Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Search Results

Collections Search Center
194 documents - page 1 of 10

Gene Davis papers

Creator:
Davis, Gene, 1920-1985  Search this
Names:
White House (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Baro, Gene  Search this
Colby, Carl  Search this
Davis, Douglas  Search this
Davis, Florence  Search this
Greenberg, Clement, 1909-1994  Search this
McGowin, Ed, 1938-  Search this
Naifeh, Steven, 1952-  Search this
Nordland, Gerald  Search this
North, Percy, 1945-  Search this
Seitz, William Chapin  Search this
Thomas, Alma  Search this
Wall, Donald  Search this
Extent:
17.7 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sound recordings
Transcripts
Photographs
Interviews
Video recordings
Date:
1920-2000
bulk 1942-1990
Summary:
The papers of the artist Gene Davis measure 17.7 linear feet and date from 1920-2000, with the bulk of materials dating from 1942-1990. Papers document Davis's personal life and his career as an artist and educator, as well as his career as a journalist in the 1940s and 1950s, through biographical materials, correspondence, interviews, business records, estate records, writings by and about Gene Davis, printed materials concerning Davis's art career, personal and art-related photographs, and artwork by Davis and others.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of the artist Gene Davis measure 17.7 linear feet and date from 1920-2000, with the bulk of materials dating from 1942-1990. Papers document Davis's personal life and his career as an artist and educator, and to a lesser degree his early career as a journalist in the 1940s and 1950s, through biographical materials, correspondence, interviews, business records, estate records, writings by and about Gene Davis, printed materials concerning Davis's art career, personal and art-related photographs, and artwork by Davis and others.

Biographical materials include birth and death certificates, awards, biographical narratives by Gene Davis and others, CVs, résumés, personal documents from Davis's family and childhood, documents related to his work as a White House correspondent, documentation related to his death and memorial service, and papers for the family pets. A video documentary about Davis by Carl Colby is found on one videocassette.

Correspondence is mainly of a professional nature, and correspondents include gallery and museum curators, private art collectors, publishers, fellow artists, art educators, academics, and students. Letters document exhibitions, sales, book projects, teaching jobs, visits to studios, local art community events in the Washington, D.C. area, and other projects. Significant correspondents include Gene Baro, Douglas Davis, Clement Greenberg, Gerald Nordland, William Seitz, Alma Thomas, and Donald Wall. Interviews and lectures include sound recordings and transcripts. Many of the interviews were broadcast or published. Also found is a single lecture by Davis given in 1969 at the National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, entitled "Contemporary Painting." Sound recordings are found for three of the interviews and for the lecture, on 4 sound reels and 1 sound cassette.

Business records include artwork documentation, price lists, sales records, contracts, financial and legal records, gallery and museum files documenting sales and exhibitions, records related to the construction of Davis's home studio in 1970, and a few teaching records. Estate records mainly reflect Florence Davis's efforts to document the works of her husband, and to manage their exhibition, promotion, and sale after his death in April 1985. Estate records include an inventory of artworks, documentation of gifts to museums, correspondence, legal, and financial records. Writings include notes, drafts of essays, artist statements, and articles by Davis, and many articles by others about Davis. Several of Davis's articles reflect specifically on the Washington, D.C. art scene. Also found are drafts of monographs on Davis including one by Donald Wall (1975) and one by Steven Naifeh (1982). Records of Naifeh's book also include photographs of all black and white and color plates from the published book. Among the writings are also notes and research files of Percy North, who worked on an update to Naifeh's 1982 bibliography after Davis's death.

Printed materials include annual reports of museums, published arts-related calendars, auction catalogs, brochures from organizations with which Davis had some affiliation, exhibition announcements and invitations, exhibition catalogs, magazine articles, newspaper clippings, newsletters, posters, press releases, and other published material. Photographs include personal photographs of Gene and Florence Davis and their families, portraits of Gene Davis, photographs of Gene Davis with artworks and working in the studio, Davis' art classes and students, installations of site-specific works, conceptual and video works, exhibition openings, and photographs of artwork, both installed in exhibitions and individually photographed. Found among the photographs are also four videocassettes documenting the Gene Davis retrospective as installed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art in 1987.

Artwork includes photographs, drawings, moving images, and documentation of conceptual art. Works by Davis include documentation of the 1969 "Giveaway" with Douglas Davis and Ed McGowin, "The Artist's Fingerprints Except for One which belongs to someone else," documentation of his "Air Displacement" happening, a short film entitled "Patricia," and a video entitled "Video Puzzle." Other moving images include four reels of film of Davis's stripe paintings, and other experiments with motion picture film and photographs.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 8 series.

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1930-1987 (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 1, 17)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1943-1990 (1.7 linear feet; Boxes 1-3)

Series 3: Interviews and Lectures, 1964-1983 (0.3 linear feet; Box 3)

Series 4: Business and Estate Records, 1942-1990 (1.6 linear feet; Boxes 3-5, 17, OV 20)

Series 5: Writings, 1944-1990 (2 linear feet; Boxes 5-6, 17, OV 19)

Series 6: Printed Material, 1942-1990 (5.5 linear feet; Boxes 7-11, 17-18, OV 20, FC 35-37)

Series 7: Photographs, 1920-2000 (3.8 linear feet; Boxes 11-15, 17, OV 19)

Series 8: Artwork, 1930-1985 (2.2 linear feet; Boxes 15-16, 18, FC 21-34)
Biographical / Historical:
Gene Davis (1920-1985) was a Washington, D.C.-based artist and educator who worked in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, collage, video, light sculpture, and conceptual art. Davis is best known for his vertical stripe paintings and his association with the Washington Color School.

Davis was born in 1920 in Washington, D.C. and began his career as a writer. In his twenties he wrote pulp stories and worked as a journalist, reporting for United Press International and serving as a White House correspondent for Transradio Press Service during the Truman administration. Later, he worked in public relations for the Automobile Association of America. A self-taught artist, Davis began painting while still working full-time as a writer, influenced by the prevailing abstract expressionist artists of the time, his frequent visits to the Corcoran Gallery and Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and by his friend and mentor, Jacob Kainen. His first one-man show was held in the lobby of the Dupont Theater in Washington in 1952. He had a drawing accepted in the Corcoran Area Show in 1953, and won several local art prizes in the 1950s. He began showing work regularly in galleries around Washington, such as the Watkins Gallery at American University, the Gres Gallery, and the Henri Gallery, and had solo exhibitions at Jefferson Place Gallery in 1959 and 1961. Many of the painters who made up what became known as the Washington Color School also showed there, including Kenneth Noland, Howard Mehring, and Sam Gilliam. In 1965, the Washington Gallery of Modern Art held a seminal exhibition entitled Washington Color Painters, which included Davis, Noland, Mehring, Morris Louis, Thomas Downing, and Paul Reed.

Davis began showing outside of Washington regularly in the 1960s, including the Poindexter and Fischbach galleries in New York City, and in several important group shows at museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He had three works shown in the 1964 exhibition Post-Painterly Abstraction, organized by the influential art critic Clement Greenberg at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In the late 1960s, he began teaching art classes at the Corcoran School, and spent the summer of 1969 as artist in residence at Skidmore College's "Summer in Experiment" program.

Davis experimented with form continuously throughout his career, including a period of conceptual work in the late 1960s. In 1969 he participated in the "Giveaway," organized by Douglas Davis and Ed McGowin, in which multiple copies of a Davis painting were given away to invited guests in a gesture intended to subvert the art market. Davis also began experimenting with scale, creating a series of tiny paintings he called "Micro-paintings," which were exhibited at Fischbach Gallery in 1968. Around this time he also began working with film and video, recruiting models from his art classes to enact tightly choreographed movement pieces that played with rhythm and interval. Convinced by a lawyer that his videos were a liability without having obtained releases from the models, Davis destroyed all but one of his video works. The surviving video, "Video Puzzle," shows a foreshortened view of a model on the floor of a gallery spelling out a statement by Clement Greenberg at predetermined intervals.

Davis made several large-scale site-specific works using the stripe motif in public places. The first of these was created in the Bal Harbour, Florida, Neiman Marcus department store in 1970. Later works included Franklin's Footpath, executed in the road leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1972, and Niagara (1979) at ArtPark in Lewistown, NY, promoted at the time as the largest painting in the world. Interior large-scale works were created twice at the Corcoran Gallery, with Magic Circle (1975) and Ferris Wheel (1982), both executed in the museum's rotunda. Black Yo-Yo was created for the Cranbrook Academy in 1980, and Sun Sonata (1983), an illuminated wall of colored liquid-filled tubes, was created as an architectural feature of the Muscarelle Museum of Art in Williamsburg, Virginia. Plans for an unexecuted work called "Grass Painting," for a site near the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., were exhibited in the 1974 "Art Now" festival.

In the late 1970s and 1980s Davis consistently exhibited his work in several solo gallery shows a year, and also had numerous solo exhibitions in major museums. A major exhibition, Recent Paintings, was organized by the Walker Art Center in 1978, and traveled to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1979. A drawing retrospective was held at the Brooklyn Museum of art in 1983, and the same year the Washington Project for the Arts organized an exhibition entitled Child and Man: A Collaboration, featuring drawings Davis made in response to childrens' drawings. Davis died suddenly in April 1985 at the age of 65, and a major retrospective of his work was held at the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art in 1987.
Related Materials:
Also found in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Gene Davis conducted by Estill Curtis Pennington on April 23, 1981. A transcript is available on the Archives of American Art website.
Provenance:
Donated 1981 by Gene Davis and 1986 by his wife, Florence. Additional material donated 1991 and 1993 from Smithsonian American Art Museum via a bequest to them from the Gene and Florence Davis estate. Much of the 1993 addition was assembled by art historian Percy North at the request of Florence Davis. An additional folder of photographs of Davis taken in 1969 but printed in 2000 was later added to the collection.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Rights:
The Gene Davis 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.
Occupation:
Reporters and reporting -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Video artists -- Washington, D.C.  Search this
Conceptual artists -- Washington, D.C  Search this
Painters -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Collagists -- Washington, D.C  Search this
Topic:
Color-field painting -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Artists' studios -- Photographs  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Transcripts
Photographs
Interviews
Video recordings
Citation:
Gene Davis papers, 1920-2000, bulk 1942-1990. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.davigene
See more items in:
Gene Davis papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-davigene
Online Media:

Apache Night Dancer

Culture/People:
Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache (New Mexico)  Search this
Artist/Maker:
Allan Houser (Allan Capron Houser/Allan C. Houser), Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache (New Mexico), 1914-1994  Search this
Previous seller:
Via Gambaro Studio Gallery  Search this
Previous owner:
Dr. Mathew Kent Wilson, Sr., Non-Indian, 1920-2000  Search this
Patricia R. Wakeling (Paddy Wakeling), Non-Indian, 1923-1916  Search this
Donor:
Patricia R. Wakeling (Paddy Wakeling), Non-Indian, 1923-1916  Search this
Honoree:
Dr. Mathew Kent Wilson, Sr., Non-Indian, 1920-2000  Search this
Title:
Apache Night Dancer
Object Name:
Painting
Media/Materials:
Paper, watercolor
Techniques:
Painted
Dimensions:
30.5 x 25.5 cm
Object Type:
Painting/Drawing/Print
Place:
Oklahoma; USA
Date created:
1952
Catalog Number:
25/8448
Barcode:
258448.000
See related items:
Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache (New Mexico)
Painting/Drawing/Print
On View:
NMAI, New York, NY: Stretching the Canvas, Training Ground
Data Source:
National Museum of the American Indian
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ws66be614e7-b5fb-4701-b10b-4c1a9487f406
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:NMAI_274390
Online Media:

Singer Industrial Design Collection

Creator:
Singer Manufacturing Company  Search this
Singer Company (The), (Fairfield, New Jersey)  Search this
Names:
I.M. Singer & Company (Location of Meeting--New York, New York; )  Search this
Clark, Edward, 1850s-1860s  Search this
Singer, Isaac Merrit, fl. 1850s-1860s  Search this
Extent:
11 Cubic feet (3 oversize folders, 20 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Design drawings
Date:
1927-1983
bulk 1960-1977
Summary:
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.
Arrangement:
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.
Related Materials:
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

Smithsonian Institution Archives

Singer Sewing Machine Advertising Leaflets, Smithsonian and Washington, D.C., Images, undated (SIA Acc. 99-056)

Cooper Hewitt Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Henry Dreyfuss Collection, 1927-1972

Hagely Museum and Archives

Singer Company Records, 1860-1985

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
Provenance:
The Singer Company of Fairfield, New Jersey donated the collection on July 17, 1985.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Industrial design -- 1927-1983  Search this
Genre/Form:
Design drawings -- 20th century
Citation:
Singer Industrial Design Collection, 1927-1983, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0169
See more items in:
Singer Industrial Design Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0169
Online Media:

Old Spanish square-rigged ship

Graphic artist:
West Virginia Pulp and Paper Co.  Search this
Physical Description:
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 30.4 cm x 22.6 cm; 11 31/32 in x 8 29/32 in
Object Name:
Print
Object Type:
Halftone
Other Terms:
Print; Halftone
Place made:
United States: New York, New York
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Date made:
ca 1920
20th century
ID Number:
2010.0025.46
Catalog number:
2010.0025.46
Accession number:
2010.0025
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a5-ea01-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_792952

Old Plaza Church, Los Angeles, California

Graphic artist:
Van Ornum Colorprint Co.  Search this
Van Ornum Colorprint Co.  Search this
Physical Description:
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 9.5 cm x 14 cm; 3 3/4 in x 5 1/2 in
Object Name:
Print
Object Type:
Halftone
Other Terms:
Print; Halftone
Place made:
United States: California, Los Angeles
Associated place:
United States: California
Date made:
1908-1921
early 20th century
ID Number:
1986.0639.0469
Accession number:
1986.0639
Catalog number:
86.639.0469
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a6-6500-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_826755

Postcard showing "Santa Barbara Mission, Santa Barbara, California"

Graphic artist:
Van Ornum Colorprint Co.  Search this
Object Name:
Print
Object Type:
Halftone
Other Terms:
Print; Halftone
Place made:
United States: California, Los Angeles
Associated place:
United States: California
Date made:
1908-1921
early 20th century
ID Number:
1986.0639.0486
Accession number:
1986.0639
Catalog number:
86.639.0486
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a6-4e90-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_826772

Postcard showing "San Juan Capistrano Mission, Capistrano, California"

Graphic artist:
Van Ornum Colorprint Co.  Search this
Object Name:
Print
Object Type:
Halftone
Other Terms:
Print; Halftone
Place made:
United States: California, Los Angeles
Associated place:
United States: California
Date made:
1908-1921
early 20th century
ID Number:
1986.0639.0489
Accession number:
1986.0639
Catalog number:
86.639.0489
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a6-4e93-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_826775

Postcard showing "Mission Dolores, San Francisco, California"

Graphic artist:
Van Ornum Colorprint Co.  Search this
Object Name:
Print
Object Type:
Halftone
Other Terms:
Print; Halftone
Place made:
United States: California, Los Angeles
Associated place:
United States: California
Date made:
1908-1921
early 20th century
ID Number:
1986.0639.0490
Accession number:
1986.0639
Catalog number:
86.639.0490
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a6-4e94-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_826776

Postcard showing "San Juan Mission and Church, Monterey, California"

Graphic artist:
Van Ornum Colorprint Co.  Search this
Object Name:
Print
Object Type:
Halftone
Other Terms:
Print; Halftone
Place made:
United States: California, Los Angeles
Associated place:
United States: California
Date made:
1908-1921
early 20th century
ID Number:
1986.0639.0495
Accession number:
1986.0639
Catalog number:
86.639.0495
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a6-4e98-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_826781

2575 - House of Four Winds, Monterey, California

Graphic artist:
Mitchell, Edward H.  Search this
Mitchell, Edward H.  Search this
Physical Description:
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 9.5 cm x 14 cm; 3 3/4 in x 5 1/2 in
Object Name:
Print
Object Type:
Halftone
Other Terms:
Print; Halftone
Place made:
United States: California, San Francisco
Associated place:
United States: California
Date made:
1880-1920
early 20th century
ID Number:
1986.0639.0541
Accession number:
1986.0639
Catalog number:
86.639.0541
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a6-704b-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_826824

160 - Old Custom House, Monterey, California

Graphic artist:
Mitchell, Edward H.  Search this
Physical Description:
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 9.5 cm x 14 cm; 3 3/4 in x 5 1/2 in
Object Name:
Print
Object Type:
Halftone
Other Terms:
Print; Halftone
Place made:
United States: California, San Francisco
Associated place:
United States: California
Date made:
1880-1920
early 20th century
ID Number:
1986.0639.0581
Accession number:
1986.0639
Catalog number:
86.639.0581
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a6-6339-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_826864

267 - A Glimpse of Old Monterey, California

Graphic artist:
Mitchell, Edward H.  Search this
Mitchell, Edward H.  Search this
Physical Description:
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 9.5 cm x 14 cm; 3 3/4 in x 5 1/2 in
Object Name:
Print
Object Type:
Halftone
Other Terms:
Print; Halftone
Place made:
United States: California, San Francisco
Associated place:
United States: California
Date made:
1880-1920
early 20th century
ID Number:
1986.0639.0582
Accession number:
1986.0639
Catalog number:
86.639.0582
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a6-633a-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_826865

268--Monterey, California, in 1842 "Before the Gringo Came"

Graphic artist:
Mitchell, Edward H.  Search this
Mitchell, Edward H.  Search this
Mitchell, Edward H.  Search this
Physical Description:
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 9.5 cm x 14 cm; 3 3/4 in x 5 1/2 in
Object Name:
Print
Print
postcard
Object Type:
Halftone
Other Terms:
Print; Print; Halftone; Halftone
Place made:
United States: California, San Francisco
Associated place:
United States: California
Date made:
1880-1920
early 20th century
ID Number:
1986.0639.0587
Accession number:
1986.0639
Catalog number:
86.639.0587
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a6-633e-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_826870

728. San Carlos Church, Monterey, California

Graphic artist:
Mitchell, Edward H.  Search this
Mitchell, Edward H.  Search this
Physical Description:
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 9.5 cm x 14 cm; 3 3/4 in x 5 1/2 in
Object Name:
Print
Object Type:
Halftone
Other Terms:
Print; Halftone
Place made:
United States: California, San Francisco
Associated place:
United States: California
Date made:
1880-1920
early 20th century
ID Number:
1986.0639.0589
Accession number:
1986.0639
Catalog number:
86.639.0589
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ac-7f2b-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_826872

Esphyr Slobodkina papers

Creator:
Slobodkina, Esphyr, 1908-2002  Search this
Bolotowsky, Ilya, 1907-1981  Search this
Names:
American Abstract Artists  Search this
Eckstein, Ruth, 1916-  Search this
Kelpe, Paul, 1902-1985  Search this
Morris, George L. K., 1905-1975  Search this
Rabkin, Leo  Search this
Tedlie, Harry  Search this
Extent:
1.9 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Date:
circa 1925-1995
Summary:
The papers of painter, sculptor, author, and illustrator Esphyr Slobodkina measure 1.9 linear feet and date from circa 1925 to 1995. Found within the papers are personal and professional correspondence, including letters from Ilya Bolotowsky, George L.K. Morris, and Paul Kelpe; writings, including a copy of the autobiography Notes for a Biographer (vol. 1); printed materials; photographs; and material on the American Abstract Artists, including administrative records, business correspondence, and publications.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of painter, sculptor, author, and illustrator Esphyr Slobodkina measure 1.9 linear feet and date from circa 1925 to 1995. Found within the papers are personal and professional correspondence, including letters from Ilya Bolotowsky, George L.K. Morris, and Paul Kelpe; writings, including a copy of the autobiography Notes for a Biographer (vol. 1); printed materials; photographs; and material on the American Abstract Artists, including administrative records, business correspondence, and publications.

Correspondence is primarily with Slobodkina's family, friends, and business associates. The series includes significant correspondence from her first husband, Ilya Bolotowsky, as well as abstract artists George L.K. Morris, Paul Kelpe, Ruth Eckstein, Leo Rabkin, and Harry Tedlie. The series also includes correspondence regarding her published works.

Writings consist of 3 essays by Slobodkina on abstract art, the autobiography Notes for a Biographer (vol. 1), the edited folio Ilya Bolotowsky, and a small notebook kept by Ilya Bolotowsky during the 1920s-30s.

Printed material includes clippings; samples of announcements and cards designed by Slobodkina; exhibition announcements and catalogs; and press releases.

Photographs are of Slobodkina and her paintings and sculptures, as well as photographs of artwork by other abstract artists.

American Abstract Artists' records includes administrative material, correspondence, writings, selected exhibitions, and printed material dating from 1936 to 1996.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 5 series.

Series 1: Correspondence, 1934-1992 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1)

Series 2: Writings, circa 1920-1985 (6 folders; Box 1)

Series 3: Printed material, circa 1939-1994 (7 folders; Box 1, OV 4)

Series 4: Photographs, circa 1925-1970 (3 folders; Box 1)

Series 5: American Abstract Artists, circa 1936-1995 (0.9 linear feet, Box 1-3, OV 4)
Biographical / Historical:
Painter, sculptor, author, and illustrator Esphyr Slobodkina (1908-2002) lived and worked in New York City, Great Neck, and Long Island, New York and was known for her abstract art and her children's books, including the seminal Caps For Sale.

Slobodkina was born in Chelyabinsk, Siberia to Solomon Slobodkin and his wife, Itta Agranovich. After the Russian Revolution and Civil War of 1917-1918, her family immigrated to Harbin, Manchuria where her father found work with Standard Oil and her mother contributed to the family's finances by working as a dressmaker. After graduating from high school in 1927, Slobodkina immigrated to the United States to join her brother in New York City where she enrolled at the National Academy of Design.

At the Academy, Slobodkina met her future husband, the artist and fellow Russian émigré Ilya Bolotowsky. In 1936, they became founding members of the American Abstract Artists, an artist run organization that worked to advance abstract art at a time when few opportunities to exhibit their works existed. She served as the organization's first secretary and later served as treasurer, president, and institutional bibliographer.

In 1937, Slobodkina met the children's author Margaret Wise Brown. After seeing her work, Brown invited Slobodkina to illustrate The Little Fireman, the first of their many collaborations together. In 1940, Slobodkina's first published book, Caps For Sale, was released and has remained in print for over 70 years. It won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 and is considered a classic of children's literature.

Slobodkina and Bolotowsky divorced in 1938, after which she continued to produce abstract mixed media paintings and sculptures. Her first major one-person show was organized by the gallery owner A.E. Gallatin in 1940. Through the 1940s and into 1970s, Slobodkina regularly contributed to group exhibitions and her works are owned by numerous institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and Hillwood Art Museum.

In addition to publishing children's books, Slobodkina authored three volumes of her autobiography, Notes for a Biographer (1976-1983) and edited American Abstract Artists: Its Publications, Catalogs, and Membership (1979) and the folio Ilya Bolotwosky (1985). Active until the end of her life, she oversaw the production of musical audio recordings for her 20 children's books well into her 80s, and at the age of 90, designed a museum financed through the Slobodkina Foundation. She died at her home in Glen Head, Long Island in 2002.
Related Materials:
The Archives also holds the American Abstract Artists records.
Separated Materials:
The Archives of American Art also holds materials lent for microfilming (N70-61) including a travel album, printed material, notes, McDowell colony correspondence, and an American Abstract Artists financial ledger. Lents materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.

Additionally, 69 rolled drawings on tracing paper were transferred to Hillwood Art Museum in 2006.
Provenance:
Esphyr Slobodkina loaned a portion of her papers for microfilming and donated material in 1970. She gave additional papers between 1995 and 1996.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Rights:
The Esphyr Slobodkina 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.
Occupation:
Painters -- New York (State)  Search this
Topic:
Sculptors -- New York (State)  Search this
Women artists -- New York  Search this
Authors -- New York  Search this
Illustrators -- New York (State)  Search this
Painting, Abstract -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Citation:
Esphyr Slobodkina papers, circa 1925-1995. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.slobesph
See more items in:
Esphyr Slobodkina papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-slobesph

CTA Sign

Physical Description:
wood; paint (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 98.5 cm x 152.5 cm x 2.5 cm; 38 3/4 in x 60 1/16 in x in
Object Name:
Sign
sign
Used:
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Date made:
1920s
ca 1920s
Used date:
ca 1920-2000
Credit Line:
Chicago Transit Authority
ID Number:
2003.0074.15
Accession number:
2003.0074
Catalog number:
2003.0074.15
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Transportation, Railroad
America on the Move
Exhibition:
America On The Move
Exhibition Location:
National Museum of American History
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ac-5c2c-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_1340601

Railroad Trade Literature Collection

Extent:
76 Boxes
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Trade literature
Manuals
Pamphlets
Magazines (periodicals)
Date:
1861-1994
Summary:
The collection documents various aspects of railroad companies through pamphlets; trade catalogs; operating and service manuals, especially for railroad equipment; specifications; magazines and reprints; bulletins, and articles.
Arrangement note:
Collection is arranged into one series. Materials are arranged alphabetically.
Provenance:
Unknown.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Railroad companies  Search this
Railroads -- 19th century  Search this
Railroads -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Trade literature -- 1920-2000
Manuals
Pamphlets
Magazines (periodicals) -- 20th century
Citation:
Railroad Trade Literature Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1136
See more items in:
Railroad Trade Literature Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1136

Iowa Button Industry Collection

Creator:
Automatic Button Company.  Search this
American Pearl Button Company.  Search this
Claus Schmarje Button Company.  Search this
Barry Manufacturing Company.  Search this
Schmarje, Claus  Search this
Sessler, Mary Alice  Search this
U.S. Button Company.  Search this
Weber and Sons Button Company.  Search this
Perkins Freshwater Pearl Products, Inc.  Search this
McKee Button Company.  Search this
Schmarje, Clarence  Search this
Ronda Button Company.  Search this
Hawkeye Pearl Button Company.  Search this
Hahn, Bernard  Search this
J & K Button Company  Search this
Iowa Button Company.  Search this
Extent:
13 Cubic feet (55 boxes, 4 map folders)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Trade literature
Videotapes
Commercial catalogs
Correspondence
Clippings
Photographs
Price lists
Account books
Audiotapes
Place:
Muscatine (Iowa)
Iowa -- Button industry
Date:
1898 - 1993
Summary:
Collection documents the manufacture of both freshwater pearl and plastic buttons in Muscatine, Iowa, including at least 12 different companies from primarily 1925 to the 1960s.
Scope and Contents:
Collection documents the manufacture of both freshwater pearl and plastic buttons in Muscatine, Iowa, including at least 12 different companies. The records, primarily 1925-1960s, with a few items from 1993 production, include corporate financial records, wage and employment statistics, sales and purchase data, photographs, correspondence, catalogs, and publications. Some records document the Barry Manufacturing Company, a machine tool company which specialized in designing and producing the unique machinery needed for this industry; also background material that places the corporate records into the historical context of the button industry in Muscatine.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 14 series.

Series 1: Historical and Background Materials, 1898-1990

Series 2: American Pearl Button Company, undated

Series 3: Automatic Button Company, 1937, 1965

Series 4: Barry Manufacturing Company/The Barry Company, 1890-1980

Series 5: Hawkeye Pearl Button Company, 1914-1968

Series 6: Iowa Pearl Button Company, 1955

Series 7: J & K Button Company, 1993

Series 8: McKee Button Company, 1988

Series 9: Muscatine Pearl Works, 1944-1947

Series 10: Perkins Freshwater Pearl Products, 1944-1966

Series 11: =Rhonda Button Company, 1946-1968

Series 12: Claus Schmarje Button Works, 1914-1941

Series 13: US Button Company, 1915

Series 14: Weber and Sons Button Company, 1900-1976
Biographical / Historical:
Muscatine, Iowa was the primary American manufacturing source for mother-of-pearl buttons made from Mississippi River shellfish, 1890s-1960s. During the industry's peak, there were some 53 small firms making pearl buttons in the area. In the 1930s some of these firms began experimenting with plastics as a substitute for the dwindling supply of shellfish. Several firms successfully converted to plastics and the city remains a center for plastic button manufacture today.

This unique industry drew upon natural resources to provide employment for almost an entire city (Muscatine is still known as the "Pearl City"). The mass production of low-cost buttons was crucial to the success of ready-made clothing and the development of the modern clothing trade. The industry was also involved in early work by American manufacturers to develop synthetic materials to replace increasingly scarce natural resources.
Provenance:
The collection was donated by Mary Alice Sessler, Weber and Sons Button Company, Bernard Hahn.,J & K Button Company (November 19, 1993); and Clarence Schmarje (November 19, 1993).
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Wages -- Button industry  Search this
Buttons  Search this
Mollusks  Search this
Mother-of-pearl  Search this
Crustacea  Search this
Pearl button industry -- Iowa  Search this
Plastics  Search this
Button industry workers  Search this
Button industry -- Iowa  Search this
Genre/Form:
Trade literature -- 1920-2000
Videotapes
Commercial catalogs -- 1920-2000
Correspondence -- 20th century
Clippings -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Price lists
Account books -- 20th century
Audiotapes
Citation:
Iowa Button Industry Collection, ca. 1920s-1993, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0504
See more items in:
Iowa Button Industry Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0504

Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials

Creator:
Jeffers, Grace  Search this
Formica Corporation.  Search this
Names:
Faber, Herbert A.  Search this
Loewy, Raymond  Search this
O'Conor, Daniel J.  Search this
Stevens, Brooks  Search this
Extent:
18 Cubic feet (59 boxes, 11 oversize folders )
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Scripts (documents)
Videotapes
Posters
Samples
Advertisements
Brochures
Blueprints
Photographs
Newsletters
Exhibition catalogs
Catalogs
Correspondence
Date:
1913-2003
Summary:
The Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials consists of textual files, photographs, slides, negatives, drawings, blueprints, posters, advertisements, product brochures, newsletters, and informational pamphlets documenting the history of the Formica Corporation and the use of Formica brand plastic laminate.
Scope and Contents:
The Formica Collection, 1913-2003, consists of textual files, photographs, photo slides, drawings, blueprints, posters, advertisements, product brochures, informational pamphlets, and research notes documenting the history of the Formica Corporation and the use of Formica brand plastic laminate.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into ten series.

Series 1: Corporate Records, 1920-1992, 2003

Subseries 1.1: Annual reports, 1949, 1966, 1988

Subseries 1.2: Correspondence and company identity, 1920-1988

Subseries 1.3: Corporation histories and timelines, 1949-1991, undated

Subseries 1.4: Newspaper clippings and articles, 1934-2003

Subseries 1.5: Awards, 1940s-1987

Subseries 1.6: Patent information, 1925-1994

Subseries 1.7: Photographs, 1927-1966

Series 2: Personnel Records, 1943-1992

Series 3: Newsletters, Magazines, and Press Releases, 1942-1990

Subseries 3.1: Newsletters, 1942-1988

Subseries 3.2: Press releases, 1973-1990

Series 4: Product Information, 1948-1994

Series 5: Advertising and sales materials, 1913-2000

Subseries 5.1: Advertising materials, 1913-2000

Subseries 5.2: Sales materials, 1922-1993

Series 6: Subject Files, circa 1945, 1955-1991, 2002

Series 7: Exhibits, 1981-1994

Series 8: Grace Jeffers Research Materials, 1987-1997

Series 9: Audio Visual Materials, 1982-1995, undated

Series 10: Martin A. Jeffers Materials, 1963-1999

Subseries 10.1: Background Materials, 1965-1999

Subseries 10.2: Employee Benefits, 1963-1998

Subseries 10.3: Product Information, [1959?]-1997

Subseries 10.4: Advertising and Sales Records, 1987-1999
Biographical / Historical:
Since its founding in 1913, the history of the Formica Company has been marked by a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. The history begins with the discovery of Formica by two men who envisioned the plastic laminate as breakthrough insulation for motors. Later, Formica became a ubiquitous surfacing material used by artists and architects of post-modern design. The various applications of the plastic laminate during the twentieth century give it a prominent role in the history of plastics, American consumerism, and American popular culture.

The Formica Company was the brainchild of Herbert A. Faber and Daniel J. O'Conor, who met in 1907 while both were working at Westinghouse in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. O'Conor, head of the process section in the Research Engineering Department, had been experimenting with resins, cloth, paper, and a wide array of solvents in an effort to perfect a process for making rigid laminate sheets from Kraft paper and liquid Bakelite. O'Conor produced the first laminate sheet at Westinghouse by winding and coating paper on a mandrel, slitting the resulting tube, and flattening it on a press. The finished product was a laminated sheet with the chemical and electrical properties of Bakelite that were cut into various shapes and sizes. O'Conor applied for a patent on February 1, 1913, but it was not issued until November 12, 1918 (US Patent 1,284,432). Since the research was done on behalf of Westinghouse, the company was assigned the patent, and O'Conor was given one dollar, the customary amount that Westinghouse paid for the rights to employees' inventions.

Herbert Faber, Technical Sales Manager of insulating materials, was excited about O'Conor's discovery. Faber saw limitless possibilities for the new material. However, he quickly became frustrated by Westinghouse's policy limiting the sale of the laminate to its licensed distributors. After failing to persuade Westinghouse to form a division to manufacture and market the new material, Faber and O'Conor created their own company. On May 2, 1913, the first Formica plant opened in Cincinnati, Ohio. On October 15, 1913, the business incorporated as the Formica Insulation Company with Faber as president and treasurer and O'Conor as vice-president and secretary. The company began producing insulation parts used in place of or "for mica," the costly mineral that had been used in electrical insulation.

Like most new companies, Formica had modest beginnings. Faber and O'Conor faced the challenge of looking for investors who would let them maintain control over the company. Finally, they met J. G. Tomluin, a lawyer and banker from Walton, Kentucky, who invested $7,500 for a one-third share in the Formica Company. Renting a small space in downtown Cincinnati, Faber and O'Conor began work. The company's equipment list consisted of a 35-horsepower boiler, a small gas stove, and a variety of homemade hand screw presses. By September 1913, Tomluin had brought in two more partners, David Wallace and John L. Vest. With the added capital, O'Conor, Faber, and Formica's eighteen employees began producing automobile insulation parts for Bell Electric Motor, Allis Chalmers, and Northwest Electric.

Initially, the Formica Company only made insulation rings and tubes for motors. However, by July 4, 1914, the company obtained its first press and began to produce flat laminate sheets made from Redmenol resin. Business gradually grew, and by 1917 sales totaled $75,000. Fueled by World War I, Formica's business expanded to making radio parts, aircraft pulleys, and timing gears for the burgeoning motor industry. In the years that followed, Formica products were in high demand as laminate plastics replaced older materials in washers, vacuum cleaners, and refrigerators. By 1919, the Formica Company required larger facilities and purchased a factory in Cincinnati.

During this time, patent battles and legal suits emerged to challenge Formica's success. On June 11, 1919, Westinghouse sued Formica for patent infringement on its laminated gears; Formica won. Later that year, Westinghouse brought two new lawsuits against Formica. The first was for a patent infringement on the production of tubes, rods, and molded parts; the second was over an infringement based on a 1913 patent assigned to Westinghouse through O'Conor. Formica prevailed in both suits.

Legal battles did not deter the company. Having to defend itself against a giant corporation gave Formica a reputation as a scrappy contender. Finally, Faber and O'Conor made a quantum leap in 1927, when the company was granted a U.S. patent for a phenolic laminate utilizing lithographed wood grains of light color, forming an opaque barrier sheet which blocks out the dark interior of the laminate. In 1931, the company received two more patents for the preparation of the first all paper based laminate and for the addition of a layer of aluminum foil between the core and the surface, making the laminate cigarette-proof. These patents would allow Formica to move from a company dealing primarily with industrial material to the highly visible arena of consumer goods.

In 1937, Faber had a severe heart attack which limited his activity within the company. O'Conor continued as president, encouraging new product lines, including Realwood, as a laminate with genuine wood veneer mounted on a paper lamination with a heat-reactive binder. With the introduction of Realwood and its derivatives, manufacturers started using Formica laminate for tabletops, desks, and dinette sets. By the early forties, sales of Formica laminate were over 15 million dollars. The final recipe for decorative laminate was perfected in 1938, when melamine resins were introduced. Melamine was clear, extremely hard, and resistant to stains, heat, light, less expensive than phenolic resins. It also made possible laminates of colored papers and patterns.

Due to World War II, Formica postponed the manufacturing of decorative laminate sheets. Instead, the company made a variety of war-time products ranging from airplane propellers to bomb buster tubes.

The post-World War II building boom fueled the decorative laminate market and ushered in what would come to be known as the golden age for Formica. The company, anticipating the demand for laminate, acquired a giant press capable of producing sheets measuring thirty by ninety-six inches for kitchen countertops. Between 1947 and 1950, more than 2 million new homes were designed with Formica brand laminate for kitchens and bathrooms.

Formica's advertising campaigns, initially aimed at industry, were transformed to speak to the new decorative needs of consumer society, in particular the American housewife. Formica hired design consultants, Brooks Stevens, and, later, Raymond Loewy who launched extensive advertising campaigns. Advertising themes of durability, cleanliness, efficiency, and beauty abound in promotional material of this time. Advertisers promised that the plastic laminate, known as "the wipe clean wonder," was resistant to dirt, juices, jams, alcohol stains, and cigarette burns. Atomic patterns and space-age colors, including Moonglo, Skylark, and Sequina, were introduced in homes, schools, offices, hospitals, diners, and restaurants across America.

The post-war period was also marked by expansion, specifically with the establishment of Formica's first international markets. In 1947, Formica signed a licensing agreement with the British firm the De La Rue Company of London for the exclusive manufacture and marketing of decorative laminates outside North America, and in South America and the Pacific Basin. In 1948, Formica changed its name from the Formica Insulation Company to the Formica Company. In 1951, Formica responded to growing consumer demand by opening a million square foot plant in Evendale, Ohio, devoted to the exclusive production of decorative sheet material. In 1956, the Formica Company became the Formica Corporation, a subsidiary of American Cyanamid Company. A year later, the international subsidiaries that Formica formed with De La Rue Company of London were replaced by a joint company called Formica International Limited.

The plastic laminate was not merely confined to tabletops and dinette sets. Formica laminate was used for skis, globes, and murals. Moreover, well-known artists and architects used the decorative laminate for modernist furniture and Art Deco interiors. In 1960, Formica's Research and Development Design Center was established, adjacent to the Evendale plant, to develop uses for existing laminate products. In 1966, the company opened the Sierra Plant near Sacramento, California. Such corporate expansion enabled Formica to market its laminates beyond the traditional role as a countertop surface material.

In 1974, Formica established its Design Advisory Board (DAB), a group of leading designers and architects. DAB introduced new colors and patterns of laminate that gained popularity among artists and interior designers in the 1980s. In 1981, DAB introduced the Color Grid, a systematic organization of Formica laminate arranged by neutrals and chromatics. The Color Grid was described as the first and only logically arranged collection of color in the laminate industry. DAB also developed the Design Concepts Collection of premium solid and patterned laminates to serve the needs of contemporary interior designers.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the corporation continued to produce laminates for interior designers, artists, and architects. In 1982, Formica introduced COLORCORE, the first solid-color laminate. Due to its relatively seamless appearance, COLORCORE was adopted by artists for use in furniture, jewelry, and interior design. The introduction of COLORCORE also marked the emergence of a wide variety of design exhibitions and competitions sponsored by the Formica Corporation. In 1985, Formica Corporation became independent and privately held. Formica continues to be one of the leading laminate producers in the world with factories in the United States, England, France, Spain, Canada, and Taiwan.

For additional information on the history of the Formica Corporation, see:

DiNoto, Andrea. Art Plastic: Designed for Living. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985.

Fenichell, Stephen. Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century. New York: Harper/Collins, 1996.

Jeffers Grace. 1998. Machine Made Natural: The Decorative Products of the Formica Corporation, 1947-1962. Master's thesis. Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts.

Lewin, Susan Grant, ed. Formica & Design: From Counter Top to High Art. New York: Rizzoli, 1991.
Related Materials:
Materials at the Archives Center

Leo Baekeland Papers, 1881-1968 (AC0005)

DuPont Nylon Collection, 1939-1977 (AC0007)

J. Harry DuBois Collection on the History of Plastics, circa 1900-1975 (AC0008)

Earl Tupper Papers, circa 1914-1982 (AC0470)

The Division of Medicine and Science holds artifacts related to this collection. See accession # 1997.0319 and #1997.3133.
Provenance:
This collection was assembled by Grace Jeffers, historian of material culture, primarily from materials given to her by Susan Lewin, Head of Formica's New York design and publicity office when the office closed in 1995. The collection was donated to the Archives Center by Grace Jeffers in September 1996.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Plastics industry and trade  Search this
Plastics -- 1920-2000  Search this
Plastics as art material -- 1920-2000  Search this
Plastics in interior design -- 1920-2000  Search this
advertising -- plastic industry -- 1920-2000  Search this
Plastic jewelry -- 1920-2000  Search this
Laminated plastics -- 1920-2000  Search this
Exhibitions -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
House furnishings -- 1920-2000 -- United States  Search this
Housewives as consumers -- 1920-2000  Search this
Electronic insulators and insulation -- Plastics -- 1920-2000  Search this
Inventions -- 1920-2000 -- United States  Search this
Women in advertising  Search this
Women in popular culture -- 1920-2000  Search this
Genre/Form:
Scripts (documents)
Videotapes
Posters -- 20th century
Samples -- 1920-2000
Advertisements
Brochures
Blueprints -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Newsletters -- 20th century
Exhibition catalogs
Catalogs
Catalogs -- 1920-2000
Correspondence -- 20th century
Citation:
Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0565
See more items in:
Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0565
Online Media:

Lillian Kiesler papers

Collection Creator:
Kiesler, Lillian, 1910?-2001  Search this
Extent:
(Box 1-39, 47-52, OV 53-55; 41.1 linear feet, ER01; 0.001 GB)
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1910s-2003
Scope and Contents note:
Series 1 documents Lillian Kiesler's personal life and professional career as an artist, actor, teacher, arts benefactor and promoter of Frederick Kiesler's legacy. Biographical material (Subseries 1.1) includes diaries, address books, calendars and appointment books, mailing lists, guest lists, identification, medical records, obituaries, and personal writings by Lillian Kiesler and others. Lillian Kiesler's correspondence (Subseries 1.2) is extensive and primarily personal in nature, including letters and greeting cards from Etel Adnan, Alcopley, Fritz Bultman, Steve Buscemi, Mike Diamond, Burgoyne Diller, Lucia Dlugoszewski, Piero Dorazio, Jean Dubuffet, Jay Gottlieb, Erick Hawkins, Burgess Meredith, Henry Miller, James Purdy, and Herrel Thomas. There is some business correspondence with museums, galleries, and foundations, including John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The University of Iowa Museum of Art, and Erick Hawkins Dance Foundation.

Legal and financial files (Subseries 1.3) are related to Lillian Kiesler's estate and finances such as burial plans and her will. Teaching files (Subseries 1.4) include teaching plans and reference materials, essays, pamphlets, class lists, correspondence from schools, student artwork and essay assignments, notebooks, writings on teaching, and a book of weaving samples. Also included are writings about teaching art and lesson plans by New York University professor Chandler Montgomery.

Exhibition and performance files (Subseries 1.5) contain correspondence, photographs, artwork, printed materials, scripts, rehearsal schedules, reviews, monographs and notes related to Kiesler's exhibitions and peformances dating from the 1970s-2001. Among the directors, artists and writers found are Jo Andres, Steve Buscemi, Cindy Lugar, Tim Miller and James Purdy. Artwork (Subseries 1.6) contains original drawings, sketches, photographs and notes by Lillian Kiesler and others, including photographs by Bob Del Fredici and drawings by Piero Dorazio. Subject files (Subseries 1.7) include collected materials about artists, friends, colleagues, performances, and organizations in which Lillian Kiesler supported, such as the Anthology Film Archives. Printed material (Subseries 1.8) includes collected postcards, magazines and magazine articles about art and performance, newspaper clippings about fellow artists, invitations and announcements, and exhibition catalogs, including several signed exhibition catalogs and a reprint article inscribed by Alcopley. Lillian Kiesler's library (Subseries 1.9) includes numerous monographs written by friends or about friends, most with inscriptions by authors. Found here are books inscribed by Max Weiler and Piero Dorazio, an inscribed first edition of Henry Miller's Black Spring (1936), and a 1937 monograph by Harry Holtzman titled American Abstract Artists.

The Papers Related to Frederick Kiesler (Subseries 1.10) primarily were created or compiled by Lillian Kiesler and document Frederick Kiesler's legacy as an architect, sculptor, and set designer. It includes biographical material, correspondence, inventory lists, business and financial records, exhibition files, transcribed and recorded interviews, photocopied writings and notes, printed and digital material, photographs, slides, and negatives, and sound and video recordings. This subseries is divided into ten sub-subseries, with the arrangement described in detail in the subseries description. The bulk of the Papers of and Related to Hans Hofmann (Subseries 1.11) were created or compiled by Lillian Kielser and document Hofmann's career and legacy. It includes correspondence, exhibition files, interviews and writings about Hofmann, printed materials, photographs, and sound recordings about Hans Hofmann. However, also found are papers of Hans Hofmann including some correspondence, typed and handwritten lectures given by Hofmann, literature and brochures from the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts and three boxes of card files on students, and photographs of Hofmann. This subseries is divided into nine sub-subseries, with the arrangement described in detail in the subseries description. The personal papers of artist Alice Hodges (Subseries 1.12) include biographical material, correspondence, exhibition files, printed material, writings, personal items, artwork, and photographs. This subseries is divided into eight sub-subseries, with the arrangement described in detail in the subseries description.

Photographic Material (Subseries 1.13) is mostly black and white and color snapshots of Lillian Kiesler's friends and family at events and at home, including candid photos of Hans Hofmann, Alice Hodges, Frederick Kiesler, and Alcopley. Slides include those of Frederick Kiesler's work prepared by Lillian for a lecture on him and are accompanied by her notes on index cards. Sound and Video Recordings (Subseries 1.14) document productions in which Lillian Kiesler performed, and music, film, or live stage performances written, directed, or performed by friends.
Arrangement note:
The series is arranged as 14 subseries:

1.1: Biographical Material, 1911-2002, undated

1.2: Correspondence, 1911-2001, undated

1.3: Legal and Financial Records, 1938-2001, undated

1.4: Teaching Files, 1938-1994, undated

1.5: Exhibition and Performance Files, 1945-2002, undated

1.6: Artwork, 1958-2001, undated

1.7: Subject Files, 1925, 1957-2000, undated

1.8: Printed Material, 1930-2002, undated

1.9: Lillian Kiesler Library, 1936-2000, undated

1.10: Papers Related to Frederick Kiesler, circa 1913-2003, undated

1.11: Papers of and Related to Hans Hofmann, 1932-2000, undated

1.12: Papers of Alice Hodges, circa 1910s-1965, undated

1.13: Photographic Material, circa 1920s-2000

1.14: Sound and Video Recordings, 1978-2001, undated
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Collection Rights:
The Lillian and Frederick Kiesler 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.
Collection Citation:
Lillian and Frederick Kiesler papers, circa 1910s-2003, bulk 1958-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.kieslill, Series 1
See more items in:
Lillian and Frederick Kiesler papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-kieslill-ref15

Modify Your Search







or


Narrow By