Ten letters from London dentists to Morrison, a dentist and inventor, discussing his improved dental engine and improved dental chair. Eight letters are from Edwin Sercombe, with one from H. S. Garrett and another from Charles S. Tomes.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of ten letters, arranged chronologically, received by Dr. Morrison between 1869 and 1873. All are from dentists in London and all but two are from Dr. Edwin Sercombe, Morrison's good friend and leading advocate on his behalf in England. Sercombe's letters are the most interesting. He writes about Morrison's dental engine and its warm reception in London: "All who have it are delighted with it and I hope before long every man of any claim to consideration must have it" (February 11, 1873). Although he suggests minor improvements in some of its features, Sercombe was pleased with how well it worked. Without prior approval, but on Morrison's behalf, he even entered the engine he was using in his own practice into an International Exhibition held in London in the summer of 1873.
Sercombe also describes alterations he made to his own dental chair and writes that he was eagerly awaiting Morrison's new and improved chair; he repeatedly requests Morrison to send him one, without delay. These letters indicate that Morrison was actively working on his dental chair long before it was patented in 1887. In addition, Sercombe writes about his own practice and about dentists whom both he and Morrison knew. Among the latter was Dr. Thomas Evans, the American dentist who rescued the French Empress from Paris during the Franco Prussian War of 1870. Sercombe evidently did not like Dr. Evans, referring to him as "your friend" in one letter and criticizing his dental work in another.
Biographical / Historical:
Dr. James Beall Morrison began his study of dentistry in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1848, by apprenticing in the office of two established dentists. After a year or so, he formed a partnership with one of them and they set up a travelling practice among the towns in the area. By 1857, Morrison had gone to St. Louis, Missouri, where he practiced dentistry with his brother, William, until 1861 or 1862. He then went to practice in Paris for about a year, which he followed with six years of practice in London. He then returned to Missouri, where he practiced dentistry and worked at improving dental equipment until his death in December 1917.
Morrison had developed an aptitude for the mechanical side of dentistry early on, particularly during his apprenticeship in Steubenville. An example of his denture work, exhibited before the Ohio State Board of Agriculture in 1852, had been awarded a first prize. His first major contribution to dentistry came in 1871, when he developed and patented the first practical dental engine. Morrison's "bracket engine" consisted of a moveable arm and handpiece, both of which could be operarated by either foot power or other (belt driven) energy source. This was the pioneer of power driven dental tools. Later, in 1887, Morrison patented an improved dental operating chair which provided a wide range of movement.
Collection donated by Roger and Allene Reynolds, November 21, 1991.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
The Dale-Patterson family papers, which date from 1866 to 2010 and measure 6 linear feet, document the personal and professional lives of the Dale-Patterson family who came to live in Hillsdale, Anacostia, area of Washington, D.C., in 1892.
Scope and Contents note:
The Dale-Patterson family papers, which date from 1866 to 1990 and measure 6 linear feet, document the personal and professional lives of the Dale-Patterson family who came to live in Hillsdale, Anacostia, area of Washington, D.C., in 1892. The collection is comprised of correspondence, photographs, clippings, and ephemera.
The collection is arranged in four series:
Series 1: Dale-Patterson Family papers
Series 2: Charles Qualls papers
Series 3: Community Organizations
Series 4: Subject Files
The Dale family came to Washington, DC in 1886 when John Henry Dale, Sr., a gifted self-taught man, obtained a position as clerk in the newly contracted Pension Bureau building at 5th and G Streets, NW. First they lived near 13th Street and Florida Avenue, NW, then moved to Howard Road in Anacostia. Dale built a house at 2619 Nichols Avenue, now Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, drawing the plans and supervising the construction. The Dales and only one other family lived in this solidly built house for 100 years before it was sold to a church group and demolished.
Finding Aid Note: This finding aid is associated with a MARC collection-level record.361883
The Dale-Patterson Family collection was donated to the Anacostia Community Museum on April 07, 2013.
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Dale-Patterson Family collection is the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the author/creator or their legal heirs and assigns. Rights to work produced during the normal course of Museum business resides with the Anacostia Community Museum. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
The Betty Parsons Gallery records and personal papers measure 61.1 linear feet and date from 1916 to 1991, with the bulk of the material dating from 1946-1983. Records provide extensive documentation of the gallery's operations from its inception in 1946 to its closing in 1983 and of the activities of Betty Parsons as one the leading art dealers of contemporary American Art in the latter half of the twentieth century, particularly the work of the Abstract Expressionists. Over one third of the of the collection is comprised of artists files containing correspondence, price lists, and printed materials. Additional correspondence is with galleries, dealers, art institutions, private collectors, and the media. Also found are exhibition files, exhibition catalogs and announcements, sales records, stock inventories, personal financial records, and photographs. Betty Parsons's personal papers consist of early curatorial files, pocket diaries, personal correspondence, and evidence of her own artwork, including sketchbooks, and files documenting her personal art collection.
Scope and Content Note:
The Betty Parsons Gallery records and personal papers measure 61.1 linear feet and date from 1916 to 1991, with the bulk of the material dating from 1946-1983. Records provide extensive documentation of the gallery's operations from its inception in 1946 to its closing in 1983 and of the activities of Betty Parsons as one the leading art dealers of contemporary American Art in the latter half of the twentieth century, particularly the work of the Abstract Expressionists. Over one third of the of the collection is comprised of artists files containing correspondence, price lists, and printed materials. Additional correspondence is with galleries, dealers, art institutions, private collectors, and the media. Also found are exhibition files, exhibition catalogs and announcements, sales records, stock inventories, personal financial records, and photographs. Betty Parsons's personal papers consist of early curatorial files, pocket diaries, personal correspondence, and evidence of her own artwork, including sketchbooks, and files documenting her personal art collection. Personal papers also include personal photographs.
Artists files, the largest and most extensive series, consist of a wide variety of documents, including biographical materials, correspondence with or related to the artist, exhibition catalogs and announcements, sales and expense invoices, clippings, price lists, and photographs of the artist, exhibitions, and artwork. The files reflect Parsons's close personal relationships with certain artists, particularly Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Barnett Newman. Extensive documentation is also found for Forrest Bess, William Congdon, Paul Feeley, Thomas George, Alexander Liberman, Seymour Lipton, Richard Pousette-Dart, Jesse Reichek, and Jack Youngerman. Historians and researchers will find these files to be an invaluable resource both in tracing Betty Parsons's role in promoting Abstract Expressionism and researching individual artists.
Exhibition files primarily document the gallery's infrequent group or themed exhibitions. Of particular note are the files on The Ideographic Picture, which was organized by Barnett Newman and included his work, as well as that of Pietro Lazzari, Boris Margo, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Theodoros Stamos, and Clyfford Still. Price lists, artist biographies and exhibition schedules are housed in the general exhibition files. Loan exhibition files provide documentation of artwork borrowed by other galleries or institutions for exhibitions, as well as shows outside of the gallery that were organized by Betty Parsons. Also found are gallery exhibition guest books, and announcements and catalogs.
Gallery correspondence is primarily with galleries and dealers, museums, arts organizations, and collectors. Scattered letters from artists are also found, although the bulk of the artists' correspondence is filed in the Artists Files. Also found here are memoranda and letters between Betty Parsons and her staff that contain detailed information concerning Parsons's schedule and gallery activities. Similar correspondence is found amongst the correspondence files within the series Betty Parsons papers.
Appraisal and conservation files include correspondence, appraisal invoices, forms, and appraisal requests and other information from the Art Dealers Association of America, and conservation invoices and reports. The majority of the appraisal records contain information about the specific works of art, including artist, title, date, current owner and the estimated value at the time of the request. Conservation records document conservation treatments undertaken by outside conservators to gallery stock.
Sales, purchases, stock and inventory are well documented in the sales and inventory records. The records provide detailed information about individual sales, prices of individual pieces of artwork, consignments, and loans. Most sales records also include detailed information about the buyer and are a valuable resource for provenance research. Files documenting the general administration, routine business operations, and financial transactions (not individual sales) of the gallery are housed in the general business and financial records. These records include ledgers, receipts, tax records, and banking records. There is some limited information about works of art scattered amongst the receipts and in the "in/out slips" files. Legal records house general legal documents and those concerning specific lawsuits. Of particular note is the file detailing the lawsuit between Betty Parsons and Sidney Janis over the fifth floor of 24 West 57th Street.
The remainder of the collection consists of Betty Parsons's personal papers which document her career prior to opening her own gallery, her work as an artist, and her personal art collection.
Some information about Parsons's work prior to opening her own gallery is found in the early curatorial files she retained from her curatorial and administrative work at the Wakefield Gallery and the Mortimer Brandt Gallery. Clippings, correspondence, announcements, exhibition lists and exhibition files are found. For both positions, she kept only the exhibition files for a small group of exhibitions organized around a specific theme, the most notable being the exhibition of Pre-Columbian Sculpture at the Wakefield Gallery.
Biographical materials include copies of her biography, family genealogies, photographs of Parsons, interviews with Colette Roberts and WYNC radio, memberships, photographs, and ephemera, including a collection of programs and invitations from events that she attended. Throughout her life Parsons gave generously of her time to various cultural and charitable institutions and was awarded for her contributions. There are also a number of files that document her speaking engagements, her participation as a juror in numerous juried exhibitions, charitable work, and awards that she received.
Parsons's personal correspondence files reflect how deeply Parsons's life was intertwined with the gallery. There are letters from museum directors, dealers, artists seeking representation, and personal letters from artists with whom she had close personal relationships, most notably Larry Bigelow, Alexander Calder, William Condon, and Ad Reinhardt. There are also letters from the English artist Adge Baker, with whom Parsons was romantically involved. Correspondence also includes several files of postcards and Christmas cards.
Pocket diaries and engagement calendars, spanning from 1933-1981, record social engagements, meetings, vacations, and telephone numbers. Also found are circa two linear feet of notebooks and sketchbooks, many of which are annotated with addresses, poetry, journal entries, and other observations of people, places, and travels. Writings by others include writings about Betty Parsons or the Betty Parsons Gallery, such as Lawrence Alloway's unpublished typescript titled "An American Gallery" and other topics.
Printed material consists of exhibition announcements and catalogs, art magazines, and newspaper and magazine clippings about Betty Parsons, her family and acquaintances, artists, and other art related topics, coupled with a miscellaneous selection of clippings, and a video recording, on topics that presumably captured Parsons's attention.
Personal art work records document Betty Parsons's career as an artist through inventories, group and solo exhibitions files, price lists, appraisals, sales and consignment invoices. Photographs are primarily reproductions of her works of art, although there are scattered photographs of exhibition installations.
Betty Parsons's private art collection files document her extensive personal collection of art that included works by Jackson Pollock, Agnes Martin, Romare Bearden, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko, in addition to Amlash sculpture from ancient Persia and primitive sculpture from New Hebrides. These files include inventories, lists, exhibition records, sales and purchase invoices, and photographs. There are also files for donations and loans from Parsons's personal collection to museums and fund raising auctions for several non-profit institutions.
Finally, the personal financial records provide information about the Parsons's family finances and her personal financial success as an art dealer. In addition to her own investments, Parsons inherited shares in family investments through the estates of her parents, J. Fred Pierson, Jr. and Suzanne Miles Pierson, and younger sister, Emily Rayner. Real estate files include correspondence, utility bills, receipts, area maps, and land plots for houses in Sheepscot, Maine and St. Maartens, Netherlands Antilles. Tax returns, ledger worksheets, receipts, banking statements, deposit slips, and cancelled checks are among the other financial records.
The collection is arranged as seven series. Many of the series are further divided into subseries.
Series 1: Artists Files, 1935-1983 (19.4 linear feet; Boxes 1-18, 51, 55-56, OVs 53, 65)
Series 2: Exhibition Files, 1941-1983 (2.9 linear feet; Boxes 18-21, 51, 55, OVs 54, 66)
Series 3: Correspondence Files, 1941-1983 (3.9 linear feet; Boxes 21-24, 52, 56)
Series 4: Appraisal Files, 1954-1983 (0.7 linear feet; Box 24)
Series 5: Sales and Inventory Records, 1946-1983 (3.9 linear feet; Boxes 25-28, 51)
Series 6: General Business and Financial Records, 1946-1983 (9.3 linear feet; Boxes 28-38, 51, 56)
Series 7: Betty Parsons Personal Papers, 1916-1991 (21 linear feet; Boxes 38-51, 55-64, OVs 65-67)
Betty Parsons (1900-1982) was one of the leading art dealers in New York City specializing in modern art, particularly the work of the Abstract Expressionists, and an abstract painter and sculptor in her own right. She opened Betty Parsons Gallery in 1946 at 15 E. 57th St., later moving to 24 W. 57th St.
The history of the Betty Parsons Gallery is inextricably bound to the life and experiences of its founder. Betty Parsons was born Betty Bierne Pierson on January 31, 1900 in New York City. She enjoyed a privileged childhood, which included vacation homes in Newport and Palm Beach. Her only formal education was a five-year stint at the prestigious Chapin School from 1910-1915, where she met many of the women who would become life-long friends and supporters. In the spring of 1920, she married Schuyler Livingston Parsons from one of New York's oldest families. The marriage ended after only three years and the couple traveled to Paris where they could obtain a divorce on the grounds of incompatibility. She retained her married surname and purchased a house on the rue Boulard in Paris, where she remained for ten years, pursuing studies in painting and sculpture.
Financial constraints forced Parsons to return to the United States in 1933. She first traveled west to California, but it was her return to New York in 1935 that marked the start of her career as an art dealer. Her first opportunity to connect with the New York art world came after a successful exhibition of her watercolors at the Midtown Galleries where the owner, Alan Gruskin, noted Parson's faithful and wealthy group of supporters and offered her work installing exhibitions and selling paintings on commission. Her work for the Midtown Galleries led to a second position in the Park Avenue gallery of Mary Sullivan, one of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art. Here, Parsons learned the business of running a gallery. By 1940 Parsons was ready to take on more independent responsibility and agreed to manage a gallery within the Wakefield Bookshop. In this job, she exercised full curatorial control by selecting artists and organizing exhibitions. She championed then unknown contemporary American artists and the gallery's roster soon included Saul Steinberg, Hedda Sterne, Alfonso Ossorio, Joseph Cornell, Walter Murch, and Theodore Stamos. Although the majority of the exhibitions were solo shows, there were a few group shows and themed exhibitions, such as Love in Art (1941) and Ballet in Art (1942). Under Parson's direction, the gallery hosted an important exhibition of Pre-Columbian sculpture, curated by Barnett Newman.
When the owners of the Wakefield Bookshop decided to close the gallery late in 1944, Mortimer Brandt, a dealer who specialized in Old Master paintings and drawings, offered her a position as head of the newly created contemporary section of his gallery. Many of the artists who had shown with Parsons at the Wakefield Gallery followed her to her new gallery, where they were joined by Ad Reinhardt, Boris Mango, and Hans Hofmann. While the exhibitions garnered attention from the press and the interest of contemporary artists, the contemporary section was not a financial success and Brandt opted to close his gallery in 1946.
Using $1000 of her own money and an additional borrowed $4000, Parsons sublet the space that previously housed Mortimer Brandt's contemporary section, on the fifth floor of 15 East 57th Street, and opened the Betty Parsons Gallery.
In many respects the early years of the Betty Parsons Gallery were the most vital, as it was during the period of 1947-1951 that the gallery became linked with the Abstract Expressionists and the history of post-WWII American Art. In an unpublished history of the gallery, noted art critic Lawrence Alloway stated that the significance of the gallery's early exhibitions ranks with Durand-Ruel's Impressionists exhibitions or Kahnweiler's shows of the Cubists. Betty Parsons Gallery quickly became one of the most prestigious galleries in New York City associated with new American Art of all styles. Her close friend Barnett Newman organized the gallery's inaugural exhibition of Northwest Coast Indian Art and he soon began to exhibit his own work at the gallery. When Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery closed, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, and Mark Rothko joined Parsons' growing stable of artists. Although Parsons continued to promote and exhibit many of the artists whom she had previously discovered, these four artists dominated this period. Newman, Pollock, Still, and Rothko worked closely together, holding themselves apart from the other artists somewhat. They were actively involved in the curatorial process and often hung their own shows. For these artists, the exhibition itself was an artistic act of creation.
Parsons provided a supportive environment and allowed her artists enormous freedom in planning and designing their exhibitions. She was not, however, an aggressive salesperson. During this early period the gallery ledgers document sales to an impressive array of museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as important collectors such as Edward Root and Duncan Phillips. Nevertheless, the art that the gallery promoted was not yet widely accepted. Sales were few, prices were low and the business would not turn a profit for several years. Meanwhile, there was mounting pressure from Pollock, Newman, Still, and Rothko to drop some of the other artists from Parsons' stable and focus all resources on them. They wanted to be promoted to a larger audience and have their work sold at higher prices, but Parsons enjoyed discovering new artists and did not want to be restricted in this endeavor. The year 1951 marks the last time that Pollock's drip paintings or the monumental works of Newman, Rothko or Still were shown at the Betty Parsons Gallery.
In the following years the Betty Parsons Gallery continued to attract a diverse group of talented artists. Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Tuttle, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jack Youngerman had their first New York exhibitions at the Betty Parsons Gallery. Parsons opened Section Eleven in 1958, a short-lived annex to the main gallery, so that she could promote younger, less well-known artists. It closed in 1960 due to the administrative difficulties in running two essentially separate galleries.
In 1962, Sidney Janis, another prominent art dealer, started proceedings to evict Parsons from the floor that they shared on 15 East 57th Street. The Betty Parsons Gallery moved to 24 West 57th Street in 1963, where it remained until it closed in 1983, following Parsons' death the preceding year. Throughout the gallery's history, Parsons continued to promote faithful artists such as Hedda Sterne and Saul Steinberg, who had been with her from the beginning and to seek out new talent, both for her main gallery and for other venues, such as the short-lived Parsons-Truman Gallery, which she opened in 1974 with former Parsons Gallery director Jock Truman to show works on paper by emerging artists.
In addition to being an art dealer, Betty Parsons was a respected artist and collector. With her connoisseur's eye and connections, Parsons amassed an impressive private collection of art. She bought her first piece while an art student in Paris in the 1920s, a small gouache by Zadkine, but did not begin acquiring works in earnest until she was established as an art dealer. Partial inventories of her personal collection show that the majority of her collection contained works by artists associated with the gallery. Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Ad Reinhardt, Agnes Martin, and Kenzo Okada were among the artists represented. Many were gifts from the artists, such as an ink drawing by Jackson Pollock, inscribed "For Betty." Selections from her collection appeared in small museums across the United States, including a traveling exhibition organized by Fitch College, New York, in 1968. In her role as a promoter of contemporary American art, Parsons lent generously from her collection, particularly to the federal Art in the Embassies Program. Throughout her life she also donated works to a variety of museums, most notably, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.
Parsons frequently claimed that her desire to pursue a career as an artist stemmed from a visit to the Armory Show when she was thirteen. In her late teens, after pressuring her father for art lessons, she studied with the sculptor Gutzon Burglum of Mount Rushmore fame. In Paris, she continued her studies first with Antoine Bourdelle, whose sculptures she had admired at the Armory Show, and later with Ossip Zadkine. The first exhibition of her work, figurative watercolors and sculptures, took place in Paris in 1927. As she matured as an artist, her art became more abstract. Her late works were painted wood sculptures that she pieced together from wood that she found near her studio in Long Island. Parsons's work was exhibited in more than thirty solo exhibitions, including, Betty Parsons; Paintings, Gouaches and Sculpture, 1955-1968, at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. During her lifetime, she would not allow her works to be shown in her own gallery. Shortly after she died of a stroke in 1982, In Memoriam, Betty Parsons: Late Sculptures, opened at the Betty Parsons Gallery.
Also found in the Archives of American Art are oral history interviews with Betty Parsons, June 4-9, 1969, by Paul Cummings, and June 11, 1981 by Gerald Silk.
Some of the material originally loaned for microfilming in 1968 and 1969 was not included in later donations and can be viewed on microfilm reels N68/62-N68/74 and N69/105-N69/106. Loaned materials are not described in the container listing in this finding aid.
The gallery donated some records in 1974, many of which had been loaned earlier for microfilming. The bulk of the collection was donated in 1984 and 1986 by William Rayner and Christopher Schwabacher, executors of the Estate of Betty Parsons. Additional material was donated by William Rayner in 1998 and Christopher Schwabacher in 2017. Additional material was donated in 2018 by the Lee Hall estate via Carolyn Crozier and Deborah Jacobson, co-executors. Hall was Parsons's biographer and had the material in her possession at the time of Parsons's death. An additional photograph of Parons and Marie Carr Taylor by Henri Cartier-Bresson was donated in 2021 by Mary Carpenter, who inherited the photograph from her mother, Nan Thorton Jones, who received it as a gift from Taylor.
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Researchers interested in accessing audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact References Services for more information.
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Washington (D.C.) -- Small business -- 20th century
Shaw (Washington, D.C.)
Washington (D.C.) -- African Americans
The collection includes approximately 250,000 photonegatives, photoprints, color transparencies from the photographic business founded by Addison Scurlock in Washington, DC. Collection also includes business records and ephemera.
Scope and Contents:
Photographs includes portraits of famous African-American luminaries such as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and many other artists, intellectuals, educators, entertainers, etc., as well as documentation of Washington, DC, including both the African-American community and national political life, and important photographs of Howard University; also commercial photography, including color materials.
Color separation materials include sets of black-and-white color-separation negatives, sets of matrices for the Kodak Dye Transfer process (full-color Dye Transfer prints are storied in a different series).
Business records: The photography studio records and Custom Craft records are in separate series, reflecting the fact that they were operated as separate businesses.
The collection includes all forms of photographs produced by the studio, such as prints in black-and-white and color, black-and-white and color negatives, color transparencies, black-and-white dye-transfer matrices, slides, etc.; as well as business documents, studio session ledgers, appointment books, business and personal correspondence, tax documents, and books, catalogs, and other publications. This material documents not only the photographic output of the business, both commercial and artistic, as well as the personal and business side of the enterprise.
Some photographs in the collection were not created by the Scurlocks. Some black-and-white and color prints seem to derive from assignments in the Capitol School of Photography, and are therefore student work. Also Custom Craft, the professional color processing service provided by the studio, made prints for other photographers, and samples for printing reference, as well as studio decor, have been retained in the collection. Custom Craft worked for such diverse photographers as artist Robert Epstein and well-known Washington photographer Fred Maroon, for example.
The collection numbers several hundred thousand photographic negatives, prints, and transparencies made by the Scurlocks and other staff photographers of the studio in its various Washington locations. The negatives are estimated at approximately 160,000-200,000 in number, and the prints of all sizes and types at nearly 57,000. The vast majority of the photographs are portraits of individuals, family groups, and organizations, as the primary business of the studio was portrait photography. They date primarily from the 1940s to 1990s. There are also a number of images, made for commercial clients, of building interiors and exteriors, and food. A small group of photojournalistic documentation also exists. The subjects also include architectural and industrial views, scenes in and around Washington, including children and street laborers, political events, social events, and 35mm slides of President Kennedy's funeral, 1964. There are also more personal artistic images, including still lifes with plants and flowers, and a few nudes; Robert's wartime service is also documented by his photographs, including European landscape photographs.
In addition to images taken by the Scurlock studio photographers, there are some prints, especially color, of images by other photographers who were clients, such as Fred Maroon, a prominent Washington photojournalist, and Robert Epstein, a teacher at the Corcoran School of Art. A print of one of Maroon's pictures had been displayed in the studio reception room at the time the studio was closed.
A large group of manuscript items, business documents, ephemera, and office and studio supplies constitutes a separate series from the photographs. An important adjunct to the photographs, a set of ledgers recording and identifying portrait sittings, highlights this group.
Nearly all of the photographs and documents stored in the studio and auxiliary storage locations were accepted for acquisition in order to form a complete history of this family business's production and operations over the better part of a century, whereas a selection of photographic apparatus and studio equipment was acquired by the Photographic History Collection: these items have been inventoried and catalogued separately.
The majority of the surviving photographic negatives and proof prints were made in connection with the studio's portrait work for a wide variety of clients. These portraits include images of famous people, such as political figures, entertainers, and noteworthy persons in a variety of fields, including scientists, writers, intellectuals, and academics. The majority of the figures depicted among both the famous and the not so famous are black. The greatest number of studio portraits, most of which are identified and dated, depict a general clientele who visited the studio for portrait sittings. Although the individual images in this vast quantity have limited research value in the usual sense, the aggregate represents a chronology spanning almost ninety years, which may be useful for demographic and genealogical information and as visual evidence of changing styles in clothing, hair, and accessories. It constitutes a panorama of a significant percentage of Washingtonians of the period, especially the black community.
Portraits of famous personages include George Washington Carver, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Duke Ellington, Marian Anderson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sammy Davis, Jr., Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali, Mayor Walter Washington, and Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, Mayor Marion Barry, DC Council members, statesmen such as Ralph Bunche, and many other noteworthy figures. Of particular interest is a signed group portrait of the US. Supreme Court with Chief Justice Berger presiding. There are also large- format portraits of Justice Thurgood Marshall and J. Edgar Hoover.
Group portraits include both formal sittings and the informal documentation of banquets, convocations, and similar events. This material includes groups at Howard University; Dunbar High School; the Post Office Clerks' Banquet; the Bishops' Meeting of the AME Church; a YMCA camp, cira 1947 1949; the 23rd annual conference of the NAACP, 1932, etc.
Several thousand black and white negatives and prints, 1930s-1960s, depict the people, facilities, and events of Howard University, with which the Scurlocks had a long business relationship. There are various portraits, including Howard University Medical School, represented by 850 negatives and 100 prints. A group of law school and medical school images numbers some 800 negatives and 200 prints. In addition, there are class portraits, as well as images of famous guests speaking at Howard convocations, such as President Herbert Hoover.
An important aspect of any portrait studio's output is wedding photography, and the Scurlock studio was no exception. Bridal portraits, group pictures of wedding parties, and the complete documentation of weddings, in both black and white and color, constitute a significant part of the collection. African-American weddings predominate and provide important insights into this aspect of the society.
The studio's work was shown in special public exhibitions over the years, and several of these are included in toto. The most important was an extensive retrospective display of 121 prints of Addison's work, both vintage and posthumous, prepared by Robert for the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1976. Others include: (1) a set of 32 black and white images made by Robert at the Ramitelli Air Base, Italy, while he was a major in the US Air Force during World War II; (2) a group of portraits from a Black History Month exhibit at Woodward and Lothrop; and (3) a set of sixteen vintage and modern prints which Robert displayed in an interview on the "Today" television show in the 1980s.
This category includes architectural and industrial photography for commercial clients, food and still life photographs, etc. Much of this material is comparatively recent and was made in large format color, and includes transparencies and enlargements. It is possible that some of the prints represent Custom Craft work for other photographers rather than the camera work of Robert and George Scurlock. Thus far, prints by artist Robert Epstein have been identified as extra prints of his work from orders which he placed with the firm. At least one image by Fred Maroon has been identified.
A group of color prints constitutes copies of artworks, primarily in the National Portrait Gallery, for which the Scurlocks worked. Prints in 8" x 10", 11" x 14", 16" x 20" and 20" x 24" sizes are included, and undoubtedly negatives and transparencies corresponding to these subjects will be found.
In addition to the formal studio portraits and pictures documenting formal events, the Scurlocks took candid photographs of the everyday life of their city, as well as extraordinary events of local and national significance, ranging from occasions such as John F. Kennedy's funeral and the 1968 riots to political rallies and demonstrations.
Capitol School of Photography
The collection includes a variety of materials, such as books and ephemera, which document the activities of the Capitol School of Photography, a sideline of the Scurlock business. Some of the photographs apparently represent student work. The most famous student of the school was Jacqueline Bouvier (later Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis), although no documentation of her association with the school has been located thus far. There are 45 photographs, circa 1950s, showing the photography lab, men retouching prints, students with cameras, etc.
A few photographs of the Scurlock family are included in the collection in various forms and formats, including enlarged portraits of Addison and Robert. A self portrait of Addison and Mamie Scurlock is included in the Corcoran Gallery of Art exhibition series. Other photographs which represent personal artistic expression, such as a few nude studies and floral and plant still lifes, are included.
Series 6 consists of photographic materials including color transparencies, slides, film, and proofs but occasionally includes notes, forms, and envelopes associated with the orders.
Series 1: Black and White Photographs:
Dates -- 1888-1993
Extent -- 105 boxes
Contents -- Series 1: Black and White Photographs: The materials are almost entirely black and white photographs, but in the subseries of clients, there may also be job envelopes, order materials, and other photographic material types that were included in the overall order. The series is arranged into two subseries, clients and subjects, and both are arranged alphabetically. The subseries clients documents the orders made by clients of the Scurlock Studio and individuals who were or could be identified but may or may not have actually placed an order at the Studio. The majority of the photographs in the clients subseries are formal portrait sittings but there are photographs of events, organizations, and businesses. The subseries subjects are photographs that were grouped into categories because no known client or individual in the image could be identified. The subjects cover a broad array of subjects but the majority of the subjects include unidentified people in formal portrait sittings and groups. In addition, not all photographs in this series were taken by the Scurlock Studio; there are photos by Abdon Daoud Ackad and other studios or photographers that were sent in to make copies. 1.1: Clients Black and white photographs1.2: Subjects Black and white photographs
Series 2: Color Photographs:
Dates -- 1930-1995
Extent -- 113 boxes
Contents -- Series 2: Color Photographs: The series color photographs consists of color photographs and hand-colored photographs, but there are also order envelopes and materials, and other photographic material types that were part of the order. The subseries are arranged as clients, subjects, weddings, and hand-colored photographs. Clients are arranged alphabetically by last name or the first word of an organization's name. Not all individuals, organizations, or businesses necessarily represent a client of the Scurlock Studio; if an individual or organization could be identified, the photograph was placed under the identified person or organization even if ther were not a known client of the Studio. The majority of the photographs are individual portrait sittings but also included are family portraits, businesses, organizations, and informal images. The subjects are arranged alphabetically, and document images of non-humans and humans that could not be connected to a known client. Weddings and hand-colored are arranged in alphabetical order with clients preceeding subjects. The were a large subject of the overall collection and the majority of weddings are color photographs but also included in the subseries are black and white and hand-colored photographs of weddings. The hand-colored photographs largely reflect the same subject matter of the subseries clients and subjects. In addition, not all photographs in this subseries were taken by the Scurlock Studio; there are photos by Abdon Daoud Ackad and other studios or photographers that were sent in to make copies. 2.1: Clients Color photographs2.2: Subjects Color photographs2.3: Weddings2.4: Hand-colored photographs
Series 3: Framed Prints:
Dates -- circa 1979
Extent -- 3 boxes
Contents -- Series 3: Framed Prints: The series framed prints includes three framed color photographs. The framed prints are arranged by the size, from smallest to largest, of the frame. The photographs are of two important political figures: Washington, D. C., Mayor Marion Barry and Senator Edward Brooke.
Series 4: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin Negatives:
Dates -- 1900-1994
Extent -- 320 boxes
Contents -- Series 4: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin Negatives: The material type of the series is black and white silver gelatin negatives. The negatives are arranged into twelve subseries. The materials document the clients and individuals whose photographs were taken by the Scurlock Studio and a wide variety of subject matters. The subjects represented are individual portrait sittings, organizations, events, businesses, commercial ventures of the Studio, and Washington, D. C. 4.1: Black and white negatives 4.2: Black and white negatives in freezers arranged by job number 4.3: Black and white negatives in freezer storage arranged by client 4.4: Black and white negatives in freezer storage arranged by subject 4.5: Black and white negatives in cold storage arranged by job number 4.6: Black and white negatives in cold storage arranged by client 4.7: Negatives in cold storage arranged by client with index cards 4.8: Negatives in cold storage arranged by subject 4.9: Black and white negatives for publication 4.10: Glass Plate Negatives 4.11: Customcraft Negatives 4.12: Banquet Negatives
Series 5: Color Negatives:
Dates -- 1964-1994
Extent -- 72 boxes
Contents -- Series 5: Color Negatives: The series color negatives primarily of color negatives but it also includes order envelopes and materials. The series is arranged into two subseries: clients and subjects. The subseries clients is arranged by job number, and the materials document the orders placed by clients of the Scurlock Studio and identified persons and organizations. The negatives depict individual portrait sittings, groups, and informal poses. The subseries subjects is arranged in alphabetical order, and the materials document negatives that could not be connected to a client of the studio. The negatives represent subjects such as art, buildings, commercial ventures of the Scurlock Studio, and unidentified people. 5.1: Color negatives arranged by client5.2: Color negatives arranged by subject
Series 6: Color Transparencies, Slides, and Other Formats:
Dates -- 1922-1994
Extent -- 40 boxes
Contents -- Series 6: Color Transparencies, Slides, and Other Formats: The series color transparencies, slides, and other formats consists of black and white and color transparencies, color slides, film, proofs, and order materials. The materials are arranged into four subseries: transparencies, slides, film, and proofs. The subseries are arranged by clients, in alphabetical order by last name, and then subjects, in alphabetical order. The materials document the orders placed at the Scurlock Studio by clients and identified individuals and organizations, and materials that could not be identified and are categorized by subjects. The subjects represented in the materials are primarily individual, family, and group portraits, and events and places. Cut but unmounted slides were typically placed in the subseries transparencies but a small number of cut but unmounted slides are included in the slides. The subseries proofs only contains a form of proof used by the Scurlock Studio that has a fugitive image, and other types of proofs printed on low quality paper or are water-marked and have a lasting image were included in the series Black and White Photographs and Color Photographs if the proof was either black and white or color. 6.1: Transparencies6.2: Slides6.3: Film6.4: Proofs
Series 7: Black-and-White Color Separation Negatives and Matrices:
Dates -- 1955-1957
Extent -- 7 boxes
Contents -- Series 7: Black-and-White Color Separation Negatives and Matrices: The materials in the series are black-and-white color separation negatives and a booklet about how to process black-and-white color separation negatives. The materials are arranged into three subseries: clients, subjects, and the booklet. The materials document orders placed at the Scurlock Studio by clients and individuals and organizations that could be identified but not connected to a specific order. The materials also document negatives categorized by subjects because there was no known client or identifiable individual or organization. The subjects represented are individual portrait sittings and groups, and unidentified people. 7.1: Clients Black-and-White Color Separation Negatives 7.2: Subjects Black-and-White Color Separation Negatives Booklet
Series 8: Scurlock Studio Business Records:
Dates -- 1907-1996
Extent -- 66 boxes
Contents -- Series 8: Scurlock Studio Business Records: The series Scurlock Studio Business Records contains paperwork pertaining to the administration of the business, the financial documentation of the business, the reocrds of sales, the advertising signs and promotions of hte business, the files kept on employees, and other materials kept at the Scurlock Studio. The series is arranged into six subseries: administrative file, financial, sales, advertising and marketing, employee and personnel, and office files. Each subseries is arranged differently according to the types of materials predominantly found in the subseries or in chronological order. The subjects represented in the series are mostly related to the financial records of the Scurlock Studio kept and the invoices of sales records. A wide variety of other subjects relating to the the business records of the Scurlock Studio can also be found including: session registers, construction plans, advertisements for specific holidays, and product information sent to the Studio. Some materials found in this series may be marked Scurlock Studio and Custom Craft, the color division of the Scurlock Studio, and were placed with this series because the Scurlock Studio was the primary business. Other materials with an unclear origin of either the Scurlock Studio or Custom Craft were placed in this series. 8.1: Administrative Files8.2: Financial8.3: Sales8.4: Advertising and Marketing8.5: Employee and Personnel8.6: Office Files
Series 9: Custom Craft Business Records:
Dates -- 1951-1994
Extent -- 57 boxes
Contents -- Series 9: Custom Craft Business Records: The series Custom Craft Business Records consists of paper documents relating to the administrative, financial, sales records, employee and personnel, and other files about the affairs of the Custom Craft business's day-to-day operations. The materials are arranged into five subseries: administrative, financial, sales, employee and personnel, and office files. The materials within a subseries are ordered by types of documents that consisted of a large number of materials listed first and materials with few documents following the grouped materials in chronological order. The materials document the day-to-day business of Custom Craft. The subjects represented are documents relating to the administration of the business, journals kept to document finances, the order invoices, the files kept about employees, product information, and materials accumulated in the office. Some documents may list both the Scurlock Studio and Custom Craft and were kept with the business records of Custom Craft if the materials appeared to fit the activities, color photography, of that business. Other documents relating to the business affairs of Custom Craft may be in the series Scurlock Studio Business Records because these documents did not clearly indicate which business the documents belonged to; in these cases, the materials were put in the series Scurlock Studio Business Records because the business was the primary business of the Scurlocks. There business records seem to indicate that there was not always a clear differentiation between the two businesses. 9.1: Administrative9.2: Financial9.3: Sales9.4: Employee and Personnel9.5: Office files
Series 10: Capitol School of Photography:
Dates -- 1948-1954
Extent -- 4 boxes
Contents -- Series 10: Capitol School of Photography: The series Capitol School of Photography consists of paper documents, photographs, and transparencies. The materials are arranged in chronological order and document the administration of the Capitol School of Photography and the students. The subjects represented are administrative documents, student files, photographs by students, photographs of students and the space used for the School, and transparencies of the same subjects.
Series 11: Washington Stock:
Dates -- 1981-1994
Extent -- 2 boxes
Contents -- Series 11: Washington Stock: The series Washington Stock consists of order materials, orders, and published materials. The materials are arranged chronologically and document the orders placed for Washington Stock and how the materials were used and published. The subjects represented are orders, standard forms used by Washington Stock, and published materials.
Series 12: Background Materials and Publications:
Dates -- 1902-1995
Extent -- 18 boxes
Contents -- Series 12: Background Materials and Publications: The series Background Materials and Publications is composed of paper documents, published materials, and materials from exhibitions. The materials are arranged into four subseries: historical and background information, Scurlock images, reference materials, and exhibition materials. The materials document the Scurlocks, published Scurlock images, published materials lacking Scurlock images, exhibitions of Scurlock images, and other exhibitions of related material. The subjects represented are largely materials related to the Scurlocks' photography and personal interests. Images were placed in the subseries Scurlock images if the photograph was credited to the Scurlocks or was a photograph known to have been taken by the Scurlocks; it is possible that uncredited and less well known images taken by the Scurlocks are present in the subseries reference materials. 12.1: Historical and Background Information12.2: Scurlock Images12.3: Reference Materials12.4: Exhibition Materials
The collection is divided into 12 series.
This collection was processed with numerous changes in arrangement and numbering of boxes. Original box numbers have been retained in this finding aid for cross-reference purposes and to assist anyone with a record of photographs according to the original box numbers.
Biographical / Historical:
The Scurlock photographic studio was a fixture in the Shaw area of Washington, D.C. from 1911 to 1994, and encompassed two generations of photographers, Addison N. Scurlock (1883-1964) and his sons George H. (1920- 2005) and Robert S. (1916-1994).
The turn of the twentieth century saw a mass exodus of African Americans from the South to northern cities in search of better employment opportunities and fairer racial treatment. Although many considered Washington to be the northern-most southern city, it still offered opportunities for African Americans leaving seasonal agricultural work and racial oppression in the South. In Washington, African Americans found stable employment with the U.S. government. In addition, Howard University offered African Americans teaching opportunities, college education, and professional training as doctors, dentists, nurses, lawyers, and ministers. By 1900 a substantial African-American middle class existed in Washington. Despite the fact that Washington was a historically and legally segregated city (and would remain so into the 1960s), this middle class population continued to grow and prosper.
After graduation from high school, Addison Scurlock moved from Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Washington, D.C., with his family in 1900. With a keen interest in photography, he sought out an apprenticeship at the white-owned Moses Rice Studio on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Rice brothers (Amos and Moses) had been in Washington working as photographers since the 1860s and had one of the more prominent and better studios in the city. There Addison learned portrait and general photography. In 1904, he left Rice and began his photographic career at his parents' home. By 1911, when he opened the Scurlock Studio, he had already captured the likeness of Booker T. Washington (1910; see Appendix B), most likely his most well-known portrait. Scurlock quickly identified his market: a self-sufficient African-American community which included students, graduates, and educators affiliated with Howard University; poets; writers; intellectuals; musicians and entertainers; politicians; socialites; fraternal and religious organizations and their leaders. The Scurlock Studio, located at 900 U Street, N.W., became a fixture in the midst of the thriving African-American business community. As with his white counterparts on Pennsylvania Avenue and F Street, N.W., Addison Scurlock inspired passers-by with window displays of his photographs of national leaders and local personalities.
During the 1930s, Addison Scurlock's two sons Robert and George apprenticed in the studio. In addition to portrait and general photography, the sons learned the techniques of retouching negatives and photographic prints, hand-coloring, hand-tinting, and mat decoration. George concentrated on the commercial side of the business while Robert concentrated on the portrait side. The Scurlocks' work changed with the times. From the early 1900s until Addison's death in 1964, the Scurlock Studio was the official photographer of Howard University. In the 1930s the studio began a press service and prepared newsreels on African American current events for the Lichtman Theater chain, which offered some of the few non-segregated venues in the city. Their press service supplied the African-American press with newsworthy photographs of current events, personalities, and social, political, and religious life. Clients included the Norfolk Journal and Guide, Amsterdam News, Pittsburgh Courier, Cleveland Call and Post and the Washington Tribune and Afro-American. George and Robert ran the Capitol School of Photography from 1948 to 1952. Included among their students were African-American veterans under the G.I. Bill, Ellsworth Davis, who later worked as a Washington Post photographer and Bernie Boston of the Los Angeles Times. Perhaps their best-known student was the young Jacqueline Bouvier.
In 1952 Robert opened Washington's first custom color lab. Capitalizing on his knowledge of color processing, Robert was asked to take color portraits of both noted and ordinary individuals. In addition, the studio offered color views of important Washington landmarks and monuments. By the 1960s, Robert added magazine photography to his list of talents, publishing images in Life, Look, and Ebony. Robert continued photographing Washingtonians at his studio until his death in 1994.
According to George Scurlock, the Scurlock studio never had substantial competition in the African American community. Some Washington residents remember it differently, however. Dr. Theodore Hudson, a retired Howard University professor, recalled two other black photographers: Sam Courtney and a man named Sorrell. He said Courtney photographed events in the African American community...?
The collection represents the most comprehensive record of any long-lived, let alone African-American, photography studio, in a public institution. Other twentieth century studio collections exist, such as Robinson Studio, Grand Rapids; Hughes Company, Baltimore, Md. Among African American studio collections in public institutions are James Van Der Zee (New York City, 1912-80s), P.H. Polk (Tuskegee), and the Hooks Brothers (Memphis, Tenn., 1910-1975). The Scurlock Collection covers a greater time period and provides greater depth of coverage of African-American events and personages.
A number of articles have been written about the Scurlock family. Jane Freundel Levey, editor of Washington History magazine, believes that the family went beyond the artful use of light, shadow, and composition. She wrote, "Perhaps the most distinctive hallmark of the Scurlock photograph is the dignity, the uplifting quality of the demeanor of every person captured by photographs who clearly saw each subject as above the ordinary."
Constance McLaughlin Green, one of the leading historians of Washington, D.C., talks about African-American Washington as "the Secret City," a separate world with institutions of its own that remained virtually unknown to the white majority. Addison Scurlock and his sons captured that world on film and in doing so, documented that world in the course of running his business and perfecting his art. Steven C. Newsome, director of the Maryland Commission on Afro-American History and Culture stated that The Scurlocks' photograph "Gave us connections. They tell stories. They let us remember."
The collection includes photographs of the nationally famous Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Mary McLeod Bethune, Mary Church Terrell, Marian Anderson; the locally or regionally important: P.B.S. Pinchback, Judge Miflin Gibbs, Col. Jim Lewis, Ernest Just, Anna J. Cooper; and actors, artists, vaudevillians, and musicians such as Fredi Washington, Madame Lilian Evanti, Oakley & Oakley, and Duke Ellington.
George Scurlock. Interview conducted by David Haberstich and intern Lora Koehler at Mr. Scurlock's apartment, Aug. 2003.
Theodore Hudson, conversation with David Haberstich in the Archives Center, 2 February 2004.
Jane Freundel Levey, "The Scurlock Studio," Washington History, 1989, p. 44.
Robert S. Scurlock, "An Appreciation of Addison N. Scurlock's Photographic Achievements," The Historic Photographs of Addison N. Scurlock. Washington, D.C.: The Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, 1986 (exhibition catalog).
Materials at Other Organizations:
The Historical Society of Washington, DC holds Scurlock-related materials.
The Charles Sumner School Museumn and Archives holds Scurlock-related materials.
Materials in the National Museum of American History:
Cameras and other photographic apparatus, studio furniture, and miscellaneous ephemera from the Scurlock studio are in the History of Photography Collection. An adding machine from the studio is in the Museum's mathematics collection. See accessions 1997.0293 and 2010.0157.
The Museum purchased the Scurlock Studio Records from the Estate of Robert S. Scurlock, through Judge Marjorie Lawson in 1997. During the period of negotiation between the museum and Robert Scurlock's heirs, his widow Vivian and brother George, the collection was on loan to the Museum and was housed primarily in a closed exhibition area on the second floor. Staff of the Archives Center took physical possession of the collection long before the transfer to the Museum was final. The studio records and photographs were housed principally in the 18th Street studio and in two rental storage facilities. The primary move of the collection to the Museum occurred in September 1995. An additional pickup occurred on February 12, 1996 (on tags). There was probably one additional pickup from the studio by David Haberstich and Caleb Fey on an unrecorded date.
Collection is open for research.
Series 8: Business Records, Subseries 8.1: Studio Session Registers are restricted. Digital copies available for research. See repository for details.
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements required to view negatives due to cold storage. Using negatives requires a three hour waiting period. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
When the Museum purchased the collection from the Estate of Robert S. Scurlock, it obtained all rights, including copyright. The earliest photographs in the collection are in the public domain because their term of copyright has expired. The Archives Center will control copyright and the use of the collection for reproduction purposes, which will be handled in accordance with its standard reproduction policy guidelines. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution
The collection was acquired with assistance from the Eugene Meyer Foundation. Elihu and Susan Rose and the Save America's Treasures program, provided funds to stabilize, organize, store, and create digital surrogates of some of the negatives. Processing and encoding funded by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Patterson, Frederick D. (Frederick Douglass), 1901-1988 Search this
18.66 Linear feet (21 boxes)
1882 - 1988
President of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (later Tukegee Institute; now Tuskegee University) from 1935 - 1953 and founder of the United Negro College Fund (1944). Patterson was born on October 10, 1901. Orphaned at age two, he was raised by his eldest sister, Wilhelmina (Bess), a school teacher in Texas. He studied at Iowa State College, where he received a doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1923 and a master of science degree in 1927. Five years later, he was awarded a second doctorate degree from Cornell University. Patterson taught veterinary science for four years at Virginia State College, where he was also Director of Agriculture. His tenure at Tuskegee University started in 1928 and spanned almost 25 years, first as head of the veterinary division, then as the director of the School of Agriculture and finally as Tuskegee's third president. He married Catherine Elizabeth Moton, daughter of Tuskegee University's second president, Dr. Robert R. Moton. Patterson also founded the School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee in 1944, the same year he founded the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The UNCF continues today as a critical source of annual income for a consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tuskegee University among them.
Scope and Content note:
The Frederick Douglass Patterson Collection comprises 18.66 linear feet of correspondence, manuscripts, research material, published writings, photographs, audiovisual material, scrapbooks, diplomas, awards, and other materials chronicling the personal life and professional career of Frederick D. Patterson.
The collection is comprised of glimpses into the life of Dr. Patterson. The little correspondece that survived is located in Series 2: Career, Series 3: Correspondence, and Series 4: Organizations. Some of the correspondence takes the form of congratulatory notes from 1953 during Patterson's transfer from Tuskegee Institute to the Phelps-Stokes Fund, located in Series 2. There is also a personal note sent to Patterson's wife, Catherine Patterson, from George Washington Carver in which he describes peanut oil as a good massage oil.
The collection is arranged by series and chronologically therein:
1. Biography: This series provides insight into Patterson's family life through primary documents. It is comprised of family wills, insurance policies, and his autobiography. Sub-series are arranged alphabetically by title.
2. Career: This series contains materials from Patterson's long professional career in the field of higher education, including his tenure as present of both the Tuskegee Institute and the Phelps-Stokes Fund. Sub-series are arranged chronologically.
3. Correspondence: This series contains letters sent to Patterson (and his wife) of a personal and professional nature. Several letters relate to Patterson's personal business "Signs and Services," which was a small billboard advertising company. There are also letters from George Washington Carver. The series is arranged chronologically.
4. Organizations: This series contains material from the various foundations Patterson founded and to which he belonged, including the R.R. Moton Fund and the College Endowment Funding Plan. He is especially noted for developing the United Negro College Fund. The series is organized alphabetically by sub-series title.
5. Honors: This series contains the awards, citations, and resolutions Patterson received during his lifetime. Folders are organized chronologically.
6. Subject Files: This series comprises articles, employee vitas, and other documents collected and organized by Patterson. Among the subjects in the files are higher education, Negroes, segregation, civil rights, and employee records. There is no key to this system.
7. Photographs: The Photograph series mostly documents Patterson's tenure at Tuskegee University. The series includes images of Patterson and various other notable figures during formal functions at the university. Noteworthy personalities include George Washington Carver, Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.
8. Printed Materials: This series contains books, programs, and other documents from Patterson's personal collection. The series is organized alphabetically by author's last name.
Frederick Douglass Patterson was born on October 10, 1901 to parents William and Mamie Brooks Patterson, in the Buena Vista Heights area of Anacostia in Washington, D.C. The youngest of six children, Patterson's parents died of tuberculosis before he reached the age of two years, his mother when he was eleven months old and his father a year later. Following his parents' death, the Patterson children were split up and sent to live in the homes of family and friends as stipulated in his father's last will and testament until he was seven years old, Patterson lived in the Anacostia area with a family friend he called "Aunt Julia."
When he was seven years old, Patterson's older sister Bess (a recent graduate of the Washington Conservatory of Music) decided to seek employment in Texas and took him with her. Many of their parents' family still lived in the state, which allowed Patterson the opportunity to spend months with various aunts and uncles, while his sister taught music throughout the South. After completing eighth grade, Patterson joined his sister at the Prairie View Normal School, where she taught music and directed the choir. Patterson attended the school for four years, during which time he developed an interest in veterinary medicine.
In 1920, Patterson enrolled at Iowa State College as a veterinary student. He graduated in 1923 and moved to Columbus, Ohio, to join his brother John. While there, he took the Ohio State Board exam for Veterinary Medicine. Although he became certified, a lack of money prevented him from practicing. Four years later he received a teaching offer from Virginia State College (VSC) in Petersburg, Virginia, which afforded him the opportunity to work within his profession. While at VSC Patterson took a leave of absence and returned to Iowa, in 1926, to pursue a Master's degree in veterinary medicine.
After five years at VSC, the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute offered Patterson a position running the veterinarian hospital and teaching veterinary science. He moved to Tuskegee, Alabama in 1928. While at Tuskegee, Patterson decided to pursue a Ph.D. in bacteriology at Cornell University. During his year and a half leave from Tuskegee, Patterson completed his coursework and wrote his dissertation. After he returned to Tuskegee, a serial killer murdered three people, including the head of the Department of Agriculture. Confronted with this tragedy, school officials quickly offered Patterson the vacant position, which he accepted in 1934.
Robert R. Moton, second president of Tuskegee, retired in 1935 and a search was soon commenced to find the next president for the school. Patterson, in the meantime, pursued more personal matters when he met and married Catherine Moton (with whom he would have a son) in June 1935. By then he was already hired to take his now, father-in-law's, position as President of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute.
As president of Tuskegee, Patterson made several changes and many additions to the institution. He increased faculty housing for professors; integrated the Board of Trustees' meeting meals and eventually arranged for both balck and white members to eat at one table; shortened the name to Tuskegee Institute; and established the Department of Commercial Dietetics in 1935, the veterinary medicine program in 1942, and the engineering program in 1948. While many considered Patterson's changes important achievements, it was his development of the Commercial/Military Aviation Program that would bring the school distinction and fame.
Patterson first attempted to develop the aviation program in 1939. The government fostered the development of such programs by subsiding the expenses. All a university had to do was present able-bodied instructors and willing pupils. Tuskegee had both. By 1940 the United States Air Force was interested in integrating its forces. In order to do this they needed trained black pilots. Tuskegee was the perfect place to provide the needed pilots since the school was situated in an all-black environment where students could concentrate on learning to fly without having to worry about racist reactions from their fellow classmates. To accommodate this program, the Tuskegee Army Air Base was created. Tuskegee pilots flew missions throughout World War II and would later be recognized for their bravery.
An important part of Patterson's duties as president was fund-raising. By 1943 he found it increasingly difficult to find ample sources of funds to run the Institute. He came to realize Tuskegee and similar black colleges would benefit if they pooled their funding resources and asked for larger amounts of money from philanthropic individuals and organizations as a collective. Working together would cut fund-raising expenses; this in turn would leave more money for the colleges to use as they wished. Patterson named his new creation the United Negro College Fund (UNCF); it would go on to raise millions of dollars for the nation's historically black colleges. He served as the first president of the organization.
During the fifteen years Patterson served as president of Tuskegee, he hosted many famous personalities, including W.E.B. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune, Eleanor Roosevelt, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, Pearl Buck, and Andre Segovia. He developed a lasting relationship with George Washington Carver, who had been a professor with Tuskegee since the days of Booker T. Washington.
Patterson served on many organizational boards in addition to his educational work. His involvement with the Phelps-Stokes Fund would ultimately lead Patterson to leave his beloved Tuskegee Institute to apply his educational philosophies on a broader scale. In 1953 the Fund approached Patterson and offered him the presidency of the organization. Patterson, feeling he needed a change, accepted the offer. He resigned from Tuskegee that same year and moved to New York to begin a new life.
Organized in 1911, the Phelps-Stokes Fund supported African, African American, and Native American education and worked on solving housing problems in New York City. Patterson's interest in African education began before he joined Phelps-Stokes. In 1950 the World Bank/International Bank Commission to Nigeria hired him to "evaluate the resources of Nigeria and…to study the educational programs and the organizational structure of advanced education." Through his work with the Fund he continued his efforts to improve the educational opportunities for Africans and help them move beyond colonialism. Patterson traveled extensively throughout the west coast of Africa in support of these goals.
In addition to forming the UNCF, Patterson created two other organizations (the Robert R. Moton Institute and the College Endowment Funding Plan), during the mid 1960s and 1970s. Each was designed to improve funding efforts for historically black colleges. The Robert R. Moton institute began as an off-shoot of the Phelps-Stokes as a site for conferences to address the Fund's primary concerns. Patterson's idea for the Institute came from a desire to put to use a piece of property inherited after Moton's death. Empathy with the frustrations of college presidents regarding the restricted funding for institutional expenses led Patterson to create the College Endowment Funding Plan. The Endowment was designed to alleviate this situation by providing matching funds to eligible colleges. The Endowment made its first payment in 1978. Unfortunately, by the 1980s, the Moton Institute lost most of its government funding due to federal cutbacks. This resulted in reductions to the Institute's programming.
It was not until Patterson was well into his eighties that he began to retire from his life of public service. On June 23, 1987, President Ronald Reagan presented Dr. Patterson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest possible honor that can be bestowed upon a civilian, for his service in higher education and his role in creating funding sources for the nation's historically black colleges. A year later Frederick Douglass Patterson died at the age of eighty-seven.
undated -- Xavier University
1941 -- Virginia State College
1941 -- Wilberforce University
1953 -- Morehouse College
1956 -- Tuskegee Institute
1961 -- New York University
1966 -- Edward Waters College
1967 -- Atlanta University
1969 -- Franklin and Marshall College
1970 -- Virginia Union University
1975 -- Bishop College
1977 -- St. Augustine's College
1982 -- Brooklyn College of the City University of New York
1984 -- Stillman College
1985 -- Payne College
undated -- Association for the Study of Negro Life and History Carter
undated -- The Southern Education Foundation, Inc. Distinguished Service Citation
undated -- The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Texas Association of Developing Colleges Annual Leadership Awards
1950 -- Christian Education department, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Inc. Citation for Distinguished Service
1953 -- Bethune-Cookman College, the Mary McLeod Bethune Medallion
1953 -- John A. Andrew Clinical Society at Tuskegee Institute, Citation for Distinguished Service in the Cause of Humanity
1953 -- Tuskegee Institute, Certificate of Appreciation for 25 Years of Service
1957 -- Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Beta Lamda Sigma Chapter, Bigger and Better Business Award
1960 -- National Alumni Council of the UNCF, Inc. Award
1963 -- National Business League, Booker T. Washington Award
1965 -- Booker T. Washington Business Association, Certificate of Acknowledgement
1970 -- Moton Conference Center Award
1970 -- Tuskegee National Alumni Association, R.R. Moton Award
1972 -- American College Public Relations Association, 1972 Award for Distinguished Service to Higher Education
1972 -- UNCF F.D. Patterson 71st Birthday Award
1975 -- National Business League, Booker T. Washington Symbol of Service Award
1976 -- Phelps-Stokes Fund, Continuous Creative and Courageous Leadership in the Cause of Higher Education for Blacks
1977 -- Yale Alumni Associates of Afro-America, Distinguished Service Award
1979 -- Alpha Phi Alpha Education Foundation Inc., Distinguished Educator Award
1979 -- Tuskegee Institute Alumni Association Philadelphia Charter Award
1980 -- The Iowa State University Alumni Association, Distinguished Achievement Citation
1980 -- Gary Branch NAACP Life Membership Fight for Freedom Dinner 1980, Roy Wilkins Award
1980 -- State of Alabama Certificate of Appreciation
1982 -- St. Luke's United Methodist Church Achievement Award
1983 -- Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., Distinguished Service Award
1984 -- Booker T. Washington Foundation, Booker T. Washington Distinguished Service Award
1984 -- The Ohio State University Office of Minority Affairs, Distinguished Humanitarian and Service Award
1985 -- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, Eta Zeta Lamda Chapter Civic Award
1985 -- United States, Private Sector Initiative Commendation
1987 -- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc of New York State, Founders Day Award
1987 -- Presidential Medal of Freedom
1987 -- Brag Business Achievement Award
1987 -- Phelps-Stokes Fund, Aggrey Medal
1941-1971 -- Southern Educational Foundation, Inc., Board Member
1943-1988 -- United Negro College Fund, Founder, President, and Member
1960s-1988 -- Robert R. Moton Memorial Institute, Founder
1970s-1988 -- The College Endowment Funding Plan, Founder
undated -- American National Red Cross, Board of Governors Member
undated -- Boys Scouts of America, National Council Member
undated -- Citizens Committee for the Hoover Report on Reorganization of Federal Government, Board Member
undated -- Institute of International Education, Advisory committee Member
undated -- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Life Member
undated -- National Business League, President and Board Member
undated -- National Urban League, National Committee Member
undated -- Phelps-Stokes Fund, Board of Trustees Member
undated -- President's Commission on Higher Education for Negroes
undated -- Southern Regional Education, Board of Control Member
Additional biographical materials in the Dale/Patterson Collection of the Anacostia Community Museum Archives.
This collection contains artifacts catalogued in the ACM Objects Collection.
The Frederick Douglass Patterson papers were donated to the Anacostia Community Museum in 2001 by Frederick Douglass Patterson, Jr.
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
The Frederick Douglass Patterson papers are the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the author/creator or their legal heirs and assigns. Rights to work produced during the normal course of Museum business resides with the Anacostia Community Museum. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
Universities and colleges -- Administration Search this
An interview of James and Beth Arient conducted 1988 April 27-29, by Betty Blum, for the Archives of American Art.
The Arients describe their backgrounds and talk about their initial interest in art and early collecting, their philosophy of collecting, their discovery of Eskimo sculpture and their first awareness of folk art. They comment on meeting Howard Finster and their subsequent relationship with him, Finster's relationship with collector Jeff Camp, the marketability of folk art, a 1987 exhibition of part of their collection at Northern Illinois University Art Gallery, and folk art patronage. They recall William Dawson and Derek Webster.
Biographical / Historical:
James Arient (1946-) and Beth Arient (1946-) are folk art collectors from Chicago, Illinois. James Arient is a dentist.
Originally recorded on 3 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 6 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 29 min.
These interviews are part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.
Art -- Collectors and collecting -- Illinois -- Chicago -- Interviews Search this
Folk art -- Collectors and collecting -- United States Search this
Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
2 Copies (Two copies of a bound volume of 226 typed pages, with 48 mounted silver gelatin prints with captions, 194p, 29 x 22 cm.)
Angkor Wat (Cambodia)
Scope and Contents:
A report prepared by archaeologist and art historian Langdon Warner on his travels of 1913-1914 to investigate the founding of an American school of Chinese archaeology to be established in Beijing. Warner's travels included Europe, Japan, Korea, China and Indo-China. Warner spoke with scholars, administrators and officials, and travelled to museums and archaeological sites. Warner traveled with his wife. The report contains two parts; the first being a summary of his travels, and the second, a series of recommendations for the proposed school.
Biographical / Historical:
Langdon Warner was an archaeologist and historian of Asian art in the first half of the 20th century. He was born on August 1, 1881 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and educated at Harvard University, which he graduated from in 1903. Between acting in various positions at museums across the country, most notably the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Nelson-Atkins Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Harvard Fogg Museum of Art, he travelled extensively in Asia. Including an 1913-14 trip sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution to explore the possibility of founding an American School of Chinese Archaeology in Beijing. Accompanied by his wife, their journey included visits to Europe, Japan, Korea, China, and Indochina. He spoke with scholars, administrators, and officials, and travelled to museums and archaeological sites. He compiled a two-part report: a summary of his travels and a series of recommendations for the proposed school.
During World War II, Warner taught a course on Japanese language, culture, and history to Civil Affairs Officers and acted as a Special Consultant for the U.S. Army's Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program, the so-called "Monuments Men." He created the Official List of Monuments for Japan, China, Korea, and Thailand. Warner spent the summer of 1946 working as an Expert Consultant to the Arts and Monuments Division of the Civil Information and Education Section under the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. Upon his return to Massachusetts, he resumed working at the Fogg Museum of Art until his retirement in 1950. During his career, he wrote numerous books on Asian art such as The Enduring Art of Japan, The Long Old Road in China, and Japanese Sculpture of the Tempyo Period: Masterpieces of the Eighth Century. Warner died on June 9, 1955 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was posthumously awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasures by the Japanese government for his efforts to preserve Japanese art and monuments during and after the war.
Other Archival Materials:
Landon Warner Papers, circa late 18th century-1987 (bulk 1900-1959). Houghton Library, Harvard University
Langdon Warner Photograph Collection, 1903-1950. Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Langdon Warner Records, 1916-1929 (bulk 1917-1923). Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives.