This collection is comprised of the professional papers of Gordon D. Gibson. The collection contains his correspondence, field notes, research files, museum records, writings, photographs, sound recordings, and maps.The bulk of the collection consists of Gibson's southwestern Africa research. This includes his field notes, film scripts, photographs, sound recordings, and grant proposals he wrote in support of his fieldwork in Botswana, Namibia, and Angola. In addition, the collection contains his research notes, maps, drafts, publications, and papers presented at conferences. While most of his research focused on the Herero and Himba, the collection also contains his research on the Ovambo and Okavango and other southwestern African groups. In the collection is a great deal of photocopies and microfilms of literature on southwestern African ethnic groups, many of which are in Portuguese and German and which he had translated for his files. He was also interested in African material culture, especially Central African headgear. His research on African caps is well-represented in the collection, and includes photos of caps at various museums, source materials, research notes, and textile samples of knots and loop work. Gibson's files as the curator of African ethnology at the National Museum of Natural History also make up a significant portion of the collection. Among these records are his files for the museum's Hall of African Cultures and other African exhibits; his files on the museum's African collections, early donors and collectors of the collections; his personnel files; documents relating to his committee work; department and museum memos; meeting minutes; and his records as head of the Old World Division and acting chair of the department. The collection also documents the efforts to establish the Smithsonian's National Anthropological Film Center, now the Human Studies Film Archives, as well as his work on the planning committee to establish the Museum of Man at the Smithsonian. Memos and minutes relating to the Smithsonian's Center for the Study of Man are also present in the collection. In addition to Gibson's field photos, the collection also contains African photos taken by others. Among these are Herbert Friedmann's photos of Kenya; Hausmann's Libya photos; photos by Ralph Kepler Lewis during the Morden Africa Expedition in Kenya; and photos by Lawrence Marshall, Volkmar Wentzel, Alfred Martin Duggan Cronin, and Father Carlos Estermann. There are also photos of the exhibit cases from the Hall of African Cultures; photos of Smithsonian and non-Smithsonian African artifacts; and copies of photographs he obtained from different archives, including the National Anthropological Archives. Other materials in the collection include his files as film reviews editor for the American Anthropologist during the 1960s and 70s and his activities in different organizations.
Arranged into 19 series: (1) Correspondence, 1938-1998; (2) Southwestern Africa Research, 1951-2004; (3) Caps Research; (4) Nineteenth Century Collectors; (5) General Research Files; (6) Exhibits, 1959-2007; (7) Curatorial Files, 1936-1984; (8) National Anthropological Film Center, 1965-1983; (9) Museum of Man, 1952-1981 [bulk 1968-1981]; (10) Center for the Study of Man (1967-1979); (11) Writings, 1947-1981; (12) Organizations; (13) Daily Log, 1958-1983; (14) Personal Files ; (15) Card Files; (16) Photographs, circa 1904-1983 [bulk 1953-1983]; (17) Microfilm; (18) Maps; (19) Sound Recordings
Gordon D. Gibson (1915-2007) was trained at the University of Chicago (Ph.D., 1952) and joined the staff of the Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology in 1958 as its curator of African ethnology. He served in that capacity until 1983. During the 1960s, he undertook a major renovation of the National Museum of Natural History's African exhibits, which had been on display since the 1920s. He developed the Hall of African Cultures, which opened in 1969 and remained on view until 1992. He was also instrumental in establishing the National Anthropological Film Center, now the Human Studies Film Archives. During his tenure, he also served as the first chairman of the Senate of Scientists of the National Museum of Natural History (1963-1964), chairman of the museum's photographic facilities committee (1968), member of the Center for the Study of Man, and member and chairman of the Department of Anthropology collections committee and its photographs records committee (1970s-1980s). He also had special interests in the department's library and processing lab. In 1980, he was chairman of a committee which studied the feasibility of establishing a Smithsonian Institution Museum of Man. Gibson held several offices and committee memberships with the Anthropological Society of Washington during the during the 1960s and 1970s and served as film review editor of the American Anthropologist. Gibson conducted fieldwork among the Herero and Himba in Botswana (1953, 1960-61), Namibia (1960-61, 1971-73), and Angola (1971-73). Articles produced from his field research include "Bridewealth and Other Forms of Exchange Among the Herero," "Double Descent and Its Correlates among the Herero of Ngamiland," "Herero Marriage," and "Himba Epochs." While in the field, he also filmed footage of the Herero, Himba, Zimba, and Kuvale. His edited films include Herero of Ngamiland (1953), Himba Wedding (1969), and The Himba (1972). In addition to the Herero and Himba, he also conducted research on the Okavango and Ovambo people. He edited and translated Carlos Estermann's Ethnography of Southwestern Angola (published in 3 volumes in 1976-81) and edited and contributed to The Kavango Peoples (1981). Gibson's research interests also included Central African headgear, coauthoring High Status Caps of the Kongo and Mbundu (1977) with Cecilia R. McGurk.
Other materials relating to Gordon Gibson at the National Anthropological Archives can be found in the Records of the Department of Anthropology, Records of the Bureau of American Ethnology, and the Records of the American Anthropological Association.
The Human Studies Film Archives holds his films on the Herero, Himba, Kuvale, and Zimba.
The Smithsonian Institution Archives has materials relating to Gibson's work as the first chairman of the Senate of Scientists.
The papers of Gordon D. Gibson were received in three separate accessions. The first accession (comprised of correspondence; committee files; and materials relating to the Herbert Ward collection, the National Anthropological Film Center, the Center for the Study of Man, and the Museum of Man) was transferred to the National Anthropological Archives by Gibson after his retirement. A guide to this accession was created in 2001. An accretion (consisting of correspondence, fieldwork and research files, curatorial files, writings, photographs, sound recordings, and maps) was transferred to the archives by Gibson's family in 2007. His exhibition and museum specimen files were transferred to the archives in 2008 by the Department of Anthropology.
The Gordon Davis Gibson papers are open for research. Access to the computer disks in the collection are restricted due to preservation concerns. The personnel files of Smithsonian staff have also been restricted.
Access to the Gordon Davis Gibson papers requires an appointment.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Jacob Kainen papers, 1905-2008, bulk 1940-2001. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The papers of New York City sculptor and teacher Chaim Gross measure 21.1 linear feet and date from 1920-2004. The collection provides comprehensive documentation of Gross's career through biographical material, personal and professional correspondence with family, artists, writers, galleries, museums, educational institutions, and religious and philanthropic organizations, writings, personal business records, extensive printed and published material including motion picture film and video recordings of four documentaries, one hundred and fifteen sketchbooks spanning the bulk of Gross's career, and photographs of Gross, his family, many friends and colleagues from the art world, his studio, personal art collection, and works of art. An unprocessed addition of three sketchbooks was donated in 2020.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of New York City sculptor and teacher Chaim Gross measure 21.1 linear feet and date from 1920-2004. The collection provides comprehensive documentation of Gross's career through biographical material, personal and professional correspondence with family, artists, writers, galleries, museums, educational institutions, and religious and philanthropic organizations, writings, personal business records, extensive printed and published material including motion picture film and video recordings of four documentaries, one hundred and fifteen sketchbooks spanning the bulk of Gross's career, and photographs of Gross, his family, many friends and colleagues from the art world, his studio, personal art collection, and works of art.
Biographical material includes records collated to document awards and honors given to Gross documenting the recognition he received for his lifelong achievements in the last two decades of his career, including from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design. The series also includes Gross's birth certificate printed in 1920, some biographical notes and resumes prior to the 1970s, documentation of Gross's business and personal contacts through addresses and business cards, and a motion picture film of a documentary about Gross, Art and the Model, made in 1976 by Thea Bay and edited by Bob Worth.
Personal and professional correspondence constitutes the largest series in the collection and documents all aspects of Gross's prolific career including: personal letters from friends and family such as daughter Mimi Gross and Red Grooms; professional correspondence with galleries, museums, and other art institutions including the Jewish Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Whitney Museum of American Art; correspondence documenting commissions, loans, and sales of Gross's artwork through galleries including Forum Gallery; and correspondence with synagogues including International Synagogue, Temple Sharaay Tefila, and Temple Sinai, Pittsburgh, and multiple other Jewish organizations such as Hadassah and State of Israel Bonds. Correspondence also documents publications by and about Gross including letters from Abe Lerner, the Jewish Publication Society of America, Chaim Potok, and Harry N. Abrams, Inc.; Gross's work as a teacher including at the Educational Alliance and the New School for Social Research; and the significance of Gross's personal collection of African art through correspondence with Warren M. Robbins, the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, and others. Gross's work for the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project and Treasury Relief Project, as well as for the 1939 World's Fair, is also documented in this series and includes contracts and correspondence with Ed Rowan.
Correspondence includes many letters from artist friends and colleagues including Isabel Bishop, Peter Blume, Eliot Elisofon, Eugenie Gershoy, Milton Hebald, Lewis Jacobs, Karl Knaths, Arnold Newman, Elias Newman, Saul Rosen, Moses Soyer, Raphael Soyer, Nicholas Sperakis, William and Marguerite Zorach, and many others. Writers and scholars who corresponded with Gross include Samuel French Morse, Jack C. Rich, Shea Tenenbaum, Roberta Tarbell, and others.
Writings primarily consist of a partial draft of Gross's book The Technique of Wood Sculpture but also include a copy of his first published article in 1938 in the American Federation of Arts Magazine of Art, and a few short writings by Gross on other artists. Writings by others include a memoir of Gross's boyhood written by his brother, poet Naftoli Gross.
Gross's personal business records are scattered, as many transactional records are included with his correspondence. They do include lists of Gross's artwork and his personal art collection, two agreements for rights to use his work, appraisals of twelve of his works of art, and receipts of consignments, sales, loans, and gifts of artwork.
Printed material is a comprehensive and substantial record of Gross's exhibitions, and his prolific engagement in the arts and his community throughout his long career. This series includes announcements and catalogs for many of his exhibitions, brochures and programs for art organizations for which he exhibited, taught, donated to, or was otherwise represented in, notably the Educational Alliance, the New School for Social Research, the Sculptors Guild, Inc., and numerous other private and public museums, galleries, and institutions. Also found is circa one linear foot of clippings about Gross that span his career from newspapers, magazines, and journals, including some Hebrew and Yiddish publications. The series also houses video recordings of the documentaries Tree Trunk to Head and A Sculptor Speaks, and an NBC broadcast of an interview with Gross entitled The Two Chaims, as the motion picture film, A Sculptor Speaks.
Sketchbooks provide a unique visual record of Gross's development and the shifting focus of his subject matter from 1933 to right before his death in 1991. They record his early subjects of acrobatic models, family bonds, and landscapes, and the emergence of darker "fantasy" drawings in the wake of the Holocaust and World War II which brought the news of the murder of his brother and sister and her family by the Nazis. The sketchbooks document Gross's travels abroad during the 1960s, and his incorporation of Jewish iconography and Old Testament themes in the 1960s and 1970s. They also illustrate how the constant theme of the celebration of the human form persisted in his work to the end of his life.
Photographs of people and events, although only measuring 0.7 linear feet, provide a rich visual record of Gross's life and his professional and personal relationships from the time he arrived in the United States in 1920 to the late 1980s. The earliest photographs picture Gross with his brothers and with new friends at the Educational Alliance including Moses and Raphael Soyer, Peter Blume, and Elias Newman. There are many photographs of Gross working in his studios, and at the Bedi-Makky Art Foundry in Brooklyn, photographs taken at parties, exhibition openings, receptions, and other events, and photographs of Gross's art collection and exhibition installations. Photographs picture artists such as Hyman Brown, Jose de Creeft, Joseph Hirsch, Moses Soyer, and Raphael Soyer; and gallery owners and collectors including Bella Fishko, Joseph Hirshhorn, Sidney Janis, and Warren M. Robbins. The series also houses photographs of works of art, primarily sculpture, executed by Gross between 1922 and 1987.
An unprocessed addition of three sketchbooks was donated in 2020.
The collection is arranged as eight series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1920-circa 1991 (0.35 linear feet; Box 1, FC23)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1926-1997 (8.75 linear feet; Boxes 1-9, 22)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1938-circa 1980s (0.25 linear feet; Boxes 9-10)
Series 4: Personal Business Records, circa 1936-1982 (0.25 linear feet; Box 10)
Series 5: Printed Material, 1925-2004 (3.7 linear feet; Boxes 10-14, 22, FC 24)
Series 6: Sketchbooks, 1933-1991 (6.1 linear feet; Boxes 14-19, 22)
Series 7: Photographs, circa 1921-circa 1990s (1.5 linear feet; Boxes 20-22)
Series 8: Unprocessed Addition, 1949-1951 (0.2 linear feet; Box 25)
Biographical / Historical:
New York City sculptor and teacher Chaim Gross (1904-1991) is considered one of America's foremost sculptors, known for his semi-abstract bronzes celebrating the human form, and his pioneering work in direct wood carving. Gross taught for over fifty years at the Educational Alliance Art School and for forty years at the New School for Social Research.
Born in 1904 in Wolowa, Galicia, in what is now the Ukraine, Gross studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest in 1919 and at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna in 1920 before immigrating to New York in 1921. He attended the Lower East Side Educational Art School in New York City from 1921-1927 where he began lifelong friendships with artists Moses Soyer, Raphael Soyer, Peter Blume and other important twentieth century artists. Gross also studied with Elie Nadelman at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design and Robert Laurent at the Art Students League. He began teaching at the Educational Alliance in 1927 where his students included Louise Nevelson.
Gross married Renee Nechin in 1932 and they had two children, Yehuda and Miriam (Mimi). Mimi Gross is a New York-based artist who was married to artist Red Grooms from 1963-1976.
Gross's first solo exhibition was held at Gallery 144 in New York City in 1932, and he began to develop a reputation as a major contemporary sculptor when he joined the Federal Art Project in 1934 and won a commission from the Treasury Department competition for art works for public buildings in 1936. His projects included relief panels for the Federal Trade Commission building in Washington, D. C., and a large-scale family group for the France Overseas and Finnish Buildings at the 1939 New York World's Fair. In 1938 Gross founded the Sculptors Guild with William Zorach and served as the guild's first president. His work began to be acquired by major American museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art which in 1939 awarded Gross a $3000 purchase prize for his wood sculpture of circus performer Lillian Leitzel.
In 1938 filmmaker Lewis Jacobs produced a thirty minute film, Tree Trunk to Head, of Gross carving a wood sculpture of Renee Gross in his studio. Lewis subsequently produced a seventeen minute film, The Sculptor Speaks, of Gross working in his studio in 1957. That same year Gross published an influential how-to book The Technique of Wood Sculpture, featuring photographs by Eliot Elisofon.
Much of Gross's early work focused on performers such as acrobats and dancers, family groups, and the mother and child bond. The bulk of his work was in wood, particularly hardwoods with a dark or pronounced grain. In the 1940s, after hearing that his brother Pincus and sister Sarah and her family had been murdered by the Nazis, Gross devoted time daily to sketching in his notebooks, producing a visual diary of the emotional trauma involved in processing their horrific fate and navigating his own grief. A collection of the drawings was published in Chaim Gross: Fantasy Drawings (Beechurst Press) in 1956. Gross carved My Sister Sarah – in Memoriam (no. 36) in 1947 and made the first of seven trips to Israel in 1949.
By the late 1950s Gross was working less in direct carving and was focusing primarily on modeling in plaster on an armature for casting in bronze. In 1957 and 1959 he traveled to Rome, Italy, and worked with the Nicci Foundry. Bella Fishko began representing Gross's work after establishing Forum Gallery in New York City in 1961. After 1947 Gross had begun to incorporate more Jewish iconography and Old Testament themes into his work, designing and casting large scale menorahs for synagogues such as Temple Sinai in Pittsburgh and the Menorah Home for the Aged in Brooklyn during the 1960s. He executed six bronze panels, entitled Six Days of Creation, for Temple Sharaay Tefila in New York City in 1964, and Ten Commandments for the International Synagogue at Kennedy Airport in 1970-1971. In 1973 Gross illustrated The Book of Isaiah, published by the Jewish Publication Society of America.
Gross was active in many art-related and philanthropic organizations throughout his life and was the recipient of numerous awards, honors, and honorary degrees. He was elected to membership of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1964, became an Academician at the National Academy of Design in 1983, and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1984. A solo exhibition Chaim Gross: Sculpture and Drawings, was held at the Smithsonian's National Collection of Fine Arts in 1974. In 1977 Gross had three retrospective exhibitions at the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami, the Montclair Art Museum, and the Jewish Museum in New York City. Scholar Roberta Tarbell wrote a key essay on Gross for the Jewish Museum exhibition.
In addition to being a professor of sculpture and printmaking at the Educational Alliance Art School and the New School for Social Research, Gross taught at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, the art school of the Museum of Modern Art, and the Art Students League.
Gross had begun collecting African sculpture in the 1930s and was later introduced by art critic Frank Getlein to Warren M. Robbins, who established the Museum of African Art in 1964. Gross gave Robbins several pieces for the museum and connected him with other individuals whose private collections of African art Robbins learned would be key to the success of the museum. A selection from Gross's renowned collection was exhibited at the Worcester Art Museum in The Sculptor's Eye: The African Art Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Chaim Gross in 1976.
The Renee & Chaim Gross Foundation was created in 1974 at 526 LaGuardia Place, the historic Greenwich Village townhouse which Chaim and Renee Gross purchased in 1962 and renovated to include studio and gallery space with living quarters above. Three years after Gross's death in 1991, the Renee and Chaim Gross foundation opened to the public with a memorial exhibition of the sculptor's work. 526 LaGuardia Place continues to house an extensive collection of Gross's artwork, a photographic archive, and Gross's personal art collection. Gross's work is represented in major museums throughout the United States and abroad, with the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden housing the largest collection of his sculpture in a public museum.
Additional Chaim Gross papers are held by Syracuse University.
The Archives of American Art also holds an oral history interview of Chaim Gross conducted 1964 September 1 by Dorothy Seckler and an oral history interview of Chaim Gross conducted 1981 May 26-27 by Milton Wolf Brown.
The Archives of American Art holds the microfilm (Reels D115a, 924, and 925) of ten record books, 1926-1975, containing rough drawings of artworks, dimensions, titles, dates, materials, production locations, and information regarding owners. The record books were returned to the donor after microfilming and are not described in the collection container inventory.
The Chaim Gross papers were given to the Archives of American Art in a series of accessions by Chaim Gross from 1963-1983. Thirteen postcards were given by Mrs. Irving Marantz in 1975. Mimi Gross donated eight letters and two envelopes in 2005. Additional papers were donated by the Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation in 2016 via Susan Fisher, executive Director, and in 2017 and 2020 by the Foundation via Sasha Davis, Interim Director and Curator of Collections.
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 Reference Services for more information.
John Kinard provides an introduction to the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum (ANM) and the Sixth Anniversary Seminar. As the keynote speaker, Edmund Barry Gaither provides his thoughts on museums: the concept of the museum and its intentions, particularly the roles of specialty museums; the desirable museum scene; and neighborhood museums and their unique potential. Louise Hutchinson, ANM historian, presents the history of Anacostia with a slideshow. Zora Martin-Felton, ANM education specialist, talks about the importance of community engagement in the evolution of a museum and its exhibits, working with children in the community, working with docents, and the current ANM exhibit about Africa. Gregory Reynolds, former member of ANM's Youth Advisory Council, provides his thoughts on the evolution of ANM and the Youth Advisory Council; ANM staff and board of directors; and the relationship of ANM to the community of Anacostia. Warren M. Robbins, founder of Museum of African Art, discusses the functions of museums; and museums' past preoccupation with objects and current preoccupation with public interest. Theresa Jones talks about the relevancy of ANM to community action agencies, and how ANM has served community action agencies. Finally, David Challinor talks about traditional museums, and Stanley J. Anderson speaks about the community based, or neighborhood, museum. A question and answer session follows each group of speakers.
Seminar. Part of Conference Recordings. AV003071: part 1. AV003056: part 2. AV000792: part 3. AV000788: part 4. AV003054: part 5. Presentations often continue onto the following recording. Dated: 19730921 and 19730922. AV003054: undated.
Title transcribed from physical asset.
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Some items are not accessible due to obsolete format and playback machinery restrictions. Please contact the archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
605 Photographic prints (Color and black and white)
1,055 Color slides
1,316 Color slides (35 mm)
56 Color negatives (35 mm)
157 Negatives (Black and white, 35 mm)
4 Color negatives (2 x 2 in)
3 Books (1 Guidebook and 2 magazines)
20 Slides (Black and white, 35 mm )
2 Photographic prints (Black and white)
2 Videocassettes (VHS)
Biographical / Historical:
Lydia Puccinelli Robbins was the Curator of Collections at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art between 1979 and 1999, and served as a registrar, educator, and curator with the Museum of African Art (1966-1979), prior to the institution's transfer to the Smithsonian. Lydia was also married to Warren M. Robbins, who founded the Museum of African Art in the basement of his home, prior to purchasing the former Capitol Hill home of Frederick Douglas.
Joe Holly, "Warren M. Robbins, founder of the Museum of African Art, dies at 85," Los Angeles Times, Dec 8, 2008.
Related materials include: EEPA 2016-009 Lydia Pucinelli Robbins study collection, EEPA 1982-002 Warre Robbins photographs, EEPA 1986-028 Collection ROBBINS Warren, and EEPA 2015-013 Robbins Center Collection.
Use of original records requires an appointment. Contact archives staff for more details.
Permission to reproduce images from the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives must be obtained in advance. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
The Museum of African Art (MAA) was originally located in the Washington, DC residence of Frederick Douglass and became part of the Smithsonian Institution in 1979 and was later renamed the National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) in 1981. During the 15 years that the MAA was in operation, the The Robbins Center (originally called Center for Cross Cultural Communication or CCCC operated under the Museum's name. Following the Museum's inclusion as part of the Smithsonian, it reverted back to its original corporate name with the inclusion of Robbins' name in the title to become the Robbins Center for Cross-Cultural Communication. From 1964 to 1982, Robbins was the Director of the MAA, later becoming the Founding Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar from 1982-1995. After leaving the Smithsonian, Robbins continued his work at the Robbins Center for Cross Cultural Communications to apply the perspectives and insights of the social sciences and the arts in public education with particular emphasis on interracial understanding.
One year before the founding of the Frederick Douglass Institute of Negro Arts and History, Robbins asked American artist Ben Shahn (1898-1969) to create a print of Douglass to be used for fund-raising purposes. Shahn created four prints in total.
Related EEPA collections include: EEPA 2015-013, which contains posters advertizing the Museum of African Art (now the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution) and its exhibits, exhibit brochures, a watercolor painting and photographs by Eliot Elisofon, and museum signage. EEPA 2016-009, which includes ephemera related to the Museum of African Art (now the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art) and 7 photographic prints.
The Ben Shahn papers (AAA.shahben), held at the Archives of American Art, include more correspondence between Shahn and Warren Robbins.The Smithsonian Institution Archives holds the Warren M. Robbins Papers (SIA.FA13-136).
Donated by Marshall A. Janoff, 2017.
Use of original records requires an appointment. Contact Archives staff for more details.
Permission to reproduce images from the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives must be obtained in advance. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.