The Rockwell Kent papers measure 88.0 linear feet and date from circa 1840 to 1993 with the bulk of the collection dating from 1935 to 1961. The collection provides comprehensive coverage of Kent's career as a painter, illustrator, designer, writer, lecturer, traveler, political activist, and dairy farmer.
Scope and Content Note:
The Rockwell Kent papers measure 88 linear feet and date from circa 1840 to 1993 with the bulk of the collection dating from 1935 to 1961. The collection provides comprehensive coverage of Kent's career as a painter, illustrator, designer, writer, lecturer, traveler, political activist, and dairy farmer.
Circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the papers are highlighted in an article by Garnett McCoy ("The Rockwell Kent Papers," in the Archives of American Art Journal, 12, no. 1 [January 1972]: 1-9), recommended reading for researchers interested in the collection. The collection is remarkably complete, for in the mid 1920s Kent began keeping carbon copies of all outgoing letters, eventually employing a secretary (who became his third wife and continued her office duties for the remainder of Kent's life).
Series 1: Alphabetical Files contain Kent's personal and professional correspondence, along with business records of the dairy farm and associated enterprises; also included are printed matter on a wide variety of topics and promotional literature relating to organizations and causes of interest to him. Voluminous correspondence with his three wives, five children, and other relatives, as well as with literally hundreds of friends, both lifelong and of brief duration, illuminates Kent's private life and contributes to understanding of his complex character. Among the many correspondents of note are: his art teachers William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, and Kenneth Hayes Miller; fellow artists Tom Cleland, Arthur B. Davies, James Fitzgerald, Hugo Gellert, Harry Gottleib, Marsden Hartley, Charles Keller, and Ruth Reeves; collectors Duncan Phillips and Dan Burne Jones; critics J. E. Chamberlain and Walter Pach; and dealers Charles Daniel, Felix Wildenstein, and Macbeth Galleries. Kent corresponded with such diverse people as Arctic explorers Peter Freuchen, Knud Rasmussen, and Vilhjalmar Steffanson; composer Carl Ruggles and songwriters Lee Hays and Pete Seeger; civil rights pioneers Paul Robeson and Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois; writers Bayard Boyesen, Scott and Helen Nearing, and Louis Untermeyer; and art historian and print curator Carl Zigrosser.
Kent's interest and involvement in the labor movement are reflected in correspondence with officials and members of a wide variety and large number of unions and related organizations, among them: the Farmers' Educational and Cooperative Union of America, Farmers' Union of the New York Milk Shed, International Workers Order, National Maritime Union, and United Office and Professional Workers of America. Of special interest is his participation, often in leadership roles, in various attempts to organize artists. Files on the American Artists' Congress, Artists League of America, The Artists Union, United American Artists, and United Scenic Artists contain particularly valuable material on the movement.
A supporter of New Deal efforts to aid artists, Kent was actively interested in the various programs and often was critical of their limitations; he advocated continuing federal aid to artists after the Depression abated. The Kent papers include correspondence with the Federal Arts Project, Federal Fine Arts Project, Federal Writers Project, and the War Department, as well as correspondence with the Citizens' Committee for Government Art Projects and President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the subject.
Kent's professional correspondence documents exhibitions, sales, consignments, and reproduction of prints and paintings. He kept meticulous records of his advertising commissions and illustration work. Detailed correspondence with publishers and printers indicates Kent's involvement in the technical aspects of production and provides a good overview of the publishing industry during the mid-twentieth century.
Business records of Asgaard Farm include records of the dairy and transfer of ownership to its employees, tax and employee information, and documents concerning several related business ventures such as distributor ships for grain, feed, and farm implements.
Series 2: Writings consists of notes, drafts, and completed manuscripts by Rockwell Kent, mainly articles, statements, speeches, poems, introductions, and reviews. The Kent Collection given to Friendship House, Moscow, in 1960, was augmented later by a set of his publications and the illustrated manuscripts of many of his monographs. Also included are a small number of manuscripts by other authors.
Series 3: Artwork consists mainly of drawings and sketches by Kent; also included are works on paper by other artists, many of whom are unidentified, and by children.
Series 4: Printed Matter consists of clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, brochures, broadsides, programs, and newsletters. These include items by and about Kent and his family, as well as articles written and/or illustrated by him, and reviews of his books. There is also material on a variety of subjects and causes of interest to him. Additional printed matter is included among the alphabetical files, mainly as attachments to correspondence.
Series 5: Miscellaneous includes biographical material, legal documents, and memorabilia. Artifacts received with papers include textile samples, a silk scarf, dinnerware, ice bucket, and rubber stamp, all featuring designs by Rockwell Kent. Also with this series are a variety of documents including a phrenological analysis of an ancestor, lists of supplies for expeditions, a hand-drawn map of an unidentified place, and technical notes regarding art materials and techniques.
Series 6: Photographs includes photographs of Kent, his family and friends, travel, and art number that over one thousand. Also included here are several albums of family and travel photographs.
The collection is arranged into six series. Series 1 is arranged alphabetically. The arrangement of the remaining series is explained in each series description. Note that sealed materials that became available in 2000 were microfilmed separately on reels 5740-5741, but have integrated into this finding aid.
Series 1: Alphabetical Files, circa 1900-1971, undated (Reels 5153-5249, 5256, 5740-5741)
Series 2: Writings, 1906-1978, undated (Reels 5249-5252, 5741)
Series 3: Art Work, 1910-1972, undated (Reels 5252, 5741)
Series 4: Printed Matter, 1905-1993, undated (Reels 5252-5254)
Series 5: Miscellaneous, 1859-1969, undated (Reels 5254, 5741)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1840-1970, undated (Reels 5254-5255, 5741)
Rockwell Kent (1882-1971), an energetic and multitalented man, pursued many interests and careers during his very long and active life. At various times he was an architect, draftsman, carpenter, unskilled laborer, painter, illustrator, printmaker, commercial artist, designer, traveler/explorer, writer, professional lecturer, dairy farmer, and political activist.
While studying architecture at Columbia University, Kent enrolled in William Merritt Chase's summer school at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island. He then redirected his career ambitions toward painting and continued to study with Chase in New York. Kent spent a summer working and living with Abbott H. Thayer in Dublin, New Hampshire, and attended the New York School of Art, where Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller were his teachers.
Critically and financially, Kent was a successful artist. He was very well known for his illustration work--particularly limited editions of the classics, bookplates, and Christmas cards. He was a prolific printmaker, and his prints and paintings were acquired by many major museums and private collectors. During the post-World War II era, Kent's political sympathies resulted in the loss of commissions, and his adherence to artistic conservatism and outspoken opposition to modern art led to disfavor within art circles. After many years of declining reputation in this country and unsuccessful attempts to find a home for the Kent Collection, Kent gave his unsold paintings--the majority of his oeuvre--to the Soviet Union, where he continued to be immensely popular.
An avid traveler, Kent was especially fascinated by remote, Arctic lands and often stayed for extended periods of time to paint, write, and become acquainted with the local inhabitants. Between 1918 and 1935, he wrote and illustrated several popular books about his experiences in Alaska, Tierra del Fuego, and Greenland. In the 1930s and 1940s, Kent was much in demand as a lecturer, making several nationwide tours under the management of a professional lecture bureau; he spoke mainly about his travels, but among his standard lectures were some on "art for the people."
In 1927, Kent purchased Asgaard Farm at AuSable Forks, New York, in the Adirondacks, where he lived for the remainder of his life, operating a modern dairy farm on a modest scale for many years.
As a young man, Kent met Rufus Weeks, became committed to social justice, and joined the Socialist Party. Throughout his life, he supported left-wing causes and was a member or officer of many organizations promoting world peace and harmonious relations with the Soviet Union, civil rights, civil liberties, antifascism, and organized labor. Kent was frequently featured as a celebrity sponsor or speaker at fund-raising events for these causes. In 1948, he ran unsuccessfully as the American Labor Party's candidate for Congress. Kent's unpopular political views eventually led to the dissolution of his dairy business, resulted in a summons to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and prompted the U.S. State Department to deny him a passport, an action that subsequently was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kent wrote two autobiographies, This Is My Own (1940) and It's Me, O Lord (1955). In 1969, he was the subject of an oral history interview conducted by Paul Cummings for the Archives of American Art.
1882 -- born, Tarrytown, New York
1887 -- death of Rockwell Kent, Sr.
1894-1896 -- attended Cheshire Academy
1895 -- toured Europe with Aunt Jo
1896 -- attended Horace Mann School, New York City
1900-1902 -- studied architecture at Columbia University
1900-1902 -- attended William Merritt Chase's summer school, Shinnecock Hills, Long Island
1903 -- studied with William Merritt Chase, New York City
1904 -- first sale of a painting
1904 -- met Rufus Weeks and attended first Socialist meeting
1905 -- lived and worked with Abbott H. Thayer, Dublin, New Hampshire
1905 -- first painting trip to Monhegan Island, Maine
1907 -- first one-man show, Claussen Galleries, New York City
1908 -- marriage to Kathleen Whiting
1908 -- studied with Robert Henri
1908 -- joined Socialist Party
1909 -- birth of Rockwell, III
1910 -- ran Monhegan Summer School of Art
1910 -- first trip to Newfoundland
1910 -- helped to organize first Independent Exhibition
1911 -- birth of Kathleen
1912 -- moved to Winona, Minnesota
1913 -- birth of Clara
1914 -- settled in Newfoundland
1915 -- deported from Newfoundland
1915 -- birth of Barbara
1917 -- served as full-time organizer and administrator of Independent Exhibition
1918-1919 -- in Alaska with son Rocky
1919 -- purchased Egypt Farm, Arlington, Vermont
1919 -- incorporated self
1920 -- publication of Wilderness
1920 -- birth of Gordon
1922 -- traveled to Tierra del Fuego
1924 -- publication of Voyaging
1925 -- trip to France
1925 -- divorced from Kathleen
1926 -- marriage to Frances Lee
1926 -- traveled to Ireland
1927 -- purchased Asgaard Farm, AuSable, New York
1927 -- editor of Creative Art
1927 -- helped organize National Gallery of Contemporary Art, Washington, D.C.
1929 -- sailed to Greenland on Direction
1930 -- publication of N by E
1932-1933 -- returned to Greenland
1934-1935 -- final trip to Greenland
1935 -- publication of Salamina
1936 -- trip to Puerto Rico
1937 -- trip to Brazil
1937-1938 -- Post Office Department mural commission and controversy over Eskimo-language message interpreted as encouraging Puerto Rican independence
1939 -- divorced from Frances
1939 -- General Electric Co. mural commission for New York World's Fair
1940 -- publication of This Is My Own
1940 -- marriage to Shirley Johnstone (Sally)
1942 -- solo exhibition, Know and Defend America, at Wildenstein Galleries, New York City
1946 -- elected to Executive Committee of American Labor Party
1948 -- congressional candidate, American Labor Party
1948 -- transferred ownership of dairy to remaining employees after boycott resulting from support of Wallace for president
1949 -- attended World Congress for Peace, Paris
1950-1958 -- denied U.S. passport; lawsuit, appeals, and Supreme Court decision reinstating right to travel
1953 -- testified before House Un-American Activities Committee
1955 -- publication of It's Me, O Lord
1958 -- one-man show at Hermitage Museum, Leningrad
1959 -- publication of Of Men and Mountains
1960 -- gift of Kent Collection to Friendship House, Moscow
1960 -- exhibition at Pushkin Museum, Moscow
1963 -- publication of Greenland Journal
1966 -- elected to Academy of Arts of the USSR
1967 -- awarded Lenin Peace Prize, Moscow
1969 -- oral history interview, Archives of American Art
1969 -- home at Asgaard destroyed by fire; papers survived with some water and smoke damage
1969 -- first installment of Rockwell Kent Papers donated to Archives of American Art
1971 -- died, Plattsburgh, New York
1971 -- gift of additional Rockwell Kent Papers to Archives of American Art
1979 -- gift of textile samples to the Archives of American Art
1996 -- gift of additional Rockwell Kent Papers to Archives of American Art
2000 -- death of Sally [Shirley Johnstone] Kent Gorton
2000 -- previously sealed correspondence of wives Frances and Sally (Series 1) opened to researchers
2001 -- gift of additional Rockwell Kent papers to the Archives of American Art from the Estate of Sally Kent [Shirley Johnstone] Gorton
In 1969, Rockwell Kent donated his papers to the Archives of American Art; textile samples were received in 1979, and his widow gave additional papers in 1971 and 1996. Letters to Rockwell Kent from wives Frances and Sally, sealed during Sally Kent Gorton's lifetime, became available for research after her death in 2000, and further material was donated to the Archives of American Art in 2001 by the Estate of Sally Kent [Shirley Johnstone] Gorton.
The microfilm of this collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Use of material not microfilmed or digitized requires an appointment.
The Rockwell Kent papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
The bulk of the collection consists of renderings of sewing machines and related products by industrial designers such as Henry Dreyfuss, Robert P. Gersin, Eliot Noyes, and Malcolm S. Park; by designers of Singer's in-house design department; and by consultants to the firm. Materials include decals, photographs, negatives, patents, and renderings and sketches. This collection documents the influence of industrial design on Singer sewing machines as well as other household products such as vacuum cleaners.
Scope and Contents:
The bulk of the collection consists of drawings by industrial designers such as Henry Dreyfuss, Robert P. Gersin, Eliot Noyes, and Malcolm Park; by designers of Singer's in-house design department; and by consultants to the firm. These materials show the influence of industrial design on Singer machines.
Series 1, Photographs, 1927-1979, is divided into three subseries: Subseries 1, Editorial Department, 1927-1979; Subseries 2, Competitors, undated; and Subseries 3, Miscellaneous, 1977 and undated.
Subseries 1, Editorial Department, 1927-1979, consists of camera-ready art presumably for catalogs and advertising created by the editorial department at Singer Manufacturing. The photographs are black-and-white (8" x 10") and depict "cut away" views of the internal workings of Singer sewing machines before the casing was put on the machine. When the machines are not Singer, it is noted. The model number is provided, and the photographs are arranged chronologically.
Subseries 2, Competitors, undated, consists of images depicting mostly competitor sewing machines that are mounted on pages with captions. The images are black-and-white (2" x 2") and include companies such as Adler, Bernina, Elgin, Juki, Meister, Necchi, Sewmaid, Veritas, and Zundapp. The series is arranged alphabetically by manufacturer name.
Subseries 3, Miscellaneous, 1977 and undated, consists of black-and-white and color photographs (8" x 10" or smaller) for the 560 machine and a sewing cabinet.
Series 2, Decalcomania, undated, consists of one album of decal samples and loose decal/transfer cards created for Singer sewing machines and other sewing machine companies. Decalcomania is a decorative technique by which engravings and prints are transferred to other materials, such as the body of a sewing machine. Today, the use of the word "decal" is more widely used.
Some of the decals are on tracing paper, tin, and poster board. Some are in color with floral designs, and the size and style of font vary. Other decals include patent marks, the name "Singer Manufacturing Company," "Singer," oil level, and there are custom decals for specific sewing machine companies such as the Camel Sewing Machine Company, Ltd.
The decals are arranged numerically by transfer numbers, and there are two distinct groups of decal design/transfer cards. One group is numbered 63 to 141 (not inclusive) with the majority of the designs in color; the other set of decal cards is arranged in an unbound portfolio book numbered 1 to 41. Many of the decal/transfer cards have additional information about which machine or class of machines the transfer was designed for. For example, transfer #316 was used for the 99-13 machine. Machine 99-13 is also labeled with a sticker titled "SD-37." Presumably this indicates that the decal was Singer design number 37. If a decal was cancelled this is noted with a date.
Series 3, Industrial Designers' Materials, 1936-1983, consists of industrial designers and is divided into twelve subseries: Subseries 1, Henry Dreyfuss Associates, 1964-1978; Subseries 2, Robert P. Gersin Associates, Inc., 1980-1983; Subseries 3, Industrial Design Group and Industrial Design Laboratory, 1970-1975; Subseries 4, Innovations and Development, Inc., circa 1977-1979; Subseries 5, Leo Jiranek, circa 1960-1964; Subseries 6, Monte L. Levin, 1961-1962; Subseries 7, Mezey Macowski, 1967-1969; Subseries 8, Eliot Noyes, 1969, 1978; Subseries 9, Malcolm S. Park, 1936-1978; Subseries 10, Schmitz, 1973; Subseries 11, Eric Schneider, 1980. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Subseries 1, Henry Dreyfuss Associates, 1964-1978, consists of storyboards and renderings (20" x 25" or smaller) in ink, colored pencils and crayon for sewing machines and sewing machine carrying cases. Many of the renderings are preliminary. The subseries is arranged sequentially by assigned drawings numbers designated "D." Drawing D18 is heavily annotated on the reverse side
Subseries 2, Robert P. Gersin Associates, Inc., 1980-1983, consists of twenty drawings mounted on foam core board for various sewing machine concepts from 1980-1983. Many of the drawings depict side and front elevations. Gersin (1929-1989) was an award-winning industrial designer. He founded Robert P. Gersin Associates, Inc., in 1959 and worked on a wide range of designs, including interiors, products and corporate identity programs. In 1984 the company designed the logotype and corporate identity program for Sears, Roebuck & Company, and in 1988 it designed the interior for Casual Corner stores.
Subseries 3, Industrial Design Group and Industrial Design Laboratory, 1970-1975, consists of renderings ( 20 1/2" x 26") and storyboards (15" x 20") created by the the Singer Technical Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The majority of the work is stamped with "Industrial Design Group" or "Industrial Design Laboratory." The storyboards consist of color photographs mounted to poster board and depict a variety of sewing machines, a hand stitcher, and electric pinking scissors. The majority of renderings are not attributed to a specific designer, but some were drawn by designer W. Current.
Subseries 4, Innovations and Development, Inc., circa 1977-1979, consists of renderings created by consultants to Singer Manufacturing of Fort Lee, New Jersey. The renderings are ink on tracing paper (19" x 24") and they are not numbered or dated.
Subseries 5, Leo Jiranek, circa 1960-1964, consists of three drawings (19 1/2" x 24") for a 1964 World's Fair house and World's Fair chair. Jiranek (1900-1990) was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He graduated from Princeton University in 1922 and went to work for Turner Construction Company. In 1924 he took over his father's furniture design business. Considered by many to be the "Dean of Furniture Designers," one of the industry's first freelancers, he contributed to more furniture companies than any other designer, including Magnavox, Thomasville, Ethan Allen, Kroehler, Haywood Wakefield, The Lane Co., Bassett, Broyhill and Garrison. In the 1960s, Jiranek founded and was president of the Jiranek School of Furniture Design and Technology in New York City.
Subseries 6, Monte L. Levin, 1961-1962, was an industrial designer who founded Monte Levin Associates in 1945. The renderings (18 1/2" x 22" or smaller) are ink on tracing paper and depict Singer sewing machine cases.
Subseries 7, Mezey Macowski, 1967-1969, consists of seven (14" x 16 1/2") ink- colored drawings depicting a sewing table.
Subseries 8, Eliot Noyes, 1969, 1978, consists of two colored ink on vellum renderings of electric scissors. Noyes (1910-1977) was an American architect and industrial designer who worked on projects for IBM. The renderings for Singer sewing machines (A-E) were done by Gordon Bruce while at Eliot Noyes Industrial Design, Inc.
Subseries 9, Malcolm S. Park, 1936-1978, consists of a 130-page portfolio depicting Park's (1905-1991)work as an industrial designer for Singer Manufacturing Company. The pages are 13" x 16" and materials are mounted on the pages with captions. In some instances, materials have come loose. The types of materials include, patents, patent drawings, ephemera, correspondence, renderings, advertising, photographs for sewing machines, sewing machine cabinets, irons, buttonholers, vacuum cleaners, floor polishers, timers, clocks, and stitching attachments.
Subseries 10, Schmitz, 1973, consists of one drawing (17 1/2" x 21") for a portable sewing machine called the Easy Egg.
Subseries 11, Eric Schneider, 1980, consists of six ink on tracing papers renderings (17" x 23") for sewing machines.
Subseries 12, Unknown Designers, undated, consists of two renderings (18" x 23") for sewing machines with parts labeled in German and renderings (12" x 16") depicting views of sewing systems, household items, and storage systems. Some of the items include sewing machines, vacuums, cash registers, canisters, intercoms, alarms, and fire and smoke detectors.
Series 4, Design Patents, 1936-1980, is divided into four subseries: Subseries 1, United States Design Patents, 1936-1980; and Subseries 2, Foreign Design Patents, 1961-1968. Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.
Subseries 1, United States Design Patents, 1936-1980 consists of design patents that were assigned to the Singer Manufacturing Company by the inventors, Adam Baker Barnhart, Herbert S. Barnhart, Henry Dreyfuss, Christian Julian Felix, Russell A. Fritts, Donald M. Genaro, Hans Hacklander, Lloyd G. Kent, Jr., Monte L. Levin, Abbot Lutz, Michael McCann, L.C. Marsac, Charles F. Neagle, Malcolm S. Park, W. J. Peets, Robert E. Redman, Edgar P. Turner, Julian U. Von der Lancken, Tobin Wolf, Thaddeus J. Zylbert.
The majority of the patents are in patent jackets which were maintained by the Singer Manufacturing Company Patent Department. Patent jackets or patent folders are typically pre-printed with standard information such as patent number, actions, references, assignment, application serial number, and fee paid. This permitted easier documentation for the patent department. The jackets contain correspondence with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, foreign patent and trademark offices, as well as the inventor/designer, company attorneys and other company officials; drawings; photographs; newspaper clippings, and a sample of embroidery stitching. The three-way folders (10" x 15") are designed to house all of the legal documentation about the patenting process. In some instances, patents were abandoned, and this is noted. Additional file jackets include those for foreign applications and patents corresponding with United States application serial numbers. These pre-printed jackets contain the names of countries (such as Great Britain, Brazil, Italy, Japan and Sweden) where Singer Manufacturing was filing for design protection.
The majority of the design patents are for sewing machines and sewing machine cases, but there are some designs for vacuum cleaners, electric scissors, an embroidery attachment, a floor polishing machine, a display stand for needles, and a statuette. For example, the statuette was used as an award in the Singer World Stylemaker Contest and was intended to represent anyone that a person desires as well as signifying the craft of home sewing with an unrolled bolt of cloth draped around the statuette. The United States Design Patents are arranged numerically by design patent number, and the foreign design patents are arranged alphabetically by country, then numerically by patent number.
Subseries 2, Foreign, 1961-1968, consists of foreign design patents from the Congo, England, France and Italy.
Series 5, Utility Patents for Henry Dreyfuss, 1961-1965, is divided into two subseries, Subseries 1, United States Utility Patents, 1964-1965 and Subseries 2, Foreign Utility Patents, 1961-1964. Utility patents are granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new, useful, and non-obvious process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. The United States and foreign utility patents are issued to industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss.
Series 6, Posters, 1985, consists of two posters from the National Museum of American History's exhibit titled "Industrial Design, An American Case History." The exhibit ran from July 24, 1985 to September 30, 1985.
Series 7, Miscellaneous, 1980, consists of a North Atlantic Consumer Products Group Research and Development Department report about the combination carrying case for 400/500K and 250/362m Series flat bed machines. The report contains project specifications and photographs.
The collections is divided into seven series.
Series 1, Photographs, 1927-1979
Subseries 1, Editorial Department, 1927-1979
Subseries 2, Competitors, undated
Subseries 3, Miscellaneous, 1977 and undated
Series 2, Decalcomania, undated
Series 3, Industrial Designers' Materials, 1936-1983
Subseries 1, Henry Dreyfuss Associates, 1962-1978
Subseries 2, Robert P. Gersin Associates, Inc., 1980-1983
Subseries 3, Industrial Design Group and Industrial Laboratory, 1970-1975
Subseries 4, Innovations and Development, Inc., circa 1977-1979
Subseries 5, Leo Jiranek, circa 1960-1964
Subseries 6, Monte L. Levin, 1961-1962
Subseries 7, Mezey Macowski, 1967-1969
Subseries 8, Eliot Noyes, 1969, 1978
Subseries 9, Malcom S. Park, 1936-1978
Subseries 10, Schmitz, 1973
Subseries 11, Eric Schneider, 1980
Subseries 12, Unknown designers, undated
Series 4, Design Patents, 1936-1980
Subseries 1, United States Design Patents, 1936-1980
Subseries 2, Foreign Design Patents, 1961-1968
Series 5, Utility Patents for Henry Dreyfuss, 1961-1965
Subseries 1, United States Utility Patents, 1964-1965
Subseries 2, Foreign Utility Patents, 1961-1964
Series 6, Posters, 1985
Series 7, Miscellaneous, 1970
Biographical / Historical:
In 1851, I.M. Singer and Company, with headquarters in New York, was founded by inventor Isaac Merrit Singer and businessman/lawyer Edward Clark. In 1863 the business was incorporated as the Singer Manufacturing Company. After 1867 the company became the dominant firm in the industry despite the fact that it sold more expensive products than any of its competitors. Business expanded in the United States and abroad while designers focused their efforts on making mechanical improvements in the machines in the last half of the nineteenth century. America's industrial design profession emerged during the Great Depression and began to influence the design of the sewing machine. Many compnaies mass-produced technological goods and designers began to play a crucial role in American industry. After the Stock Market crash of 1929 and during the Great Depression, goods were made to look more attractive and increase sales. Many firms, such as Singer Manufacturing Company, employed industrial designers as consultants. Other industrial designers established their own firms and agencies.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Sewing Machines (AC0060)
Landor Design Collection, circa 1930-1994 (AC0500)
Francis M. Mair Papers, circa 1938-1990 (AC0548)
Freda Diamond Collection, 1945-1984 (AC0616)
Lucian Bernhard Advertising Art Collection, 1920s-2000 (AC1161)
Materials in Other Organizations
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Belle Kogan papers, 1920-1986
Philip McConnell typescripts, [circa 1957]
Arthur J. Pulos papers, 1935-[circa 1980s] (bulk 1947-1960)
Oral history interview with Arthur J. Pulos, 1980 July 31-1982 December 5
Oral history interview with Wendell Castle, 1981 June 3-December 12
The Newberry Library, Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections
Singer Manufacturing Company Records, 1861-1871
Wisconsin Historical Society
Singer Manufacturing Company Records, 1850-circa 1975
The Singer Company of Fairfield, New Jersey donated the collection on July 17, 1985.
The collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.