjects, Box 106: 23.2. SI Neg. 87-333, Videodisc Frame 34912.
192 Charles Sheeler, ca. 1957-1965. Series 5, Subseries 9: Lectures, Box 169: 49.2. SI Neg. 87-334. Videodisc Frame 52713.
276 Villa Barbaro, Maser, Treviso, Italy. Series 7. Photonegatives, 715.1. SI Neg. 87-335.
281 "Water--Economics," Storm-Damaged Beach House. Series 5, Subseries 8: Notecard Transparencies, Box 155: 22.12. SI Neg. 87-336.
282 Market in Madeira. Series 5, Subseries 9: Lectures, Box 161: 48.12. SI Neg. 87-337, Videodisc Frame 48435.
298 Children (South Carolina?). Series 5, Subseries 9: Lectures, Box 104: 17.2. SI Neg. 87-338.
311 Goethe Statue, Chicago, Illinois. Series 7: Photonegatives, 678.1.
316 Feeding Gulls, Florida. Series 7. Photonegatives, 684.1.
331 Montage for Sultner's concerts. Series 8: Prints, Drawings, Mixed Media, filing case. Series 7: Photonegatives, 740.1.
332 Sultner Showing Slides to Garden Club, Caterpillar Tractor Co. Auditorium, Dec. 1958. Photograph by Gretchen H. Goughnour, York, Penn. Series 7: Photonegatives, 690.1.
340 Montage for Sultner's concerts. Series 8: Prints, Drawings, Mixed Media, filing case. Series 7: Photonegatives, 742.1.
341 Children, Ohio (boy in box in wagon) Series 5, Subseries 9: Lectures, Box 165: 13.2; Series 7: Photonegatives, 667.4 (copy neg.)
352 Publicity/brochure photograph. Drinking cup and water, Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania. Series 7: Photonegatives, 651.1.
353 Publicity/brochure photograph, Milles Gardens, Stockholm, Sweden. Series 7: Photonegatives, 659.1.
Collection is open for research.
A small number of letters and photographs are restricted until the year 2031. Identification list in box.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Primarily published sheet music, plus some related ephemera. Originally included 781 boxes of American sheet music and assorted clippings, articles, photographs, etc.; also 93 boxes of 33-1/3 RPM phonograph records, 30 boxes of 45 RPM records, and 20 boxes of 78 RPM records
Scope and Contents:
Sam DeVincent organized his collection topically and the present organization is built upon his basic system. In the course of processing this huge collection organized into hundreds of topics, a set of more encompassing topical headings have been developed. For example, the series designation "transportation" gathers together DeVincent's topical headings of "automobiles," "railroads," "bicycles," etc. Each of these larger, conceptual, headings is considered a series and is given a series number. Transportation is series number 1. Each series will be described separately and a composite index will lead researchers into the appropriate series. Terminology is consistent with Library of Congress Subject Headings whenever possible.
Within each series, the topical headings used by DeVincent, or a heading of similar level and type, receive sub-series numbers. For example, "railroads" is part of series 1, transportation, and is given the sub-series number 7. Therefore, "railroads" is designated as 1.7.
All of the sheet music has been placed in folders (from 1 to 45 items per folder) and given a letter of the alphabet. Within each folder, the music is arranged alphabetically by song title. A researcher searching the index for the song Wabash Cannonball (note that very few song titles are indexed) would be directed to "1.7 V." The researcher would then turn to the railroad section of the container list (1.7) and look for folder V and read the folder description.
Most of the sheet music is either a solo piano or a piano/vocal arrangement. There are very few orchestral or band parts and very little music for instruments other than piano. When the word "instrumental" is used in folder descriptions and titles, the music referred to has no lyrics and is for solo piano. Music for other instruments or ensemble parts will be mentioned explicitly in the folder description and usually indexed. Also, duplicates have not been kept in the file unless the sheet is particularly old or fragile (in which case one duplicate was kept if available). Sheets with slightly different covers, different ink colors, or variations in advertising matter are not considered duplicates.
In addition to the sheet music, the collection includes ephemera files corresponding to each series. These files contain items such as lists of sheet music, DeVincent's correspondence with other collectors, wire service printouts received at the radio station where he worked, his notes to be used for cross-indexing ("see also" references), and miscellaneous items relating to the topic. Some materials kept by DeVincent have not been incorporated into the ephemera files, for example most of the popular magazines, Fort Wayne Indiana newspaper clippings about non-musical topics, and some advertising matter.
The ephemera files are numbered with the same series and sub-series numbers as the sheet music. For example bicycles are 1.3 in both the music and ephemera files. A description of the ephemera file follows the sheet music container list. It is followed by an index to the entire series. Many topical headings not directly concerned with the topic of the series are indexed (for example "Women, images of" is an important topic in the bicycle sub-series). The author of each series description made the decisions about topics for indexing.
Series 1: Transportation:
Dates -- circa 1800-1980
Contents -- Series 1: Transportation contains circa 3,900 pieces of sheet music documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards transportation technology in the United States.1.1: Aeronautics1.2: Automobiles1.3: Bicycles1.4: Boats and Boating1.5: Horse-Drawn Vehicles1.6: Motorcycles1.7: Railroads1.8: Urban Transportation1.9 Ephemera
Series 2: Armed Forces:
Dates -- circa 1810-1980
Contents -- Series 2: Armed Forces contains circa 3,400 pieces of sheet music and song folios documenting the military history of the United States; there are only a handful of foreign imprints. 2.1: Pre-Civil War2.2: Civil War2.3: Pre-World War I2.4: World War I2.5: World War II2.6: Post -World War2.7: Naval History2.8: Marine CorpsEphemera
Series 3: African-American Music:
Dates -- circa 1828-1980
Contents -- Series 3: African-American Music contains circa 7,800 pieces of sheet music and folios dating from the 1820s to the 1980s; most of the material dates from after 1890. 3.1: Minstrel Shows and Blackface Entertainers3.2: Uncle Tom's Cabin3.3: African-American Folk-songs and Spirituals3.4: Songs about African-American/Vocal Ragtime3.5: Instrumental and Ragtime Music3.6: Ragtime Composers and Publishers3.7: Blues and Jazz Music3.8: Composers and PerformersEphemera
Series 4: Songwriters:
Dates -- 1817-1982
Contents -- Series 4: Songwriters: The song sheets associated with each songwriter in this series are generally arranged in the following order: General Songs; Ethnic Songs; Armed Conflict Songs or other Topical Headings; Ragtime; Instrumental; Musical Theater Production Songs; Motion Picture Production Songs; Specialized Song Sheets/Editions; Professional/Artist Copy Song Sheets; and Folios/Volumes. List: 4.1 - 4.217Ephemera
Series 5: Politics and Political Movements:
Dates -- circa 1817-1982
Contents -- Series 5: Politics and Political Movements contains circa 1,565 pieces of sheet music and song folios documenting the political history of the United States. 5.1: Patriotic Music5.2: Politicians and Political Figures5.3: Politics and Political Parties5.4: Ku Klux Klan5.5: Prohibition and Temperance5.6: Trade Union5.7: Women's RightsEphemera
Series 6: Moving Pictures and Movie Stars:
Dates -- 1911-1986
Contents -- Series 6: Moving Pictures and Movie Stars: 6.1 Academy Award Songs6.2 Child Stars6.3 Dance Folios6.4 Disney Productions and Other Cartoon Movies6.5 Female Stars6.6 Male Stars6.7 Movie Music6.8 Silent Films6.9 Songs About the MoviesEphemera
Series 7: Sports:
Dates -- 1834-1983
Contents -- Series 7: Sports contains 1,254 pieces of sheet music and song folios. Most of the sheet music is either piano or piano/ vocal arrangements. 7.1: Baseball, 1860-19767.2: Boxing, 1893-19827.3: Fishing, 1847-19627.4: Football, 1894-1978; undated7.5: Gambling and Games of Chance, 1891-19807.6: Golf, 1893-19537.7: Horse Racing, 1899-19687.8: Hunting, 1834-19517.9: Ice Skating, 1861 -1978; undated7.10: Olympics, 1932-19837.11: Ping Pong, 1901-19027.12: Roller Skating, 1871-1980; undated7.13: Skiing, 1908-19717.14: Sleighs and Sledding, 1846- 1967; undated7.15: Sports, Miscellaneous, 1866-19777.16: Tennis, 1893-1914, 1951Ephemera
Series 8: Geography:
Dates -- 1794-1987
Contents -- Series 8: Geography is divided into three sections: the United States, Foreign Countries, and Natural Features. The more than 13,000 sheets date from 1830-1987 and include undated sheets that are probably earlier. The series comprises 33 cu. ft. 8.1-8.49: United States, 1830-1987 (States)8.50-8.51: United States, 1830-1987 (U. S. Regions)8.53-8.89: Foreign Countries, 1794-1982 (Afghanistan - Italy)8.90-8.126: Foreign Countries, 1794-1982 (Japan - Vietnam) & (Foreign Regions)8.127-8.128: Natural Features, 1834-1980Ephemera
Series 9: Domestic and Community Life:
Dates -- 1827-1986; undated
Contents -- Series 9: Domestic and Community Life documents family, love, marriage, home, and social organizations. It does not include Health or Business items, which are included in separate series. Certain issues, such as women's rights, are in Series 2: Politics and Political Movements. 9.1: Adult Family Members, 1836-1985; undated9.2: Children, 1855-1971; undated9.3: Dolls, Stories, Toys, 1860-1984; undated9.4: Songs About and Images of Men and Women, 1828-1972; undated9.5: Home, Neighborhood, and Immigrants/Refugees, 1830-1980; undated9.6: Love, 1827-1982; undated9.7: Marriage, 1829-1976; undated9.8: Friendship and Social Organizations, 1838-1982; undated9.9: Age, Death, and Dying, 1834-1951; undated9.10: Domestic Art and Clothing, 1843-1978; undated9.11:Albums, Lockets, and Memories, 1857-1952; undatedEphemera
Series 10: Sacred Music and Religious Themes:
Dates -- 1822-1986, undated
Contents -- Series 10: Sacred Music and Religious Themes contains approximately 4,000 pieces of sheet music, much of which is traditional Christian music, but also documents popular attitudes towards religion in the United States. Note that the Christmas and Easter subseries include their secular aspects. 10.1, Adam, Eve, and Eden, 1882-197110.2, Angels, 1849-1961, undated10.3, Bells and Chimes, 1848-1956, undated10.4, Biblical Characters and Stories, 1876-1986, undated10.5, Cathedral, Chapel, Church, 1866-1966, undated10.6, Choir, 1880-193710.7, Christmas, 1828-1984, undated10.8, Devil and Satan, 1865-1979, undated10.9, Easter, 1872-1975, undated10.10, Evolution, 1925-196310.11, Heaven, 1866-1975, undated10.12, Inspirational Singers, 1868-197710.13, Madonna, The Virgin Mary, 1855-1953, undated10.14, Miracles, 1929-195910.15, Mormons, 1895-1933, undated10.16, Paradise, 1900-1925, undated10.17, Pilgrim, 1868-1938, undated10.18, Psalms, 1884-1980, undated10.19, Quakers, 1899-1940, undated10.20, Rosary, 1897-195310.21, General Sacred Songs, 1822-1982, undatedEphemera, 1899-1986
Series 11: Entertainment:
Dates -- 1841-1984, undated
Contents -- Series 11: Entertainment contains more than 12,500 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards entertainers and entertainment in the United States. Note that movies and some musical entertainment are also covered in Series 6, Moving Pictures and Movie Stars, and in Series 16, Country, Western, and Folk Music. Blind musicians and performers are in Series 17. 11.1: Early Troupes & Bandmasters, 1841-1944, undated11.2: Dance Bands and Orchestras, 1905-1964, undated11.3: Novelty Bands, 1901-195211.4: Male Singers (Individual), 1846-198111.5: Female Singers (Individual), 1845-197111.6: Duos and Groups (Male and Mixed), 1903-198111.7: Female Duos and Groups, 1896-196611.8: Child Entertainers, 1852-1927, undated11.9: Impersonators, 1904-198211.10: Actors and Comedians, 1853-198211.11: Theater, 1873-1973, undated11.12: Juke Box, Nickelodeon, 1923-198111.13: Phonograph, Records, Tapes, 1878-197111.14: Radio, Transistor, Wireless, 1898-198411.15: Television, 1931-198711.16: Circus, Fair, Zoo
Series 12: Plants and Animals:
Dates -- 1831-1984, undated
Contents -- Series 12: Plants and Animals contains approximately 4,000 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards plants and animals in the United States. 12.1, Trees, 1833-1969, undated12.2, Plants and Flowers, 1840-1979, undated12.3, Animals, 1831-1984, undated12.4, Fish, Mermaids, and Aquatic Species, 1832-1978, undated12.5, Birds, 1834-1976, undated12.6, Insects and Spiders, 1853-1968, undated
Series 13: Agriculture, Business, and Law:
Dates -- 1827-1985, undated
Contents -- Series 13, Agriculture, Business, and Law contains approximately 3,300 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards business, commerce, farming and food, finances, labor, law, and social order in the United States. The series comprises nine cubic feet, plus two boxes of ephemera. 13.1, Business and Jobs, 1927-1982, undated13.2, Farming, Food, and Tobacco, 1836-1986, undated13.3, Finances and Valuables, 1841-1982, undated13.4, Law and Social Order, 1858-1972, undated13.5, Public Services and Utilities, 1836-1984, undatedEphemera, 1901-1987, undated
Series 14: Calendar, Time, and Weather:
Dates -- 1811-1980, undated
Contents -- Series 14, Calendar, Time, and Weather contains approximately 1,800 pieces of sheet music, documenting attitudes toward and consequences of natural events. The four seasons comprise the larger part. 14.1, Years, 1880-1945, undated14.2, Seasons, 1850-1978, undated14.3, Months, 1855-1978, undated14.4, Days of the Week, 1853-196514.5, Clocks and Time, 1844-1967, undated14.6, Weather, 1911-1980, undatedEphemera, 1952-1982, undated
Series 15: Holidays and Celebrations:
Dates -- 1847-1982, undated
Contents -- Series 15, Holidays and Celebrations contains approximately 500 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards holidays, celebrations, and travel in the United States. Note that Christmas items are in Series 10, Sacred Music and Religious Themes, subseries 7. 15.1, Holiday, Travel, Vacation, 1866-198215.2, Carnival, 1847-1937, undated15.3, Mardi Gras, 1892-1958, undated15.4, Masquerade, 1900-1973, undated.15.5, Halloween, 1853-1962, undated.15.6, Thanksgiving, 1853-1974, undated.15.7, New Year, 1852-1970, undated15.8, Park, 1869-1969, undated15.9, Picnic, 1854-1964, undated15.10, Rolling Chairs, 1905-1923, undatedEphemera
Series 16: Country, Western, and Folk Music:
Dates -- 1839-1986, undated
Contents -- Series 16: Country, Western, and Folk Music, contains approximately 11,500 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards country, western, and folk music in the United States. The dates always refer to copyright of the music and not to the subject on the cover, songwriter's life, or other events. There are 78 boxes of sheet music and 16 boxes of ephemera. 16.1, Individual Male Entertainers, 1911-1983, undated16.2, Individual Female Entertainers, 1902-1986, undated16.3, Duos and Groups, 1910-1981, undated16.4, The West, 1939-198416.5, Barn Dance, Fiddle Tunes, and "Turkey in the Straw," 1878-197516.6, Blues, Feuding, Hillbilly, Honky Tonk, and Yodeling, 1885-1975, undated16.7, Miscellaneous Songs, 1913-198316.8, Folios, 1914-1969Ephemera --subseries 1-7 and subseries 9-10
Series 17: The Human Condition--Physical, Mental, Behavioral:
Dates -- 1833-1987
Contents -- Series 17, The Human Condition--Physical, Mental, Behavioral contains approximately 1,000 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards the human condition in the United States. 17.1, Physical Health, 1833-1982, undated17.2, Happiness, 1845-1978, undated17.3, Crazy, Foolish, 1904-1973, undated17.4, Rubes, 1888-1938Ephemera
Series 18: Dance:
Dates -- 1812-1978, undated
Contents -- Series 18, Dance contains approximately 3,330 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards dance in the United States. 18.1, General Songs about Dance, 1882-1967, undated18.2, Ballroom Dancers and Dance Institute, 1840-1951, undated18.3, Charleston, 1923-196418.4, Fox Trot, 1913-193218.5, Galop, 1842-1924, undated18.6, Gavotte, 1874-1978, undated18.7, Jigs and Reels, 1891-1951, undated18.8, Lancers, 1857-1903, undated18.9, Maxixe, 1913-1914, undated18.10, Mazurka, 1854-1940, undated18.11, Minuet, 1875-1968, undated18.12, One Step, 1910-192118.13, Polka, 1845-1975, undated18.14, Quadrilles, 1831-1883, undated18.15, Redowa, 1853-1908, undated18.16, Schottische, 1850-1944, undated18.17, Skirt Dance, 1891-1893, undated18.18, Square Dance, 1926-196418.19, Tango, 1909-195218.20, Three Step, 1903-191318.21, Two Step, 1894-192518.22, Varsova, 1851-1917, undated18.23, Waltz, 1812-1968, undated18.24, Folios, 1888-1953, undatedEphemera
Series 19: Art and Literature:
Dates -- 1830-1977, undated
Contents -- Series 19, Art and Literature contains approximately 860 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting popular attitudes towards art and literature in the United States. 19.1, Art and Artists, 1839-1977, undated19.2, Cover Artists and Early Lithograph Covers, 1830-1931, undated19.3, Photography, 1848-196619.4, Carving and Whittling, 1906-194719.5, Books, Diary, and Stories, 1849-198319.6, Poets and Poetry, 1836-1969, undated Ephemera Index
Series 20: Newspapers:
Dates -- 1844-1968, undated
Contents -- Series 20, Newspapers, 1844-1968, contains materials documenting the business of and popular attitudes towards newspapers in the United States. 20.1, Songs about Advertising, the News and the Press20.2, Songs published by Newspapers or about serialized stories20.3, Songs about Newsboys and Newsgirls20.4, Cartoons, Cartoonists, and Comics20.5, Newspaper and Magazine SupplementsEphemera
Series 21: Musical Instruments:
Dates -- 1824-1981 and undated
Contents -- Series 21, Musical Instruments, 1824-1981, undated, contains approximately 4,900 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards the playing of music in the United States. Numerous teaching manuals are included.21.1, Accordion, 1902-1964, undated21.2, Banjo, 1853-1975, undated21.3, Cello, 1891-1935, undated21.4, Clarinet, 1905-1958, undated21.5, Concertina, 1905-1941, undated21.6, Cornet, 1848-1924, undated21.7, Double Bass, 1939-195521.8, Drums, 1867-1971, undated21.9, Fiddle, 1893-1981, undated21.10, Flute, 1847-1936, undated21.11, Guitar, 1824-1977, undated21.12, Harmonica, 1904-1974, undated21.13, Harp, 1866-1976, undated21.14, Hurdy Gurdy, 1899-196921.15, Mandolin, 1843-1954, undated21.16, Music Boxes, 1848-1979, undated21.17, Organ, 1856-1973, undated21.18, Saxophone, 1907-195321.19, Tambourine, 1854-196021.20, Trombone, 1906-195721.21, Trumpet, 1904-1945, undated21.22, Ukulele, 1915-1964, undated21.23, Violin, 1843-1957, undated21.24, Zither, 1970-1951, undated21.25, Various Instruments, 1835-1968, undatedEphemera
Series 22: American Indian:
Contents -- Series 22: American Indian
Dates -- 1899-1975
Series 23: Universe:
Contents -- Series 23: Universe
Dates -- 1842-1970
Series 24: Education:
Contents -- Series 24: Education
Dates -- 1834-1964
Series 25: Vocal:
Contents -- Series 25: Vocal
Series 26: General Sheet Music:
Contents -- Series 26: General Sheet Music
Series 27: Gypsies:
Contents -- Series 27: Gypsies
Series 28: Opera:
Contents -- Series 28: Opera
Series 29: Piano:
Contents -- Series 29: Piano
Series 30: Marches and Quicksteps:
Contents -- Series 30: Marches and Quicksteps
Series 31: Dialects:
Contents -- Series 31: Dialects
Series 32: Christopher Columbus:
Contents -- Series 32: Christopher Columbus
Series 33: Reveries:
Contents -- Series 33: Reveries
Series 34: Indiana Publishers:
Contents -- Series 34: Indiana Publishers
Series 35: Sam DeVincent Personal Papers:
Contents -- Series 35: Sam DeVincent Personal Papers
Series 36: Folios and Songbooks:
Contents -- Series 36: Folios and Songbooks
Series 37: Other Materials:
Contents -- Series 37: Other Materials
Dates -- 1853-1976
Additional Topical Series:
An updated list of DeVincent topical series is available via the Smithsonian finding aid portal.
The collection is arranged into topical series.
Sam DeVincent was born January 8, 1918 and lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana for most of his life. DeVincent collected sheet music and related materials during most of his lifetime. His interest included both the music and the cover art. Because he had little money to support his collecting, DeVincent gathered most of his material through careful searches and travel.
DeVincent and his wife used much of the music he collected in their musical group "Nancy Lee and the Hilltoppers." The group performed regularly on radio station WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana, from 1945 to 1955. After 1955 (and the emergence of rock and roll), "Nancy Lee and the Hilltoppers" played only once a week on the radio station. At this time, Mr. DeVincent worked as an all-night disc jockey at WOWO. In 1960 he became music director and music librarian at the station. His position as music librarian helped him to add to his collection, especially the phonograph recordings (many promotional copies are included).
DeVincent retired from WOWO in 1983. He and his wife continued to perform publicly including a weekly radio show on WOWO. The National Museum of American History acquired the DeVincent collection in the spring of 1988. Sam DeVincent passed away November 29, 1997.
Materials in Other Organizations:
Sam DeVincent Collection of American Sheet Music, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
The Sam DeVincent Collection of American Sheet Music contains approximately 24,000 pieces of sheet music, songbooks, and folios. DeVincent arranged his collection into categories based on either personal names of musicians or performers or on subjects he defined that were as diverse as the American Red Cross and Halloween. The Lilly Library has maintained this arrangement.
All the sheet music in the DeVincent collection is listed in the IN Harmony: Sheet Music from Indiana: Lilly Library web site. Digitized images are available for some items.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History:
Donald J. Stubblebine Collection of Musical Theater and Motion Picture Sheet Music and Reference Material, 1843-2010 (AC1211)
This collection was purchased by the Smithsonian Institution in 1988 from Sam and Nancy Lee DeVincent.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection consists of records documenting one of the oldest advertising agencies created in Philadelphia. The company then moves to New York and expanses to international markets. During its history NW Ayer & Sons acquires a number of other advertising agencies and is eventually purchased. The largest portion of the collection is print advertisements but also
includes radio and television. NW Ayer is known for some of the slogans created for major American companies.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists primarily of proof sheets of advertisements created by NW Ayer & Son, Incorporated for their clients. These materials are in series one through thirteen and consist primarily of print advertisements. There are also billboards, radio and television commercials. The advertisements range from consumer to corporate and industrial products. The majority of the advertisements were created for Ayer's New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and international offices. Printed advertisements created by Cunningham & Walsh, Hixson & Jorgensen and Newell-Emmett are also included among these materials. Researchers who are interested in records created by Ayer in the course of operating an advertising agency will find these materials in Series fourteen-nineteen.
Series fourteen consists of advertisements created by NW Ayer & Son to promote their services to potential clients.
Series fifteen are scrapbooks of some of the earliest advertisements created by the company. Series sixteen are publications. Some of the publications were created by Ayer while others were about Ayer or the advertising industry in general. Provides good background materials and puts the company in perspective. Series eighteen are the legal records. Materials relating to employees including photographs, oral histories etc. are found in series nineteen.
Series twenty is one of the smallest amounts of materials and includes information relating to the history of NW Ayer & Son.
The container lists for series one-thirteen are part of a database and are searchable. The list has been printed for the convenience of the researcher and is included in this finding aid. Series fourteen-twenty container lists are also a part of the finding aid but are not in a searchable format.
Series 1, Scrapbooks of Client Advertisements, circa 1870-1920, is arranged into three boxes by chronological date. There are two bound scrapbooks and one box of folders containing loose scrapbook pages. NW Ayer & Son compiled an assortment of their earliest ads and placed them into scrapbooks. Besides the earliest advertisements, the scrapbooks contain requests to run advertisements, reading notices and listings of papers Ayer advertised in. The early advertisements themselves range from medical remedies to jewelry to machines to clothing to education and more. Most of the advertisements in the bound scrapbooks are dated.
Series 2, Proofsheets, circa 1870-1930, NW Ayer was fond of creating scrapbooks containing proofsheets. The series contains proofsheets created between 1892 and 1930, organized into 526 boxes. For convenience of storage, access and arrangement, the scrapbooks were disassembled and the pages placed in original order in flat archival storage boxes. The proofsheets are arranged by book number rather than client name. Usually the boxes contain a listing of the clients and sometimes the dates of the advertisements to be found within the box.
Series 3, Proofsheets, circa 1920-1975, is organized into 532 oversize boxes, and contain proofsheets and tearsheets created between 1920 and 1972. Within this series, materials are arranged alphabetically by company name (occasionally subdivided by brand or product), and thereunder chronologically by date of production. Many major, national advertisers are represented, including American Telephone & Telegraph, Armour Company, Canada Dry, Cannon Mills, Carrier Corporation, Domino Sugar, Caterpillar tractor company, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, Goodyear, Hills Bros. Coffee, Ladies Home Journal, National Dairy, Plymouth (Chrysler Corporation), Steinway, TV Guide, United Airlines and the United States Army. Also contained in this series are three scrapbooks of client advertisements including Canada Dry, Ford Motor, and Victor Talking Machine.
Series 4, 2001 Addendum, circa 1976-2001, is organized into ninety three oversized boxes,one folder and contains proofsheets for select Ayer clients, created between 1975 and 2001. Within this series, materials are arranged alphabetically by client name and there under chronologically by date of production. Major national advertisers represented include American Telephone & Telegraph, Avon, the United States Army, DeBeers Consolidated Diamond Mines, Dupont, TV Guide, Sealtest, Kraft Foods, Gillette, General Motors, Cannon Mills.
Series 5, Billboards, circa 1952-1956, consists of mounted and un-mounted original art/mock-ups. Twenty-two pieces of original art created as mock-ups for Texaco billboards.
Series 6, Film and Video Commercials, 1967-1970,
Series 7, Radio and Television Materials, 1933-1993, undated, is arranged into eight boxes and includes radio scripts, television scripts, and story boards for commercials.
Subseries 7.1, Scripts and storyboards for Radio and Television Commercials, dates Scripts for radio and television commercials includes title, date, length of commercial, advertising agency, client information
NW Ayer's radio and television materials mainly focus on the American Telegraph and Telephone account. Some of Ayer's materials relate to Bell Telephone Hours.
Storyboards are used in television and film to assist the director in working with crew to tell the story. To show the viewer through the use of figures, visual effects and camera angles. When directors first start thinking about their storyboard they create a story in their mind. They think of all the camera angles, visual effects and how the figures will interact in their mind. They try to create an extraordinary story in their head to attract the viewer (YOU) In order for the storyboard to be entirely effective it can't be a passive document. When done properly, a storyboard serves as a central design, meeting the needs of many team members including graphics artists, video personnel and programmers.
Another function of a storyboard is to help the team communicate during the training development process. This communication is very important in working with a large team as in the movie King, produced in 1996. Figures help the director explain to the crew how they are going to record the film and how to present it to the audience. Sometimes the director wants special effects to be added to the film, but his budget might not be that big so the director will have to change the story to fit their budget.
The Visual Effects are an important part in the storyboards it adds a special touch of creativity to your film. Camera angles are an important expects in your film because the camera angles determine where the viewing audience will look. If you want your audience to look at a certain object you must turn their attention to it by focusing on that object and maybe you might try blocking something out. Then you will have your audience's attention and you may do whatever else you have to, it could be scaring them are just surprising them or whatever you do.
Also included is talent information and log sheets relating to the storage of the commercials.
Bell Telephone Hour Program, 1942-[19??], The Bell Telephone Hour, also known as The Telephone Hour, was a five minute musical program which began April 29, 1940 on National Broadcasting Company Radio and was heard on NBC until June 30, 1958. Sponsored by Bell Telephone showcased the best in classical and Broadway music, reaching eight to nine million listeners each week. It continued on television from 1959 to 1968.
Earlier shows featured James Melton and Francia White as soloists. Producer Wallace Magill restructured the format on April 27, 1942 into the "Great Artists Series" of concert and opera performers, beginning with Jascha Heifetz. Records indicate that the list of talents on the program included Marian Anderson, Helen Traubel, Oscar Levant, Lily Pons, Nelson Eddy, Bing Crosby, Margaret Daum, Benny Goodman, José Iturbi, Gladys Swarthout and .The series returned to radio in 1968-1969 as Bell Telephone Hour Encores, also known as Encores from the Bell Telephone Hour, featuring highlights and interviews from the original series.
National Broadcasting television specials sponsored by the Bell System, 1957-1987includes information relating to Science series, Bell system Theshold Series, Bell telephone hour and commercial and public sponsored programs
Series 8, Chicago Office Print Advertisements, 1954-1989, is arranged alphabetically by the name of the client in ninety boxes and six oversize folders. Clients include Illinois Bell Telephone (1955-1989), Microswitch (1969-1989), Teletype (1975-1984), John Deere (1974-1989) and Caterpillar (1966-1972) are particularly well represented. Other clients of interest include Dr. Scholl's shoes (circa 1968-1972), the Girl Scouts (1976-1980), Sunbeam Personal Products Company (1973-1981), Bell and Howell (1974-1983) and Alberto Culver shampoos (1967-1971), Honeywell, Incorporated, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Associations, Kraft, Incorporated, Sears, Roebuck and Company, and YMCA.
Series 9, Los Angeles Office Materials, 1950s-1987, include printed advertisements created by this office and information relating to the employees.
Subseries 9.1, Print Advertisements, 1977-1987, printed advertisements arranged in one box alphabetically by client. There is a sparse sampling of clients from this particular Ayer branch office. The majority of the advertisements contained within this series are from Pizza Hut (1986-1987). Also included are Computer Automation (1977-1978), State of the Art, Incorporated (1982) and Toshiba (1986).
Subseries 9.2, Personnel Files, 1950s-1970s, includes cards of employees who worked in the Los Angeles office. Information on the cards includes name, address, telephone number, birthday, date hired, departure date and why (retired, terminated, resigned, etc) and position. Not all cards have all information. There is also a photograph of the employees on the cards.
Series 10, Foreign Print Advertisements, 1977-1991, undated, NW Ayer maintained partnerships with international companies such as Sloanas Ayer in Argentina, Connaghan & May Paton Ayer in Australia, Moussault Ayer in Belgium, NW Ayer, LTD. in Canada, GMC Ayer in France, Co-Partner Ayer in Germany, Wong Lam Wang in Hong Kong, MacHarman Ayer in New Zealand, Grupo de Diseno Ayer in Spain, Nedeby Ayer in Sweden, and Ayer Barker in United Kingdom. This group of material is a small sampling of advertisements created from these International offices. It is arranged alphabetically by client. There are quite a few automobile advertisements (i.e. Audi, Fiat, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen). In addition there are numerous advertisements for various personal items from MacLean's toothpaste to Quick athletic shoes to Labello lip balm, etc. Most of the advertisements have the creator's name printed on the advertisements.
Series 11, Cunningham & Walsh, Incorporated Materials, 1915-1987, undated contains 98 boxes 11 folders materials from the New York advertising agency acquired by NW Ayer in the 1960s. The company began with Newel-Emmett, an agency of nine men which broke up in 1949. Two of the men Fred Walsh and Jack Cunningham formed this agency in bearing their names in 1950. The agency created "let your fingers for the walking campaign for American Telephone & Telegraph, Mother Nature for Chiffon, and Mrs. Olson for Folgers's coffee and let the good times roll for Kawasaki motorcycle. In 1986, NW Ayer Incorporated purchased Cunningham & Walsh Incorporated.
Subseries 11.1, Print Advertisements, 1915-1987, are contained in ninety eight boxes of primarily print advertisements arranged alphabetically by client name. Clients that are particularly well represented are Graybar (electrical implements, circa1926-1937), Johns-Manulle (circa1915-1971), Smith and Corono typewriters (circa 1934-1960), Sunshine Biscuit Company (circa 1925-1961), Texaco Company (circa 1936-1961), Western Electric (circa 1920- 1971) and Yellow Pages (circa 1936-1971). Cunningham and Walsh also represented several travel and tourism industry clients, including Cook Travel Services (circa 1951-1962), Italian Line (circa 1953-1961), Narragansett and Croft (circa 1956-1960) and Northwest Airlines (circa 1946-1955). There are photographs of Texaco advertisements dating from 1913-1962. There is also a scrapbook of advertisements from the Western Electric Company dating from 1920-1922.
Subseries 11.2, Radio and Television Advertisements, 1963-1967, consist of materials created for Western Electric. Materials are arranged in chronological order.
Subseries 11.3, Company Related Materials, 1962-1986, undated include client lists, information relating to NW Ayer purchase and annual report 1962.
Series 12, Hixson & Jorgensen Materials, 1953-1971, a Los Angeles advertising company, merged with Ayer in 1969. This series is housed in one box. Within the box are four scrapbooks and folders with a hodgepodge of materials relating to advertising. Of most interest are the scrapbooks. Two scrapbooks deal with Hixson and Jorgensen's self promotion ad campaign "the right appeal gets action" (1953-1957). The other two scrapbooks contain news clippings about the company and its activities (1959-1971).
Series 13, Newell-Emmet, 1942-1957, founded in 1919 and governed in the 1940s by a partnership of nine men. The partnership broke up in 1949 when the men went their separate ways. The materials consist of print advertisements for one of client, Permutit Company, a water conditioning company. The materials are arranged in one box in chronological order.
Series 14, House Print Advertisements, 1870-1991, 16 boxes consists of advertisements or self-promotion advertisements to campaign for new clients. The series is arranged chronologically by date into fifteen boxes. Within the series are two scrapbooks containing self promotion ads from 1888-1919 and 1892-1895. Numerous house ads relate to Ayer's "Human Contact" campaign. In addition to the self promotion ads, Ayer ran advertisements expounding about particular concepts or themes for example, one month the concept would "understand" while another month would be "teamwork" and yet another would be on "imagination". Some of the self promotion ads target specific groups like Philadelphia businessmen. Other advertisements incorporate the fine arts.
Series 15, Scrapbooks, 1872-1959, relates to company events, records and news clippings about Ayer's history. The six boxes are arranged by chronological date. Two of the boxes focus solely on the death of founder F.W. Ayer (1923). Another box houses a scrapbook that showcases Ayer's annual Typography Exhibition (1931-1959). One box contains a scrapbook that specifically deals with correspondences relating to Ayer's advertising. Yet another box's contents are folders of loose pages from scrapbooks that have newspaper clippings, order forms, correspondences and other company records. In one box, a bound scrapbook houses a variety of materials relating to Ayer and advertising (i.e. newspaper clippings, competitor's advertisements, NW Ayer's advertisements, correspondences for advertisements, clippings regarding the "theory of advertising."
Series 16, Publications, 1849-2006, are housed in thirty four boxes and are arranged into three main categories.
Subseries 16.1, House Publications, 1876-1994, covers diverse topics; some proscriptive works about the Ayer method in advertising, some commemorating people, anniversaries or events in the life of the agency. Materials consist of scattered issues of the employee newsletter The Next Step 1920-1921. The materials are arranged in chronological order by date of publication. Ayer in the News, The Show Windows of an Advertising Agency, 1915, book form of advertisements published on the cover of Printer's Ink, highlighting Ayer's relations with advertisers. The Story of the States, 1916, Reprint in book form of a series of articles published in Printer's Ink for the purpose of adding some pertinent fact, progressive thought and prophetic vision to the Nationalism of Advertising highlights major businesses, manufacturer, natural resources and other qualities or attractions of each state. The Book of the Golden Celebration, 1919, includes welcome address and closing remarks by founder F. Wayland Ayer, The Next Step, 1920 employee newsletter with photographs, employee profiles, in-house jokes, etc., Advertising Advertising: A Series of Fifty-two Advertisements scheduled one time a week. Twenty-seven, thirty and forty inches, a day of the week optional with publisher, 1924
Subseries 16.2, Publications about NW Ayer, 1949-2006, includes a book first published in 1939. Includes articles, documenting events and is arranged chronologically by date of publication.
Subseries 16.3, General Publications about Advertising, 1922-1974, are arranged chronologically by date of publication and relate primarily to the history of advertising.
Subseries 16.4, Publications about Other Subjects, 1948-1964, include four books about the tobacco industry primarily the history of the American Tobacco Company and Lorillard Company from the Cunningham and Walsh library.
Series 17, Business Records, circa 1885-1990s
Subseries 17.1, Contracts, 1885-1908, undated, are arranged alphabetically and span from 1885-1908. The majority of the contracts are with newspaper and magazine publishers from around the country.
Subseries 17.2, General client information, 1911-1999, undated, including active and cancelled lists with dates, client gains, historical client list, (should move this to series 20) Ayer Plan User Guide Strategic Planning for Human Contact, undated
Subseries 17.3, Individual Client Account Information, 1950s-1990s, undated, contain information used by Ayer to create advertisements for some of its clients. American Telephone &Telegraph Corporate Case History, American Telephone &Telegraph Corporate advertisement memo, commissioned artists for DeBeers advertisements, DeBeers information relating to the creative process and photography credits, a case history for DeBeers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., The Diamond Engagement Ring, Managing Communication at all levels, DuPont publications, JC Penny Marketing Communication Plan Recommendation, Leaf, Incorporated, Saturn presentation, and USAREC oral presentation.
Subseries 17.4, Potential Clients, 1993, includes grouping has a questionnaire sent to Ayer by a potential client. Questionnaire response for Prudential Securities, 1993 Prudential Securities advertising account review, 1993.
Subseries 17.5, Financial Records, 1929-1938, includes balance sheet, 1929 May 1 Balance sheet and adjustments Consolidated statement of assets and liabilities, Expenses 191936-37 Business review and expenses, 1937 and 1938 Business review and expenses comparative statement, 1937 and 1938.
Series 18, Legal Records, circa 1911-1982, Ayer's legal records are arranged by twelve subject groupings within four boxes. The twelve groupings are advertising service agreements (circa 1918-1982), bylaws, copyright claims, correspondences, international correspondences, dissolution of trusts, stock information, agreements between partners, incorporation materials, reduction of capital, property information and miscellaneous materials. The bulk of the materials are the advertising service agreements. These agreements are between Ayer and their clients and state the services Ayer will offer and at what cost. The bylaws are Ayer's company bylaws from 1969 and 1972. The copyright claims are certificates stating Ayer's ownership over certain published materials (i.e. "Policy", Media Equalizer Model, and Don Newman's Washington Square Experiment). The correspondences relate to either the voting trust and receipts for agreement or the New York Corporation. The international correspondences are from either Ayer's Canadian office or London office. The dissolutions of trusts contains materials about the dividend trust of Wilfred F. Fry, the investment trust of Winfred W. Fry, the voting trust, and the New York corporation. The stock information has stock certificates and capital stock information. The agreements between partners (1911-1916) specify the terms between F.W. Ayer and his partners. The incorporation materials (circa 1929-1977) deal with Ayer advertising agency becoming incorporated in the state of Delaware. The reduction of capital grouping is a notification that shares of stock have been retired. The property information grouping contains property deeds and insurance policy (circa 1921-1939), a property appraisal (1934), and a bill of sale (1948). The miscellaneous grouping contains a house memo regarding a set of board meeting minutes and a registry of foreign companies in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1929-1954).
Subseries 18.1, Advertising Service Agreements, 1918-1982
Subseries 18.2, Bylaw Materials, 1969-1972
Subseries 18.3, Copyright Claims, 1962-1969
Subseries 18.4, Correspondence, 1928-1933
Subseries 18.5, International Office Correspondence, 1947-1948
Subseries 18.6, Dissolution of Trusts, 1934-1937
Subseries 18.7, Stock Information, 1934-1974
Subseries 18.8, Agreements between Partners, 1911-1916
Series 19, Personnel Records, circa 1889-2001, are arranged into eight groupings within eight boxes. The groupings are employee card files, photographs, Ayer alumni, biographies, speeches, recollections, oral histories, and miscellaneous. Typed manuscript of book A Copy Writer Speaks by George Cecil, NW Ayer, Incorporated copy head 1920s-1950s
Subseries 19.1, Employee card files, circa 1892-1915; 1929-1963, consists of index cards with the name, age, job title, date and wage increases, date of hire/fire, as well as remarks about the employee's service and/or reasons for seeking or leaving the job. Materials are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the employee within three boxes.
Subseries 19.2, Photographs, circa 1924-1984, undated, are housed in two boxes. The photographs grouped together by subjects i.e. personnel, company events, Ayer buildings, and miscellaneous. This grouping primarily consists of personnel photographs. Includes a glass plate negative dated 1924 of NW Ayer.
Subseries 19.3, Ayer Alumni, circa 1989-98, include employees who have left Ayer. There is a listing of Ayer "graduates" and their current job. Emeritus, Ayer's alumni newsletter 1989-1996, makes up the majority of materials in this grouping. The newsletter keeps the alumni up to date with the happenings of Ayer and what has become of former Ayer employees. Emeritus is a quarterly newsletter devoted to the activities, thoughts and feelings of Ayer alumni a body of people who consists of retirees and former employees.
Subseries 19.4, Biographical Information, circa 1889-1994, undated, prominent members of Ayer's operations had biographical sketches completed of them. This was true for the bio sketches of Robert Ervin, Louis T. Hagopian, and George A. Rink. There is a substantial file on Dorothy Dignam ("Mis Dig"), a leading woman in the advertising world from the 1930s to the 1950s. Also of interest is a video ("The Siano Man") compiled by Ayer employees to commemorate Jerry Siano's retirement from Ayer in 1994. The series is arranged alphabetically by last name.
Subseries 19.5, Speeches, circa 1919-1931; 1975, contains speeches made by Wilfred W. Fry and Neal W. O'Connor. Wilfred W. Fry had various speaking engagements connected with Ayer. Contained in this group is a sampling of his speeches from 1919 to 1931. Neal O'Connor's speech "Advertising: Who Says It's a Young People's Business" was given at the Central Region Convention for the American Association of Advertising Agencies in Chicago on November 6, 1975. The speeches are arranged alphabetically by the speaker's last name.
Subseries 19.6, Recollections, 1954-1984, undated, are arranged alphabetically by last name. These are recollections from Ayer employees about the company and its advertisements. Some recollections are specifically about certain types of advertisements, like farm equipment while others reflect on F. W. Ayer and the company.
Subseries 19.7, Oral History Interview Transcripts, 1983-1985; 1989-1991, include interviews with key NW Ayer personnel, conducted by Ayer alumnae Howard Davis, Brad Lynch and Don Sholl (Vice President creative) for the Oral History Program. The materials are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the interviewee.
Subseries 19.8, Oral History Interview Audio Tapes, 1985-1990, include interviews on audiotape the materials are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the interviewee.
Subseries 19.9, Internal Communications, 1993-1999, includes information sent to employees relating to retirements, management changes, awards won by the company, promotions, potential new accounts, free items, grand opening of Ayer Café, donation events, sponsorship programs, holiday schedules, discounts for employees from clients, Ayer joins MacManus Group.
Subseries 19.10, General Materials, 1940; 1970, includes agency directory entry including a list of the employees, 1970s, annual banquet program for the Curfew Club May 22, 1940 a group formed by the Philadelphia employee in 1938. It sponsored numerous sports, social and educational activities. Groups were formed in public speaking, music appreciation and a series of talks on Monday evenings title the modern woman. The front page was a series of talks for general interest. A list of officers, 1991, Twenty five year club membership, 1973 December 1, List of NW Ayer graduates, 1970, List of Officers, 1991 May 31, Obituary for Leo Lionni, 1999 October 17, List of photographers of advertisements, 2001
Series 20, Background and History Information, 1817-1999, undated includes a chronology, 1817-1990, quick reference timeline, 1848-1923, loose pages from a scrapbook containing examples of correspondence, envelopes, advertisements dating from 1875-1878; slogans coined by NW Ayer & Sons, Incorporated, 1899-1990, history of management, 1909-1923, articles and photographs about the building and art galleries, 1926-1976, publications about the Philadelphia building, 1929, pamphlet relating to memories of NW Ayer & Sons, Incorporated, 1930s-1950s, television history, 1940-1948, Article about the history of the company, 1950 January, pocket guide, 1982, AdWeek reports about standings for advertising agencies, information relating to Human Contact which is NW Ayer's Information relating to Human Contact, undated which is their philosophy on advertising.
Series 21, Materials Created by other Advertising Agencies, 1945-1978, undated, consists of print advertisements collected by Ayer from other major advertising companies. The companies include Doyle Dane Bernback, Incorporated, Leo Burnett Company, Grey Advertising Agency, D'Arcy Ad Agency, Scali, McCabe, Sloves, Incorporated and Erwin Wasey Company. The materials are arranged in alphabetical order by client and include products from Ralston Purina and Van Camp (Chicken of the Sea), Kellogg, American Export Lines and No Nonsense Fashions.
Series 22, 2010 Addendum of Print Advertisements, circa 1879s-1999, undated, includes material given to the Archives Center in 2010. It is organized into seventy one oversized boxes and contains proofsheets of print advertisements for select Ayer clients. These are arranged alphabetically by client name and include substantial quantities of materials from American Telephone &Telegraph (1945-1996), Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (1967-1987), Carrier (1971-1981), Citibank (1973-1991), DeBeers (1940s-1960s and1990s), Electric Companies Advertising Program [ECAP] (1942-1970s), General Motors (1989-1998), J.C. Penney (1983-1986), Newsweek (1966-1975), and Proctor and Gamble (1980s-1890s). There are also numerous other clients represented by smaller quantities of materials.
Subseries 22.2, Print Advertisements on Glass Plate Negatives, 1879-1881, undated, include Cannon towels, Cheny Brothers silks, Cornish & Company organs and pianos, Enterprise Manufacturing Company, 1879 sad iron, an ad from Harper's Weekly 1881 for ladies clothing, Ostermoor & Company mattresses, Pear's soap, Porter's cough balsam, Steinway pianos.
Series 23, Microfilm of Print Advertisements, circa 1908-1985, consists of three boxes of printed advertisements for the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. Some of the same advertisements might also be found in series two, three and four.
The collection is arranged into twenty-three series.
Series 1: Scrapbooks of Client Print Advertisements, circa 1870-1920
Series 2: Proofsheets, circa 1870-1930
Series 3: Proofsheets, circa 1920-1975
Series 4: 2001 Addendum, circa 1976-2001
Series 5: Billboards, circa 1952-1956
Series 6: Audiovisual Materials
Series 7: Radio and Television Materials, 1933-1993, undated
Series 8: Chicago Office Print Advertisements, 1954-1989
Series 9: Los Angeles Office Materials, 1950s-1987
Subseries 9.1: Printed Advertisements, 1977-1987
Subseries 9.2: Personnel Files, 1950s-1970s
Series 10: Foreign Print Advertisements, 1977-1991, undated
Series 11: Cunningham & Walsh Incorporated Materials, 1915-1987, undated
Subseries 11.1: Printed Advertisements, 1915-1987
Subseries 11.2: Radio and Television Advertisements, 1963-1967
Subseries 11.3: Company Related Materials, 1962-1986, undated
Series 12: Hixson & Jorgensen Materials, 1953-1971, undated
Series 13: Newell-Emmet, 1942-1957
Series 14: House Print Advertisements, 1870-1991
Series 15: Scrapbooks, 1872-1959
Series 16: Publications, 1849-2006
Subseries 16.1: House Publications, 1876-1994
Subseries 16.2: Publications about NW Ayer, 1949-1995
Subseries 16.3: General Publications about Advertising, 1922-2006
Subseries 16.4: Publications about other Subjects, 1948-1964
Series 17, Business Records, circa 1885-1990s
Subseries 17.1: Contracts, 1885-1908, undated
Subseries 17.2: General Client Information, 1911-1999, undated
Subseries 22.2: Print Advertisements on Glass Plate Negatives, 1879-1881, undated
Series 23: Microfilm of Print Advertisements, circa 1908-1985
Biographical / Historical:
Founded in Philadelphia in 1869, NW Ayer & Son is one of the oldest and largest advertising agencies in America. For most of its history, it was the undisputed leader and innovator in the field of advertising. In 1876, NW Ayer & Son pioneered the "open contract", a revolutionary change in the method of billing for advertising which became the industry standard for the next hundred years. NW Ayer pioneered the use of fine art in advertising and established the industry's first art department. It was the first agency to use a full-time copywriter and the first to institute a copy department. The agency relocated to New York City in 1974. During its long history, the agency's clients included many "blue-chip" clients, including American Telephone & Telegraph, DeBeers Consolidated Diamond Mines, Ford Motor Company, Nabisco, R. J. Reynolds and United Airlines. However, in later years, the Ayer's inherent conservatism left the agency vulnerable to the creative revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, the advertising industry restructuring of the 1980s and the economic recession of the early 1990s. The agency was bought out by a Korean investor in 1993. In 1996, NW Ayer merged with another struggling top twenty United States advertising agency, Darcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles, under the umbrella of the McManus Group. Ayer continues to operate as a separate, full-service agency.
Through a series of buyouts and mergers, Ayer traces its lineage to the first advertising agency founded in the United States, a Philadelphia agency begun by Volney Palmer in 1841. Palmer began his career in advertising as a newspaper agent, acting as middleman between newspaper publishers and advertisers across the country. By 1849, Palmer had founded his own newspaper, V. B. Palmer's Register and Spirit of the Press, and had developed a complete system of advertising which included securing advertising space and placing ads in scores of commercial, political, religious, scientific and agricultural journals across the country. Palmer went one step further than the "space jobbers" of the day when he began offering "advertisements carefully drawn for those who have not the time to prepare an original copy." Always an enthusiastic promoter of advertising as an incentive to trade and American economic growth, Palmer promised advertisers that "every dollar paid for advertising in country newspapers will pay back twenty-fold" and encouraged skeptical consumers that "he who wishes to buy cheap should buy of those who advertise." When Palmer died in 1863, the agency was bought by his bookkeeper, John Joy, who joined with another Philadelphia advertising agency to form Joy, Coe & Sharpe. That agency was bought out again in 1868 and renamed Coe, Wetherill & Company. In 1877, Coe, Wetherill and Company was bought out by the newly formed NW Ayer & Son.
Francis Wayland Ayer was an ambitious young schoolteacher with an entrepreneurial streak. Having worked for a year soliciting advertisements on a commission basis for the publisher of the National Baptist weekly, Francis Ayer saw the potential to turn a profit as an advertising agent. In 1869, Ayer persuaded his father, Nathan Wheeler Ayer, to join him in business, and with an initial investment of only $250.00, NW Ayer & Son was born. Notwithstanding a smallpox epidemic in Philadelphia in 1871 and the general economic depression of the early 1870s, the agency flourished. The senior Ayer died in 1873, leaving his interest in the agency to his wife, but Francis W. Ayer bought her out, consolidating his interest in the company's management. In 1877, with Coe, Wetherill & Company (the successor to Palmer's 1841 agency) on the verge of bankruptcy and heavily indebted to Ayer for advertising it had placed in Ayer publications, Ayer assumed ownership of that agency. Thus did NW Ayer lay claim to being the oldest advertising agency in the country.
Both Nathan Wheeler and Francis Wayland Ayer began their careers as schoolteachers, and one of their legacies was a commitment to the cause of education: correspondence schools and institutions of higher learning were historically well-represented among Ayer clients. Just after World War I, the agency was heralded as "co-founder of more schools than any citizen of this country" for its conspicuous efforts to advertise private schools. Well into the 1960s, an "Education Department" at Ayer prepared advertisements for over three hundred private schools, camps and colleges, representing almost half the regional and national advertising done for such institutions. In fact, to its clients Ayer presented advertising itself as being akin to a system of education. In 1886, Ayer began promoting the virtues of the Ayer way advertising with the slogan, "Keeping Everlastingly at It Brings Success."
The agency's goals were simple: "to make advertising pay the advertiser, to spend the advertiser's money as though it were our own, to develop, magnify and dignify advertising as a business." Initially, Ayer's fortunes were tied to newspapers, and the agency began to make a name for itself as compiler and publisher of a widely used American Newspaper Annual. During the first years, Ayer's singular goal was "to get business, place it [in newspapers] and get money for it"; after several years as an independent space broker, however, Francis Ayer resolved "not to be an order taker any longer." This decision led NW Ayer and Son to a change in its mode of conducting business which would revolutionize the advertising industry: in 1876, Ayer pioneered the "open contract" with Diggee & Conard, Philadelphia raised growers and agricultural suppliers. Prior to the open contract, NW Ayer & Sons and most agencies operated as "space-jobbers," independent wholesalers of advertising space, in which the opportunities for graft and corrupt practices were virtually unlimited. In contrast, the open contract, wherein the advertiser paid a fixed commission based on the volume of advertising placed, aligned the advertising agent firmly on the side of the advertiser and gave advertisers access to the actual rates charged by newspapers and religious journals. The open contract with a fixed commission has been hailed by advertising pioneer Albert Lasker as one of the "three great landmarks in advertising history." (The other two were Lasker's own development of "reason-why" advertising copy and J. Walter Thompson's pioneering of sex appeal in an advertisement for Woodbury's soap.) Although the transition to the open contract did not happen overnight, by 1884, nearly three-quarters of Ayer's advertising billings were on an open contract basis. Since Ayer was, by the 1890s, the largest agency in America, the switch to direct payment by advertisers had a significant impact on the advertising industry, as other agencies were forced to respond to Ayer's higher standard. Just as important, the open contract helped to establish N W Ayer's long-standing reputation for "clean ethics and fair dealing" -- a reputation the agency has guarded jealously for over a century.
The open contract also helped to establish Ayer as a full service advertising agency and to regularize the production of advertising in-house. From that point forward, Ayer routinely offered advice and service beyond the mere placement of advertisements. Ayer set another milestone for the industry in 1888, when Jarvis Wood was hired as the industry's first full-time copywriter. Wood was joined by a second full time copywriter four years later, and the Copy Department was formally established in 1900. The industry's first Art Department grew out of the Copy Department when Ayer hired its first commercial artist to assist with copy preparation in 1898; twelve years later Ayer became the first agency to offer the services of a full time art director, whose sole responsibility was the design and illustration of ads.
Ayer's leadership in the use of fine art in advertising has roots in this period, but achieved its highest expression under the guidance of legendary art director Charles Coiner. Coiner joined Ayer in 1924, after graduating from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Despite early resistance from some clients, Coiner was adamant that "the use of outstanding palette and original art forms bring a greater return in readership, in impact and prestige for the advertiser." To this end, Coiner marshaled the talents of notable painters, illustrators and photographers, including N.C. Wyeth and Rockwell Kent (Steinway), Georgia O'Keefe (Dole), Leo Lionni (DuPont), Edward Steichen (Steinway, Cannon Mills), Charles Sheeler (Ford), and Irving Penn (DeBeers). Coiner believed that there was a practical side to the use of fine art in advertising, and his success (and Ayer's) lay in the marriage of research and copywriting with fine art, an arrangement Coiner termed "art for business sake." Coiner's efforts won both awards and attention for a series completed in the 1950s for the Container Corporation of America. Titled "Great Ideas of Western Man" the campaign featured abstract and modern paintings and sculpture by leading U.S. and foreign artists, linked with Western philosophical writings in an early example of advertising designed primarily to bolster corporate image. In 1994, Charles Coiner was posthumously named to the American Advertising Federation's Hall of Fame, the first full time art director ever chosen for that honor.
Coiner and fellow art director Paul Darrow also created legendary advertising with the "A Diamond Is Forever" campaign for DeBeers; ads featured the work of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and other modernist painters. The "A Diamond is Forever" tagline was written in 1949 by Frances Gerety, a woman copywriter at Ayer from 1943 to 1970. In 1999, Ad Age magazine cited "A Diamond is Forever" as the most memorable advertising slogan of the twentieth century.
Coiner also earned respect for his volunteer government service during World War II; he designed the armbands for civil defense volunteers and logos for the National Recovery Administration and Community Chest. As a founding member of the Advertising Council in 1945, Ayer has had a long-standing commitment to public service advertising. In the mid-1980s, Ayer became a leading force in the Reagan-era "War on Drugs". Lou Hagopian, Ayer's sixth CEO, brokered the establishment of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, a media coalition which generated as much as a million dollars a day in donated advertising space and time to prevent the use and abuse of illegal drugs. Famous names appear among NW Ayer's clientele from the very earliest days of the agency. Retailer John Wanamaker, Jay Cooke and Company, and Montgomery Ward's mail-order business were among the first Ayer clients. The agency has represented at least twenty automobile manufacturers, including Cadillac, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Plymouth, and Rolls-Royce. Other major, long-term clients through the years have included American Telephone & Telegraph, Canada Dry, Cannon Mills, Hills Bros. Coffee Company, Kellogg's, R. J. Reynolds, Steinway and Sons, United Airlines, and the United States Army. By the time of Ayer's hundredth anniversary in 1969, some of these companies had been Ayer clients for decades if not generations, and the longevity of those relationships was for many years a source of Ayer's strength.
But the advertising industry began to change in the late 1960s and 1970s, due in part to a "creative revolution." Small advertising agencies won attention with provocative copywriting and art direction that more closely resembled art than advertising. Advances in market research allowed clients to more narrowly tailor their advertising messages to distinct groups of consumers, and this led to a rise in targeted marketing which could more readily be doled out to specialized small agencies than to larger, established firms like NW Ayer & Son. The civil rights and anti-war movements also contributed to increasing public skepticism with the values of corporate America, and by extension, with some national advertising campaigns. Older, more conservative firms like Ayer were hard pressed to meet these new challenges.
About 1970, in an effort to meet these challenges and to establish a foothold on the West Coast, Ayer bought out two smaller agencies--Hixson & Jorgenson (Los Angeles) and Frederick E. Baker (Seattle). The agency relocated from Philadelphia to New York City in 1974 in an attempt both to consolidate operations (Ayer had operated a New York office since the 1920s) and to be closer to the historic center of the advertising industry. Riding the wave of mergers that characterized the advertising industry in the late 1980s and 1990s, Ayer continued to grow through the acquisition of Cunningham & Walsh in 1986 and Rink Wells in 19xx.
During this transitional period, Ayer received widespread acclaim for its work for the United States Army, which included the widely recognized slogan "Be All You Can Be". Ayer first acquired the Army recruitment account in 1967 and with help from its direct marketing arm, the agency was widely credited with helping the Army reach its recruitment goals despite an unpopular war and plummeting enlistments after the elimination of the draft in 1973. Ayer held the account for two decades, from the Vietnam War through the Cold War, but lost the account in 1986 amid government charges that an Ayer employee assigned to the account accepted kickbacks from a New York film production house. Despite Ayer's position as the country's 18th largest agency (with billings of $880 million in 1985), the loss of the agency's second largest account hit hard.
NW Ayer made up for the loss of the $100 million dollar a year Army account and made headlines for being on the winning end of the largest account switch in advertising history to date, when fast food giant Burger King moved its $200 million dollar advertising account from arch-rival J. Walter Thompson in 1987. Burger King must have had drive-thru service in mind, however, and Ayer made headlines again when it lost the account just eighteen months later in another record-breaking account switch. Another devastating blow to the agency was the loss of its lead position on the American Telegraph and Telephone account. Ayer pioneered telecommunications advertising in 1908, when the agency was selected to craft advertising for the Bell System's universal telephone service. Despite valiant efforts to keep an account the agency had held for most of the twentieth century, and for which they had written such memorable corporate slogans as American Telephone &Telegraph "The Voice with a Smile" and "Reach Out and Touch Someone", the agency lost the account in 1996.
After a wave of mergers and acquisitions in the late 1980s, the economic recession of the early 1990s hit Madison Avenue hard, and Ayer was particularly vulnerable. Despite the agency's long history and roster of "blue-chip" clients, Ayer was not known for cutting-edge creative work. Moreover, though the agency had offices overseas, Ayer had never built a strong multinational presence, and many of the smaller international offices were sold during the financial turmoil of the 1980s. This left a real void in the new climate of global marketplace consolidation. By about 1990, earnings were declining (although Ayer was still among the top twenty United States agencies in billings), and the agency was suffering from client defections, high management turnover, expensive real estate commitments and deferred executive compensation deals, all fallout of the high-flying 1980s. This was the atmosphere in 1993, when W.Y. Choi, a Korean investor who had already assembled a media and marketing empire in his homeland, began looking for an American partner to form an international advertising network. Jerry Siano, the former creative director who had recently been named Ayer's seventh CEO, was in no position to refuse Choi's offer of $35 million to buy the now floundering agency. The infusion of cash was no magic bullet, however. Choi took a wait-and-see approach, allowing his partner Richard Humphreys to make key decisions about Ayer's future, including the purging of senior executives and the installation of two new CEOs in as many years.
The agency's downward trend continued with the loss of another longtime client, the DeBeers diamond cartel in 1995. Adweek reported that Ayer's billings fell from $892 million in 1990 to less than $850 million in 1995. Several top executives defected abruptly, and the agency failed to attract major new accounts. Ayer was facing the loss not merely of revenue and personnel, but the loss of much of the respect it once commanded. Ayer remained among the twenty largest U.S. agencies, but an aura of uncertainty hung over the agency like a cloud. A new CEO was appointed, and Mary Lou Quinlan became the agency's first woman CEO in 1995. A year later, Ayer and another struggling top twenty agency, D'arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles, combined as part of the McManus Group of companies. In 1998, the McManus Group had worldwide billings of more than $6.5 billion.
Under the McManus Group, Ayer was able to expand its international operations and begin to rebuild a stronger global presence. Several important new clients were won in 1997 and 1998, including Avon, General Motors, Kitchenaid, several Procter & Gamble brands and, most notably, Continental Airlines worldwide accounts. Born in the nineteenth century, Ayer may be one of a very few advertising agencies to successfully weather the economic and cultural transitions of both the twentieth and twentieth first centuries. Ayer was eventually acquired by the Publicis Groupe based in Paris, France which closed down the N.W. Ayer offices in 2002.
Materials in the Archives Center
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana (AC0060)
Hills Bros. Coffee Incorporated Records (AC0395)
The collection was donated by N W Ayer ABH International, April 15, 1975 and by Ayer & Partners, October 30, 1996.
The collection is open for research use.
Physical Access: Researchers must use microfilm copy. Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audiovisual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow.
Technical Access: Viewing the film portion of the collection without reference copies requires special appointment, please inquire; listening to audio discs requires special arrangement. Do not use original materials when available on reference video or audio tapes.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: reproduction fees may apply. Publication and production quality duplication is restricted due to complex copyright, publicity rights, and right to privacy issues. All duplication requests must be reviewed and approved by Archives Center staff. Potential users must receive written permission from appropriate rights holders prior to obtaining high quality copies.
The papers of abstract expressionist painters Jackson Pollock and wife Lee Krasner measure 16.1 linear feet and date from circa 1914 to 1984, with the bulk of the material dating from 1942 to 1984. The collection documents their personal and professional lives, as well as the legacy of Jackson Pollock's work after his death. Found are biographical material, correspondence, writings by Krasner and others, research material, business and financial records, printed material, scrapbooks, artwork by others, photographs, interview transcripts, audio and video recordings, and motion picture film.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of abstract expressionist painters Jackson Pollock and wife Lee Krasner measure 16.1 linear feet and date from circa 1914 to 1984, with the bulk of the material dating from 1942 to 1984. The collection documents their personal and professional lives, as well as the legacy of Jackson Pollock's work after his death. Found are biographical material, correspondence, writings by Krasner and others, research material, business and financial records, printed material, scrapbooks, artwork by others, photographs, interview transcripts, audio and video recordings, and motion picture film.
The collection is divided into two series, the first of which focuses on Pollock and includes his scattered papers dating from circa 1914 to his death in 1956, as well as Krasner's papers dating from his death to 1984 about managing Pollock's legacy. This series includes biographical materials, including transcripts and audio recordings of an interview with William Wright in 1949; Pollock's and Krasner's correspondence with Thomas Hart Benton, Betty Parsons Gallery, Bill Davis, B. H. Friedman, Reginald Isaacs, Sidney Janis, Violet De Lazlo, Martha Jackson Gallery, Alfonso Ossorio, Tony Smith, and Clyfford Still, and with one another; Krasner's correspondence concerning Pollock's estate and artwork after his death; numerous writings about Pollock, including an original draft of Bryan Robertson's biography and an essay by Clement Greenberg.
James Valliere extensive research files on Pollock for a never-published biography were given to Krasner and filed in Series 1. These include scattered correspondence with Lee Krasner, and Pollock's family and friends, including Charles Pollock, Thomas Hart Benton, and Robert Motherwell. There are also transcripts of interviews Valliere conducted with Pollock's friends and colleagues, including James Brooks, Dorothy Dehner, Clement Greenberg, Reuben Kadish, Lee Krasner, Charles Maddox, Mrs. Sanford McCoy, Daniel T. Miller, Robert Miller, and Tony Smith. The original audio reels and duplicates exist for many and are filed here. Additional interviews were conducted with Willem de Kooning, Alfonso Ossorio, and Burton Rouche, but not transcribed - these are filed in Series 1.10, Audio Recordings and Motion Picture Film.
Also found in Series 1 are scattered business records documenting Krasner's handling of Pollock's estate and legacy; printed materials relating to Pollock, including published biographies, exhibition catalogs, and clippings; two scrapbooks; and a sketchbook by an unidentified artist. Numerous photographs of Pollock include childhood and family photographs, photographs of Pollock in his studio by Hans Namuth, Rudy Burckhardt, and Herbert Matter, photographs of Pollock with Lee Krasner, and exhibition photographs. Audio recordings and motion film in Series 1 include a 1964 16mm film about Pollock (VHS copies are available) and reel-to-reel recordings of untranscribed interviews of Pollock's friends and colleagues by James Valliere, including interviews with Willem de Kooning and Alfonso Ossorio. Additional transcribed interviews are filed in subseries 1.4.
Lee Krasner's papers documenting her own career are arranged in Series 2 and date from 1927-1984. Biographical materials include resumes and awards, school documents, family documentation, and exhibition lists. Her correspondence with artist friends and art colleagues is extensive and includes many letters from artists such as Philip Johnson, Ray Eames, Cleve Gray, and Hans Namuth. She also maintained correspondence with many art historians and critics, curators, gallery owners, collectors, arts-related and social organizations, admirers, and family members.
There are thirteen transcripts of interviews with Krasner by Bruce Glaser, Barbara Cavaliere, Andrew Forge, Emily Wasserman, Barbara Rose, and others. The original audio recordings for these transcripts are filed in series 2.10, along with other audio recordings for which there are no transcripts, including interviews by John Gruen, Delores Holmes, Mercedes Matter, the Martha Dean Radio Show, NBC Today Show, and WQXR radio. There are also audio recordings of Krasner's lectures in series 2.10.
Krasner's papers also include writings and reminiscences by Krasner; writings about Krasner; printed materials such as exhibition catalogs and clippings; and one scrapbook containing clippings and photographs. Numerous photographs are of Krasner, including portrait photographs taken by Hans Namuth; of Krasner with Jackson Pollock and family and friends, and of her exhibitions and artwork.
Users should note that Pollock's and Krasner's papers contain similar types of material that often overlap in subject matter, especially among the correspondence and photographs.
The collection is arranged into 2 series:
Series 1: Jackson Pollock papers and Lee Krasner papers about Jackson Pollock, circa 1914-1984 (Box 1-7, 16, OV 18, FC 19-22; 7.4 linear feet)
Series 2: Lee Krasner papers, circa 1927-1984 (Box 7-15, 17; 8.6 linear feet)
Jackson Pollock was born in 1912, in Cody, Wyoming, the youngest of five sons. His family moved several times during his childhood, finally settling in Los Angeles. In 1930 he joined his older brother, Charles, in New York City, and studied with Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League of New York. Pollock worked during the 1930s for the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project. During 1936 he worked in artist David Alfaro Siqueiros's Experimental Workshop. In 1938 he began psychiatric treatment for alcoholism, and his artwork was greatly influenced by Jungian analysis and the exploration of unconscious symbolism.
In 1943 Pollock had his first one-man exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim's New York gallery, Art of this Century, and continued to exhibit there over the next several years. A major turning point in Pollock's life and art was in 1945 when he married fellow artist Lee Krasner and moved to East Hampton, Long Island. There he developed his mature painting style, and became famous for his abstract pouring technique on large canvases. The height of his creativity spanned from 1947 to 1952, and his work was promoted by art critic Clement Greenberg. Along with other abstract expressionists including Hans Hofmann, Alfonso Ossorio, and Barnett Newman, he joined the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1947. He had his most successful one-man show in 1950 which was widely publicized and praised. This exhibition, combined with a 1949 feature article in LIFE magazine, made Pollock an American celebrity.
In 1952 Pollock moved his work to Sidney Janis Gallery and returned to earlier motifs in a search for new breakthroughs. The last few years of his life he suffered from mental and physical health problems, and in August, 1956 he died in a car accident. His wife, Lee Krasner, oversaw his estate and worked with many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, on Pollock retrospective exhibitions.
Lee Krasner was born Lenore Krassner in 1908 in Brooklyn, New York to Russian immigrant parents. In 1926 she was admitted to the Women's Art School of The Cooper Union, and in 1928 she attended the Art Students League. After graduating from The Cooper Union in 1929, she attended the National Academy of Design until 1932. After briefly attending City College and Greenwich House, she worked for the Public Works of Art Project and the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration, and finally became an assistant in 1935 on the WPA Federal Art Project, Mural Division. From 1937 to 1940 she studied at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts and began exhibiting with the American Abstract Artists group.
In 1942 Krasner met Pollock as they were both preparing to exhibit work in the same show. Although they married and she became immersed in his career, she continued to exhibit her own work with other abstract artists and from 1946 to 1949 worked on the Little Image painting series. In 1953 she began working on collages, a medium she would come back to again later in her career. After Pollock's death her work was greatly influence by her sadness and anger, creating a visible evolution of her style.
For the rest of her career, Krasner consistently exhibited her work in both group and solo exhibitions. She had her first retrospective at Whitechapel Gallery, London, in 1965, and in 1966, she joined Marlborough Gallery, New York which represented Pollock's work as well. In the 1970s and early 1980s Krasner won many awards for her achievement in the visual arts, including the Augustus St. Gaudens Medal and the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. She returned to the medium of collage, and in 1976 joined the Pace Gallery, New York. In 1981 she joined the Robert Miller Gallery, New York. Lee Krasner continued creating art until her death in 1984.
Found in the Archives of American Art are the Charles Pollock Papers, 1902-1990, which includes correspondence, photographs, and other files relating to his brother, Jackson Pollock. Other resources in the Archives are oral history interviews with Lee Krasner, including a series of interviews conducted by Dorothy Seckler between 1964 and 1968, and interviews conducted by Barbara Rose in 1966 and Doloris Holmes in 1972.
The papers of Jackson Pollock were donated in 1983 by Lee Krasner through Eugene V. Thaw shortly before her death. Additional material about Pollock and the papers of Lee Krasner were donated in 1985 by Eugene V. Thaw, executor of Lee Krasner's estate.
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
The Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner 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 filmmaker, photographer, painter, printmaker, teacher, and arts advocate Maryette Charlton measure 81 linear feet and date from circa 1890 to 2013. This particularly rich collection includes biographical materials, correspondence, writings, 30 diaries, teaching files, professional and project files, major film project files, artist research files, exhibition files, printed material, scrapbooks, artwork, 22 sketchbooks, extensive photographic materials, numerous sound and film recordings, a digitized sound recording, and an unintegrated later addition to the papers containing additional biographical materials, journals, correspondence, subject files, printed materials, and scattered photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of filmmaker, photographer, painter, printmaker, teacher, and arts advocate Maryette Charlton measure 81 linear feet and 0.34 gigabytes and date from circa 1890 to 2013. This particularly rich collection includes biographical materials, correspondence, writings, 30 diaries, teaching files, professional and project files, major film project files, artist research files, exhibition files, printed material, scrapbooks, artwork, 22 sketchbooks, extensive photographic materials, numerous sound and video recordings, motion picture film, a digitized sound recording, and an unintegrated later addition to the papers containing additional biographical materials, journals, correspondence, subject files, printed materials, and scattered photographs.
Biographical materials consist of material on Maryette Charlton and her family. The subseries on Maryette Charlton includes a biographical chronology, passports, records of her marriage to Hall Winslow, information on studio spaces, school transcripts, and other material. Family files include genealogical charts and files of family members containing correspondence, writings, printed material, sound and video recordings, and photographs. The bulk of the family files are for Charlton's parents, Etna and Shannon, and her husband and son, Hall and Kirk Winslow.
Extensive correspondence is with family, friends, artists, and colleagues. Family correspondence is with her husband and son, parents, and extended family. Personal correspondence is with friends and colleagues, many of whom were famous artists. Named correspondence files and chonological correspondence files contain exchanges with Jo Andres, Elizabeth Bishop, Xenia Cage, Paula Court, Yasuo Fujitomi, Dimitri Hadzi, Margo Hoff, Sylvia Shaw Judson, Lillian Kiesler, Cindy Lubar, Loren MacIver, Pierre Matisse, Nimet (Saba Habachy), Henri Seyrig, Robert Wilson, and many others. There is also correspondence with colleges, museums, and universities.
Writings include academic papers and college class notes, titled essays, a notebook with sketches, and miscellaneous notes. Thirty diaries cover the period 1943 - 2001 and document a wide variety of topics, from film projects to travels to the art world in New York City. Some diaries are illustrated, including one illustrated by Alexander Calder at a party with Maryette, Ellsworth Kelly, and actress Delphine Seyrig. Journals from 1978-1979 tell of Charlton's experiences while appearing in films made by avant-garde director Richard Foreman. There is also one diary of Maryette's mother Etna Barr Charlton.
Teaching files document Charlton's career as an instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago and as the founder of and instructor at the American University of Beirut's art department. Files include appointment calendars, schedules, notes, lectures, news releases, printed material, and photographs.
Professional and project files consist of material related to Maryette Charlton's professional work at the University of Iowa Museum of Art, as a lecturer at the Chicago Public School Art Society, color analyst at the Container Corporation of America, executor of the estate of artist Louise Medbery von Brockdorff, fellowships, conferences, organizations, and the filming industry in general. There are files for the screening of Zen in Ryoko-In. The University of Iowa Museum of Art subseries consists of correspondence with fellow co-founders Leone and Owen Elliott, files on art donations, museum administration, annual reports, printed material, photographs, and sound and video recordings.
Artist research files consist of books, articles, and clippings collected by Charlton for research. Notable artists chronicled include Alexander Calder, James Purdy, Louise Nevelson, Kiki Smith, and Toshiko Takaezu.
Major film project files document Maryette Charlton's films about or with artists Frederick Kiesler (Trienniale, The Universal Theater and Kiesler on Kieseler), Lenore Tawney, Dorothy Miller, Loren MacIver, and Jeanne Reynal. The files for Frederick Kiesler also contain materials about his wife Lillian Kiesler, with whom Charlton had a long relationship and collaborated with on film projects. Individual film project files contain a wide variety of research and production documentation, including correspondence, writings, printed material, research files, exhibition catalogs, photographic materials, sound recordings of interviews and lectures, and Charlton's documentation about the creation and producation of each film, such as contracts, scripts, and distribution information. The film project files for Kiesler and Dorothy Miller are particularly rich, containing substantial amounts of primary source materials not found elsewhere. Sound and video recordings are found throughout the series, as well as 4 film reels.
Files documenting Maryette Charlton's group and solo exhibitions include catalogs and announcements, publicity, printed material, mailing lists, art inventory, sales lists, correspondence, and other material.
Printed materials include other exhibition catalogs, books, posters, magazines, and clippings. There are many books on color theory from Maryette Charlton's job as a color analyst and substanial printed material on Frederick Kiesler. Scrapbooks document Maryette Charlton's personal life from high school, college, and summer camp, as well as exhibitions of her own work, and miscellaneous subjects.
Artwork includes sketches and drawings by Maryette Charlton, some drawings by Lillian Kiesler and others, and mail art created by various artists. There are also 22 sketchbooks filled with pencil, ink, and crayon drawings and sketches, with occasional annotations.
Photographic materials include photographs, slides, negatives, and photograph albums. There are photographs of Maryette Charlton, her travels, family, friends, and artists. Photographs are also found throughout other series.
Sound and video recordings which could not be merged with other series were arranged in an audiovisual series. There are recordings of radio programs and performances Maryette Charlton attended or participated in as well as miscellaneous recordings of artists and events.
The 2014 addition to the Maryette Charlton papers consists of biographical materials, journals, correspondence, subject files, printed materials, and a small number of photographs.
This collection is arranged as 16 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1896-2005 (3.4 linear feet; Boxes 1-4, 80)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1930-2010 (23.3 linear feet; Boxes 4-27, 80)
Series 3: Writings, 1942-1999 (1 linear feet; Boxes 27-28)
Series 4: Diaries, 1943-2001 (2.1 linear feet; Boxes 28-30)
Series 5: Teaching Files, 1946-1997 (3.6 linear feet; Boxes 30-33, 80)
Series 6: Professional and Project Files, 1923-1998 (7.6 linear feet; Boxes 34-41, 81, OV 87)
Series 7: Artist Research Files, 1949-circa 2000 (1.8 linear feet; Boxes 41-43)
Series 8: Major Film Projects, 1904-2007 (18.8 linear feet, 0.34 GB; Boxes 43-61, 81-82, OV 87, FC 88-91, ER01)
Series 9: Exhibition Files, 1950-2000 (0.8 linear feet; Boxes 61-62)
Series 10: Printed Material, 1924-2000 (3.2 linear feet; Boxes 62-65, 82, OV 87)
Series 11: Scrapbooks, 1939-2010 (0.8 linear feet; Box 65, 82-83)
Series 12: Artwork, 1950-1998 (0.9 linear feet; Boxes 65-66, 84)
Series 13: Sketchbooks, 1949-1996 (0.5 linear feet; Box 66)
Series 14: Photographic Materials, circa 1890-circa 2010 (7.8 linear feet; Boxes 67-74, 84-86)
Series 15: Sound and Video Recordings, circa 1953-2008 (1.2 linear feet; Boxes 74-75, 86)
Series 16: Addition to Maryette Charlton papers, 1951-2013 (3.7 linear feet; Boxes 75-79, 86)
Biographical / Historical:
Maryette Charlton (1924-2013) was a painter, printmaker, photographer, filmmaker and arts advocate based in Chicago, Illinois, and New York, New York.
Maryette Charlton was born in Manchester, Iowa on May 18, 1924. Her parents were Shannon and Etna Charlton and she had 2 siblings. Charlton pursued her undergraduate studies at Monticello College and Northwestern University in Illinois, Antioch College in Ohio, and the University of Colorado before receiving a B.F.A. from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York in 1947. She continued her studies in Chicago, Illinois with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Hugo Weber at the Institute of Design and Art Institute of Chicago. From 1948 to 1952, she was a Department of Education lecturer at the Art Institute of Chicago museum galleries and also gave talks at schools for the Chicago Public School Art Society.
Between 1942-1951, Maryette Charlton worked as a color analyst for the Container Corporation of America. In 1952, Charlton founded the Art Department of the American University of Beirut and taught there as an assistant professor until 1956. While in Beirut, Charlton married photographer Hall Winslow in 1953 and their only child Kirk Winslow was born in 1955. Winslow and Charlton later divorced in 1973.
Charlton moved to New York City in 1955. She began a master's program at Columbia University and graduated with a M.F.A in film and printmaking in 1958.
Charlton made numerous documentary films, mostly about American artists including Alexander Calder, e. e. cummings, Jeanne Reynal, Dorothy Miller, Pierre Matisse, Lenore Tawney, and Loren MacIver. She also worked tirelessly to promote the work of sculptor, architect, and set designer Frederick Kiesler. She was the camera woman for Kiesler's Kiesler's Universal Theater which aired on CBS in 1962. She became close friends with Kiesler's widow, Lillian, and they collaborated on the film Kiesler on Kiesler and numerous other film and art projects, supporting the work of young artists. Charlton also worked on commissioned films, including The Mosaics of Jeanne Reynal and Zen in Ryoko-in. Charlton befriended many artists in the visual, literary, and film worlds, including Elizabeth Bishop, Dimitri Hadzi, Margo Hoff, James Purdy, and Delphine Seyrig.
A performer in her own right, Charlton appeared in the works of Richard Foreman, Jo Andres, and others. She also played the part of Helen Keller in the film Ghostlight (2003).
An Iowa native, Charlton founded the University of Iowa Museum of Art together with Leone and Owen Elliott. She maintained a close relationship with the Iowa Museum over many years as a donor and chronicler.
Charlton died in New York City on November 25, 2013.
The Houghton Library at Harvard University and the University of Iowa Museum of Art also hold papers and artwork by Maryette Charlton. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, houses the film Kiesler on Kiesler, created by Maryette Charlton.
The Archives of American Art also has the papers of Frederick and Lillian Kiesler, a portion of which was donated by Charlton.
The Maryette Charlton papers were donated in multiple accretions from 1998-2011 by Maryette Charlton, and in 2013-2014 by the Maryette Charlton estate via Jo Andres, executor.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Maryette Charlton 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.