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John White Alexander papers

Alexander, John White, 1856-1915  Search this
MacDowell Club of New York  Search this
Abbey, Edwin Austin, 1852-1911  Search this
Alexander, Elizabeth A., d. 1947  Search this
Carnegie, Andrew, 1835-1919  Search this
Chase, William Merritt, 1849-1916  Search this
Gibson, Charles Dana, 1867-1944  Search this
James McNeill Whistler, 1834-1903  Search this
James, Henry, 1843-1916  Search this
La Farge, John, 1835-1910  Search this
Levy, Florence N. (Florence Nightingale), 1870-1947  Search this
Millet, Francis Davis, 1846-1912  Search this
Remington, Frederic, 1861-1909  Search this
Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894  Search this
11.9 Linear feet
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
bulk 1870-1915
The papers of the painter, muralist, and illustrator John White Alexander measure 11.9 linear feet and date from 1775 to 1968, with the bulk of materials dating from 1870 to 1915. Papers document Alexander's artistic career and many connections to figures in the art world through biographical documentation, correspondence (some illustrated), writings, 14 sketchbooks, additonal artwork and loose sketches, scrapbooks, photographs, awards and medals, artifacts, and other records. Also found is a souvenir engraving of a Mark Twain self-portrait.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of the painter, muralist, and illustrator John White Alexander measure 11.9 linear feet and date from 1775 to 1968, with the bulk of materials dating from 1870 to 1915. Papers document Alexander's artistic career and many connections to figures in the art world through biographical documentation, correspondence (some illustrated), writings, 14 sketchbooks, additonal artwork and loose sketches, scrapbooks, photographs, awards and medals, artifacts, and other records. Also found is a souvenir engraving of a Mark Twain self-portrait.

Biographical Information includes multiple essays related to Alexander, his family, and others in his circle. Also found is an extensive oral history of Alexander's wife Elizabeth conducted in 1928. Correspondence includes letters written by Alexander to his family from New York and Europe at the start of his career, and later letters from fellow artists, art world leaders, and portrait sitters of Alexander's. Significant correspondents include Charles Dana Gibson, Florence Levy, Frederick Remington, Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry James, John La Farge, Francis Davis Millet, and Andrew Carnegie. Correspondence includes some small sketches as enclosures and illustrated letters.

Certificates and records related to Alexander's career are found in Associations and Memberships, Legal and Financial Records, and Notes and Writings, which contain documentation of Alexander's paintings and exhibitions. Scattered documentation of Alexander's memberships in various arts association exists for the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy in Rome, the National Academy of Design, the Onteora Club in New York, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany, the Ministère de L'Instruction Publique et des Beaux-Arts, the Union Internationale des Beaux Arts et des Lettres, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Notes and Writings include speeches written by Alexander, short stories and essays written by his wife, and articles by various authors about Alexander. Extensive documentation of the planning and construction of the Alexander Memorial Studio by the MacDowell Club is found, along with other awards, medals, and memorial resolutions adopted by arts organizations after Alexander's death.

Artwork includes fourteen sketchbooks with sketches related to Alexander's commercial illustration and cartooning, murals, paintings, and travels. Dozens of loose drawings and sketches are also found, along with two volumes and several dozen loose reproductions of artwork, among which are found fine prints by named printmakers. Many sketches are also interspersed throughout the correspondence. Eight Scrapbooks contain mostly clippings, but also scattered letters, exhbition catalogs, announcements, invitations, and photographs related to Alexander's career between 1877 and 1915. Additional Exhibition Catalogs and later clippings, as well as clippings related to the career of his wife and other subjects, are found in Printed Materials.

Photographs include many portraits of Alexander taken by accomplished photographers such as Zaida Ben-Yusuf, Aimé Dupont, Curtis Bell, Elizabeth Buehrmann, and several signed Miss Huggins, who may have been Estelle Huntington Huggins, a New York painter and photographer. Portraits of others include Alexander's friends William Merritt Chase and Edward Austin Abbey. Also found are photographs of groups, juries, family, friends, and studios in New York, Paris, and New Jersey, and a handful of scenic photographs of Polling, Bavaria, where Alexander had an early studio. A large number of photographs of works of art are found, many with annotations. Among the photographs of murals are a small collection of snapshots of the Carnegie Institute murals in progress. Miscellaneous artifacts include a palette, several printing plates, and an inscribed souvenir engraving of a self-portrait caricature of Mark Twain.
The collection is arranged into 11 series. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.

Series 1: Biographical Information, circa 1887-1968 (Box 1, OV 23; 0.1 linear feet)

Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1870-1942 (Box 1; 0.7 linear feet)

Series 3: Associations and Memberships, circa 1897-1918 (Box 1; 2 folders)

Series 4: Legal and Financial Records, 1775, 1896-1923 (Box 1; 5 folders)

Series 5: Notes and Writings, circa 1875-1943 (Boxes 1-2; 0.3 linear feet)

Series 6: Awards and Memorials, circa 1870-1944 (Box 2, OV 24; 0.8 linear feet)

Series 7: Artwork, circa 1875-1915 (Boxes 2-3, 6, 14-16, OV 23; 1.5 linear feet)

Series 8: Scrapbooks, circa 1877-1915 (Boxes 17-22; 1.8 linear feet)

Series 9: Printed Materials, circa 1891-1945 (Boxes 3-4, OV 23; 1.5 linear feet)

Series 10: Photographs, circa 1870-1915 (Boxes 4-8, MGP 1-2, OV 25-43, RD 44-45; 4.2 linear feet)

Series 11: Artifacts, circa 1899-1915 (Box 6, artifact cabinet; 0.4 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
John White Alexander was born in 1856 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. He was orphaned at age five and taken in by relatives of limited means. When Alexander left school and began working at a telegraph company, the company's vice-president, former civil war Colonel Edward Jay Allen, took an interest in his welfare. Allen became his legal guardian, brought him into the Allen household, and saw that he finished Pittsburgh High School. At eighteen, he moved to New York City and was hired by Harper and Brothers as an office boy in the art department. He was soon promoted to apprentice illustrator under staff artists such as Edwin A. Abbey and Charles Reinhart. During his time at Harpers, Alexander was sent out on assignment to illustrate events such as the Philadelphia Centennial celebration in 1876 and the Pittsburgh Railroad Strike in 1877, which erupted in violence.

Alexander carefully saved money from his illustration work and traveled to Europe in 1877 for further art training. He first enrolled in the Royal Art Academy of Munich, Germany, but soon moved to the village of Polling, where a colony of American artists was at its peak in the late 1870s. Alexander established a painting studio there and stayed for about a year. Despite his absence from the Munich Academy, he won the medal of the drawing class for 1878, the first of many honors. While in Polling, he became acquainted with J. Frank Currier, Frank Duveneck, William Merritt Chase, and other regular visitors to the colony. He later shared a studio and taught a painting class in Florence with Duveneck and traveled to Venice, where he met James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

Alexander returned to New York in 1881 and resumed his commercial artwork for Harpers and Century. Harpers sent him down the Mississippi river to complete a series of sketches. He also began to receive commissions for portraits, and in the 1880s painted Charles Dewitt Bridgman, a daughter of one of the Harper brothers, Parke Godwin, Thurlow Weed, Walt Whitman, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Alexander met his wife Elizabeth, whose maiden name was also Alexander, through her father, James W. Alexander, who was sometimes mistaken for the artist. Elizabeth and John White Alexander married in 1887 and had a son, James, in 1888.

Alexander and his family sailed for France in 1890, where they became a part of the lively literary and artistic scene in Paris at the time. Among their many contacts there were Puvis de Chavannes, Auguste Rodin, and Whistler, who arrived in Paris shortly thereafter. Alexander absorbed the new aesthetic ideas around him such as those of the symbolists and the decorative style of art nouveau. Critics often note how such ideas are reflected in his boldly composed paintings of women from this period, who titles drew attention to the sensual and natural elements of the paintings. His first exhibition in Paris was three paintings at the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts in 1893, and by 1895 he has become a full member of the Société.

Independent and secession artist societies emerged throughout Europe during this period, and Alexander exhibited with several of them, including the Société Nouvelle in Paris, the Munich Secession, and the Vienna Secession. He was also elected an honorary member of the Royal Society of Belgian Artists and the Royal Society of British Painters in London. His exhibited works sold well, and his influence began to be felt back in the United States. Andrew Carnegie and John Beatty of the Carnegie Institute consulted closely with Alexander in the planning and execution of the first Carnegie International Exhibitions. Alexander also became active in supporting younger American artists who wanted to exhibit in Europe, a stance which resulted in his resignation from the Society of American Artists in Paris, which he felt had become a barrier to younger artists. His promotion of American art became an central aspect of his career for the remainder of his life, most visibly through his presidency of the National Academy of Design from 1909 until shortly before his death in 1915. He also served frequently on juries for high-profile exhibitions, and was a trustee at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, and the national Institute of Arts and Letters. Around 1912, he helped to form the School Art League in New York, which provided art instruction to high school students.

Alexander returned to the United States nearly every summer while based in Paris, and among his commissioned paintings were murals for the newly-constructed Library of Congress, completed around 1896. In 1901, the Alexanders returned to New York permanently. The demand for portraits continued, and he had his first solo exhibition at the Durand-Ruel Galleries in 1902. Around 1905 he received a commission for murals at the new Carnegie Institute building in Pittsburgh for the astounding sum of $175,000. He created 48 panels there through 1908. During this period, the Alexanders spent summers in Onteora, New York, where Alexander painted his well-known "Sunlight" paintings. There they became friends and collaborators with the actress Maude Adams, with Alexander designing lighting and stage sets, and Elizabeth Alexander designing costumes for Adams' productions such as Peter Pan, the Maid of Orleans, and Chanticleer. The couple became known for their "theatricals" or tableaux, staged at the MacDowell Club and elsewhere, and Elizabeth Alexander continued her design career when her husband died in 1915.

Alexander left several commissions unfinished upon his death at age 59, including murals in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth Alexander held a memorial exhibition at Arden Galleries a few months after his death, and a larger memorial exhibition was held by the Carnegie Institute in 1916. Alexander won dozens of awards for artwork in his lifetime, including the Lippincott Prize at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1899, the Gold Medal of Honor at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900, the Gold Medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition of 1901, and the Medal of the First Class at the Carnegie Institute International Exhibition in 1911. In 1923, the Alexander Memorial Studio was built at the MacDowell colony in New Hampshire to honor his memory.
Papers were donated in 1978 and 1981 by Irina Reed, Alexander's granddaughter and in 2017 by Elizabeth Reed, Alexander's great grandaughter.
Use of the original papers requires an appointment. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.
The John White Alexander 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.
Muralists -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Portrait painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Works of art  Search this
Portrait painting -- 20th century  Search this
Portrait painting -- 19th century  Search this
Illustrators -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Portrait painting, American  Search this
John White Alexander papers, 1775-1968, bulk 1870-1915. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
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John White Alexander papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
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Marilyn Houlberg Nigeria collection

Houlberg, Marilyn  Search this
6567 slides (photographs) (11 Binders, color)
14 Documents (1 Binder)
Item EEPA.2005-002
Yoruba (African people)  Search this
Nigerians  Search this
Tuaregs  Search this
Fulani  Search this
Nuba  Search this
Igbo (African people)  Search this
Turkana  Search this
Pokot  Search this
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Slides (photographs)
Color slides
Photographic prints
Lagos (Nigeria)
1961-circa 2005
The collection consists of 6,567 color slides taken by Dr. Marilyn Houlberg during various field studies among the Yoruba in southwest Nigeria between 1961 and circa 2005. The images depict Yoruba art and culture with a special focus on artisans, art objects, body arts, costume, festivals, hairstyles, indigenous photography, weaving and textiles. Cultural events depicted include Balufon festivals, Egungun and Gelede masquerades, social events (weddings, christenings, funerals), and religious ceremonies (initiation and animal sacrifice). Also included are various scenes of daily life, architecture, food preparation, markets, portraits and landscapes. Houlberg extensively documented Yoruba artists in the process of creating their art, including carvers Yesufu Ejigboye, Runshewe, and Lamidi Fakeye, as well as the final pieces themselves. Houlberg documentated art in situ, such as Yoruba house posts, shrines, wall art and wood doors and art objects, including Gelede masks, Ibeji (twin) and Eshu figures, Osanyin staffs, and Ogboni and Shango shrines. Manuscript and printed materials, including Houlberg's resume, thesis, and numerous published articles are also available in this collection.
Scope and Contents note:
This 6,567 slide collection documents Houlberg's studies in Southwestern Nigeria spanning from 1961 to circa 2005. The collection primarily includes photos of people, including the Ogboni, Pokot, Yoruba, Turkana and Igbo, shrines, festivals and rituals, art objects, and artists. A particular strength of the collection are photos of Balufon festivals, Egungun and Gelede masquerades, social events (weddings, christenings, funerals), and religious ceremonies (initiation and animal sacrifice). Also included are various scenes of daily life, architecture, food preparation, markets, portraits and landscapes. Houlberg mostly photographed in Ilishan, Ikenne, Ilara, Shagamu, Lagos, Ijebu-Ode, and Egbe.

Houlberg extensively documented Yoruba artists in the process of creating their art, including carvers Yesufu Ejigboye, Runshewe, and Lamidi Fakeye, as well as the final pieces themselves. Houlberg documentated art in situ, such as Yoruba house posts, shrines, wall art, wood doors and art objects, including Gelede masks, Ibeji (twin) and Eshu figures, Osanyin staffs, and Ogboni and Shango shrines. Several Yoruba art forms, including photography, scarification tattoos, and textiles (both cloth and dress), are represented in the collection. Additionally, there are numerous slides of Yoruba hairstyles, many of which she published in her article, Social Hair: Tradition and Change in Yoruba Hairstyles in Southwestern Nigeria.

Yoruba ritual specialists, such as Ife-olu Solaru, Olufunke, and Yesufu Ejigboye, appear frequently throughout the collection. Houlberg documented her many stays with these individuals over the years.

There is also one binder of manuscript and printed materials, including Houlberg's resume, thesis, and numerous published articles.
Arrangement note:
The collection is organized into 29 series according to subject. The series descriptions correspond with particular subjects used in Houlberg's teaching and lectures. All slides were kept in the order in which they were donated.

Series 1: African Hairstyles, circa 1973-1994 (Binder 1; 212 slides)

Series 2: Egungun Festival, 1961-circa 1988 (Binder 1; 362 slides)

Series 3: Gelede, circa 1969-circa 1989 (Binder 2; 301 slides)

Series 4: Ibeji Twins, circa 1969-circa 1990 (Binders 2-3; 854 slides)

Series 5: Ogboni Art Objects and Shrines, circa 1969-circa 1982 (Binder 4; 92 slides)

Series 6: Art Objects Depicting Ogun, circa 1969-circa 1983 (Binder 4; 56 slides)

Series 7: Olojufoforo Art and Festivities, circa 1968-circa 1975 (Binder 4; 21 slides)

Series 8: Yoruba People, Architecture, and Art, circa 1969-circa 1985 (Binder 4; 260 slides)

Series 9: Carving, Art Objects and Artists, and Scenes of Daily Life, circa 1973-circa 1988 (Binder 4; 201 slides)

Series 10: Yoruba Art, circa 1971-circa 1983 (Binder 5; 49 slides)

Series 11: Yoruba Textiles, circa 1973-circa 1983 (Binder 5; 84 slides)

Series 12: Yoruba, Miscellaneous, circa 1967-circa 1989 (Binder 5; 251 slides)

Series 13: African Art, Textiles People, and Dwellings, circa 1963-circa 1983 (Binder 6; 58 slides)

Series 14: Ibo Mbari and Igbo Peoples and Artwork, circa 1967-circa 1985 (Binder 6; 212 slides)

Series 15: Art and Ceremonies, circa 1967-circa 1991 (Binder 6; 493 slides)

Series 16: Body Arts, Nuba People (Sudan) and Fulani and Bororo People (Niger), circa 1973-circa 1979 (Binder 7; 64 slides)

Series 17: People, Scenic Views and Animals of Kenya, Sudan, Angola, and Ghana, circa 1972-circa 1985 (Binder 7; 168 slides)

Series 18: Peoples and Arts of Ghana, Mali, and the Ivory Coast, circa 1966-circa 1992 (Binder 7; 406 slides)

Series 19: Published Maps and Photos, circa 1968-circa 1985 (Binder 8; 70 slides)

Series 20: Nigerian Masks and Art Objects, circa 1967-circa 1978 (Binder 8; 396 slides)

Series 21: Yoruba Festivals, People, and Art in Nigeria, circa 1967-circa 1988 (Binders 8-9; 128 slides)

Series 22: Yoruba Photography and Textiles, circa 1975-circa 1983 (Binder 9; 54 slides)

Series 23: Ife-Olu, Ilishan, circa 1980-circa 1988 (Binder 9; 87 slides)

Series 24: Yoruba Festivals, People, Hairstyles, Ibeji Objects, Eshu Figures, and Oya and Orishala Priests, Priestesses, and Shrines, circa 1966-circa 1988 (Binder 9; 168 slides)

Series 25: Shango, circa 1970-circa 1983 (Binder 10, 162 slides)

Series 26: Ara Festival, 1975 (Binder 10; 174 slides)

Series 27: Ceremonies and Festivals, Portraits, Art and Ceremonial Objects, Domestic and Market Scenes, circa 1969-circa 2005 (Binders 10-11; 759 slides)

Series 28: Yoruba Art Objects, and Domestic, Work, and Festival Scenes, circa 1971-circa 1983 (Binder 11; 104 slides)

Series 29: Manuscript and Printed Materials, 1973-circa 2005 (Binder 12)
Biographical/Historical note:
Artist, anthropologist, and art historian Dr. Marilyn Hammersley Houlberg was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1939. Houlberg received an Associate of Arts degree from Wright Junior College (1959) and a BFA from the University of Chicago (1963). After graduating, she traveled to North Africa and explored Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. In 1964, Houlberg researched Haitian art, religion, and indigenous photography in Haiti and in 1965 was awarded a scholarship for graduate study from the University of Chicago. There she completed her MAT in Art History in 1967. Following graduation, Houlberg worked at the Nigerian Museum in Lagos, where she documented Yoruba sculpture, masquerades, religion, body art, and indigenous photography.

She began her teaching career at the University of Chicago as a lecturer on African art and African civilization, working there from 1971 to 1973. At the University of London, Houlberg earned a Masters in Anthropology, producing the thesis Yoruba Twin Sculpture and Ritual (1973). She also extensively photographed her travels abroad in Yorubaland. Between 1974 and 1990, Houlberg taught at the University of Chicago, Columbia College, Kalamazoo College, and Northwestern University. From 1974 to 2008 she continued teaching at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, lecturing on Yoruba art and ritual in West Africa and the New World, and the art and ritual of Vodou in Haiti.

Houlberg has lectured worldwide at numerous museums and symposiums since 1972, including in Lagos, Nigeria; Jacmel, Haiti; Toronto, Canada; Salvador, Bahia, Brazil; and Cologne, Germany. Her essays have been published in several issues of African Arts. Some of Houlberg's significant publications include Arts of the Water Spirits of Haitian Vodou, in Sacred Waters: Arts for Mami Wata and Other Divinities in Africa and the Diaspora (2008) and Water Spirits of Haitian Vodou: Lasiren, Queen of Mermaids, in Mami-Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and the African-Atlantic World (2008). The exhibition Mami-Wata at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (2009) featured her photographs.
Marilyn Houlberg, 733 West 18th St., Chicago, IL 60616, Donation, 20050320, 2005-0002
Use of original records requires an appointment. Contact Archives staff for more details.
Permission to reproduce images from the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives must be obtained in advance. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Shrines  Search this
Masks  Search this
Domestic scenes  Search this
Weavers  Search this
Egúngún (Cult)  Search this
Ethnology -- Nigeria  Search this
Gelede (Yoruba rite)  Search this
Hairstyles -- Africa  Search this
Rites and ceremonies -- Africa  Search this
Artists  Search this
Clothing and dress -- Africa  Search this
Marketplaces  Search this
Masquerades  Search this
Ere ibeji  Search this
Works of art in situ  Search this
Art, African  Search this
Vernacular architecture  Search this
Festivals  Search this
Color slides
Photographic prints
Marilyn Houlberg Nigeria Collection, EEPA 2005-002, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution.
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Marilyn Houlberg Nigeria collection
Archival Repository:
Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art

Douglass' Monthly, Vol.III, No. IV

Box 1, Folder 1
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist at
Collection Citation:
Collection of Frederick Douglass materials, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
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Collection of Frederick Douglass' Monthly's, booklets, and other materials
Collection of Frederick Douglass' Monthly's, booklets, and other materials / Series 1: Douglass' Monthly Newspapers
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
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Hughie Lee-Smith papers

Lee-Smith, Hughie  Search this
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.) -- Faculty  Search this
Audubon Artists (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Ira Aldridge Society  Search this
National Academy of Design (U.S.)  Search this
Bearden, Romare, 1911-1988  Search this
Goreleigh, Rex, 1902-  Search this
Carter, Clarence Holbrook, 1904-2000  Search this
Gammon, Reginald, 1921-2005  Search this
Hirsch, Joseph, 1910-1981  Search this
Wald, Carol  Search this
Wessel, Sophie  Search this
Woodruff, Hale, 1900-1980  Search this
33.7 Linear feet
0.381 Gigabytes
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Video recordings
Sound recordings
circa 1890-2007
bulk 1931-1999
The papers of painter and educator Hughie Lee-Smith measure 33.7 linear feet and 0.381 GB and date from circa 1890 to 2007, with the bulk of the material dating from 1931 to 1999. The collection documents Lee-Smith's career through biographical material, personal and professional correspondence, writings by Lee-Smith and others, personal business records, exhibition files, organization records, printed material, scrapbooks, photographs, a small amount of artwork, numerous interviews, and recordings for a documentary film on Lee-Smith. Also found are the papers of artist Rex Goreleigh, a friend of Lee-Smith.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of painter and educator Hughie Lee-Smith measure 33.7 linear feet and 0.381 GB and date from circa 1890 to 2007, with the bulk of the material dating from 1931 to 1999. The collection documents Lee-Smith's career through biographical material, personal and professional correspondence, writings by Lee-Smith and others, personal business records, exhibition files, organization records, printed material, scrapbooks, photographs, a small amount of artwork, numerous interviews, and recordings for a documentary film on Lee-Smith. Also found are the papers of artist Rex Goreleigh, a friend of Lee-Smith.

Biographical material includes records of Hughie Lee-Smith's schooling, military service, and awards, as well as resumes, bibliographies, and biographical summaries. Also found are family records, including the papers of his mother, Alice Carroll.

Lee-Smith's correspondence is with family, students, arts and cultural organizations, as well as schools, galleries, and museums, primarily regarding his participation in events and exhibitions. He also corresponded with fellow artists, such as Clarence Holbrook Carter, Reginald Gammon, Joseph Hirsch, Carol Wald, and Hale Woodruff, among many others. He maintained extensive correspondence with artist Sophie Wessel.

Lee-Smith's writings include artist statements and personal writings on his history and early influences, as well as many draft lectures and speeches, school writings, notes, and untitled writing fragments. Writings by others primarily include student essays and articles on the topic of Lee-Smith's work. Personal business records include scattered financial documents, including artwork sales records, and contracts and agreements with various art galleries and other organizations. Also found are files regarding his art commissions, gifts, professional activities, and records of his employment at the Art Students League. Exhibition files document select exhibitions in which Hughie Lee-Smith participated, primarily during the 1980s and 1990s. Organization records were maintained by Lee-Smith to document his participation in various groups, such as the National Academy of Design, Ira Aldridge Society, and Audubon Artists.

Printed material consists primarily of exhibition announcements and invitations for exhibitions of Lee-Smith's work, as well as news clippings, magazines, press releases, and publications from various art organizations and schools. One scrapbook contains exhibition announcements additional loose scrapbook pages document his early career. Photographs include many portraits of Hughie Lee-Smith, Lee-Smith in his studio, at events, and with friends and family. Additionally there are many photographs, slides, and transparencies of Lee-Smith's artwork. Also found are five photograph albums. A small amount of original artwork includes drawings by Lee-Smith and two sketchbooks belonging to his wife Patricia.

The collection includes numerous interviews of Hughie Lee-Smith, recorded on 37 sound cassettes, one sound tape reel, and four video cassettes. One audio interview is in digital format. Also found are planning documents, research material, and video footage for a documentary about the life and work of Hughie Lee-Smith, produced by New Deal Films, Inc, but never completed. Footage includes interviews with artists and art historians regarding Lee-Smith, gallery events, and images of his paintings.

The papers of artist Rex Goreleigh primarily documents his later life and includes a letters, biographical documents, printed material, estate records, and photographs and slides depicting Goreleigh, his studio, and artwork. Hughie Lee-Smith was close friends with Goreleigh and served as executor of his estate.

Also of note is a scrapbook put together for Goreleigh's 70th birthday in 1972. Of note is one scrapbook which contains photographs, notes, and artwork by fellow artists and students, including drawings by Romare Bearden and Hughie Lee-Smith.
The collection is arranged as 13 series.

Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1890-2001 (1.7 linear feet; Box 1-2, 35, RD 38)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1931-2006 (6.1 linear feet; Box 2-8, 0.006 GB; ER01)

Series 3: Writings, circa 1934-1998 (0.8 linear feet; Box 8-9)

Series 4: Personal Business Records, 1934-2001 (1.6 linear feet; Box 9-11, 35)

Series 5: Exhibition Files, circa 1973-2001 (1.2 linear feet; Box 11-12)

Series 6: Organization Records, 1941-2005 (2.1 linear feet; Box 12-14)

Series 7: Printed Material, 1919, 1930-2007 (8.5 linear feet; Box 14-22, 34)

Series 8: Scrapbooks, circa 1938-1990s (0.2 linear feet; Box 22, 35)

Series 9: Photographs, circa 1890-2003 (4.4 linear feet; Box 22-26, 35, OV 37)

Series 10: Artwork, circa 1940s-1980s (0.2 linear feet; Box 26)

Series 11: Interviews, 1973-1998 (2.1 linear feet; Box 26-28, 0.375 GB; ER02)

Series 12: Documentary Film Materials, 1985-2004 (3.5 linear feet; Box 28-32)

Series 13: Rex Goreleigh Papers, 1935-1994 (0.9 linear feet; 32-33, 36)
Biographical / Historical:
Hughie Lee-Smith (1915-1999) was a painter and educator in Ohio, Michigan, and New York. Born in Eustis, Florida, he lived for a period of time with family in Atlanta before joining his mother in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1925. In 1934 he received a scholarship to attend the Art School of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, and in 1935 returned to Cleveland to attend the Cleveland School of Art. While in school he began exhibiting his paintings and teaching part-time at Karamu House. From 1938 to 1940 Lee-Smith completed lithography commissions for the Ohio WPA. In 1941 he moved to Detroit, married his first wife Mabel Louise Everett, and worked at a Ford automobile factory. He was then drafted into the U.S. Navy as a mural artist. After the war he briefly returned to factory work before enrolling at Wayne State University, earning a degree in Art Education in 1953. From 1953 to 1965 he taught summer art classes at the Grosse-Point War Memorial in Detroit.

In 1957 Lee-Smith moved to the East Village in New York City, signed with the Janet Nassler Gallery (Petite Gallery), exhibited his work extensively, and joined several art organizations. He also taught art at schools in Princeton, New Jersey. In 1967 he became the second African-American member of the National Academy of Design. He was visiting instructor and artist-in-residence at several art programs, including Howard University, and taught at the Art Students League from 1972 to 1988. In 1978 he married his third wife, Patricia. The New Jersey State Museum organized an extensive retrospective of Lee-Smith's work in 1988 which travelled nationally. Despite ill-health in the mid-1990s, he continued to create new paintings and exhibit his work. In 1997 he moved with his wife to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he lived until his death in 1999.
Related Materials:
Also found at the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Hughie Lee-Smith conducted by Carroll Greene in 1968.
A small amount of material was donated 1969-1981 by Hughie Lee-Smith. Additional papers were donated in 2011 by Patricia Lee-Smith, widow of Hughie Lee-Smith.
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Hughie Lee-Smith 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. Authorization to publish requires written permission from Robert Panzer, VAGA.
Painters -- Michigan -- Detroit  Search this
Painters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Painters -- Ohio -- Cleveland  Search this
Educators -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Educators -- Michigan -- Detroit  Search this
Artists' studios -- Photographs  Search this
African American artists  Search this
Video recordings
Sound recordings
Hughie Lee-Smith papers, circa 1890-2007, bulk 1931-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
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Hughie Lee-Smith papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art

Joseph Cornell papers

Cornell, Joseph  Search this
Benton, Elizabeth Cornell  Search this
Cornell, Robert  Search this
24.9 Linear feet
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
bulk 1939-1972
The papers of Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) measure approximately 24.9 linear feet and date from 1804 to 1986 with the bulk of the material dating from 1939-1972. The collection documents the life, work, interests, and creative activities of the self-taught artist, who was best known for his shadow box constructions, assemblages, and collages. Papers include correspondence, diaries, source material, notes, writings, photographs, printed material, two- and three-dimensional ephemera, art works, and books, as well as a limited amount of legal and financial records, and some miscellaneous personal and family papers. The collection also includes the papers of his sister, Betty Cornell Benton, relating to the handling of Cornell's estate and the personal papers of his brother, Robert Cornell.
Scope and Content Note:
The Joseph Cornell papers measure approximately 24.9 linear feet and date from 1804 to 1986, with the bulk of the material dating from 1939-1972. The collection documents the life, work, interests, and creative activities of the self-taught artist, who was best known for his shadow box constructions, assemblages, and collages. Papers include correspondence, diaries, source material, notes, writings, photographs, printed material, two- and three-dimensional ephemera, art works, and books, as well as a limited amount of legal and financial records, and some miscellaneous personal and family papers (which comprise a series of biographical material). The collection also includes the papers of his sister, Betty Cornell Benton, relating to the handling of Cornell's estate and the personal papers of his brother, Robert Cornell.

Cornell's correspondence is typically with family, friends, artists, dealers, collectors, galleries, museums, admirers, individuals whom he admired, "helpers," and various charitable institutions. Correspondence generally concerns the creation, exhibition, sale, and reception of Cornell's art work; his "explorations" and other research and collecting activities; his preoccupations with certain individuals and motifs; his usual practices of giving gifts of art work to those he liked or admired and making donations to charities in aid of those less fortunate; and his relationships and shared interests with family, friends, and colleagues. Also found is correspondence between and amongst various other members of the Cornell family, including, most notably, Robert Cornell's letters to his sisters, Elizabeth (typically addressed as Nell) and Helen.

Dating from 1941 to 1972, Cornell's diaries span almost the entirety of his career as an artist, which began in earnest when he left his job at the Traphagen textile studio in 1940 to pursue art full-time and ended with his death in 1972. The diaries record his day-to-day experiences (usually comprising his thoughts, feelings, impressions, and ideas); and reflect on his various art projects (boxes, films, and collages) and creative activities ("explorations," and various other research, collecting, and publishing ventures). They also explore many of the themes and underlying concerns of his art work; and document his intense preoccupations with certain individuals, his wide-ranging interests, and the interconnectedness of his ideas and activities. Cornell's style of writing in the diaries tends to be stream-of-conscious with entries being composed of phrases, rather than complete sentences and with the progression of passages being more poetic and associative than either logical or narrative. He tended to compose by hand, occasionally typing up his notes into more formal entries, and also to use abbreviations for oft-repeated words and initials for individuals. At times, his handwriting can be difficult to read, and his references can be difficult to decipher. It was also common practice for him to review or revisit previous entries at various points in time, often making revisions or comments on them with dated annotations in the margins or on the reverse side of a page.

Cornell's source material is largely comprised of files of newspaper and magazine clippings, cutouts, notes, writings, book excerpts, photostats (or stats), prints, postcards, art reproductions, and other printed material. Some files are devoted to people (ballerinas, actresses, singers, artists, and writers) and topics (astronomy, romantic and modern ballet, birds, films, literature, music, plants, and science, among others). Other files relate to specific art works, "explorations," publishing projects, and exhibitions. Source material documents Cornell's preoccupation with certain individuals (past and present), events, subjects, and motifs; the development of some of his major "explorations" and their influence on his various artistic and commercial projects; and his work on certain box constructions and collages, publishing ventures, and exhibition catalogues. Source material also sheds light on Cornell's efforts to gain access to the past; his interest in the symbolism of images and objects; the linkages he found between seemingly unrelated things; and the connections between his many creative endeavors.

Ephemera and artifacts include various objects, mementos, and items of memorabilia, some of which were accumulated by Cornell (in much the same way that he collected his source material) and some of which are of uncertain origin. For Cornell, items such as these were not merely inanimate objects, but were instead evocative of past worlds and capable of bringing the past into the present (an idea which he often expressed in his diaries as the "metaphysique d'ephemera"). He seems to have used some of these items in a layout he designed for Good Housekeeping. Other items may have been used as source material for some of his box constructions.

The collection also houses photographs of Cornell, his family, art work, other artists, and friends, as well as photographs taken by various individuals and publicity photographs from the New York City Ballet. Also found are scattered works of art, including collage fragments and Rorschachs (or ink blot drawings) by Cornell, collages by Cornell's sister, Betty Cornell Benton, on which he collaborated, and a box by Christine Kaufman, which was a gift to Cornell. The books in the collection most likely comprise the remainder of Cornell's library, which was transferred to the Joseph Cornell Study Center, and include some that seem to have belonged to his sister, Betty. Printed material includes various publications and clippings collected by Cornell apart from that which he collected as source material. Writings about Cornell include an article by the poet, Mina Loy, and copies of various theses, presentations, and articles by graduate students in art history received by Benton (who assisted them in their research).

The Joseph Cornell Estate Papers consist of correspondence relating to Betty Cornell Benton's administration of the part of Cornell's estate for which she was responsible and legal documents relating to her various legal disputes with the executors of the estate, as well as a limited amount of printed material, some of which was originally accumulated by Cornell and subsequently shared with Benton, and miscellaneous papers belonging to Benton and their mother, Helen S. Cornell. Estate Papers provide insight on the exhibition and sale of Cornell art works after his death; the disposition of his belongings (including art work, papers, books, records, and source material); and Benton's efforts to foster and safeguard the memory and legacy of Cornell. The Robert Cornell Papers include correspondence, writings, art works, photographs, printed material, and scattered financial and personal records, documenting the full and creative life Robert led despite being confined to a wheelchair. Their inclusion in the collection suggests the family's effort to foster Robert's memory.
The collection is arranged into eleven series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1918-1972, 1975 (Box 1; 0.8 linear feet)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1909-1982 (Boxes 1-5, OV 31; 4.3 linear feet)

Series 3: Diaries, 1941-1973 (Boxes 6-10; 5 linear feet)

Series 4: Source Material, 1804-1972 (Boxes 11-18, 25-28, OV 29; 8.5 linear feet)

Series 5: Ephemera and Artifacts, 1858-1946 (Boxes 18, 23; 0.8 linear feet)

Series 6: Photographs, circa 1905-1972 (Boxes 18, 28, OV 30; 0.3 linear feet)

Series 7: Art Works, circa 1966-1971 (Boxes 19, 23; 0.2 linear feet)

Series 8: Books and Printed Material, 1806-1968 (Boxes 19, 23; 0.5 linear feet)

Series 9: Writings about Cornell, 1950, circa 1975-1980 (Box 19; 0.3 linear feet)

Series 10: Joseph Cornell Estate Papers, circa 1911, 1944-1986 (Boxes 19-22; 3.5 linear feet)

Series 11: Robert Cornell Papers, 1924-1965 (Boxes 24, 28; 0.4 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Joseph Cornell, assemblagist, collagist, and filmmaker, was born on December 24, 1903 in Nyack, New York. He was the oldest son of Joseph I. Cornell, a textile salesman and designer, and Helen Storms Cornell, and had two younger sisters, Elizabeth (b. 1905), nicknamed Nell and later Betty, and Helen (b. 1906), and a younger brother, Robert (b. 1910), who suffered from cerebral palsy. Cornell shared close relationships with his siblings, and was especially attached to his brother whom he took care of as an adult. His fondest childhood memories included family Christmas celebrations, outings to Manhattan where he saw vaudeville shows and strolled around Times Square, and trips to Coney Island where he encountered penny arcade machines. These childhood memories, among others, inspired some of the themes later explored in his art work.

After his father's death in 1917, Cornell was sent to study at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He remained there for four years, but left without receiving a diploma. During this time, the family moved from Nyack to Bayside, Queens, where they lived in a series of rented houses. Cornell rejoined his family in 1921, at which time he went to work as a salesman in the Manhattan office of a textile wholesaler, the William Whitman Company. He joined the Christian Science church in the mid-1920s, and in 1929, the family bought a house at 37-08 Utopia Parkway in Flushing, where he resided for the rest of his life, living there with his mother and brother after both his sisters married and moved away.

During the 1920s, Cornell developed his passion for walking the city streets and taking in their sights, sounds, and impressions; browsing in the secondhand bookshops along Fourth Avenue; and collecting material such as books, prints, postcards, and printed and three-dimensional ephemera. He cultivated his growing interest in culture and the arts by attending opera and ballet performances, seeing plays (the 1922 play Rain, which starred Jeanne Eagels, was among his favorites), visiting galleries and museums, reading, and going to the movies.

In 1931, Cornell began to frequent the Julien Levy Gallery, where he encountered Surrealist art for perhaps the first time. Around this time, he created his first works of art - a series of black-and-white collages composed from cutouts of nineteenth-century engravings - inspired by Max Ernst's collages, in particular his collage-novel, La Femme 100 tetes (1929). Cornell went on to create three-dimensional works of art such as pill boxes and a glass bell series (consisting of objects arranged under a bell jar). His work, including several collages and a glass bell, was first exhibited as part of the groundbreaking "Surrealisme" show at the Levy Gallery in January 1932. He also designed the cover of the show announcement. His first one-man show at the gallery, "The Objects of Joseph Cornell," followed in the fall of 1932. (It was seven years before his next solo show.) By this time, Cornell had been laid off from his job at Whitman's. He was out of work for several years before getting a job as a textile designer at the Traphagen Commercial Textile Studio in 1934. During the next several years, he continued to work on his art at night.

Around this time, Cornell began collecting movies and movie stills, and embarked upon various film-related projects. In 1933, he wrote a scenario for a silent movie, Monsieur Phot. A few years later, he made his first film, Rose Hobart (1936), comprised of re-edited footage from the B-movie, East of Borneo (1931), which starred the actress, Rose Hobart. And he began work on a trilogy of collage-films - The Children's Party, Cotillion, and The Midnight Party (circa 1937). He then took a break from making films until the mid-1950s, but continued to collect film-related material, which he began to incorporate into his other art work.

In 1936, Cornell constructed his first glass-fronted shadow box, Untitled (Soap Bubble Set), which was included that same year in the "Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, along with a cabinet box and several glass bells. In creating some of his other early boxes, he began the practice of using photo reproductions of images which he located in books and magazines, or in the Picture Collection at the New York Public Library, among other places. In his tribute boxes to actresses (1930s), he made use of publicity shots, and in the box, Dressing Room for Gilles (1939), he employed a photostat (or stat) of a reproduction of Jean-Antoine Watteau's painting, Gilles (1718).

Over the years, Cornell came into contact with various figures of the art, dance, and literary worlds. In the 1930s and 1940s, he met the artists, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Salvador Dali, and befriended the artists, Lee Miller and Dorothea Tanning. His formative friendships during 1940s were with the artist, Pavel Tchelitchew, the writers, Charles Henri Ford (founder of the avant-garde periodical, View), Parker Tyler, and Donald Windham, and the balletomane, Lincoln Kirstein (founder of Dance Index). His other friends included the artists, Roberto Matta Echaurren and Robert Motherwell, the dancer and actress, Tilly Losch, and the poets, Mina Loy and Marianne Moore. In the 1950s, he associated with artists from the Abstract Expressionist movement, including Willem de Kooning, Jack Tworkov, and Mark Rothko. Beginning in the mid-1950s, he befriended many young artists, including Lee Bontecou and Carolee Schneeman, and young actresses, including Lois Smith, Gwen Van Dam, and Suzanne Miller, whom he sought to appear in his films. And in the early 1960s, he met the Pop artists, Robert Indiana, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol.

Beginning in 1940, Cornell developed a keen interest in dance, particularly ballet. Ballerinas from the Romantic era, such as Marie Taglioni and Fanny Cerrito, especially captured his imagination, inspiring such works as the box, Taglioni's Jewel Casket (1940), and the Portrait of Ondine "exploration," which comprised a portfolio of material relating to Cerrito and her famous role in the ballet, Ondine. Cornell was also fascinated with the modern counterparts of the Romantic ballerinas. In 1940, he befriended the Russian ballet dancer, Tamara Toumanova, and over the years produced many works in homage to her, including swan boxes (inspired by her role in Swan Lake), boxes made with scraps from her costumes, and scrapbooks of clippings, stats, and memorabilia. In 1949, he became enamored of the French dancer, Renee "Zizi" Jeanmarie, after seeing her perform in Carmen and meeting her backstage, and he created several dance-related boxes in her honor. In 1957, he met the ballerina, Allegra Kent. After meeting again in 1964, they became friends, and she served as the subject of several works based on images reproduced from a Parmigianino painting.

In December 1940, Cornell left his job at the Traphagen textile studio to pursue art full-time. He set up a workshop in the basement of the house on Utopia Parkway, which served as a combination studio and storage space. While he spent most days at home, he continued to make regular trips into Manhattan to wander around the city, visit with friends, and hunt for material. Around this time, he began to keep a diary, recording his day-to-day experiences (usually comprising his thoughts, feelings, impressions, ideas) on scraps of paper (including used envelopes, paper bags, napkins, and ticket stubs, among other fragments). He would then type up some of these notes into more formal diary entries, but most of them remained, in his word, "scribblings." Diary keeping eventually became one of his primary activities, along with box construction, collage, research, and collecting.

By this time, his art work was beginning to sell, yet he was not able to live from these sales alone. During the 1940s, he primarily supported himself by doing freelance work for magazines such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Good Housekeeping, supplying illustrations from his picture collection and designing covers and layouts. He also regularly contributed pieces to View and Dance Index. His notable contributions to View included "Enchanted Wanderer: Excerpt from a Journey Album for Hedy Lamarr" (December 1941), "Story Without a Name - for Max Ernst" (April 1942), and "The Crystal Cage [portrait of Berenice]" (January 1943). His projects for Dance Index included various collage-covers, essays, and thematic issues, such as the Summer 1944 issue, which comprised a 22-page tribute to the Romantic ballerinas, Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Cerrito, and Fanny Elssler. To supplement his income, Cornell also held brief positions at an electronics plant, the Allied Control Company, Inc. (in 1943), and at a nursery, the Garden Centre (in 1944).

In 1942, Cornell created one of his more memorable works, Medici Slot Machine, embarking upon a large series of Medici boxes in which he utilized reproductions of portraits by Italian Renaissance artists, such as Sofonisba Anguissola and Pinturicchio. His other boxes from this time period explored themes ranging from ballet, as in A Pantry Ballet (for Jacques Offenbach) (1942), to doomed love, as in Paolo and Francesca (1943-48), to nature, as in the Sand Boxes (1940s) and Sand Fountains (1950s). Cornell often created boxes in series, producing variations on a theme with variants that differed significantly or only slightly. Over the years, series included: Pink Palaces, Pharmacies, Habitats, Aviaries, Dovecotes, Hotels, Observatories, and Night Skies, among others.

In late 1945, Cornell joined the Hugo Gallery, which was run by Alexander Iolas, and a year later mounted the show, "Romantic Museum at the Hugo Gallery: Portraits of Women by Joseph Cornell" (December 1946). He designed the exhibition catalog for this show, which consisted of portraits - box constructions, objects, and "dossiers" - of the opera singers, Giuditta Pasta and Maria Malibran, the ballerinas, Taglioni and Cerrito, and the actresses, Eleanora Duse, Jeanne Eagels, Greta Garbo, and Jennifer Jones, and which also featured one of his most famous boxes, Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall) (1945-46).

In 1949, Cornell joined the Egan Gallery, which was run by Charles Egan. Around this time, he began creating his series of Aviary boxes, which explored the symbolism of birds and birdcages. He showed twenty-six of these box constructions in his first exhibition at the Egan Gallery, "Aviary by Joseph Cornell" (December 1949-January 1950). He created other series of whitewashed boxes, including the Dovecote series and a small group relating to the poet, Emily Dickinson. He then went on to explore the themes of astronomy and celestial navigation in the Observatory, Night Skies, and Hotel series. Works from these series were featured in his two remaining shows at the Egan Gallery, "Night Songs and Other Work" (December 1950-January 1951) and "Night Voyage" (February-March 1953). In the fall of 1953, sparked by seeing the painting, Figure Seated in a Cafe (1914), Cornell embarked upon a major series of bird constructions dedicated to the Cubist artist, Juan Gris. Notably, these were the only boxes he explicitly dedicated to another artist.

Over the next couple of years, Cornell's work was exhibited across the country. In 1955, he joined the Stable Gallery, which was run by Eleanor Ward. His first one-man show there, in the winter of 1955-56, was "Winter Night Skies," which featured various box constructions based on constellations. During the mid-1950s, he embarked upon a series of Sand Fountains (vertical standing boxes featuring a broken glass and sand that flowed through it when turned upside down), elaborating upon his earlier Sand Boxes (1940s). These boxes along with some of his other latest works, including the Bleriot boxes and the Space Object boxes (which comprised his final box series), were exhibited in his second and last show at the Stable Gallery, "Selected Works" (December 1957).

After leaving the Stable Gallery, Cornell had several dealers handle his work rather than allowing any one to assume too much control. Dealers included Richard Feigen (in Chicago and then in New York) and Irving Blum (in California), among others. Throughout his career, Cornell never liked selling his boxes. He was always reluctant to let his work go and became increasingly uneasy about the growing status of his work as a commodity. He preferred instead to make gifts of his art work to friends and individuals he admired (especially female ones).

In the mid-1950s, Cornell returned to making films. Rather than just splicing together found images as he had in his films of the 1930s, he began to collaborate with others to shoot original footage. He worked with the experimental filmmaker, Stan Brakhage, on two films, one about the Third Ave El which was about to be torn down ( Wonder Ring or Gnir Rednow) and the other about an old house in Cornell's neighborhood that was slated for demolition ( Centuries of June). Cornell then went on to make nine films with the filmmaker, Rudy Burckhardt, including Aviary, A Legend for Fountains, and Nymphlight, among others. In the late 1960s, he enlisted the help of Larry Jordan, who was also a filmmaker, in completing the trilogy of collage-films that he had begun in the 1930s.

Along with creating works of art and making films, Cornell was involved in a host of other creative endeavors throughout his career as an artist. These included: keeping a diary, which was for him another medium for exploring and expressing the themes, ideas, and concerns recurrent in his art work; carrying out "explorations," which typically involved conducting research, collecting material, and compiling files on persons or topics of interest to him; and other projects, such as publishing pamphlets (or brochures) dedicated to the nineteenth-century opera singers, Malibran and Giulia Grisi. Cornell's "explorations" clearly informed his artwork, but they were also works of art in and of themselves. He continually sought to share this work with an audience and twice had the opportunity to do so, when he exhibited versions of his Portrait of Ondine "exploration" at the Museum of Modern Art in 1945 and at the Wittenborn Bookstore in 1956.

Around the mid-1950s, Cornell returned to making collages as independent works of art. Unlike his earlier ones, which were composed from cutouts of black-and-white engravings, his latest collages were made with color images cut out of contemporary magazines and books. In these collages, he explored many of the same themes and preoccupations of his box constructions, including birds, as in Couleur de Peche (1967) and Untitled (Vierge Vivace) (1970), children's games, as in the Penny Arcade series (1960s), and actresses, as in The Sister Shades (1956). Towards the end of his career, collage became his principal medium.

By this time, Cornell was taking fewer trips into Manhattan. Instead, he spent more time at home or traveled only so far as downtown Flushing, where he frequented the public library, hunted for material in stores, such as Woolworth's, and passed time in the coffee-shops on Main Street. From this time on, he kept his diary with increasing regularity, taking down notations with more frequency and creating entries of greater length.

In 1961, fourteen of Cornell's boxes, including Medici Slot Machine, were exhibited as part of the "The Art of Assemblage" show at the Museum of Modern Art. As his biographer notes, Cornell came to view this show "as a turning point in his creative life," marking the "[fall] off in his work" that took place in the sixties (Solomon 271-2). He continued to work on boxes that he had begun long before, but, after this time, rarely if ever constructed new ones. Instead, he focused on making collages and became increasingly concerned with other projects, such as organizing his basement workshop, for which he hired various "helpers" or assistants (mostly young women) over the years. He also became more and more prone to obsessions (or preoccupations, as he called them) with various young women that he encountered both in fantasy (actresses on stage or in films) and in real life (working girls in the city, "teeners" on Main Street, or his female visitors and "helpers" at home). These preoccupations infused his diary writings, and inspired the keeping of "dossiers" on particular individuals and the creation of various collages dedicated to others, including most notably the Penny Arcade series dedicated to Joyce Hunter (or "Tina," as he referred to her in his writings).

After Robert's death in February 1965, Cornell created a series of collages in his memory, many of which incorporated his brother's drawings of animal characters. In January 1966, he exhibited some of these collages, alongside a selection of Robert's drawings, in a show at the Robert Schoelkopf Gallery, "Robert Cornell: Memorial Exhibition." In 1967, there were two retrospective exhibitions of Cornell's work, "An Exhibition of Works by Joseph Cornell" at the Pasadena Art Museum and "Joseph Cornell" at the Guggenheim Museum. By now, Cornell was receiving considerable public recognition for his work. He had received his first profile (by Howard Griffin) in the December 1957 issue of Art News and, ten years later, was treated to a 12-page spread (by David Bourdon) in the December 1967 issue of Life magazine. He was also the recipient of various prizes for his art work, including the M.V Kohnstamm Prize at the Art Institute of Chicago's "62nd American Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture" in 1957 and the winning prize in India's first Triennale of Contemporary World Art in 1968.

In the last years of his life (especially from the time of his mother's death in the fall of 1966), Cornell suffered from severe depression and loneliness, and withdrew even further from the outside world. However, he still maintained relationships with various young friends and artists, who frequently visited Utopia Parkway and/or served as one of his assistants. He became more and more interested in sharing his work with a younger audience and his last two exhibitions in 1972 were expressly for children, "A Joseph Cornell Exhibition for Children" at the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture and "Joseph Cornell - Collages and Boxes" at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York.

Cornell continued to work until the end of his life, "refurbishing" earlier boxes and creating memorial collages. Following prostate surgery in June 1972, he spent several months recuperating with family in Westhampton before returning to Utopia Parkway in November. He died of heart failure at home on December 29, 1972.

The biographical note draws heavily from Deborah Solomon's biography, Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1997), and Diane Waldman's book, Joseph Cornell: Master of Dreams (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2002).
Related Material:
The Archives holds several collections of different provenance that relate to Joseph Cornell, including the small collections of Allison Delarue (comprised of two letters from Cornell, available on reel 2803), Muriel Streeter Schwartz (comprised of two letters from Cornell, available on reel 4283), Wayne Andrews (comprised of letters from Cornell and printed material), and Marion Netter (comprised of items received from Cornell). In addition, photographs of Cornell can be found amongst the Hans Namuth photographs and papers. Also found within the Archives is a transcribed interview of Cornell's sister, Elizabeth Cornell Benton, conducted on April 21, 1976 as part of the oral history program.
Separated Material:
The bulk of Cornell's source material resides in the Joseph Cornell Study Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum, along with his library and record collection. Cornell's sister, Betty Cornell Benton, donated a portion of this material directly to SAAM (then known as the National Museum of American Art), occasioning the creation of the Study Center circa 1978. The bulk of the source material and library that she donated to AAA, including approximately 66 linear feet of three-dimensional and non-textual source material and 50 linear feet of books, was transferred to the Study Center in 1994 and 1995.

Originals of loaned material returned to the donor after microfilming include: some unidentified and miscellaneous correspondence; significant correspondence between Joseph Cornell and Helen S. Cornell; significant correspondence between Helen S. Cornell, family members and others; and some of Joseph Cornell's family correspondence and general correspondence from the Robert Cornell papers. The loaned material is available on microfilm reels 1055-1058 but is not described further in the Series Descriptions/Container Listing of this finding aid.
The Joseph Cornell papers were donated and microfilmed in several installments from 1974 to 1989 by Joseph Cornell's sister, Betty Cornell Benton. Most, but not all, of the correspondence, which was loaned for microfilming in 1974, was subsequently donated in 1989. Additional material was donated in 2004 by the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
Use of the original papers requires an appointment.
The Joseph Cornell 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.
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Joseph Cornell papers, 1804-1986, bulk 1939-1972. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
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Jefcoat, Laz  Search this
Jensen, Olga B.  Search this
Johnson, Herbert  Search this
Kilby, T.H.  Search this
Knight, Martin  Search this
Koen, Eulah  Search this
Lamson, Alfred Ellis  Search this
Landry, Steve  Search this
Lane, Clyde D.  Search this
Laney, John B.  Search this
Langley, Nellie  Search this
Latoilas, Donald  Search this
Lawrimore, Rufus B.  Search this
Leary, Mrs. Stillman  Search this
Leary, Stillman  Search this
Legnon, Hilton  Search this
Legnon, Lena Porrier  Search this
Lenius, Jane  Search this
Lewis, Bobby  Search this
Lewis, Dorothy  Search this
Lewis, Ralph  Search this
Littlejohn, Andrew  Search this
Loewer, Arthur  Search this
Long, Welchel  Search this
Lowder, Clayton  Search this
Lowder, Kathy R.  Search this
Mangum, O.L.  Search this
Martin, Lillian  Search this
McBrayer, Loomis  Search this
McCarty, Ben  Search this
McGee, Dean  Search this
Mercer, Midi  Search this
Minchew, Edna  Search this
Mire, John  Search this
Mohamed, Ethel Wright  Search this
Moody, Edgar  Search this
Morris, Edward  Search this
Murphree, Leo  Search this
Murray, Lurline S.  Search this
Nacquin, Leo  Search this
Nix, Agnes  Search this
Nix, Joe  Search this
Parker, Jonah  Search this
Patout, William A.  Search this
Patterson, Vanona  Search this
Pender, Bessie  Search this
Petticrew, Donald  Search this
Player, C.B., Jr.  Search this
Porter, Virginia  Search this
Proffitt, Harry, Jr.  Search this
Purvis, Clyde  Search this
Redmond, Virgie  Search this
Reed, Bunice  Search this
Reed, Howard  Search this
Rice, Frank  Search this
Richardson, Rosetta  Search this
Rivers, Marion  Search this
Roberts, Gerti  Search this
Roberts, James  Search this
Rodriguez, Ignacio  Search this
Rountree, G. Emory  Search this
Rucker, William  Search this
Salas, Maria  Search this
Sarten, Della  Search this
Scoggins, Lillie  Search this
Scroggins, Alma M.  Search this
Seidenschwarz, Rosie  Search this
Seidenstricker, L.F.  Search this
Seidenstricker, Laverne  Search this
Serrano, Adolofo  Search this
Serrano, Edith  Search this
Serrano, Lidia  Search this
Shannon, Jack  Search this
Shepherd, Grady  Search this
Sims, Lavana  Search this
Sizemore, Martiel  Search this
Skinner, Annie  Search this
Skinner, Jarvis  Search this
Smith, Ethel  Search this
Smith, George  Search this
Soileau, Rouseb  Search this
Spicer, J.M.  Search this
Spivey, Wayland  Search this
Starke, Granville  Search this
Steen, Albert  Search this
Stowers, J.W.  Search this
Strange, Fred  Search this
Strohl, Carl  Search this
Strohl, Mary  Search this
Sumner, Ruby C.  Search this
Temple, Effie  Search this
Thomas, Lottie  Search this
Thompson, Mioma  Search this
Thresto, Chuck  Search this
Tomlinson, Clifton  Search this
Turner, Mrs. O.C.  Search this
Van Houten, Rosetta  Search this
Van Houten, Rudy  Search this
Vickers, Lloyd  Search this
Vidrine, Levie A.  Search this
Walton, W.W.  Search this
Watson, Mary  Search this
Welborn, S.L.  Search this
Wells, Arnalee  Search this
Wells, Homer, Dr.  Search this
White, Wallace  Search this
Wigley, Mabry  Search this
Willey, Gretchen  Search this
Willey, John F.  Search this
Winskie, Dent  Search this
Woodard, Henry  Search this
Yohe, Alma M.  Search this
Yohe, Perry  Search this
Young, Walter  Search this
Jones, Lu Ann  Search this
25 Cubic feet (79 boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Project files
Arkansas -- Agriculture
Mississippi -- Agriculture
Georgia -- Agriculture
South Carolina -- Agriculture
Tennessee -- Agriculture
Virginia -- Agriculture
North Carolina -- Agriculture
Louisiana -- Agriculture
Scope and Contents note:
The collection is divided into four series. Series 1: Oral History Transcripts, 1982-1991 are transcribed versions of the oral interviews. Correspondence and/or notes pertaining to the interviewed individual collected or written by the interviewer are filed in this series following the transcription. The majority of the oral histories were done by Lu Ann Jones between1985-1991. There are a few interviews done by Pete Daniel in the early 1980s and some reference copies of oral histories done elsewhere. This series is divided into eight sub-series: Sub-series 1a: Arkansas, Sub-series 1b: Georgia, Sub-series 1c: Louisiana, Sub-series 1d: Mississippi, Sub-series 1e: North Carolina (including transcripts of the Mexican Workers Project in English and Spanish), Sub-series 1f: South Carolina, Sub-series 1g: Tennessee, and Sub-series 1h: Virginia. Files are arranged alphabetically by state and there under by name; within the file materials are arranged chronologically. Interview files may contain transcribed copies of the oral history interviews and subsequent draft copies with corrections by the interviewer or subject. The file also may contain distillations or edited versions of the interview done by the researcher for possible publication. Correspondence and notes files may include Life History Forms, correspondence, newspaper articles, interviewer's notes, business cards, and paper copies of photographs. Signed releases are on file in the registrar's office, NMAH, with copies in the control file of the Archives Center.

Series 2: Project Files and Reference Materials, 1928-2004 contain notes and correspondence kept by Jones in support of the oral history project. This series is divided into four sub-series: Sub-series 2a: State Files, Sub-series 2b: Project and Reference Files, 1985-1991, Sub-series 2c: Reference Publications, Pamphlets and Articles, 1928-2004 and Sub-series 2d: Computer Floppy Disks, 1985 and n.d. This series include bills, receipts, photo orders, travel brochures, reference materials, articles, correspondence, fundraising proposals and materials, USDA Extension Service bulletins, product cookbooks, and ephemera. These materials are valuable in documenting the methodology of the oral history project. They are also valuable in detailing the funding and maintenance of the project over its five year lifespan. There is also a great deal of information on black farmers. This series is arranged alphabetically by state and county or by article/publication title and within the file chronologically.

Series 3: Photographic Prints and Slides, 1987-1991 documenting the individuals interviewed, their homes and businesses, and geographic locations that were studied as part of the oral history project. The series is arranged numerically then chronologically by year. This series is followed by detailed photographic descriptions arranged alphabetically by state then subject. Photograph files contain photographs taken by a Smithsonian photographer or Jones and any copies of photographs supplied by the subject. Most of the photographs are black and white. Series 4: Original Interview Tapes and Reference Compact Discs (CD), 1986-1991 are the original tapes of the individual interviews conducted by Jones. This series is divided into eight sub-series. Reference numbers for CDs matching the original tapes are noted after the tapes. CDs 495-497 are for the Smithsonian Photographer's Show: Sub-series 4a: Arkansas, Sub-series 4b: Georgia, Sub-series 4c: Louisiana, Sub-series 4d: Mississippi, Sub-series 4e: North Carolina (within this sub-series are the transcripts of the Mexican Workers Project there may be an English language transcription as well as one in Spanish), Sub-series 4f: South Carolina, Sub-series 4g: Tennessee and Sub-series 4h: Virginia and Sub-series 4i: Miscellaneous and Duplicates, within the sub-series tapes are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Series 4: Original Oral History Interview Tapes and Reference Compact Discs (CDs) are the original inteview tapes and the accompanying reference copy cds.
Divided into 4 series: Series 1, Oral History Transcripts; Series 2, Project Files; Series 3, Photographic Prints and Slides, and Series 4, Original Oral History Interview Tapes and Reference Compact Discs (CDs) are the original inteview tapes and the accompanying reference copy cds.
The history of the American South is intricately entwined with the history of agriculture in North America. Until very recently, post 1950, the South was predominately rural and agricultural in both its production and culture. By the 1980s American agriculture, and particularly agriculture in the south, was under attack on various fronts especially cultural, financial, and technological. This assault threatened the very existence of the small and family farm. Many small farming operations went bankrupt and the face of American agriculture was becoming more corporate. It was amidst these troubling times that the Agricultural Division of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History undertook a massive project to document southern agriculture through oral history.

Through the efforts of NMAH staff, Pete Daniel, curator and project director, LuAnn Jones, researcher, and with countless support from staff photographers and personnel, Jones conducted approximately 159 interviews of individual persons, couples and sometimes small groups, in eight southern states over a five year period, 1986-1991. The project was funded by a series of grants from various sources. Not only were oral histories taken but also substantial documentary photographs and slides of the many interviewees. The interviews ranged from individual farmers to individuals at companies and corporations involved with agriculture. The range of crops discussed included tobacco, cotton and rice. The project interviewed a wide range of subjects: male, female, black, white, and Mexican. The project has contributed to at least two books, Mama Learned Us to Work: Farm Women in the New South by LuAnn Jones and Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall and others of which Jones was a contributing author.
Related Collections:
#60 Warshaw Collection

#149 Kulp Collection of Account Books, 1755-1904

#475 Robinson and Via Family Papers

#481 William C. Kost Farm Records

#767 Timothy B. Bladen, Southern Maryland Photoprints
A transfer from the Division of History of Technology (Agriculture), NMAH, July 2001
Collection is open for research. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
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.
Farm life -- 20th century  Search this
Farmers -- Arkansas  Search this
Agricultural laborers  Search this
Agriculture -- History  Search this
Periodicals  Search this
Farmers -- Georgia  Search this
Farmers -- Louisiana  Search this
Farmers -- Mexico  Search this
Farmers -- Mississippi  Search this
Farmers -- North Carolina  Search this
Farmers -- South Carolina  Search this
Farmers -- Tennessee  Search this
Farmers -- Virginia  Search this
Project files
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 1950-2000
Southern Agriculture Oral History Project Records, 1985-1992, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Southern Agriculture Oral History Project Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Online Media:

George H. Clark Radioana Collection

Clark, George Howard, 1881-1956  Search this
Electricity and Modern Physics, Division of, NMAH, SI.  Search this
American Marconi Company.  Search this
Radio Corporation of America.  Search this
Former owner:
Electricity and Modern Physics, Division of, NMAH, SI.  Search this
220 Cubic feet (700 boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Technical manuals
Letters patent
Sale catalogs
Technical drawings
circa 1880-1950
The collection forms a documentary record of over half a century of the history of radio, with the greatest emphasis on the period 1900-1935. The collection includes materials that span the entire history of the growth of the radio industry. It is useful for those historians and other researchers interested in technological development, economic history, and the impact of applications of technology on American life.
Scope and Contents:
The materials accumulated in this collection represent the overriding collecting passion of one individual, George H. Clark. The collection forms a documentary record of over half a century of the history of radio, with the greatest emphasis on the period 1900-1935.

The collection includes materials that span the entire history of the growth of the radio industry. It is useful for those historians and other researchers interested in technological development, economic history, and the impact of applications of technology on American life.

In particular, the collection is rich in biographical information on the men who developed the technical aspects of radio and the industry; information on the inception, growth, and activities of radio companies, most notably the National Electric Signaling Company and RCA; and in photographs of all aspects of Radioana.

While most materials document technical aspects of radio, there is much information (e.g. Series 109, 134) on broadcasting and on the early history of television.

The collection, housed in over 700 boxes (about 276 linear feet), was organized into 259 numbered "classes" or series by Clark. Sixty series numbers were never used or were eliminated by Clark and combined with other series. The unused numbers are scattered throughout the filing system. The collection also includes material from series that were eliminated. These materials were never reclassified and are included as an unprocessed series at the end of the series descriptions. The collection also contains material that was never assigned a "class" designation by Clark (Lettered Series: D, E, F, G, H).

The arrangement of the collection is Clark's own; his adaptation of the Navy filing system he helped devise in 1915. Clark periodically revised the filing system and reclassified items within it.

Clark assigned class numbers to types of equipment (e.g. broadcast receivers), systems (impulse-excited transmitters and systems), scientific theories (circuit theory), and topics (company history, biography). Box 1 contains descriptions of the classification system.

When Clark classified an item and filed it he also assigned a serial number. This classification begins with 1 (or 1A) for the first item in the class and continues with successive numbers as items were added. As a consequence, the order of individual items within a series reflects the order in which Clark filed them, not any logical relationship between the items. Clark created cross references for items dealing with more than one subject by making notations on blank sheets of paper placed in related series.

Clark made cross references between series when there was no logical relationship between them; that is, when a person using the collection would not normally look in the series. For example no cross reference would be made of an engineer from series 87 (portraits) to series 4 (biography), but one would be made from series 87 to series 142 (history of television) if the item showed the engineer, say, working on a television installation.

Clark created the insignia "SRM" as the sign on the bottom of all sheets of paper numbered by him for binding. SRM stood for Smithsonian Radio Museum. This replaced the earlier though not greatly used sign "CGM." For a time about 1930, the class number on each sheet was preceded by these: "C.G.M.", for Clark, Martin, and Goldsmith, the earliest contributors to what would become the Clark Radioana Collection. After about 1933-34 Clark used C.W.C. for Clark Wireless Collection.

There are many photographs located in most series throughout the collection. But there are also three exclusive photographic series. Lettered series A, B, C. See index; and also series descriptions under lettered series.
The collection is divided into 223 series.

Numbered Series 1-233:

Series 1, Library Operating System, 1915-1950

Series 2, Apparatus Type Numbers, 1916-1931

Series 3, Photographic Lists, 1925-1928

Series 4, Biographies of Radio Personages, Technical Index to Correspondents in Series 4

Series 5, History of Radio Companies, 1895-1950

De Forest Radio Company, 1905-1930s

Jenkins Televsion Corporation, 1924-1931

Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, 1908-1929

National Electric Signaling Company, 1896-1941

Wireless Specialty Apparatus Company, 1906-1929

Radio Corporation of America, 1895-1950

Series 6, Shore Stations, 1900-1940

Series 7, Marine Stations, 1900-1930s

Series 8, Broadcasting Stations, 1910s-1940s

Series 9, Amateur Stations, 1910s-1940s

Series 10, Miscellaneous Information, 1911-1914

Series 11, Radio Antiques, 1921-1938

Series 13, Specifications of Radio Apparatus, 1910s-1930s

Series 14, General History, 1899-1950s

Series 15, Radio Companies Catalogues & Bound Advertisements, 1873-1941

Series 16, Log Books, 1902-1923

Series 17, Radio Companies' House Organs, 1896-1942

Series 18, Prime Movers, 1904-1911

Series 19, Batteries, 1898-1934

Series 20, Rectifiers, 1875-1935

Series 21, Motor Generators, 1898-1936

Series 22, Nameplates of Apparatus, 1928

Series 23, Switchboards and Switchboard Instruments, 1910-1935

Series 24, Radio Frequency Switches, 1905-1905-1933

Series 25, Transmitter Transformers, 1893-1949

Series 26, Operating Keys, 1843-1949

Series 27, Power Type Interrupters, 1902-1938

Series 28, Protective Devices, 1910-1925

Series 30, Message Blanks, 1908-1938

Series 31, Transmitter Condensers, 1849-1943

Series 32, Spark Gaps, 1905-1913

Series 33, Transmitter Inductances, 1907-1922

Series 34, Transmitter Wave Changers, 1907-1924

Series 37, ARC Transmitters, 1907-1940

Series 38, Vacuum Tube Type of Radio Transmitter, 1914-1947

Series 39, Radio Transmitter, Radio-Frequency, Alternator Type, 1894-1940

Series 41, Vacuum Tubes, Transmitting Type, 1905-1948

Series 43, Receiving Systems, 1904-1934

Series 45, Broadcast Receivers, 1907-1948

Series 46, Code Receivers, 1902-1948

Series 47, Receiving Inductances, 1898-1944

Series 48, Receiving Condensers, 1871-1946

Series 49, Audio Signal Devices, 1876-1947

Series 50, Detectors, 1878-1944

Series 51, Amplifiers, 1903-1949

Series 52, Receiving Vacuum Tubes, 1905-1949

Series 53, Television Receivers, 1928-1948

Series 54, Photo-Radio Apparatus, 1910-1947

Series 59, Radio Schools, 1902-1945

Series 60, Loudspeakers, 1896-1946

Series 61, Insulators, 1844-1943

Series 62, Wires, 1906-1945

Series 63, Microphones, 1911-1947

Series 64, Biography, 1925-1948

Series 66, Antennas, 1877-1949

Series 67, Telautomatics, 1912-1944

Series 69, Direction Finding Equipment, Radio Compasses, 1885-1948

Series 71, Aircraft Transmitters, 1908-1947

Series 72, Field or Portables Transmitters, 1901-1941

Series 73, Mobile Radio Systems, 1884-1946

Series 74, Radio Frequency Measuring Instruments, 1903-1946

Series 75, Laboratory Testing Methods and Systems, 1891-1945

Series 76, Aircraft Receivers, 1917-1941

Series 77, Field Portable Receivers, 1906-1922

Series 78, Spark Transmitter Assembly, 1909-1940

Series 79, Spark Transmitter System, 1900-1945

Series 82, Firsts in Radio, undated

Series 85: Distance Records and Tests, 1898-1940

Series 87, Photographs of Radio Executives, and Technical Types, 1857-1952

Series 90, Radio Terms, 1857-1939

Series 92, Static Patents and Static Reducing Systems, 1891-1946

Series 93, Low Frequency Indicating Devices, 1904-1946

Series 95, Articles on Radio Subjects, 1891-1945

Series 96, Radio in Education, 1922-1939

Series 98, Special Forms of Broadcasting, 1921-1943

Series 99, History of Lifesaving at Sea by Radio, 1902-1949

Series 100, History of Naval Radio, 1888-1948

Series 101, Military Radio, 1898-1946

Series 102, Transmitting & Receiving Systems, 1902-1935

Series 103, Receiving Methods, 1905-1935

Series 108, Codes and Ciphers, 1894-1947

Series 109, Schedules of Broadcasting & TV Stations, 1905-1940

Series 112, Radio Shows and Displays, 1922-1947

Series 114, Centralized Radio Systems, 1929-1935

Series 116, United States Government Activities in Radio, 1906-1949

Series 117, Technical Tables, 1903-1932

Series 120, Litigation on Radio Subjects, 1914-1947

Series 121, Legislation, 1914-1947

Series 122, History of Radio Clubs, 1907-1946

Series 123, Special Applications of Radio Frequency, 1924-1949

Series 124, Chronology, 1926-1937

Series 125, Radio Patents & Patent Practices, 1861-1949

Series 126, Phonographs, 1894-1949

Series 127, Piezo Electric Effect, 1914-1947

Series 128, ARC Transmitting & Reciving Systems, 1904-1922

Series 129, Spark Systems, 1898-1941

Series 130, Vacuum Tubes Systems, 1902-1939

Series 132, Radiophone Transmitting & Receiving System, 1906-1947

Series 133, Photo-Radio, 1899-1947

Series 134, History of Radio Broadcasting, 1908-

Series 135, History of Radiotelephony, Other Than Broadcasting

Series 136, History of Amateur Radio

Series 138, Transoceanic Communication

Series 139, Television Transmitting Stations

Series 140, Radio Theory

Series 142, History of Television

Series 143, Photographs

Series 144, Radio Publications

Series 145, Proceedings of Radio Societies

Series 146: Radio Museums

Series 147, Bibliography of Radio Subjects and Apparatus

Series 148, Aircraft Guidance Apparatus

Series 150, Audio Frequency Instruments

Series 151, History of Radio for Aircrafts

Series 152, Circuit Theory

Series 154, Static Elimination

Series 161, Radio in Medicine

Series 162, Lighting

Series 163, Police Radio

Series 169, Cartoons

Series 173, Communications, Exclusive of Radio (after 1895)

Series 174, Television Methods and Systems

Series 182, Military Portable Sets

Series 189, Humor in Radio (see

Series 169)

Series 209, Short Waves

Series 226, Radar

Series 233, Television Transmitter

Lettered Series

Series A, Thomas Coke Knight RCA Photographs, circa 1902-1950

Series B, George H. Clark Collection of Photographs by ClassSeries C, Clark Unorganized and/or Duplicate Photographs

Series D, Miscellaneous

Series E, News Clippings Series F: Radio Publications

Series G, Patent Files of Darby and Darby, Attorneys, circa 1914-1935

Series H, Blank Telegram Forms from many Companies and Countries Throughout the World

Series I (eye), Miscellaneous Series

Series J, Research and Laboratory Notebooks

Series K, Index to Photographs of Radio Executives and Technical Types

Series L, Index to Bound Volumes of Photos in Various Series

Series M, Index to David Sarnoff Photographs
Biographical / Historical:
George Howard Clark, born February 15, 1881, at Alberton, Prince Edward Island, Canada, emigrated to the United States at the age of fourteen. He worked as a railroad telegraph operator for the Boston and Maine Railroad during high school and college. In his unpublished autobiography he wrote:

In 1888, when I was a lad of seven, I suddenly blossomed out as a scrapbook addict, and for years I gave up boyhood games for the pleasure of sitting in a lonely attic and 'pasting up' my books ... By 1897, in high school, I graduated to beautiful pictures, and made many large size scrapbooks ... Around that time, too, I became infatuated with things electrical, and spent many evenings copying in pen and ink the various electrical text books in the Everett, Mass., Public Library. Clark began collecting material pertaining to wireless or radio in 1902. In 1903 he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. During his last year of college he specialized in radio work under the instruction of Professor John Stone Stone and after graduation went to work for Stone's radio company, the Stone Telegraph and Telephone Company, of Boston.

In 1908 Clark took a competitive examination open to all wireless engineers in the United States and entered the civilian service of the Navy. He was stationed at the Washington Navy Yard, with special additional duty at the Navy's Bureau of Steam Engineering and at the National Bureau of Standards.

In 1915 Clark helped devise a classification system for Navy equipment, assigning a code number to each item. This system of classification for blueprints, photographs, reports, and general data, was prepared by Arthur Trogner, Guy Hill, and Clark, all civilian radio experts with the US Navy Department in Washington. In 1918 Clark adopted the 1915 Navy classification system for organizing the radio data he was accumulating. Clark created the term "Radioana" at this time. He began spending his evenings and weekends pasting up his collection and numbering pages. At this time he bound the accumulated material. It totaled 100 volumes.

In July 1919, after resigning from the Navy, Clark joined the engineering staff of the Marconi Telegraph Company of America, which became part of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) later the same year. His first work was at Belmar and Lakewood, New Jersey, assisting the chief engineer, Roy A. Weagant, in his development of circuits to reduce the interference caused by static (static reduction). Clark and his wife were assigned to the unheated Engineer's Cottage. His wife decided not to stay and left for Florida. Clark moved his trunks of wireless material to the heated RCA hotel at Belmar and spent most of the winter "pasting." As Clark mentions, "From that time on I was wedded to scraps."

After a year of work in New Jersey, Clark was assigned to the sales department in New York, where he devised the "type number system" used by RCA. This type number system, for example, gave the designation UV 201 to the company's first amplifier tube.

From 1922 to 1934 Clark was in charge of RCA's newly created Show Division, which held exhibits of new and old radio apparatus at state fairs, department stores, and radio shows. About 1928 Clark started an antique radio apparatus museum for RCA. RCA's board of directors announced:

Recognizing the importance of providing a Museum for the Radio Art to house the rapidly disappearing relics of earlier days, and the desirability of collecting for it without further delay examples of apparatus in use since the inception of radio, the Board of Directors of RCA has made an initial appropriation of $100,000, as the nucleus of a fund for the establishment of a National Radio Museum. A plan for ultimately placing the museum under the wing of the Smithsonian Institution was coupled with the goal of the Institution's gathering the largest possible library of wireless data.

Around 1933 the RCA traveling exhibition program ended and Clark started classifying his collected "radioana" material. The objects of the museum were eventually turned over for exhibit purposes to the Rosenwald Museum in Chicago and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, when space was not forthcoming at the Smithsonian. A list of objects sent to the two museums (with tag and case numbers) is in Series 1, Box A. The "radioana" collection remained under Clark's care during the 1930s, and became of increasing use to RCA. Clark continued to add to the material.

Between 1934 and 1942 Clark was in court many times regarding patent infringements. Clark's wireless data was useful and he testified frequently, for example, in RCA's suit against the United States in the Court of Claims over the Marconi tuning patents and in the Westinghouse Company's suit against the United States over the heterodyne. Patent specifications and material regarding these and other radio industry suits are found throughout this collection.

In 1946 RCA retired George Clark and denied him space to house his "radioana" collection. Clark wished to remain in New York and house the collection somewhere in the city where it would be open at all times to the public and where it would be maintained. He hoped to continue cataloguing the collection and writing books from its information. He wanted to keep the collection under his control for as long as he was capable of using it.

George H. Clark died in 1956 and his collection was subsequently given to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1959 the collection was given to the Smithsonian's new Museum of History and Technology, where space was available to house it. The collection remained in the Division of Electricity until the spring of 1983 when it was transferred to the Archives Center.
Brief Company Histories From The Radio Industry, 1900-1930s:

At the end of the nineteenth century, when Guglielmo Marconi began his first wireless company, Western Union, Postal Telegraph, and the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) were the major enterprises in electrical communications. General Electric, Western Electric, and Westinghouse were the major producers of electrical equipment. All these earlier developments set the stage for the expansion of the radio industry.

General Electric, which dominated the lighting industry, was formed in 1892 as a merger of the Edison and Thomson-Houston companies. It was active in building central power station equipment; controlled nearly all the important early patents in electric railways; took a leading part in the introduction of trolley systems; and was the principal supplier of electric motors. Westinghouse promoted the alternating current system and installed the first AC central station in Buffalo, NY, during the winter of 1866-1867. After years of patent litigation, in 1896 GE and Westinghouse agreed to share their patents on electrical apparatus.

American Bell Telephone Company purchased Western Electric in 1881. Western Electric had a strong patent position in telephone equipment and in industrial power apparatus, such as arc lamps, generators, motors, and switchboard equipment.

Until RCA was formed in 1919, these established electrical companies played no active part in the early development of the American radio industry. They were in difficult financial positions, reorganizing, or concentrating their efforts and resources on improving their existing products.

The revolution in "wireless" technology, which began in earnest after 1900, centered in New York City, home of the Lee de Forest and American Marconi companies, and in Boston, headquarters of John Stone Stone and Reginald Fessenden.

Information in this section was compiled from the Clark Collection; the Invention and Innovation in the Radio Industry by W. Rupert Maclaurin, Macmillan Company, New York, 1949; and Radio Pioneers, Institute of Radio Engineers, Commemorating the Radio Pioneers Dinner, Hotel Commodore, New York, NY, November 8, 1945.

The De Forest Companies

Lee De Forest (1873-1961), inventor of the three-element vacuum tube or triode (1906) and the feedback circuit, was one of the first Americans to write a doctoral thesis on wireless telegraphy: "The Reflection of Short Hertzian Waves from the Ends of Parallel Wires," Yale University, 1899. The grid-controlled tube or audion of De Forest was first a radio detector, 1906-1907; in 1912 was adapted to an amplifier; and later to an oscillator. When it was perfected as a high vacuum tube, it became the great electronic instrument of electrical communications.

De Forest began work in the Dynamo Department at the Western Electric Company in 1899. Six months later he was promoted to the telephone laboratory. In 1900 De Forest went to work for the American Wireless Telegraph Company where he was able to carry out work on his "responder." However, after three months when De Forest refused to turn over the responder to the company, he was fired.

In the following year De Forest had a number of jobs, was active as an inventor, and created numerous firms to manufacture his inventions. In 1901 De Forest joined with Ed Smythe, a former Western Electric colleague and a collaborator in his research, to found the firm of De Forest, Smythe, and Freeman. Between 1902 and 1906 De Forest took out thirty-four patents on all phases of wireless telegraphy. The responder that he had been working on for so long never proved satisfactory.

The numerous De Forest companies, reflected his many interests and his inability to carry one project through to a conclusion. Unlike Marconi, but similar to Fessenden, De Forest had great inventive skill which resulted in a great number of companies; but none lasted long. The original partnership of 1901 led to the Wireless Telegraph Co. of America (1901), the De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company (Maine) (1902), and the American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company (1903), to name a few.

The American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company was incorporated after De Forest met a stock promoter, Abraham White. While many stations were built by this company, many never sent a message due to static interference. In 1907 two speculators from Denver with large holdings of company stock put the company out of business. The assets were sold to a new company that these speculators organized, the United Wireless Telephone Company. De Forest was forced to resign. He took the triode patents with him.

De Forest joined with one of White's stock salesmen, James Dunlop Smith, and together with De Forest's patent attorney, Samuel E. Darby, they formed a new corporation, the De Forest Radio Telephone Company in 1907. This company set out to develop wireless communication by means of the radio telephone.

In January 1910 De Forest staged the first opera broadcast, with Enrico Caruso singing. The Radio Telephone Company went bankrupt in 1911 following an aborted merger with North American Wireless Corporation. In 1913 he reorganized the company as the Radio Telephone and Telegraph Company and began producing the triode.

The Marconi Company brought a patent suit, claiming the triode infringed on the Fleming valve to which it had rights. In 1916 the court decided that Marconi had infringed the three element De Forest patent and that De Forest had infringed the two element Fleming valve. The result was that neither company could manufacture the triode.

In 1920 RCA acquired the De Forest triode rights through cross-licensing agreements with AT&T which had recently purchased the rights to it. De Forest's company was no match for GE, Westinghouse, and RCA. The De Forest Radio Company (1923) went bankrupt in 1928, was reorganized in 1930, and went into receivership in 1933. RCA eventually purchased its assets.

Marconi Companies

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) came from a wealthy and well connected Italian family. He was able to spend his time developing his inventions and following his own course of action. Marconi spent his entire life developing wireless communication into a "practical" reality. In 1905 Marconi invented a directional antenna. In 1909 he shared with Karl Ferdinand Braun the Nobel prize in physics. And in 1912 he invented the time spark system for the generation of continuous waves. The principal patents in his name were improved types of vertical antennas; improved coherer; magnetic detector for the detection of wireless signals; and improvements on methods of selective tuning. Two other inventions of great importance to the Marconi companies' patent structure were the Oliver Lodge tuning patent and the Ambrose Fleming valve.

In 1895 Marconi made the first successful transmission of long wave signals. The following year he met William Preece, engineer-in-chief of the British Post Office, who was interested in inductive wireless telegraphy. This meeting led to the formation in 1897 of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd. In 1898 he transmitted signals across the English Channel. In 1899 an American subsidiary was formed. The various Marconi companies were the dominant enterprises in both British and American wireless until 1919 when RCA was formed.

From a business standpoint, wireless did not become profitable until long distance communications were accomplished. On December 12, 1901 in St. John's, Newfoundland, Marconi received a telegraph signal in the form of repetitions of the Morse telegraphic letter "S" transmitted from the Marconi station at Poldhu, Cornwall, England. This success, however, was met by opposition from vested interests, particularly the Anglo-American Telegraph Company whose cables terminated in Newfoundland.

So as not to restrict his company's future to one front alone, Marconi decided to exploit the field of communication with ships at sea. In order to control this field he decided in 1900 to lease his apparatus rather than sell it outright. This strategy did not work. Competition developed in Germany (Telefunken Corporation) and the United States (American De Forest and its successor, United Wireless) and Marconi was forced to sell rather than lease apparatus to the navies of various countries. He nevertheless retained numerous restrictions. This led to further friction. At the height of this debacle English stations worldwide refused to communicate with ships without Marconi equipment. This absurd and dangerous situation had to change and coastal stations opened up to all senders in 1908.

Marconi's system was based on spark technology. He saw no need for voice transmission. He felt the Morse code adequate for communication between ships and across oceans. He, along with most others, did not foresee the development of the radio and the broadcasting industry. He was a pragmatist and uninterested in scientific inquiry in a field where commercial viability was unknown.

For these reasons Marconi left the early experimentation with the radio telephone to others, particularly Lee De Forest and Reginald Fessenden.

National Electric Signaling Company

Canadian-born Reginald Fessenden (1866-1932), one of the principal early radio inventors and the first important inventor to experiment with wireless, left the University of Pittsburgh in 1900 to work for the U.S. Weather Bureau. There he invented the liquid barretter, an early radio receiver, and attempted to work out a means for wireless transmission of weather forecasts. After a squabble over patent rights, Fessenden resigned in 1902.

The National Electric Signaling Company (NESCO), primarily intended to support Fessenden's work on wireless, telegraphy, and telephony, was formed by Fessenden and two Pittsburgh capitalists, Hay Walker, Jr. and Thomas H. Given. It began as an inventor's laboratory and never proved successful as a business venture.

Fessenden recognized that a continuous wave transmission was required for speech and he continued the work of Nikola Tesla, John Stone Stone, and Elihu Thomson on this subject. Fessenden felt he could also transmit and receive Morse code better by the continuous wave method than with a spark-apparatus as Marconi was using.

In 1903 Fessenden's first high-frequency alternator needed for continuous wave transmission was built to his specifications by Charles Steinmetz of GE. In 1906 Fessenden obtained a second alternator of greater power from GE and on Christmas Eve broadcast a program of speech and music. The work on this alternator was given to Ernst F. W. Alexanderson. It took years for Alexanderson to develop an alternator capable of transmitting regular voice transmissions over the Atlantic. But by 1916 the Fessenden-Alexanderson alternator was more reliable for transatlantic communication than the spark apparatus.

Fessenden also worked on continuous-wave reception. This work arose out of his desire for a more effective type of receiver than the coherer, a delicate device that was limited by its sensitivity on a rolling ship at sea. In 1903 he developed a new receiving mechanism - the electrolytic detector.

As his work progressed Fessenden evolved the heterodyne system. However, due to faulty construction and the fact that it was ahead of its time, heterodyne reception was not fully appreciated until the oscillating triode was devised, thus allowing a practical means of generating the local frequency.

Between 1905 and 1913 Fessenden developed a completely self-sustaining wireless system. However, constant quarrels between Fessenden, Walker, and Given culminated in Fessenden's forming the Fessenden Wireless Company of Canada. He felt a Canadian company could better compete with British Marconi. As a result, his backers dismissed Fessenden from NESCO in January of 1911. Fessenden brought suit, won, and was awarded damages. To conserve assets pending appeal, NESCO went into receivership in 1912, and Samuel Kintner was appointed general manager of the company.

In 1917 Given and Walker formed International Signal Company (ISC) and transferred NESCO's patent assets to the new company. Westinghouse obtained majority control of ISC through the purchase of $2,500,000 worth of stock. The company was then reincorporated as The International Radio Telegraph Company. The Westinghouse-RCA agreements were signed in 1921 and International's assets were transferred to RCA.


The development of the radio industry accelerated after 1912. This was due to several factors, the most important of which was the passage of legislation by the US government requiring ships at sea to carry wireless. This created a market incentive and spurred the growth of the industry. Also, with the outbreak of World War I, the larger electrical companies turned their manufacturing output to radio apparatus, supporting the war effort. Three firms were prominent in this industrial endeavor: AT&T, GE, and Westinghouse.

AT&T's early contributions to this effort centered on their improvements of De Forest's triode, particularly in the evolution of circuits, the redesign of the mechanical structure, and an increase in the plate design. The importation of the Gaede molecular pump from Germany created a very high vacuum. The resulting high-vacuum tube brought the practical aspects of the wireless telephone closer to reality. By August 1915 speech had been sent by land wire to Arlington, Va., automatically picked up there via a newly developed vacuum-tube transmitter, and subsequently received at Darien, Canal Zone. By 1920 AT&T had purchased the rights to the De Forest triode and feedback circuit, and had placed itself in a strong position in the evolution of radio technology.

GE centered its efforts on the alternator, assigning Ernst F. W. Alexanderson to its design, and on further development of vacuum tube equipment for continuous wave telegraph transmission. By 1915 Alexanderson, Irving Langmuir, William D. Coolidge, and others had developed a complete system of continuous wave transmission and reception for GE.

As can be seen, both AT&T and GE were diverting major time and expenditures on vacuum tube research. This inevitably led to patent interferences and consequently, to cross-licensing arrangements.

Westinghouse was not in the strategic position of GE and AT&T. Nevertheless, during the war it did manufacture large quantities of radio apparatus, motors, generators, and rectifiers for the European and American governments. Postwar moves led Westinghouse into full partnership with the other two companies.

By the end of the war, all three companies had committed significant resources to wireless. They were hampered internationally, however, by the Marconi Company's dominant status, and in the United States they were blocked by opposing interests with control of key patents.

The US government also was concerned with this lack of solidarity in the wireless industry and over the British domination of the field worldwide. This impasse set a fascinating and complicated stage for the formation of the RCA.

Owen D. Young, legal counselor for GE, was instrumental in breaking the impasse. Through an innovative and far-reaching organizational consolidation, Young was able to persuade British Marconi that persistence in monopoly was a fruitless exercise, because of the strong US government feelings. Marconi, realizing the harm of a potential American boycott, finally agreed to terms. GE purchased the controlling interest in American Marconi, and RCA was formed. Young was made chairman of the board of RCA, while Edwin J. Nally and David Sarnoff of the old American Marconi were appointed president and commercial manager respectively.

On July 1, 1920, RCA signed a cross-licensing agreement with AT&T. The telephone company purchased one half million shares of RCA common and preferred stock for several considerations -- the most important being that all current and future radio patents of the two companies were available to each other royalty-free for ten years. Many provisions of these agreements were ambiguous and led to later squabbles between the RCA partners.

In May 1920 Westinghouse, which had an efficient radio manufacturing organization, formed an alliance with the International Radio and Telegraph Company (NESCO's successor). Westinghouse's part ownership gave them control of Fessenden's patents, particularly continuous-wave transmission and heterodyne transmission. Westinghouse also wisely purchased in October of 1920 Armstrong's patents on the regenerative and superheterodyne circuits -- which also included some of Columbia University professor Michael Pupin's patents. This placed Westinghouse in a strong bargaining position vis-à-vis RCA and in their new consolidated corporation. Westinghouse joined the growing group of radio companies on June 30, 1921. With these mergers, RCA agreed to purchase forty percent of its radio apparatus from Westinghouse and sixty percent from GE.

Through these and other legal arrangements, RCA obtained the rights to over 2,000 patents. These amounted to practically all the patents of importance in the radio science of that day. As a result, other firms in the radio industry, for example, the United Fruit Company and the Wireless Specialty Apparatus Company, entered into cross-licensing arrangements with RCA.

RCA also made arrangements internationally with the three dominant companies in radio communication in their respective countries. British Marconi, Compagnie Generale de Telegraphie sans fil, and Telefunken. Each corporation was given exclusive rights to use the other companies' patents within their own territories.

The rise of amateur radio in the 1920s and, to a greater extent, the demand for new products by the general public contributed to the rise of the broadcasting industry. This put a strain on the earlier agreements between the major radio corporations and between 1921 and 1928 there was a struggle over patents for control of the evolving medium.

An initial attempt by AT&T to control the broadcasting industry -- using its earlier cross-licensing agreements to manufacture radio telephone transmitting equipment -- began with AT&T's disposal of RCA stock holdings in 1922-1923. It ended in 1926 with a new cross-licensing agreement which gave AT&T exclusive patent rights in the field of public service telephony and gave GE, RCA, and Westinghouse exclusive patent rights in the areas covered by wireless telegraphy, entertainment broadcasting, and the manufacture of radio sets and receiving tubes for public sale.

In 1926 after the agreements were finalized, RCA, GE, and Westinghouse joined forces and established the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Fifty percent of the stock went to RCA, thirty percent to GE, and twenty percent to Westinghouse. The new company was divided into three divisions: the Red, Blue, and Pacific Networks. Independent, competing networks soon emerged. William S. Paley and his family formed the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1927. The Mutual Broadcasting System was formed in 1934.

By 1928 RCA had strong patent positions in all major areas of the radio industry, including the research, development and manufacture of vacuum tubes and speakers. Most small companies entering the industry in the 1920s produced their products based on prior research by others and on expired patents. An RCA license, therefore, was essential for the manufacture of any modern radio set or vacuum tube.

In the late 1920s new developments in the reproduction of sound, produced significant changes in the phonograph industry. Among those new developments were the introduction of the electronic record, and the marketing of the Radiola 104 Loudspeaker in 1926. In 1929 RCA purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company. This changed not only the quality but the sales of the phonograph and the phonograph record. A new entertainment industry was born and an ever-expanding market for consumer products was created with cultural implications that continue today.


German industrialists were eager to break the Marconi Company's monopoly. Although Marconi had patents on his inventions in Germany, the Germans developed a rival system through the Telefunken Corporation, incorporated in 1903, based on the inventions of Professor Ferdinand Braun, Dr. Rudolf Slaby, and Count George von Arco.

Before 1903 the Braun-Siemens and Halske system had been developed by Gesellschaft fur Drahtlose Telegraphie (GFDT). The Slaby-Arco system had been developed by Allgemeine Electrizitats-Gesellschaft. After litigation over patents, the German court handed down a decision in favor of the GFDT. The Kaiser, with national interests in mind, ordered that the rivalry cease. The two systems were amalgamated under GFDT, and became known as the Telefunken.

Chronology of Some Significant Events In The History of The Radio Industry

1895 -- Marconi experiments with Hertz's oscillator and Branley's coherer.

1897 -- In March Marconi demonstrates his wireless system on Salisbury Plain, near London, and files a complete patent specification. In May trials of Marconi's system are made over water between Lavernock and Flatholm, a distance of three miles. On May 13, communication is established between Lavernock Point and Brean Down, a distance of eight miles. German scientist Professor Slaby is present. The first Marconi station is erected at the Needles, Isle of Wight. A distance of fourteen and one-half miles is bridged by wireless. In December the Marconi station at the Needles communicates with a ship eighteen miles at sea.

1898 -- In England Oliver Lodge files a complete specification covering inventions in wireless telegraphy.

1899 -- The New York Herald uses Marconi's wireless telegraphy to report the progress of the International Yacht races between the Columbia and the Shamrock off New York harbor in September. US. Navy vessels make trials of Marconi's wireless telegraph system. The cruiser New York and the battleship Massachusetts are equipped with apparatus. Fessenden develops improvements in methods of wireless telegraph signaling.

1900 -- The Marconi International Marine Communication Company is organized on April 25th in London. Reginald Aubrey Fessenden begins work at the United States Weather Bureau. Over the next two years he invents the liquid barretter, an improved radio receiver.

1901 -- In February on board the SS Philadelphia, Marconi receives wireless signals over a distance of 1,551 miles. In March Marconi wireless telegraph service begins between islands of the Hawaiian group. On December 12, Marconi receives transatlantic signal at St. John's, Newfoundland from Poldhu, Cornwall, England. The Canadian government orders two Marconi telegraph sets for use at coastal points along the Strait of Belle Isle.

1901 -- Fessenden procures US patent no. 706737 for a system of radio signaling employing long waves (low frequency). De Forest develops a system of wireless telegraphy in Chicago. 1903-06 10,000 to 50,000 cycle machines, 1 kW, are developed by Steinmetz and by Alexanderson of GE for Fessenden. 1905 Marconi procures patent number 14788 in England, covering the invention of the horizontal directional antenna.

1906 -- At Brant Rock, Massachusetts, Fessenden employs a generator of one-half kW capacity, operating at 75,000 cycles, for radio purposes. He succeeds in telephoning a distance of eleven miles by means of wireless telephone apparatus.

1907 -- De Forest procures a U. S. patent for an audion amplifier of pulsating or alternating current.

1908 -- Marconi stations in Canada and England are opened for radio telegraph service across the Atlantic. Fessenden constructs a 70,000-cycle alternator with an output of 2.5 kW. at 225 volts, for radio signaling purposes. He reports successful radio telephone tests between Brant Rock and Washington, DC, a distance of 600 miles.

1909 -- US House of Representatives passes the Burke Bill for the compulsory use of radio telegraphy on certain classes of vessels. The United Wireless Telegraph Company and the Radio Telephone Company of New York (De Forest and Stone systems) begin the erection of radio stations in the Central and Western states. Marconi shares with Ferdinand Braun of Germany the Nobel prize in recognition of contributions in wireless telegraphy.

1910 -- An act of the US government requires radio equipment and operators on certain types of passenger ships. The Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Marconi station is opened in September. This station communicates with Clifden, Ireland. The transatlantic tariff is seventeen cents a word.

1911 -- A radio section is organized by the US Department of Commerce to enforce the provisions of national radio legislation. Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company acquires the Lodge-Muirhead patents.

1912 -- Rotary gap is used with Fessenden 100 kW 500 cycle spark set at NAA, the Navy's first high-power station at Arlington, Virginia. Marconi Wireless of America acquires property of the United Wireless Telegraph Company. British Marconi secures the important radio patents of Bellini and Tosi, Italian inventors. Wreck of the SS Titanic on April 15th. The act of 1910 is extended on July 23 to cover cargo vessels. requires an auxiliary source of power on ships and two or more skilled radio apparatus operators on certain types of passenger ships. On August 13, an act provides for licensing radio operators and transmitting stations.

1912-1913 -- High vacuum amplifying tubes (an improvement on De Forest's), using the findings of pure science, are produced almost simultaneously in two great industrial laboratories, by Dr. H. D. Arnold of AT&T and Irving Langmuir of GE.

1915 -- De Forest Ultra-audion three-step (cascade) audio amplifier is announced and introduced into practice.

1916 -- GE and the Western Electric Company develop the first experimental vacuum tube radiotelephone systems for the Navy.

1917-1918 -- First production of vacuum tubes in quantity, both coated filament and tungsten filament types, by Western Electric Company and GE.

1918 -- Lloyd Espenschied procures US patent number 1,256,889 for the invention of a duplex radio telegraph system. (See Lloyd Espenschied Papers, Archives Center, NMAH, Collection #13.) The House of Representatives passes a resolution on July 5, authorizing the President to take over management of telegraph and telephone systems due to war conditions.

1919 -- Bills are introduced in Congress for permanent government control of radio stations. The widespread resentment of amateurs has more to do with the defeat of these bills than the objections of commercial companies. Roy Alexander Weagant, New York, reports having developed means of reducing disturbances to radio reception caused by atmospherics or static. This is the first successful static-reducing system. GE purchases the holdings of the British Marconi Company in the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, the name of the latter company being changed to Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in October. Edward J. Nally is elected president of the new company.

1920 -- E. F. W. Alexanderson is appointed Chief Engineer of RCA. RCA begins the installation of 200-kW Alexanderson alternators at Bolinas, California, and Marion, Massachusetts. The Tropical Radio Telegraph Company, a subsidiary of the United Fruit Company, New York, operates ten long-distance radio stations at points in Central and South Americirca RCA purchases 6,000 acres at Rocky Point, Long Island, New York, and begins erection of a Radio Central station, comprising a number of operating units for communication with European stations and stations in South Americirca On May 15, RCA inaugurates radio telegraph services between installations at Chatham and Marion, Massachusetts, and stations at Stavanger and Jaerobe, Norway. Westinghouse Company's radio station KDKA, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, broadcasts returns of the national elections, November 2. Development, design, and manufacture by GE of the early receiving and transmitting tubes made available to the public by RCA (UV-200,201,202). Radio telegraph stations and properties taken over by the government under war time powers are returned to their owners at midnight, February 29. The government calls for bids for the sale of large quantities of surplus radio and telegraph and telephone apparatus purchased for war needs and not used.

1921 -- RCA develops Vacuum tubes UV-200(detector) and UV-201(amplifier) -- both triodes with brass shells known as the UV base, and incorporating a filament that required 1 ampere at 5 volts for operation -- for storage battery operation; and at the same time also released to the public the WD-11 for dry cell operation, which employed an oxide-coated tungsten filament. RCA station at Rocky Point, Long Island, opens on November 5. WJZ station established by the Westinghouse Company in Newark, NJ. RCA broadcast station at Roselle Park, NJ (WDY) opens on December 15. It continues operation until February 15, 1922, when its operation is transferred to WJZ, Newark, previously owned by Westinghouse. RCA installs 200-kW alternator at Tuckerton, NJ.

1922 -- First use of tube transmitters by RCA for service from the United States to England and Germany. RCA begins substitution of tube transmitters on ships to replace spark sets. RCA begins replacement of crystal receivers by tube receivers on ships.

1923 -- Broadcast stations WJZ and WJY opened in New York in May by RCA. WRC opens in Washington on August 1. The UV-201A, receiving tubes developed by GE and consuming only 1/4 of an ampere are introduced by RCA. Tungsten filaments coated and impregnated with thorium were employed.

1924 -- Edwin H. Armstrong, demonstrates the superheterodyne receiver on March 6th. In November RCA experiments with radio photographs across the Atlantic. RCA markets the superheterodyne receivers for broadcast reception.

1925-26 -- Dynamic loudspeakers introduced. Magnetic pick-up phonograph recording and reproduction developed. RCA opens radio circuit to Dutch East Indies. Direction-finders introduced on ships.

1927 -- Fully self-contained AC radio receivers introduced.
The collection was donated to the Smithsonian in 1959.
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George H. Clark Radioana Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
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Irving Berlin Collection

Berlin, Irving, 1888-  Search this
3 Cubic feet (6 boxes and 10 oversize folders)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sheet music
1905 - 1987
Irving Berlin was a 20th century American composer and songwriter. This collection has sheet music for over 200 songs composed by Irving Berlin, as well as a sheet music by other composers. In addition to sheet music, there is correspondence, awards, photographs, and posters pertaining to Irving Berlin.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists primarily of sheet music for over 200 songs composed by Irving Berlin, as well as sheet music by others, published before 1925. Additionally, there are awards, photographs, correspondence and posters relating to Irving Berlin.

Series 1, Sheet Music by Irving Berlin, circa 1907-1966,and undated, contains sheet music from musicals and films written by Irving Berlin. These are alphabetized by song title.

Series 2, Miscellaneous Sheet Music, 1905-1925, contains a miscellaneous assortment of sheet music from the early 1900s by various composers and lyricists, including two pieces by Irving Berlin. The series is arranged alphabetical by song title. Key: (L) indicates "Lyrics", (W) indicates "Words" and (M) indicates "Music" after composer's name(s).

Series 3, Awards, 1938-1987 and undated, contains awards to Berlin from schools, cities and professional musicians' associations. The earliest in the collection is August 1938, the Box Office Ribbon Award for the best picture of the month, "Alexander's Ragtime Band." The latest one is an accolade by the United States Senate, duly noted in the Congressional Record of October 30, 1987. Series 4 contains correspondence related to the awards.

Series 4, Correspondence, Photographs, and Posters, 1916-1980s and undated, contains correspondence, photographs, and posters. Also included are many large copy prints of Irving Berlin paintings, almost all of which are portraits or still lifes. Some date from the 1970s and 1980s. Nearly all are either signed or initialed. Photographs include Irving Berlin and one of his pianos. A document folio contains photographs of a number of canceled envelopes and a composition manuscript, "I Am Just a Dreaming Fool." There are several posters relating to Irving Berlin musicals.
The collection is arranged into four series.

Series 1, Sheet Music by Irving Berlin, circa 1907-1966, and undated

Series 2, Miscellaneous Sheet Music, 1905-1925

Series 3, Awards, 1938-1987, and undated

Series 4, Correspondence, Photographs and Posters, 1916-1980s and undated
Biographical / Historical:
Irving Berlin, composer of about 1,500 popular songs, a number of stage musicals and film scores, was born in Russia on May 11, 1888. Named Israel by his parents, Moses and Leah Baline, he fled to the United States with them in 1893. Upon arrival he adopted his American name, and the family settled on the lower east side of New York City. Irving attended public school there for two years, but dropped out to work and help support his family.

In 1907 while employed as a waiter in New York's Chinatown, Irving Berlin wrote his first song, "Marie from Southern Italy". A year later he was employed as a lyricist by a music publishing house and soon was a partner in the company, Waterson, Berlin and Snyder. In 1910 Irving Berlin wrote "My Wife's Gone to the Country" and "Call Me Up Some Rainy Afternoon". These launched his career as a world famous composer of popular songs and in 1911 "Alexander's Ragtime Band" was a sensational hit. It was this song, along with the others he made at this time, that many consider the advent of Modernism within the musical field.

During World War I, Irving Berlin was stationed at Camp Upton, Long Island, where he wrote patriotic songs, including an all-soldier musical revue and the song "God Bless America" (this was not released until twenty years later). After the war he established his own music publishing company in New York City, Irving Berlin Inc. In 1921 he partnered with Sam Harris and and built the Music Box Theater.

Irving Berlin was married twice. The first marriage in 1912 was to Dorothy Goetz, who died shortly afterward. In 1926 he married Ellin Mackay, the daughter of C. H. Mackay, chairman of the board of Postal Telegraph Cable Company. They had four children: Mary Ellin Barret, Elizabeth Irving Peters, Linda Louise Emmet, and little Irving, who died in infancy.

During World War II, Mr. Berlin toured the United States and the European and Pacific battle zones. Proceeds from these appearances were assigned to the Army Emergency Relief and other service agencies. He was the recipient of the Medal of Merit, the Congressional Gold Medal, and the President's Medal of Freedom and was a member of the Legion of Honor of France.

After the war, Berlin continued to write songs, scores, and musicals. It was during these decades that the score for the movie "White Christmas" and the play "Annie Get Your Gun" were produced. He took up painting as a hobby later in life. He died on September 22, 1989 at the age of 101. He is buried at Woodlawn Cemetary, the Bronx, New York City.
Related Materials:
Material in the Archives Center

Sam DeVincent Illustrated Sheet Music Collection

Groucho Marx Collection

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Library of Congress

University of New Hampshire, Milne Special Collections
Donated to National Museum of American History (formerly the the Museum of History and Technology) by Irving Berlin on March 27, 1975.
The collection is open for research use.
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.
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Irving Berlin Collection, 1905-1987, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
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Oral history interview with Lia Cook, 2006 August 22-29

Cook, Lia, 1942-  Search this
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Ethel Schwabacher papers, 1940-1975

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E.P. (Edgar Preston) and Constance Richardson papers, 1814-1996, bulk 1921-1996

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Cohn, Harold  Search this
Bouché, Louis George  Search this
Allston, Washington  Search this
Sellers, Charles Coleman  Search this
Sheeler, Charles  Search this
Stevens, William B.  Search this
O'Keeffe, Georgia  Search this
Morse, John D.  Search this
Kuniyoshi, Yasuo  Search this
Woolfenden, William E. (William Edward)  Search this
Hopper, Edward  Search this
Culver, Charles B.  Search this
Speck, Walter Edward  Search this
Middeldorf, Ulrich Alexander  Search this
Spark, Victor D. (Victor David)  Search this
Moser, Liselotte  Search this
Pleasants, J. Hall (Jacob Hall),  Search this
Simper, Fred  Search this
Krentzin, Earl  Search this
Fleischman, Lawrence Arthur  Search this
Ripley, S. Dillon (Sidney Dillon),  Search this
Valentiner, Wilhelm Reinhold  Search this
Detroit Institute of Arts  Search this
Historical Society of Pennsylvania  Search this
Philadelphia Museum of Art  Search this
National Collection of Fine Arts (U.S.)  Search this
Archives of American Art  Search this
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts  Search this
Castano Galleries (Boston, Mass.)  Search this
Macbeth Gallery  Search this
Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum  Search this
National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institution)  Search this
United States.Department of Agriculture  Search this
Detroit (Mich.)  Search this
Art  Search this
Romanticism in art  Search this
Painting, American  Search this
Art, American  Search this
Record number:
Art Theory and Historiography
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
Online Media:

William Dean Howells

Alvin Langdon Coburn, 11 Jun 1882 - 23 Nov 1966  Search this
William Dean Howells, 1 Mar 1837 - 11 May 1920  Search this
Image: 20.5 × 15.8 cm (8 1/16 × 6 1/4")
Sheet: 22.4 × 17.4 cm (8 13/16 × 6 7/8")
Mount: 30.8 × 22.3 cm (12 1/8 × 8 3/4")
Book open: 31.5 × 49.5 × 2 cm (12 3/8 × 19 1/2 × 13/16")
Book closed: 31.5 × 24.5 × 2.7 cm (12 3/8 × 9 5/8 × 1 1/16")
United States\New York\Kings\New York
Nov 22, 1910
Interior  Search this
Personal Attribute\Facial Hair\Mustache  Search this
Costume\Jewelry\Chain  Search this
Costume\Dress Accessory\Tie\Necktie  Search this
William Dean Howells: Male  Search this
William Dean Howells: Literature\Writer\Poet  Search this
William Dean Howells: Communications\Journalist\Editor\Magazine  Search this
William Dean Howells: Politics and Government\Diplomat\Consul\US Consul  Search this
William Dean Howells: Humanities and Social Sciences\Critic\Theater  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number:
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery

Carl Ben Eielson

Charles Cann, 1900 - 1984?  Search this
Carl Benjamin Eielson, Jan 1897 - Nov 1929  Search this
Gelatin silver print
Image: 34.3 × 23.9 cm (13 1/2 × 9 7/16")
Sheet: 35.6 × 28.2 cm (14 × 11 1/8")
Mat: 55.9 × 40.7 cm (22 × 16")
United States\Alaska
c. 1926
Equipment\Wheel  Search this
Nature & Environment\Plant\Grass  Search this
Vehicle\Airplane  Search this
Equipment\Goggles  Search this
Costume\Headgear\Hat\Aviator  Search this
Exterior\Airfield  Search this
Carl Benjamin Eielson: Male  Search this
Carl Benjamin Eielson: Science and Technology\Aviator  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the University of Alaska
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
© Estate of Charles Cann
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery

The National Plumbeotype Gallery - Levi Woodbury

John Plumbe, Jr., Jul 1809 - Jul 1857  Search this
Levi Woodbury, 22 Dec 1789 - 4 Sep 1851  Search this
Hand-colored lithograph on paper
Image: 26.6 × 19.2 cm (10 1/2 × 7 9/16")
Sheet: 32.9 × 26.3 cm (12 15/16 × 10 3/8")
Book closed: 33.5 × 27 × 1 cm (13 3/16 × 10 5/8")
Book open: 33.5 × 53.5 × 1.2 cm (13 3/16 × 21 1/16")
United States\Pennsylvania\Philadelphia\Philadelphia
Costume\Jewelry\Chain  Search this
Nature & Environment\Animal\Bird\Eagle  Search this
Levi Woodbury: Male  Search this
Levi Woodbury: Law and Law Enforcement\Lawyer  Search this
Levi Woodbury: Politics and Government\Cabinet Member\Secretary of Treasury  Search this
Levi Woodbury: Military\Navy\Secretary of the Navy  Search this
Levi Woodbury: Law and Law Enforcement\Judge\Justice\US Supreme Court Justice  Search this
Levi Woodbury: Politics and Government\Governor\New Hampshire  Search this
Levi Woodbury: Politics and Government\US Senator\New Hampshire  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number:
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery

The National Plumbeotype Gallery - John Binns

John Plumbe, Jr., Jul 1809 - Jul 1857  Search this
John Binns, 22 Dec 1772 - 16 Jun 1860  Search this
Lithograph on paper
Image: 12.9 × 8.8 cm (5 1/16 × 3 7/16")
Sheet: 32.9 × 26.3 cm (12 15/16 × 10 3/8")
Book closed: 33.5 × 27 × 1 cm (13 3/16 × 10 5/8")
Book open: 33.5 × 53.5 × 1.2 cm (13 3/16 × 21 1/16")
United States\Pennsylvania\Philadelphia\Philadelphia
John Binns: Male  Search this
John Binns: Communications\Publisher\Newspaper  Search this
John Binns: Communications\Journalist  Search this
John Binns: Literature\Writer\Biographer  Search this
John Binns: Literature\Writer\Legal  Search this
John Binns: Politics and Government\Public Official\Alderman  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number:
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery


Published by:
MelPat Associates, American, 1965 - 1986  Search this
Created by:
C. Melvin Patrick, American, died 1985  Search this
Subject of:
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, American, founded 1909  Search this
National Urban League, American, founded 1910  Search this
Sigma Phi Rho Fraternity, American, founded 1978  Search this
National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, American, founded 1969  Search this
Association of Black Women Attorneys, American, founded 1976  Search this
National Urban Affairs Council, American, founded 1971  Search this
Raymond A. Jordan Jr., American, born 1943  Search this
National Association of Market Developers, American, founded 1953  Search this
The Links, Incorporated, American, founded 1946  Search this
Northside Center for Child Development, Inc., founded 1946  Search this
National Newspaper Publishers Association, American, founded 1827  Search this
Prince Hall Freemasonry, founded 1784  Search this
Chi Delta Mu Fraternity, Inc., American, founded 1913  Search this
Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc., American, founded 1964  Search this
Lambda Kappa Mu Sorority, Inc., American, founded 1937  Search this
Carats, Inc., American, founded 1959  Search this
Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc., American, founded 1932  Search this
National United Church Ushers Association of America, Inc., American, founded 1919  Search this
Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc., American, founded 1929  Search this
National Medical Association, American, founded 1895  Search this
Dr. Leslie L. Alexander, Jamaican American, 1917 - 2002  Search this
Smithsonian Institution, American, founded 1846  Search this
National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc., American, founded 1906  Search this
Morehouse College, American, founded 1867  Search this
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, American, founded 1913  Search this
Shriners International, American, founded 1870  Search this
Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, American, 1894 - 1984  Search this
Count Basie, American, 1904 - 1984  Search this
National Coalition of 100 Black Women, American, founded 1981  Search this
National Bankers Association, American, founded 1927  Search this
369th Veterans Association, American  Search this
One Hundred Black Men, Inc., American, founded 1963  Search this
Association for the Study of African American Life and History, American, founded 1915  Search this
Signed by:
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., American, founded 1906  Search this
ink on paper
H x W x D: 10 13/16 × 8 7/16 × 9/16 in. (27.5 × 21.4 × 1.5 cm)
magazines (periodicals)
Place made:
Harlem, New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
Place depicted:
Martha's Vineyard, Oak Bluffs, Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States, North and Central America
Washington, District of Columbia, United States, North and Central America
African American  Search this
Advertising  Search this
Associations and institutions  Search this
Business  Search this
Communities  Search this
Fraternal organizations  Search this
Fraternities  Search this
Government  Search this
HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)  Search this
Journalism  Search this
Labor  Search this
Mass media  Search this
Men  Search this
Political organizations  Search this
Politics (Practical)  Search this
Professional organizations  Search this
Religious groups  Search this
Social life and customs  Search this
Sororities  Search this
United States--History--1969-2001  Search this
Urban life  Search this
Women  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Anne B. Patrick and the family of Hilda E. Stokely
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Public domain
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Documents and Published Materials-Published Works
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
1 Page(s) matching your search term, top most relevant are shown: View entire project in transcription center
  • View <I>Delegate</I> digital asset number 1

Plummer-Arnold Family papers

Plummer-Arnold family  Search this
Plummer-Arnold family  Search this
Plummer, Henry Vinton, 1844-1905  Search this
1.44 Linear feet (2 boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Family papers
Photographic prints
Letters (correspondence)
United States -- Navy -- Chaplain Corps
United States -- Armed Forces -- African Americans
United States -- Army -- Cavalry, 9th
circa 1880-2005
circa 2005
bulk 1880-1955
The collection, spanning the late 19th century to 2005 with the bulk from circa 1880 to circa 1955, measures 1.44 linear feet and documents the daily lives and activities of the Plummer-Arnold family and the military career of Henry Vinton Plummer. The collection consists of 48 color and black-and-white photographs and a framed certificate, letter, and two DVDs regarding the honorable discharge of Henry Vinton Plummer. The photographs are undated.
Scope and Contents:
The Plummer-Arnold family papers span the late 19th century to 2005, with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1880 to circa 1955. The collection contains 48 black-and-white and color photographs, one letter, one certificate, and two DVDs. The black-and-white and color photographs, mostly undated, depict the daily lives and activities of descendants of the Plummer and Arnold families. The collection also features a letter, certificate, and DVDs relating to the honorable discharge of U.S. Army chaplain Henry Vinton Plummer (1844-1905). The collection is organized into two series, Series 1: Family photographs and Series 2: Henry Vinton Plummer military service.
Biographical/Historical note:
The Plummer-Arnold family has a long and notable history. Adam Francis Plummer (1819-1905) and Emily Saunders Arnold (1815-1876) were enslaved African Americans who married in 1841. The couple was separated on different Maryland plantations for the first 22 years of their marriage. They had eighteen children, only nine of whom survived to adulthood. Their eldest son, Henry Vinton Plummer (1844-1905), escaped slavery in 1862 to become a Civil War chaplain and founder of the Bladensburg Union Burial Association. His descendents' successful battle to upgrade his 1894 dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Army is documented in this collection.

In 1862, Henry Vinton Plummer escaped from a Maryland plantation to the District of Columbia, where he joined the Union Navy as a chaplain. He was honorably discharged in 1865 and began his studies at Wayland Seminary, which educated freedmen to enter the Baptist ministry. Upon completion of his studies he became the pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church in Bladensburg, Maryland, founded by his sister, Sarah Miranda Plummer, on October 19, 1866. Henry Vinton Plummer married July Lomax of Virginia in 1867 and their marriage produced nine children.

Henry Vinton Plummer founded the Bladensburg Union Burial Association in 1870, a society that ensured that its African American members would receive a proper funeral by collecting dues and pledges. It was formed in response to a white undertaker's refusal to conduct a funeral because the family of the deceased could not afford to pay. Plummer interceded on behalf of the family and paid their debt. The Bladensburg Union Burial Association remained an active and successful organization into the 20th century.

In 1884, Plummer was appointed as the first black chaplain in the 9th Calvary, one of the Buffalo Soldier units of the Regular Army. Amidst controversy, Plummer was accused of conduct unbecoming an officer and dishonorably discharged from his post in Fort Robinson, Nebraska, by a military court in 1894. In 2005, Plummer's descendants successfully petitioned the Army Board for Correction of Military Records to eradicate his dishonorable discharge. They were issued a certificate from the Army that retroactively grants Plummer the honorable discharge he was denied during his life.
Related Archival Materials note:
These Smithsonian collections and digital exhibits contain related material:

Plummer-Arnold Collection, Permanent Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum. The Bladensburg Union Burial Association records, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Reverend L. Jerome Fowler. Plummer Diary Website Project, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution. For a description of the preservation of the diary, see the Smithsonian blog post "A Sense of Place."

These items held by the Smithsonian are related material:

"Out of the Depths or The Triumph of the Cross" by Nellie Arnold Plummer, Gift of the descendants of Adam and Emily Plummer. Plummer Family Diary, Gift of the Descendants of Adam and Emily Plummer. United States flag Of Henry Vinton Plummer, Gift of the descendants of Adam and Emily Plummer.

These items are held outside the Smithsonian:

Interview with Reverend L. Jerome Fowler, PTIP Interview Transcripts, Center for Heritage Resource Studies, Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Images of America: Riverdale Park by Donald Lynch, Tom Alderson, and Melissa Avery, Arcadia Publishing, 2011.
The Plummer-Arnold family papers were donated to the Anacostia Community Museum on October 14, 2004, by Reverend L. Jerome Fowler.
The collection is open for unrestricted research. Use of the collection requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment:
The Plummer-Arnold Family papers are the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the author/creator or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
Fraternal organizations  Search this
African American women  Search this
Portraits -- African American women  Search this
Race discrimination  Search this
African American families  Search this
Family reunions  Search this
Military chaplains  Search this
African American women -- Societies and clubs  Search this
Discrimination in the military  Search this
Military discharge -- United States  Search this
Racism  Search this
Family papers
Photographic prints
Letters (correspondence) -- 20th century.
The Plummer-Arnold family papers, undated-2005, bulk circa 1880-1955, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Reverend L. Jerome Fowler.
See more items in:
Plummer-Arnold Family papers
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
Online Media:

Ed Gerjuoy, "Recollections of Oppenheimer and Schwinger"

Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory  Search this
Youtube videos
Astronomy  Search this
Youtube Category:
Science & Technology  Search this
See more by:
YouTube Channel:
Data Source:
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Benjamin Harrison

Unidentified Artist  Search this
Copy after:
Francis Scott King, 24 Mar 1850 - 1913  Search this
Benjamin Harrison, 20 Aug 1833 - 13 Mar 1901  Search this
Engraving on paper
Sheet: 58.2 x 51 cm (22 15/16 x 20 1/16")
c. 1898 - 1903
Personal Attribute\Facial Hair\Beard  Search this
Benjamin Harrison: Male  Search this
Benjamin Harrison: Law and Law Enforcement\Lawyer  Search this
Benjamin Harrison: Politics and Government\President of US  Search this
Benjamin Harrison: Military\Army\Officer\Brigadier General  Search this
Benjamin Harrison: Politics and Government\US Senator\Ohio  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number:
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery

Marius de Zayas

Alfred Stieglitz, 1 Jan 1864 - 13 Jul 1946  Search this
Marius de Zayas, 1880 - 1961  Search this
Waxed platinum print
Image/Sheet: 23.8 x 19.2cm (9 3/8 x 7 9/16")
Mount: 24.8 x 20.1cm (9 3/4 x 7 15/16")
Mat: 55.9 x 40.6cm (22 x 16")
Artwork  Search this
Personal Attribute\Facial Hair\Mustache  Search this
Costume\Dress Accessory\Tie\Necktie  Search this
Marius de Zayas: Male  Search this
Marius de Zayas: Visual Arts\Artist\Caricaturist  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of an anonymous donor
Object number:
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery

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