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Ben Shahn papers

Creator:
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969  Search this
Names:
Baskin, Leonard, 1922-2000  Search this
Delano, Jack  Search this
Dugan, Alan  Search this
Evans, Walker, 1903-1975  Search this
Ferry, W. Hawkins  Search this
Francis, Arlene  Search this
Friendly, Fred W.  Search this
Gusten, Theodore, 1899-1978  Search this
Hirsch, Joseph, 1910-1981  Search this
Kingman, Dong, 1911-  Search this
Lange, Dorothea  Search this
Lee, Russell, 1903-1986  Search this
Lionni, Leo, 1910-  Search this
MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982  Search this
Martin, John Bartlow, 1915-1987  Search this
Mydans, Carl  Search this
Nakashima, George, 1905-  Search this
Nakashima, Marian  Search this
Odets, Clifford, 1906-1963  Search this
Osborn, Robert Chesley, 1904-1994  Search this
Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957  Search this
Robbins, Jerome  Search this
Rodman, Selden, 1909-  Search this
Rothstein, Arthur, 1915-1985  Search this
Sheeler, Charles, 1883-1965  Search this
Smith, David, 1906-1965  Search this
Soby, James Thrall, 1906-1979  Search this
Soyer, Raphael, 1899-1987  Search this
Vachon, John, 1914-1975  Search this
Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963  Search this
Wolcott, Marion Post, 1910-1990  Search this
Zorach, William, 1887-1966  Search this
Extent:
24.8 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Awards
Sketches
Transcripts
Motion pictures (visual works)
Sketchbooks
Video recordings
Drawings
Photographs
Prints
Sound recordings
Interviews
Date:
1879-1990
bulk 1933-1970
Summary:
The papers of social realist painter, photographer, illustrator, printmaker, and teacher Ben Shahn (1898-1969) measure 24.8 linear feet and date from 1879-1990, with the bulk of the material dating from 1933-1970. The bulk of the collection consists of over 14 linear feet of incoming letters from artists, writers, colleagues, publishers, art organizations, galleries, and universities and colleges. Also found are biographical materials, project and source files, printed material, artwork by Shahn and others, photographs taken of and by Shahn, interview transcripts, sound recordings of interviews and a motion picture film.
Scope and Contents note:
The papers of social realist painter, photographer, illustrator, printmaker, and teacher Ben Shahn (1898-1969) measure 24.8 linear feet and date from 1879-1990, with the bulk of the material dating from 1933-1970. The bulk of the collection consists of over 14 linear feet of incoming letters from artists, writers, colleagues, publishers, art organizations, galleries, and universities and colleges. Also found are biographical materials, project and source files, printed material, artwork by Shahn and others, photographs taken of and by Shahn, interview transcripts, sound recordings of interviews and a motion picture film.

Biographical material and family records include a 1924 passport for Shahn and his first wife, Tillie, biographical sketches of Shahn, and award certificates received by him.

Letters are primarily written to Shahn from family members, artists, writers, colleagues, publishers, art organizations, galleries, and universities and colleges. Notable correspondents include Leonard Baskin, Alexander Calder, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Joseph Hirsch, Leo Lionni, John Bartlow Martin, George and Marian Nakashima, Clifford Odets, Charles Olson, Robert Osborn, Diego Rivera, Jerome Robbins, Selden Rodman, James Thrall Soby, Raphael Soyer, and William Carlos Williams. A small number of scattered letters from Shahn can also be found throughout the series.

Project files document approximately twenty-one of Shahn's commissions, including murals for the community center at Jersey Homesteads, the Bronx Central Annex Post Office, the Social Security Building in Washington D.C. , and the William E. Grady Vocational High School. The files also document his involvement in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Roosevelt, in addition to projects for schools, temples and private homes.

Financial and legal records include consignment records, loan agreements, royalty statements and receipts for artwork sold.

Notes and writings are by Shahn and others including Alan Dugan, W. H. Ferry, Theodore Gusten, and John Bartlow Martin. They include lists of artwork, many of which are annotated.

Artwork includes a sketchbook and several unbound sketches and lettering by Shahn, in addition to drawings and prints by others including Shahn's children, Mario Casetta and Stefan Martin.

Source files contain printed material and photographs relating to topics depicted by Shahn in his artwork such as children, dams, farming, houses, industry, mines and miners, slums, war and workers. These files also contain scattered photographic prints by FSA and OWI photographers including Shahn, Jack Delano, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans, Marion Post Wolcott, Arthur Rothstein, and John Vachon.

Printed material includes news clippings covering Shahn and his career as well as subjects of interest to Shahn. Also found are exhibition catalogs and announcements for exhibitions for Shahn and others, and reproductions of Shahn's artwork including publications illustrated by him.

Photographs are of Shahn, his family and friends and colleagues including Alexander Calder, Jerome Robbins, Charles Sheeler, David Smith and William Zorach. Also included are photographs taken by Shahn of New York City and for the FSA in the 1930s, as well as photographs of artwork by Shahn. Photographs by others include one photo each by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee and Arthur Rothstein.

The collection also contains transcripts of eight radio, television and motion picture interviews of Shahn and a reel of 16mm motion picture film from the BBC-TV program "Monitor," in addition to sound recordings of interviews of Shahn by Tony Schwartz and Arlene Francis. Artifacts include a Christmas greeting in the form of a sock.
Arrangement note:
The collection is arranged as 12 series:

Series 1: Biographical and Family Records, 1879-1984 (Box 1, OV 36; 0.2 linear ft.)

Series 2: Letters, 1929-1990 (Boxes 1-25, 35, OVs 36-38; 14.4 linear ft.)

Series 3: Project Files, 1933-1975 (Boxes 25-26; OVs 36-37; 1.03 linear ft.)

Series 4: Financial and Legal Records, 1934-1988 (Boxes 26-27, 35; 0.81 linear ft.)

Series 5: Notes and Writings, circa 1933-1988 (Boxes 27-28; 1.62 linear ft.)

Series 6: Artwork, circa 1930s-1965 (Boxes 28, 35; 11 folders)

Series 7: Source Files, circa 1900s-1960s (Boxes 28-30, 35; 1.81 linear ft.)

Series 8: Printed Material, 1912-1988 (Boxes 30-33, 35, OV 39; 3.22 linear ft.)

Series 9: Photographs, circa 1900-1969 (Boxes 33-35; 0.86 linear ft.)

Series 10: Interview Transcripts, 1943-1968 (Box 34; 0.25 linear ft.)

Series 11: Audio and Video Recordings, 1959-1968 (Box 34; 0.25 linear ft.)

Series 12: Artifacts, circa 1930s-circa 1960s (Box 34; 2 items)
Biographical/Historical note:
Ben Shahn (1898-1969) was a social realist painter, muralist, printmaker, photographer, illustrator, and teacher who worked primarily in Brooklyn, New York and New Jersey. He was most active in the 1930s through the 1950s and worked on several federally funded arts projects, including the Farm Security Administration's photographic documentation project of rural America during the Depression.

Ben Shahn was born in Kovno, Lithuania and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1906 where he settled in Brooklyn, and later Roosevelt, New Jersey, after becoming a naturalized citizen in 1918.

Following an apprenticeship as a lithographer from 1913-1917, Shahn studied at New York University, the City College of New York, and the National Academy of Design from 1919-1922. He married Tillie Goldstein in 1922 and they had two children, Judith and Ezra.

Two years after Shahn's first solo exhibition at the Downtown Gallery in 1930, his Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti, a series of 23 gouaches about the Sacco and Vanzetti trial of the 1920s, was exhibited at the Downtown Gallery to critical and public acclaim. The exhibition marked the beginning of Shahn's reputation as one of the most important social realist painters in America. Shahn's commitment to social and political justice found a natural outlet in mural painting when, in 1933, he was hired to assist Diego Rivera on the labor and industry mural Man at the Crossroads, for New York City's Rockefeller Center. The mural was destroyed amid controversy in 1933 before it was completed, but Shahn had learned much about the art of fresco painting during the project and was inspired by the potential of the mural as a unique art form for presenting life's struggles and stories to a large public audience. Between 1933 and 1937 Shahn worked on various murals for other buildings, including New York's Central Park Casino (circa 1934) and Riker's Island Prison (1934), none of which saw completion. In 1937, however, the Farm Security Administration (FSA) commissioned Shahn to execute a mural for the Community Center in the town of Jersey Homesteads, later Roosevelt, New Jersey, which Shahn completed in 1938. Shahn settled in Jersey Homesteads the following year and remained there for the rest of his life. Other important mural commissions followed for the Bronx Central Post office (1939) and the Social Security Building in Washington DC (1942).

One of Shahn's assistants on the Jersey Homesteads mural was Bernarda Bryson, whom he had met in 1933 when she came to New York to interview Rivera about the Rockefeller Center mural controversy for an Ohio newspaper. Shahn and Bryson became lifetime companions and had three children, Susanna, Jonathan and Abigail, although they did not marry until shortly before Shahn's death in 1969. Shahn and Tillie Goldstein were divorced in 1944.

Shahn had enrolled with the federal Public Works of Art Project in 1934, and between 1935 and 1938 he and Bryson travelled across country as Shahn photographed poverty-stricken areas and documented rural life for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the Resettlement Agency. Shahn's interest in photography developed in the early 1930s when, encouraged by his friendship with Walker Evans, he began photographing street scenes and people in New York City. He later used the images as the basis for many of his prints and paintings.

In 1942 Shahn began working for the Office of War Information (OWI) and was instructed to produce posters and pamphlets explaining to citizens the necessities of wartime, such as the need for secrecy and food rationing. Ultimately, only two of Shahn's posters were ever used; the rest were rejected as being too harsh for their intended audience. Shahn later worked for the Congress of Industrial Organization Political Action Committee (CIO-PAC), producing posters for the 1944 campaign to re-elect Roosevelt, who he believed in deeply. He was promoted to director of the CIO's Graphic Arts Division for the 1946 congressional campaign following Roosevelt's death, but that job ended when the election went poorly for the Democratic party.

Shahn returned increasingly to painting and a retrospective of his work was held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1947. He also became more active in academia as an accomplished writer, teacher and lecturer. He received honorary doctorates from Princeton University and Harvard University, and become the Charles Eliot Norton professor at Harvard in 1956. Shahn's Norton lectures were collected and published as the influential The Shape of Content in 1957. He also began to work as a commercial artist for a variety of companies and publications including CBS, Time, Harper's, and the Container Corporation of America. Shahn believed, however, that the artist's ideas and integrity must always be reflected in his commercial art. He refused to compromise on this point and was very selective in his choice of commercial commissions. Shahn illustrated many books and articles, designed sets for stage productions such as New York Export: Opus Jazz, choreographed by Jerome Robbins, and designed mural mosaics for synagogues, universities and private homes.

Since the 1930s Shahn had been represented by Edith Halpert at the Downtown Gallery, but his relationship with her was always contentious on the subject of payments Shahn received for commercial work, and became increasingly so as his income from such sources increased. Finally, in 1968, Shahn wrote to Halpert telling her that after ten years of "an accumulation of ill-feeling, discomfort and recrimination between us" he felt compelled to end their dealer-artist relationship.

By the time of Shahn's break with Halpert his health had begun to fail. He died of a heart attack following surgery in a New York City hospital on March 14, 1969.
Related Archival Materials note:
The Archives of American Art holds four oral history interviews with Ben Shahn: 1964 Apr. 14 interview conducted by Richard K. Doud for the Archives of American Art New Deal and the Arts Project in which Shahn speaks of his travels and work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the American image as portrayed by FSA; 1965 Jan. 17 interview; 1965 Oct. 3. interview conducted by Harlan Phillips for the Archives of American Art New Deal and the Arts Project; and 1968 Sept. 27 interview conducted by Forrest Selvig. Most of these interviews have transcripts available online.

The Archives also holds the Bernarda Bryson Shahn papers, circa 1947-2005, and two oral history interviews with Bernarda Bryson Shahn: 1983 Apr. 29 and 1995 July 3.
Separated Materials note:
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reel N70-6) including addresses and essays by Shahn, seven royalty statements, and three letters from publishers. Many of the writings found on this reel were included in subsequent donations. All other lent material was returned to the lender and is not described in the collection container inventory.
Provenance:
The Ben Shahn papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in several installments between 1967-1991 by Shahn's widow, Bernarda Bryson Shahn who also lent materials for microfilming in 1969. Jean Shahn, Ben Shahn's daughter-in-law and estate representative, donated one additional sketch in 2018.
Restrictions:
Access to original papers requires an appointment. Access to audiovisual recording with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Occupation:
Painters -- United States  Search this
Topic:
Printmakers -- United States  Search this
Illustrators -- United States  Search this
Photographers -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Awards
Sketches
Transcripts
Motion pictures (visual works)
Sketchbooks
Video recordings
Drawings
Photographs
Prints
Sound recordings
Interviews
Citation:
Ben Shahn papers, 1879-1990, bulk 1933-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.shahben
See more items in:
Ben Shahn papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-shahben
Online Media:

Brochures and Pamphlets (businesses, art supplies)

Collection Creator:
Oakley, Violet, 1874-1961  Search this
Container:
Box 43, Folder 25-26
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1900-1960
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' research center in Washington, D.C.
Collection Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Collection Citation:
Violet Oakley papers, 1941-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Violet Oakley papers
Violet Oakley papers / Series 7: Printed Material
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-oaklviol-ref616

Brochures and Pamphlets (businesses, booksellers)

Collection Creator:
Oakley, Violet, 1874-1961  Search this
Container:
Box 43, Folder 27
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1900-1960
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' research center in Washington, D.C.
Collection Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Collection Citation:
Violet Oakley papers, 1941-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Violet Oakley papers
Violet Oakley papers / Series 7: Printed Material
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-oaklviol-ref617

Brochures and Pamphlets (businesses, garden suppliers)

Collection Creator:
Oakley, Violet, 1874-1961  Search this
Container:
Box 43, Folder 28
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1900-1960
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' research center in Washington, D.C.
Collection Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Collection Citation:
Violet Oakley papers, 1941-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Violet Oakley papers
Violet Oakley papers / Series 7: Printed Material
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-oaklviol-ref618

Brochures and Pamphlets (businesses, international)

Collection Creator:
Oakley, Violet, 1874-1961  Search this
Container:
Box 43, Folder 29
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1900-1960
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' research center in Washington, D.C.
Collection Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Collection Citation:
Violet Oakley papers, 1941-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Violet Oakley papers
Violet Oakley papers / Series 7: Printed Material
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-oaklviol-ref619

Brochures and Pamphlets (businesses, United States)

Collection Creator:
Oakley, Violet, 1874-1961  Search this
Container:
Box 43, Folder 30
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1900-1960
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' research center in Washington, D.C.
Collection Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Collection Citation:
Violet Oakley papers, 1941-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Violet Oakley papers
Violet Oakley papers / Series 7: Printed Material
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-oaklviol-ref620

Brochures and Pamphlets (instruction and classes)

Collection Creator:
Oakley, Violet, 1874-1961  Search this
Container:
Box 43, Folder 31
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1900-1960
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' research center in Washington, D.C.
Collection Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Collection Citation:
Violet Oakley papers, 1941-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Violet Oakley papers
Violet Oakley papers / Series 7: Printed Material
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-oaklviol-ref621

Brochures and Pamphlets (lectures)

Collection Creator:
Oakley, Violet, 1874-1961  Search this
Container:
Box 43, Folder 32
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1900-1960
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' research center in Washington, D.C.
Collection Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Collection Citation:
Violet Oakley papers, 1941-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Violet Oakley papers
Violet Oakley papers / Series 7: Printed Material
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-oaklviol-ref622

Brochures and Pamphlets (philosophy, politics, and religion)

Collection Creator:
Oakley, Violet, 1874-1961  Search this
Container:
Box 44, Folder 1-2
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1900-1960
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' research center in Washington, D.C.
Collection Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Collection Citation:
Violet Oakley papers, 1941-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Violet Oakley papers
Violet Oakley papers / Series 7: Printed Material
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-oaklviol-ref625

Brochures and Pamphlets (miscellaneous)

Collection Creator:
Oakley, Violet, 1874-1961  Search this
Container:
Box 44, Folder 3
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1900-1960
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' research center in Washington, D.C.
Collection Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Collection Citation:
Violet Oakley papers, 1941-1981. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Violet Oakley papers
Violet Oakley papers / Series 7: Printed Material
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-oaklviol-ref626

Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Pianos

Creator:
Warshaw, Isadore, 1900-1969  Search this
Extent:
4.59 Cubic feet (consisting of 8 boxes, 2 half boxes, 5 folders, 7 oversize folders, 2 map case folders, 2 flat boxes (partial), plus digital images of some collection material. )
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Ephemera
Business ephemera
Date:
undated
1842-1965
Summary:
A New York bookseller, Warshaw assembled this collection over nearly fifty years. The Warshaw Collection of Business Americana: Pianos forms part of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Subseries 1.1: Subject Categories. The Subject Categories subseries is divided into 470 subject categories based on those created by Mr. Warshaw. These subject categories include topical subjects, types or forms of material, people, organizations, historical events, and other categories. An overview to the entire Warshaw collection is available here: Warshaw Collection of Business Americana
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists primarily of advertising cards, business cards, bookmarks, printed advertisements, scattered correspondence on letterhead stationery, pamphlets, bills/receipts, trade catalogs, fans, photographs, patents, song books, articles and books from manufacturers and distributors of pianos and piano parts. There is a substantial amount of materials for each company especially for the bigger and better known piano manufacturers. A number of these companies also sold organs. Among the materials there is a small number of programs, hymn books and music books.

A large amount of the materials are images. Most of the images are of pianos and organs found primarily in the trade catalogues and on printed advertisements. The images on the printed advertisements are similar to those in the trade catalogues and include the same information such as dimensions of the piano, style name, price, type of wood frame, and attractive features. The piano is shown as a focal point of family life. Pianos are considered as important furnishings for the home. Manufacturers advertised pianos as companions and the source of inspiration, pleasure and entertainment. Images depicting women and family life are also particularly strong in this collection.

There are a number of publications which discuss the history of piano manufacturing companies. These publications are included with the company related materials. Other publications include primers, early American hymn books, instructions on how to play piano and old favorite songs.

The material is organized alphabetically by name of company. There are seven folders of material grouped by type: business cards, patents, shipping documents, clubs, schools, general images and shipping documents.
Brand Name Index:
Brand Name :: Company Name :: Type of Product

Beckwith :: Sears Roebuck & Co. :: Piano

Bijou :: Calenberg & Vaupel :: Piano

Bradbury :: F. G. Smith & Co. :: Piano

Capen :: Brockport Piano Mfg. Co. :: Piano

Conover :: Cable Co. :: Piano

Crown :: Geo. P. Bent Mfg. Co. :: Piano

Kingsbury :: Cable Co. :: Piano

Orchestrella :: Aeolian Company :: Piano

Pianola :: Aeolian Company :: Piano

Separable :: Calenberg & Vaupel :: Piano

Weber Pianola :: Aeolian Company :: Piano

Wellington :: Calenberg & Vaupel :: Piano
Materials in the Archives Center:
Archives Center Collection of Business Americana (AC0404)
Forms Part Of:
Forms part of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana.

Series 1: Business Ephemera

Series 2: Other Collection Divisions

Series 3: Isadore Warshaw Personal Papers

Series 4: Photographic Reference Material
Related Materials:
Researchers interested in other collections in the Archives Center that relate to the manufacture of pianos and piano parts should consult the following collections:

Sohmer & Company Records, 1872-1989, Collection #349

Steinway Piano Company Collection, 1850-1906; 1953, Collection #178

Pratt-Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Collection #320

Chickering & Sons, 1823-1985, Collection #264

Wood & Brooks Company Records, ca. 1900-1960, Collection #457

Wurlitzer Company Records, 1864-1984, Collection #469

William Lenz Piano Tuning Collection, Collection #511
Provenance:
Pianos is a portion of the Business Ephemera Series of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Accession AC0060 purchased from Isadore Warshaw in 1967. Warshaw continued to accumulate similar material until his death, which was donated in 1971 by his widow, Augusta. For a period after acquisition, related materials from other sources (of mixed provenance) were added to the collection so there may be content produced or published after Warshaw's death in 1969. This practice has since ceased.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Some items may be restricted due to fragile condition.
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:
pianos  Search this
Piano makers  Search this
Genre/Form:
Ephemera
Business ephemera
Citation:
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Pianos, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0060.S01.01.Pianos
See more items in:
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Pianos
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0060-s01-01-pianos
Online Media:

William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection

Creator:
Everett Piano Company  Search this
Hammacher, Schlemmer & Company  Search this
Chickering & Sons Piano Company  Search this
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Wood & Brooks Company  Search this
Otto R. Trefz, Jr., & Company  Search this
Piano Parts Mfg. Co.  Search this
Lynn & Healy Company  Search this
Lang, C. H., & Company  Search this
Wurlitzer Company  Search this
Collector:
Lenz, William J. (piano technician)  Search this
Names:
American Guild of Piano Tuners  Search this
American Society of Piano Technicians  Search this
National Association of Piano Tuners  Search this
Extent:
0.25 Cubic feet (2 boxes, 1 oversized folder)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Catalogs
Manufacturers' catalogs
Clippings
Technical drawings
Pamphlets
Advertisements
Correspondence
Date:
ca. 1903-1955.
Summary:
Advertisements, catalogs, repair manuals, union materials, and technical drawings related to pianos and piano tuning (companies and organizations listed below). While providing a window into a profession that spans both science and music, this collection contains information concerning economic changes, advertising, trade associations, and technical advances.
Scope and Contents:
The William Lenx Piano Tuning Collection contains advertisements, catalogs, repair manuals, union materials, and technical drawings related to pianos and piano tuning. The collection is divided into five series. These series are William Lenx, Piano Tuners Societies and Associations, Piano Tuning and Playing, Manufacturers and Distributors of Parts, Supplies and Tools, and Manufacturers of Pianos.

Included in the collection are a number of manuscript technical drawings by Lenz of the mechanics of trackers organ from 1925. The piano supple catalogs date from c. 1903 to 1952 and document changing prices fro parts and the development of piano technology. The Piano Tuners Society and association publications and correspondence include materials form the American Guild of Piano Tuners, the National Association of Piano tuners, and the American Society of Piano Technicians (also known as the American Society of Piano Tuner-Technicians).

While providing a window into a profession that spanned the fields of both science and music, the William Lenx Collection contains information concerning economic changed, advertising, trade associations, and technical advancement.
Arrangement:
Divided into 5 series.

Series 1: William Lenz, 1925-1955

Series 2: Piano Tuners' Societies and Associations, ca. 1914-1954

Series 3: Piano Tuning and Playing, 1927-1953

Series 4: Manufacturers and Distributors of Parts and Tools, circa 1903-1952

Series 5: Manufacturers of Pianos, 1946-1955
Biographical / Historical:
Born sometime before 1890, Lenz spent most if not all of his life in Philadelphia, Pa., where he worked as a piano tuner and technician. Judging from materials in the collection, it is likely that he was a member of the National Association of Piano Tuners, and later the American Society of Piano Technicians. He probably died in the mid-1950s.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Pratt-Read Company Records, 1893-1990 (NMAH.AC.320)

Steinway Piano Company Collection, 1850-1906, 1953 (NMAH.AC.0178)

Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Series: Pianos (NMAH.AC.0060)

Wood & Brooks Company Records, c. 1890-c. 1958 (NMAH.AC.0457)

Wurlitzer Company Records, 1864-1984(NMAH.AC.0468).
Provenance:
Collection donated by University of Pennsylvania,through The Curtis Organ Restoration Society, May 24, 1994.
Restrictions:
Unrestricted research use on site.
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:
Trade unions -- Musicians -- 1900-1960  Search this
Trade and professional associations -- 1900-1960  Search this
Organ (Musical instrument) -- 1900-1960  Search this
Repairing  Search this
Piano -- tuning -- 1900-1960  Search this
Piano -- Maintenance and repair -- 1900-1960  Search this
Genre/Form:
Catalogs -- 1900-1960
Manufacturers' catalogs -- 1900-1960
Clippings -- 20th century
Technical drawings -- 1900-1960
Pamphlets -- 1900-1960
Advertisements -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Citation:
William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection, ca. 1903-1955, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0511
See more items in:
William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0511

I'll Remember April

Graphic artist:
Rabinowitz, Irwin  Search this
Akrit Music Service  Search this
Publisher:
MCA Music  Search this
Measurements:
overall: 27 cm x 17.5 cm; 10 5/8 in x 6 7/8 in
Object Name:
Pamphlet
Object Type:
Engraving
Photomechanical Lithographic Processes
Place made:
United States: New York
Date made:
circa 1900
1969
ID Number:
2007.0014.084
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ac-05d7-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_1323425

Berlin's Best Band book number 1

Graphic artist:
Akrit Music Service  Search this
Rabinowitz, Irwin  Search this
Publisher:
Irving Berlin Music Corporation  Search this
Measurements:
overall: 13.2 cm x 17.8 cm; 5 3/16 in x 7 in
Object Name:
Pamphlet
Object Type:
Engraving
Place made:
United States: New York
Date made:
1964
circa 1900
ID Number:
2007.0014.108
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ac-519d-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_1323449

Sketches in Color, Seven Pieces by Piano

Author:
Starer, Robert  Search this
Graphic artist:
Rabinowitz, Irwin  Search this
Akrit Music Service  Search this
Publisher:
MCA Music  Search this
Measurements:
overall: 30 cm x 22.6 cm; 11 13/16 in x 8 7/8 in
Object Name:
Pamphlet
Object Type:
photomechanical processes
Engraving
Place made:
United States: New York
Date made:
1964
circa 1900
ID Number:
2007.0014.117
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ac-04d2-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_1323458

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