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Jeni LeGon Papers

LeGon, Jeni, 1916-  Search this
Robinson, Bill, 1878-1949  Search this
1 Cubic foot (3 boxes, includes photographs)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Letters (correspondence)
1930-2002, undated
Collection documents the career of Jeni LeGon as a dancer, dance instructor, and actress.
Scope and Contents:
Collection documents LeGon's career as a dancer, dance instructor, and actress. Materials include biographical information, correspondence, photographs, early travel itineraries, schedules, personal calendars, printed advertisements, invitations to dance events, programs, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and awards. The collection is arranged into four series: Series 1, Biographical Information and Publicity, 1930s; Series 2, Theatre and Motion Picture Film, 1935-1945, undated; Series 3, Dance Instruction and Performances, 1953-2002, undated; and Series 4: Tributes and Awards, 1979-2002.
The collection is arranged into four series:.

Series 1, Biographical Information and Publicity

Series 2, Theatre and Motion Picture Film, 1935-1945

Series 3, Dance Instruction and Performances, 1953-2002, undatred

Series 4, Tributes and Awards, 1979-2002
Biographical / Historical:
Jeni LeGon was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1916. Her long, successful career as an African American dancer and actress began in musical theatre and vaudeville. In the 1930s she traveled across the southern United States performing first with the Whitman Sisters company and then with her half-sister, Willa Mae Lane, as the LeGon and Lane song-and-dance team. By 1935, LeGon was working under contract with Fox Studios, RKO Pictures, and MGM performing with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Waters and Al Jolson, and Fred Astaire. Throughout the years she performed on Broadway and in other theaters and clubs including the Apollo, Cafe de Paris, Howard, Paramount, and Lincoln. Beginning in the 1950s she offered dance instruction in Los Angeles, California at the Jeni LeGon Dance Studio and Drama and Dance Playhouse; and in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she taught tap and pointe. She died on December 7, 2012 at the age of ninety-six.
Related Materials:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program Collection (AC0808)

Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection (AC0491)

Program in African American Culture Collection (AC0408)

Frank Schiffman Apollo Theatre Collection (AC0540)
The collection was donated to the Archives Center by Jeni LeGon in 2002.
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.
African American women entertainers  Search this
African American women  Search this
Dance in motion pictures, television, etc.  Search this
Dance, Black  Search this
Dancers  Search this
Actresses  Search this
Tap dancing  Search this
Letters (correspondence) -- 20th century.
Programs -- 1930-2000
Photographs -- 20th century
Advertisements -- 20th century
Jeni LeGon Papers, 1930s-2002, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
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Jeni LeGon Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Online Media:

Arthur d'Arazien Industrial Photographs

d'Arazien, Arthur  Search this
11 Cubic feet (30 boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Dye destruction process
Photographic prints
Cibachrome (tm)
Tear sheets
Color negatives
Color prints (photographs)
Dye destruction photoprints
Silver-dye bleach process
Type c color prints
Chromogenic processes
Canada -- Industry -- 1940-1980
circa 1930-2002
Scope and Contents:
The collection includes Arthur d'Arazien's professional work in industrial photography from the late 1940's through about 1981; personal creative photography and other types of professional work were retained by Mr. d'Arazien or placed elsewhere. Thus this collection is a very cohesive, unified body of work, which documents primarily American (and some Canadian) business and industry during a period of expansion a golden age of American industry. Although it represents the photographer's creative and artistic style and skill, the subject matter is appropriate to the National Museum of American History from several viewpoints the visual documentation of industry and technology, as well as advertising, public relations, and business history.

The photographs include black and white negatives and prints from the negatives, as well as color negative and transparency materials, up to 8" x 10" in size. Probably the majority of the transparencies were made in the large size. The black and white materials include pictures of d'Arazien at work some made by famous Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, a colleague at the Famous Photographers School. A number of Dye Transfer prints mounted on illustration board were made by master color printer Don Browning.

In addition to frequently extensive caption information on all of d'Araziens original envelopes and enclosures, many enclosures for color negatives and transparencies bear d'Arazien labels with technical information or instructions for color printing, such as filter pack designations and local printing controls. These enclosures therefore have been retained in the collection, although usually they are not of archival quality.

Of secondary significance are 62 large color prints, mostly Type C, with a few Cibachromes, which were made from the original transparencies for exhibition purposes. Most were made either by K & L laboratories, New York City (stickers on back) or Eastman Kodak professional laboratories, Rochester, N.Y., and have been wet mounted to non archival Masonite. At the time of acquisition, several had faded and/or changed color. These are available for research and exhibition purposes, but are not expected to survive as long as the original transparencies.

The collection contains Mr. d'Arazien's files of printed materials. These include reproductions which indicate how his photographs were used by clients. Included are annual reports, promotional pieces, magazine tearsheets from advertising and editorial uses, and other biographical items.

Series 1: Professional industrial photographs.

Photographs document primarily American business and industry (including some taken in Canada). Black-and-white negatives with prints from these negatives, also color negative and transparency materials. Most transparencies are 8" x 10". The photographs demonstrate the photographer's reputation as a master of dramatic lighting and the coordination of large-scale, complex industrial setups in factories, steel mills, and even outdoor settings. Also 65 color prints, mostly Type C with a few Cibachromes, made from the original transparencies for exhibition purposes, mostly wet-mounted to Masonite. Black-and-white photographs include pictures of d'Arazien at work--some by Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Series 2: D'Arazien's files of printed materials, some of which include photomechanical reproductions of his work, indicating how the photographs were used by clients; also annual reports, magazine tearsheets from advertising and editorial uses, and other promotional items, in addition to biographical materials.

2007 addendum: Transparencies, slides, prints and negatives of additional photographs by Arthur d'Arazien, including industrial subjects as well as travel, architectural, agricultural, portrait, art, still life and personal photographs. Also included are miscellaneous papers, mostly relating to d'Arazien's photographic work.
The collection is divided into three series.

Series 1: Paper Documents

Subseries 1.1: Publications and Reproductions.

Subseries 1.2: Photographer's Labels, Envelopes, Etc.

Series 2: Photographs

Subseries 2.1: Color Phototransparencies

Subseries 2.2: Color Photonegatives and Color Photoprints

Subseries 2.3: Black and White Photonegatives and Photoprints

Subseries 2.4: Color Photoprints: Enlargements Mounted on Masonite

Material is arranged in each sub-series primarily by client names, in alphabetical order.

Series 3: Oversize prints
Biographical / Historical:
Arthur d'Arazien began his photographic career as an assistant to a famous theatrical photographer, documenting Broadway shows. A distinctive emphasis on dramatic lighting in his later work suggests the heavy influence of the theater. He did fashion and commercial photography, as well as photographing the 1939 World's Fair, for Underwood & Underwood Illustration Studios, East 44th St., New York City, in 1938 1939. He was described in a U.S. Camera Annual article as Aan architect whose interest in photography has caused him to make a profession of it.

D'Arazien taught aerial photography for the U.S. Air Corps Technical Training Command at Lowry Field, Denver, during World War II. He began his career in industrial photography with the De Laval Separator Company, New York City. His energy and creativity led to assignments which often were judged too difficult for lesser photographers. His growing reputation as an industrial photographer kept pace with the dynamic growth of the industrial and technological activities he was photographing during the 1950s through the 1980s.

Robert Vogel, former Curator of Mechanical and Civil Engineering for the National Museum of American History, wrote that d'Arazien: ...became internationally known for his dramatic color views of the American industrial scene at a time when our industry can be said to have been at the height of its powers....He was commissioned by the giants of steel, paper, chemicals, machinery, transportation, automobiles, mining, metal refining, textiles, and the other heavy (and medium) industries. ...He developed a number of special techniques for obtaining the grand, sweeping views that became his trademark, including multiple exposures to achieve dramatic lighting effects, elaborate lighting setups involving multiple flashes from several vantages employing a number of assistants intercommunicating by radio, complex arrangements with transportation lines and the various departments of the subject organization to produce the desired juxtaposition of elements in the photograph, and the like. His MO was anything but that of simply walking onto the scene and snapping the shutter; for many of his breathtaking views he appears to have been more producer and impresario than photographer.

Arthur d'Arazien describes the growth of his spectacular style as an eager response to new subjects, challenges, and photographic materials:

...knowing that color was the coming thing in corporate advertising, I pursued that line. I did lots of experimenting; every assignment gave me an opportunity to try something new, such as combination day and night exposures on a single sheet of film, multiple flash bulbs to light large interiors, multiple exposures on the same film, such as...moving objects ...automobiles, build up excitement in a picture. Colored gels to change colors. I even used old fashioned flash powder to light ...steel mills, because there were no flashbulbs powerful enough to light these dark, cavernous interiors: this idea was borrowed from the Air Corps night time aerial photography with magnesium flash powder.

A skilled painter and metal sculptor as well as photographer, d'Arazien came from a family of artists. His photographs were made primarily on assignment from industrial corporations for advertising, editorial, and public relations purposes, but have been exhibited and collected as works of art in the Smithsonian Institution (Division of Photographic History), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Museum. His work was included in the Photography in the Fine Arts exhibitions organized by Ivan Dimitri, and he was a founding faculty member of the Famous Photographers School, Westport, Connecticut, in the early 1960's.

D'Arazien married Margaret Scott and has two sons. He had a studio in Waterside Plaza, New York, and made his home in New Canaan, Connecticut, until moving to Naples, Florida, upon his retirement in 1988. The collection was brought to the Smithsonian's attention by his son Steven, and was donated to the Archives Center before this move. In anticipation of this gift, Mr. d'Arazien spent several months inspecting his collection, eliminating duplicate and technically unsuccessful images, and captioning photographs.

Sources American Aces, U.S. Camera Annual 1939. Clipping in scrapbook no. 1, box 24, first page.

Robert M. Vogel, memorandum, undated, but written after a December 1987 visit to d'[Arazien's home. In Archives Center collection control file.

Letter to the author, 26 February 1992, in collection control file.
Collection donated by Arthur d'Arazien, December 24, 1988.
Collection is open for research but the majority of the collection is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
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.
Industry -- Photographs -- 1940-1980 -- Canada  Search this
Industry -- Photographs -- 1940-1980 -- United States  Search this
Steel industry and trade -- 1940-1980  Search this
Agriculture -- Photographs -- 20th century  Search this
Travel -- Photographs -- 1930-2000  Search this
Photographs -- Black-and-white negatives -- Acetate film
Photographs -- Chromogenic -- 1900-2000
Dye destruction process
Photographic prints
Cibachrome (TM)
Tear sheets
Color negatives
Color prints (photographs)
Dye destruction photoprints
Silver-dye bleach process
Color prints (photographs) -- 20th century
Type C color prints
Chromogenic processes
Arthur d'Arazien Industrial Photographs, ca. 1930-2002, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
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Arthur d'Arazien Industrial Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Online Media:

Millard Sheets papers

Sheets, Millard, 1907-1989  Search this
Dalzell Hatfield Galleries  Search this
Millard Sheets & Associates Designs  Search this
Sheets, Mary Baskerville  Search this
27.6 Linear feet
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Slides (photographs)
circa 1907-2000
The Millard Sheets papers comprise 27.6 linear feet of material dating from circa 1907 to 2000 with bulk dates spanning 1956 to 1981. The collection documents Sheets's career as a designer, painter, and muralist, and his personal and professional interests through correspondence, writings, lectures, printed material, drawings, slides, photographs, and ephemera. A small addition donated 2018 by Carolyn Owen-Toole, Sheet's daughter. There is a 4.6 linear foot unprocessed addition to this collection donated 2018 that includes writings; sketchbooks and sketches; photographs and negatives of works of art, images of Millard Sheets and others including family; printed material, including two scrapbooks; and scattered correspondence regarding Sheet's projects.
Scope and Content Note:
The personal papers of Millard Sheets (1907-1990) measure 27.6 linear feet and date from circa 1907-2000, with bulk dates of 1956-1981. The collection reflects Sheets's career as a designer, painter, and muralist, as well as his other personal and professional interests, through correspondence, writings, lectures, clippings, blueprints, drawings, slides, photographs, and ephemera.

The Project Files comprise the largest group of materials in the collection and document design work undertaken by Sheets through his company Millard Sheets & Associates Designs. Sheets and his associates produced concept drawings and blueprints and supervised the construction for a wide range of design projects that ranged in scale from architectural plans for private residences to bid proposals for shopping malls and financial institutions located in California and the Southwest.

Sheets designed interior and exterior plans for over forty Home Savings and Loan bank branches in California. The distinctive modular design which Sheets created and then customized by integrating interior and exterior art elements that highlighted local historical events or natural features became synonymous with the image of Home Savings and Loan. Sheets also teamed up with the architect Edward Durrell Stone to produce a proposal for the Capitol Mall Project, an urban renewal project for the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Sacramento. Researchers will find correspondence, job costs and billing statements, and notes that trace the development of these and other building construction projects. In some instances the documents are supplemented by blueprints, photographs, and/or drawings of the project, but in many cases, visual documentation is missing.

The Project Files also document work done by Millard Sheets on public projects such as the Family of Man mural in the Los Angeles City Hall Annex, a mosaic dome in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., and the Word of Life mural at the University of Notre Dame, Ind., along with numerous other murals and mosaics created for private individuals and corporations.

The Correspondence Series primarily reflects the interaction between Sheets and his clients, colleagues, and personal acquaintances. These files will prove valuable to researchers who are interested in the way that Sheets's beliefs about the role of art in everyday life impacted the way he conducted business and managed both large and small design projects. The correspondence also reflects Sheets's interest in popular American culture, travel, political issues of the day, and art collecting.

The Membership Files document the wide variety of interests that Sheets maintained through active membership in associations and organizations. The material in this series consists primarily of correspondence, minutes of meetings, and notes which Sheets created or used as he served as a board member or trustee on a number of organizational boards, such as the California Institute of the Arts, the Claremont Colleges, Virginia Steele Scott Foundation, Webb School of California, and Goodwill Industries of Southern California.

Also found in this series is material that documents his interest and participation in various recreational and professional organizations. Sheets maintained a long association with the Economic Roundtable, a group of businessmen who met regularly to give presentations and share discussion on contemporary political and social issues. Sheets was a frequent speaker and his talks given at the Economic Roundtables can be found in Lectures and Speeches, a subseries of the Writings Series.

Included in the Millard Sheets & Associates Designs, Inc. series are records that reflect the day-to-day operations of Sheets's design firm. Found here are chronological copies of correspondence that were sent out, files Sheets maintained on various independent contractors that the design firm frequently used, resumes and letters of recommendation that Sheets received regarding potential employees, as well as records relating to the cost and maintenance of Sheets's office building.

The Teaching and Workshop Files document the instructional activities undertaken by Sheets throughout his career in the arts. Although Sheets became pivotal in establishing a regionally recognized art department at Scripps College in Claremont, California, the files that reflect his academic position there are limited in scope and depth. Researchers will find more substantive the files that he maintained on the numerous art demonstrations and paintings workshops that he conducted privately throughout his career. Sheets traveled extensively around the world through his teaching activities and the files in this series track his path.

Closely related to the Teaching and Workshop Files is the Painting Trips series. The material in these files document Sheets's service as an American Specialist in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the USIS, Department of State. Sheets served two times as a cultural arts representative in Turkey in 1960 and in the former USSR in 1961. Sheets also made numerous trips to South East Asia, which had proved an area of fascination for him since his experiences as a war correspondent in Burma and India in World War II. The files in this series document his painting trips to Tahiti, the Pacific Ocean Rim, and Hawaii. Also found are files that detail his painting activities in Mexico.

The Exhibition Files reflect the records that Sheets maintained regarding his participation in art exhibitions, as well as his files on art shows that he personally directed or organized for public or private groups or organizations. Although Sheets exhibited his work predominantly in the West and Southwest, the files in this series demonstrate that he exhibited both nationally and internationally as well.

Also found within the records for this series are files relating to Sheets's representation of his artwork through established galleries and art agents. The Dalziel Hatfield Galleries of Los Angeles, California, served as his primary agent for most of his painting career. Correspondence between Sheets and the Hatfields provide insight into Sheets's development into a regionally and nationally significant watercolorist and painter. The files relating to the Kennedy Galleries in New York and the Circle Gallery in Chicago reflect Sheets's efforts to maintain a national presence in the arts community.

The Jury Files document Sheets's involvement as a juror in regional, as well, as national shows. The files reveal the great variety of professional watercolor and painting exhibitions in which Sheets participated as either a jury panelist or solo judge.

The Writings Files provide an excellent source for researchers interested in Sheets's philosophical beliefs about the relationship between art and everyday life. His articles, lectures, and speeches predominantly address the role of the artist, the relationships that exist between artists and the community, and the role that art can play in making a fuller, more productive life. Also found in the files of this series are articles written by others about Sheets.

The Biographical Material series provides a short introduction to Millard Sheets. The files consist of the calendars maintained by Sheets and his wife and staff, which were used to coordinate his many commitments and appointments. Also found in the files of this series are family chronologies that were created by Mary Baskerville Sheets. Medical records and resumes provide personal information about Sheets's background and health. A small file of military memorabilia provides information about Sheets's contributions to the war effort in World War II.

The Printed Matter series documents family activities and personalities through publicity clippings. Also found are exhibition catalogs and announcements that Sheets saved regarding other artists. Miscellaneous interests and activities of Sheets are found through magazine articles, brochures, and flyers.

The Photographs series includes photographic documentation for Sheets's artwork, horses, and major projects. A small group of photographs of Sheets are also in this series.

The files in the Artwork series include original drawings by Mary Baskerville Sheets and Millard Sheets.

There is a 4.6 linear foot unprocessed addition to this collection donated 2018 that includes writings; sketchbooks and sketches; photographs and negatives of works of art, images of Millard Sheets and others including family; printed material, including two scrapbooks; and scattered correspondence regarding Sheet's projects.
The collection is arranged into fifteen series. Small series, such as Biographical Material are generally based on type of document. Larger series, such as Correspondence or Project Files, are arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent or project. General correspondence has been made into its own series, but other series or subseries may also contain some correspondence. Within particular series, materials have been further divided into subseries which represent particular aspects of the project or event. For example, the Writings Series is further divided into subseries of books and articles, eulogies, and lectures and speeches. An outline listing series and subseries titles and dates follows.

Missing Title

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1907-1982, undated (boxes 1-2; 1.25 linear ft.)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1929-1990, undated (boxes 2-4; 2.75 linear ft.)

Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1933-1980, undated (boxes 5-6; 1.25 linear ft.)

Series 4: Membership Files, 1946-1982, undated (boxes 6-8; 2.5 linear ft.)

Series 5: Millard Sheets & Associates Designs, 1934-1982, undated (boxes 8-9; 1.0 linear ft.)

Series 6: Project Files, 1956-1981, undated (boxes 9-18; 8.25 linear ft.)

Series 7: Teaching and Workshop Files, 1932-1982 (box 18; 0.5 linear ft.)

Series 8: Painting Trips, 1959-1980, undated (box 18; 16 folders)

Series 9: Exhibition Files, 1932-1937, 1951-1988, undated (box 19; 0.75 linear ft.)

Series 10: Jury Files, 1941-1982 (boxes 19-20; 42 folders)

Series 11: Writings, 1936-1988, undated (boxes 20-22; 2.5 linear ft.)

Series 12: Printed Matter, 1936-1922, undated (boxes 22-23; 20 folders)

Series 13: Photographs, 1934-1983, undated (box 23; 17 folders)

Series 14: Artwork, circa 1929, undated (box 23; 2 folders)

Series 15: Unprocessed Addition, circa 1930-2000 (boxes 24, 26-30, OV25: 4.6 linear ft.)
Biographical Note:
"Your painting is a measure of your mind"-Millard Sheets

Millard Sheets, as one of the founding members of the "California Scene Painters," exerted a lasting influence upon subsequent generations of Western painters. He and the small group of painters who worked in California during the 1930s and 1940s, developed a new style of watercolor painting that was at the forefront of the American watercolor movement of the time, and that later gave rise to a subsequent generation of painters who became known as the California Regionalist school.

Sheets was born in Pomona, California on June 24, 1907. His mother died in childbirth, and his father, John Sheets, unprepared to raise a baby alone, sent Millard to Pomona, California to be raised by his maternal grandparents, Lewis and Emma Owen. Sheets's grandfather proved to be a guiding force in his life, and when Sheets's father remarried and offered Millard the opportunity to return to the Sheets household, Millard chose instead to remain with his grandparents.

Sheets's love of horses can be directly traced back to his childhood years spent living at his grandfather's horse ranch. Millard rode his first horse when he was three years old. Throughout his life, Sheets returned to the theme of horses in his paintings, as well as maintaining a private stable of horses, and raising and breeding racehorses.

His interest in art also began in childhood. When he was still a young boy, his two maternal aunts encouraged him to play with crayons and pencils. Sheets took his first painting lesson from a neighbor at the age of seven, and by 1919 he had already submitted artwork to the copy division of the Los Angeles County Fair fine arts show competition. He submitted a drawing he had copied of a tinted photograph of Lake KIlarney, California. Sheets won first prize in his division.

It was through this competition that Millard met Theodore B. Modra, a Polish artist who had retired to the Pomona area. After giving Sheets a lecture on the evils of copying art, Modra offered to give him art lessons.

Sheets continued to pursue his interest in art and enrolled in the Choinard School of Art in Los Angeles, California. By the time that he graduated in 1929, Sheets had also managed to come to the attention of Dalzell and Ruth Hatfield of the Dalzell Hatfield Galleries in Los Angeles, California. The Hatfields were one of the most influential art dealers in Southern California, and that same year, they sponsored Sheets in his first one-man exhibition in 1929. The exhibition brought Sheets to the attention of Western Coast art critics and launched Sheets on his painting career.

In 1929 Sheets also learned that he had won second place in the annual Edgar B. Davis art competition held in San Antonio, Texas. The award came with a cash prize and Sheets made plans to travel to Europe to study and paint. Shortly before his departure, however, he met an art student, Mary Baskerville, and they began a whirlwind romance. With Baskerville's enthusiastic support for European plans, and with her promise that she would wait for him, Sheets departed for New York and then Europe.

While overseas during 1929 and 1930, Sheets studied under Dorfinant, a master printer in Paris. Through his work at this studio workshop, he met Henri Matisse.

Five months after Millard returned to the California in 1930, Sheets and Mary Baskerville married. Sheets worked as the director of the Fine Arts Exhibition of the Los Angeles County Fair. In 1932 Sheets returned to school to study art and humanities at Scripps College in Claremont, California. After graduating from Scripps, school officials approached Sheets with an offer to set up a separate fine arts program and asked him to chair the new department. This was the beginning of a twenty year association with the school. In 1938, he also became the Director of Art at Claremont Graduate School.

Sheets left the school during the years of World War II to serve as a war-time artist and journalist for Life magazine, and from 1943-1944 was stationed on the Burma-India Front. His experiences in Asia appeared to affect him deeply. In contrast to his earlier works which featured backgrounds with neutral tones and brilliant shades that highlighted and punctuated the compositions, the paintings from the wartime featured somber tones. Sheets remarked of this time:

During the fighting and the time I spent in the C-B-1 theater, I was too shaken and intellectually stunned to do any complete paintings. I made many, many sketches, though, as well as a real effort to remember each scene that particularly affected me. Then, once I returned to America, I painted frantically, for months, exorcising demons. [Lovoos, Janice and Edmund F. Penney, Millard Sheets: One-Man Renaissance, Northland Press, Flagstaff, AZ, 1984]

Sheets returned from the war in 1944 and resumed his position at Scripps College until 1955 when he was approached by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and asked to overhaul the fledgling Los Angeles County Art Institute. Sheets accepted the position and spent the next five years reshaping the mission and format of the school, renaming it the Otis Art Institute. In the years after Sheets left the directorship, the school eventually became part of the Parson's School of Design on the West Coast.

In 1953 Sheets founded the Millard Sheets Designs company. He hired between twenty-five and thirty artisans for large projects, with Susan Hertel, a former student of his, serving as his assistant in all the operations of the design studio. The working staff included engineers, registered architects, draftsmen, and artists, and the projects that the firm produced included murals, mosaics, stained glass, and sculpture for private homes and public and commercial businesses.

The design studio completed several major architectural projects throughout the late 1950s through the mid 1970s, including the design and construction of Cal Aero, a flight training school for the US Air Force, the National American Insurance Company offices for the California financier, Howard Ahmanson, Ahmanson Bank and Trust Company in Beverly Hills, many Home Savings and Loan Association Buildings, private residences, and the Scottish Rite Memorial Temples in Los Angeles and San Francisco, among many other projects.

Sheets also designed and completed mural and mosiac work for numerous public buildings in the Los Angeles area, as well as across the nation. Many of the murals and mosiacs were for those buildings designed by his firm while others were done as independent commissions.

In 1968 Sheets first proposed the murals he designed for the Los Angeles City Hall. His design was approved and he was awarded a commission to complete The Family of Man murals over the two main entrances to the Los Angeles City Hall. The murals were completed in 1971 and installed in 1972. Sheets also designed mosiacs and murals for the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the Library at Notre Dame University, the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Los Angeles, several Home Savings and Loan Association buildings in the Los Angeles area, the Detroit Public Library, and the Dome of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.

During the early 1960s Sheets participated in the American Specialist Program of the US Department of State. His first assignment was to Turkey in 1960, where he served as a visiting artist. The following year he went to the USSR in the same capacity.

During the early to mid 1950s Sheets became involved with Columbia Pictures and was technical advisor and production designer for a few years.

Millard Sheets was a member of the National Watercolor Society, the American Watercolor Society, the National Academy of Design, the Society of Motion Picture Art Directors, and the Century Association. Sheets actively promoted his own work and was a businessman, an active and prolific artist, instructor, and designer. Millard Sheets died on March 31, 1989 in Gualala, California.
Separated Materials:
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reels LA 10) including a biographical sketch, career resume, and a list of sheets' work prepared in 1964. Loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Millard Sheets lent material for microfilming in 1965. Mary B. Sheets, Millard's widow, donated the papers to the Archives of American Art in 1992. Carolyn Owen-Toole, Sheet's daughter, gave a small addition of material in 2018.
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
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.
Art -- Study and teaching  Search this
Art -- California  Search this
Art and society  Search this
Horses -- Breeding  Search this
Watercolorists -- California  Search this
Muralists -- California  Search this
Art -- Philosophy  Search this
Designers -- California  Search this
Slides (photographs)
Millard Sheets papers, circa 1907-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
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Millard Sheets papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
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Marvin E. Mundel Industrial Engineering Collection

Mundel, Marvin Everett, 1916-1996 (industrial engineer)  Search this
A.O. Smith Company  Search this
Aji-no-moto Corporation  Search this
Albert Trostel and Sons  Search this
Aluminum Goods Manufacturing Comp  Search this
American Colortype Company  Search this
American Institute of Industrial Engineers  Search this
Asian Productivity organization  Search this
Barbar and Coleman  Search this
Bridgestone  Search this
Briggs & Stratton Corporation  Search this
Buffalo China Company  Search this
Cindahy Brothers Company  Search this
College of Technology Birmingham, England  Search this
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company  Search this
Gardner Board and Carton Company  Search this
Hamilton Manufacturing Company  Search this
Herbst Shoe Manufacturing Company  Search this
Japan Productivity Center  Search this
Japanese Management Association  Search this
Kanaki Gear Plant  Search this
Kanebo Spinning Co.  Search this
Kawasake Dockyard  Search this
Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Comp  Search this
Milwaukee Dental Research Group  Search this
Milwaukee Gas Company  Search this
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.  Search this
Nihon Denso  Search this
Nippon Electric Company  Search this
Nippon Kokan Tsurumi  Search this
Pillsbury Mills  Search this
Purdue University  Search this
S.C. Johnson and Son  Search this
Society for the Advancement of Management  Search this
Stephan A. Young Company  Search this
Sumitomo  Search this
Walgreen's  Search this
Western Printing and Lithography Corp  Search this
Westover Engineers  Search this
Yanmar Diesel Engine Company  Search this
Deming, Edwards  Search this
Gambrell, C.B.  Search this
15 Cubic feet (36 boxes)
75 Motion picture films
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Motion picture films
Field notes
Motion photographs
Loop films
Motion pictures (visual works)
United States Navy Long Beach Naval Shipyard
United States Rock Island Arsenal
The Marvin E. Mundel Industrial Engineering Collection contains correspondence, reports, data, notes, publications, books, charts, certificates, awards, writings, photographs, films and videos that document the life and career of Marvin Mundel, a well-known expert in the field of work management and productivity enhancement.
Scope and Contents:
The Marvin E. Mundel Industrial Engineering Collection contains correspondence, reports, data, notes, publications, books, charts, certificates, awards, writings, photographs, films and videos that document the life and career of Marvin Mundel and demonstrate his work practices and teaching techniques.

The collection is organized chronologically into eleven series: Biographical Materials, Writings, Industrial Engineering, Work Methods, Purdue University, Time and Motion Study, Government Work, Japanese Consulting, Asian Productivity Organization, Dupont Case Study, and Films and Videos. While the years in each series may overlap, the separation of series demonstrates the evolution of Mundel's work and teachings. Photographs can be found throughout the collection. Information about the film and video series is located in Appendix A.

Series 1, Biographical Materials, 1953-1996, consists of documentation about Mundel and his career. The series contains bibliographies and curriculum vitae, correspondence, documentation on his memberships in Industrial Engineering groups, photographs, and certificates.

Series 2, Writings, 1937-1994, brings together Mundel's papers, speeches, books, and publications. When possible, the writings are arranged chronologically. The remaining writings are arranged by topic. This series should not be considered a definitive bibliography of Mundel's writings.

Series 3, Industrial Engineering, 1954-1995, combines Mundel's research with correspondence to and from other Industrial Engineers. It also includes Mundel's contributions to the Encyclopedia Britannica on "Industrial Engineering," "Work Measurement," and "Memomotion."

Series 4, Work Methods, undated, contains documents such as forms, office procedure manuals, visual aids, and printed matter about office equipment that offer insight into Mundel's work methods and innovative methods of making his own office more efficient.

Series 5, Purdue University, 1951-1957, documents his teaching career at the Industrial Engineering Department as well correspondence from his trip to England where he taught classes on industrial engineering.

Series 6, Time and Motion Study, 1952-1984, includes notes, data, printed matter, correspondence, charts, and photographs from his consultant work for various companies. This series contains seven subseries: Subseries 1, Consulting Work, 1954-1966; Subseries 2, Correspondence, 1956-1960; Subseries 3, Course work, undated; Subseries 4, Equipment, undated; Subseries 5, Film, 1952-1984; Subseries 6, Memberships, 1970-1977; and Subseries 7, Research, 1957.

Subseries 1, Consulting work, 1954-1966, contains correspondence and data from the corporations that hired Mundel as a consultant. Subseries 2, Correspondence, 1956-1960, the contains letters to and from people with diverse interests in time and motion study. Many people wrote to Mundel asking for advice with projects. Visual aids and handouts make up Subseries 3, Course work. In order to create memomotion, Mundel needed to refine certain electrical and motor parts on the cameras and projectors with which he worked. Subseries 4, Equipment, undated, have brochures on many different kinds of motors and switches. Subseries 5, Film, 1952-1984, contains most of the documentation that relates directly to films and video cassettes in this collection. Mundel was active in many organizations related to industrial engineering that shared his interests in time and motion study. Finally, copies and clippings make up the research subseries, 1957.

Series 7, Government Work, 1952-1971, documents Mundel's work for the government, from his work at Rock Island Arsenal to seminars for NASA. This series contains correspondence, data, reports, course work, visual aids, and photographs. The consulting work is arranged in a chronological manner and, in some instances, alphabetically.

Series 8, Japanese Consulting, 1959-1987, documents Mundel's consulting work for Japanese corporations. The files are arranged alphabetically by company and contain research, data, charts, notes, reports, and correspondence about each manufacturing firm. His notebooks and trip files give insight into his cultural understanding of Japanese firms and his teaching practices. Of special interest are the notebooks that contain photographs and firsthand experiences of adapting to Japanese culture and understanding Japanese work practices.

Series 9, Asian Productivity Organization, 1973-1994, consists of year and country files of Mundel's seminars throughout the Far East. The course work, notes, visual aids, reports, and photographs demonstrate Mundel's shift in emphasis from work measurement to managerial organization. This series also contains books published by the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) that give a context to Mundel's work and writings.

Series 10, Dupont Case Study, 1978-1984, contains correspondence, data, notes, reports, research, and visual aids concerning one of the many American companies where Mundel consulted. Dupont was selected because of its prominence in the American business world.

Series 11, Films and Videos, circa 1939-1973, is comprised of 16mm films and 1⁄2" VHS videocassette tapes. The bulk of the series is 16mm films. The films relate to the documents in Series 6: Time and Motion Studies. There are six subseries: Rating Films, 1939-1973; Memomotion Films, circa 1948-1959; Multi-Image Loops, circa, 1956-1958; Instructional Films, circa 1939-1962; Travel Films, circa 1955-1958 and Papers, undated.

Films are labeled either OF, RF, OV, or RV, for Original Film, Reference Film, Original Video, and Reference Video, respectively. [Example: For "676.24 OF Roll Edge on Sheet Metal Disc, circa 1960 (REF. FILM 676.24 and REF. VIDEO 676.70)," 676 is the collection number; 24 is the item number; OF means original film; "Roll Edge on Sheet Metal Disc" is the title; 1960 is the date followed by any reference copies. In this case there are both a reference film and a reference video. The Archives Center will eventually have reference copies for all of the films. for researchers to view.

Subseries 1, Rating Films, circa 1939-1973, represents Mundel's work with rating or pace films. This technique films a worker doing a repetitive work unit and allows trained motion study analysts to establish time standards. These films show a wide variety of jobs held by both men and women, American workers and Japanese workers. There are three groups of films:

Demonstration Rating Films: These films have the same format as titles with 10 scenes of workers doing a work unit at different paces. The films are arranged according to Mundel's numerical system and retain the original titles. These films should be projected at 1000 frames per minute.

Poultry Rating Films: These are rating films that Mundel did for the USDA and the Consumer Protection Programs.

Miscellaneous Films: These are Mundel's rating films for Tung Sol, ASF, Woods Veterans Hospital, and Montfort. There is also a rating film taken by an English company.

Subseries 2, Memomotion Films, circa 1948-1959, includes memomotion examples that were incorporated into instructional films. Memomotion is a filming technique created by Mundel. Time and motion analysts film a non-repetitive or extended crew activity at one frame per second and then project the film at normal speed. In this manner, the analyst can record a longer work period at a fraction of the cost and be able to analyze the film much more quickly. Memomotion is often used in conjunction with work flow diagrams.

Subseries 3, Multi-Image Loops, circa 1956-1958, combines seven of Mundel's multi-image loops onto one film core. The films display twelve images of rating films at the same time. The worker in each image is working at a different pace (fastest in the top left-hand corner and the slowest in the bottom right-hand corner). Time and motion study analysts could watch the loops for as long as they needed to get an idea of what the range of paces for a certain job could be. The loops were disassembled and spliced together for preservation and viewing purposes.

Subseries 4, Instructional Films, circa 1939-1962, includes Mundel's attempts to educate others about his filming techniques and overall industrial engineering themes. The films teach ways to improve productivity through motion studies, how to make memomotion films, and the College of Technology, Birmingham, England's method of making microscope slides.

Subseries 5, Travel Films, circa 1955-1958, includes films that combine Mundel's love for travel and different cultures with film documentation of Japanese seminars.

Subseries 6, Papers, undated, contains papers directly related to the films. Of importance are the rating sheets which associate different percentages of efficiency to the paces in the film.
This collection is divided into eleven series.

Series 1, Biographical Materials, 1953-1996

Series 2, Writings, 1937-1994

Subseries 1, Books, 1942-1994

Subseries 2, Papers, 1959-1989, undated

Subseries 3, Publications, 1937-1993, undated

Subseries 4, Speeches, undated

Subseries 5, University of Iowa Studies, 1938-1940

Series 3, Industrial Engineering, 1954-1995

Series 4, Work Methods, undated

Series 5, Purdue University, 1951-1957

Series 6, Time and Motion Study, 1952-1984

Subseries 1, Consulting Work, 1954-1966

Subseries 2, Correspondence, 1956-1960

Subseries 3, Course Work, undated

Subseries 4, Equipment, undated

Subseries 5, Film, 1952-1984

Subseries 6, Memberships-Industrial Management Society, 1970-1977

Subseries 7, Research, 1957

Series 7, Government Work, 1952-1971

Subseries 1, General, 1955-1967, undated

Subseries 2, Rock Island Arsenal, 1952-1958

Subseries 3, Consulting, 1959-1971

Subseries 4, Seminars, 1963-1969

Series 8, Japanese Consulting, 1959-1987

Subseries 1, Consulting, 1961-1980

Subseries 2, Correspondence, 1959-1980

Subseries 3, Keio University, 1960-1961

Subseries 4, Memberships, 1959-1987

Subseries 5, Notes, undated

Subseries 6, Photographs, undated

Subseries 7, Scrapbooks, 1960-1965

Subseries 8, Seminars, 1959-1967

Series 9, Asian Productivity Organization, 1973-1994

Subseries 1, Annual Reports, 1973-1994

Subseries 2, Books, 1985-1989

Subseries 3, General, 1976-1995, undated

Subseries 4, Seminars, 1973-1989

Subseries 5, Presentation Album of Jakarta Seminar, 1973

Series 10, DuPont Case Study, 1978-1984

Series 11, Films and Videos, circa 1939-1973

Subseries 1, Rating Films, circa 1939-1973

Subseries 2, Memomotion Films, circa 1948-1959

Subseries 3, Multi-Image Loops, circa 1956-1958

Subseries 4, Instructional Films, circa 1939-1962

Subseries 5, Travel Films, circa 1955-1958

Subseries 6, Papers, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Marvin Everett Mundel, born April 20, 1916, was a major figure in the fields of industrial engineering and time and motion studies. He is known particularly for his consulting work, seminars and teaching, as well as numerous publications based on his expertise in work management and productivity enhancement. He began his engineering career in 1936 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from New York University (1936), followed by an M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering earned in 1938 and 1939, respectively, from the State University of Iowa.

In the late 1930s and 1940s, work measurement studies were considered the state-of-the-art method for improving industrial production. Mundel continued and built upon the achievements of pioneers Frank and Lillian Gilbreth during his teaching career at both Bradley and Purdue Universities. He also conducted seminars at Marquette University Management Center and the University of Wisconsin's Extension Center in Milwaukee. In addition to his American teaching career, Mundel was a visiting professor at both the University of Birmingham in England and Keio University in Tokyo, Japan.

In 1952, Mundel started a consulting firm which aided corporations and governments in either work measurement consulting or, later in his career, industrial engineering consulting. His first clients were United States government agencies that wanted to gain control over lost revenue or manpower. His position from 1952 to 1953 at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois, as the first Director of the Army Management Engineering Training Program, transformed management techniques in the Army.

After his employment at Rock Island, Mundel began a series of consultant roles with corporations eager to standardize labor practices and make production more efficient. From 1953 to 1963, Mundel conducted time and motion studies at various manufacturing companies and developed techniques to measure work units. His most important contribution to the field of time and motion study was the development of memomotion, a stop-action filming technique used to determine time standards for work tasks.

Following his refinements of time and motion study, Mundel took his expertise to Japan where he offered his consultant services to various Japanese manufacturing firms during the 1960s. His interests evolved from time and motion studies to include work management and overall management organization consulting. During the 1960s and 1970s, Mundel also returned to government consulting in the United States with these new techniques, in offices such as the Bureau of the Budget and United States Department of Agriculture. This period marked an important evolution in Mundel's career, from time and motion study to work measurement and then to industrial consulting. Mundel was among the first consultants to export American management techniques to Japan, and, in his later career, to other Asian countries. He became an integral part of the Asian Productivity Organization, a group that helped developing Asian countries learn how to increase productivity. His seminars sought to provide corporations and governments with efficient management techniques so that Asia would become a strong economic center. Mundel was sensitive to cultural differences as well as varied methods of management and standards of productivity.

Mundel won the Gilbreth Award in 1982. He continued conducting seminars and writing books and articles well into the 1980s, until failing health prevented him from traveling. When Mundel died in 1996, he was well respected in the field of industrial engineering for his many contributions.
This collection was donated to the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History by Marvin Mundel's wife, Takako Mundel, in January, 1999.
The collection is open for research use.
Copyright held by the Smithsonian Institution. Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Hospitals -- Materials management  Search this
Food processing plants  Search this
Industrial productivity -- measurements  Search this
Industrial films  Search this
Government consultants -- Asia -- Japan  Search this
Government productivity -- Japan  Search this
Machine shops  Search this
Slaughtering and slaughter-houses  Search this
Machinery industry  Search this
Punched card systems -- Machinery  Search this
Steel founding  Search this
Steel industry and trade  Search this
Plant layout  Search this
Diesel motor industry  Search this
Meat -- Packing  Search this
Shipbuilding industry  Search this
Meat inspection  Search this
Meat industry and trade  Search this
Pharmaceutical industry  Search this
Materials handling  Search this
Poultry -- Inspection  Search this
Dental offices  Search this
Box making  Search this
Greeting cards industry  Search this
United States Department of Agriculture  Search this
Refuse collection  Search this
Poultry industry  Search this
Shoe industry  Search this
Dental instruments and apparatus  Search this
Methods engineering  Search this
Industrial engineering -- 1930-2000  Search this
Chronophotography  Search this
Drafting table  Search this
Organizational effectiveness  Search this
Industrial management  Search this
Work measurement  Search this
Motion study  Search this
Photographs -- 20th century
Field notes
Motion photographs
Loop films
Motion pictures (visual works)
Correspondence -- 1930-1950
Marvin E. Mundel Industrial Engineering Collection, 1937-1996, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Marvin E. Mundel Industrial Engineering Collection
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Archives Center, National Museum of American History
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Bobby Short Papers

Short, Bobby  Search this
Carlyle Hotel New York, New York  Search this
Hildegarde, 1906-2005  Search this
Mercer, Mabel, 1900-1984  Search this
Minnelli, Liza  Search this
Putney, Charles  Search this
Bull, Clarence Sinclair, 1896-1979  Search this
13.6 Cubic feet (35 boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Business records
Concert programs
New York (N.Y.) -- 20th century
Bobby Short was a singer and pianist whose career spanned seven decades. An interpreter of American popular music, he became a performer in childhood and remained active until his death. He is best known for his more than 35 years as performer-in-residence at the Hotel Carlyle's Café Carlyle in New York City. This collection contains personal papers and photographs as well as business papers, musical materials and photographs relating to Mr. Short's career as a performing artist.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of personal materials relating to Mr. Short's childhood, family, and friends as well as business materials relating to his career as a performer. These include photographs, correspondence, business documents, periodicals, musical materials, manuscripts and awards. Most of the material is arranged chronologically. The container list is detailed as to the type and date of the materials.

Series 1, Personal Materials, circa 1908-2005. This series is divided into four Subseries: Early Life in Danville, Illinois; Awards, Honors, and Milestones; Personal Ephemera and Miscellaneous Publications; and Original Artworks owned by Bobby Short. Subseries 1 includes poems written in childhood and two high school annuals. Subseries 2 includes numerous citations and awards as well as three Grammy nominations. Subseries 4 contains small prints and sketches as well as larger works by various artists.

Series 2, Correspondence, circa 1950-2005. This Series is divided into three Subseries: Personal Correspondence; Correspondence with Celebrities and Notable People; and Business Correspondence and Related Materials. The material is arranged chronologically. The material in Subseries 1 and 2 consists of letters, telegrams, invitations, and notes.

Series 3, Photographs, circa 1908-2005. This Series is divided into six Subseries: With and of Family and Friends; With Celebrities and Notable People; Other Performers, Notable People, and Autographed; In Performance; Publicity, Fashion, and Advertising; and Photographs of Artworks Depicting Bobby Short.

Subseries 1 contains a number of early family photographs and early photographs of Bobby Short. Subseries 1 and 3 include photographs by Carl Van Vechten. Subseries 1 and 5 include photographs by Horst, Hurrell, and Scavullo. Subseries 4 contains photographs of Bobby Short in performance, both alone and with others.

Series 4, Contracts and Related Documents, 1953-2005. This series is divided into six Subseries: Appearances in the United States and Foreign Countries; Film, Radio and Television Appearances; Recording Contracts, Royalty Statements and Related Materials; Print, Radio and Television Advertising; Licensing Proposals; and Union and Labor Department Documents.

Subseries 1 is arranged as follows: Hotel Carlyle Contracts; United States Contracts arranged alphabetically by state. These are followed by foreign contracts arranged alphabetically by name of country. Subseries 2 is arranged as follows: contracts and related materials for radio appearances, television appearances and appearances in films. Subseries 3 consists of recording contracts and royalty statements arranged chronologically and by company. Subseries 4, 5, and 6 are arranged chronologically.

Series 5, Programs, Publicity, and Promotion, 1956-1996. This series is divided into three Subseries: Programs for Performances by Bobby Short; Newspaper Clippings and Magazines; and Promotional Materials.

Subseries 1 consists primarily of programs for performances at concert halls. Subseries 2 consists largely of newspaper and entertainment magazine notices from the 1950s and 1960s. Subseries 3 includes flyers, announcements and table cards.

Series 6, Special Events, 1963-2003. This series consists of materials relating to special events such as charity benefits and anniversary celebrations at which Short performed or was otherwise involved. Several of these events benefited the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Series 7, Musical Materials, circa 1920s-1995. This series consists of a variety of materials relating to music; publications, sheet music, lyrics, recording contracts, album covers, and two 45 rpm recordings. Song lists, discographies, and articles about music are included.

Series 8, Theatrical Productions as Producer or Investor, 1979-1988 This series consists of contracts and performance materials for productions for which Bobby Short acted as a producer and/or investor. Programs, correspondence, and publicity materials are included; also partnership documents and financial statements.

Series 9, Manuscripts, Research, and Publishing Materials, circa 1954-1997. This series is arranged in two Subseries: Writings: Bobby Short; Writings: Others.

Subseries 1 includes a partial manuscript for Black and White Baby and research and other materials for a proposed volume, Black Lady Singers, that was not written. Subseries 2 consists of miscellaneous writings by others including a partial script for a play, Tinsel Town, and a film script, Johnny Twennies.
The papers are arranged in nine series

Series 1, Personal Materials, circa 1908-2005

Subseries 1, Early Life in Danville, Illinois, 1924-1942

Subseries 2, Awards, Honors and Milestones, 1964-2005

Subseries 3, Personal Ephemera and Miscellaneous Publications, 1937-2002

Subseries 4, Original Artworks Owned by Bobby Short, 1841-1990s

Series 2, Correspondence, circa 1938-2005

Subseries 1, Personal Correspondence, 1950s-2004

Subseries 2, Correspondence with Celebrities and Notable People, 1962-2004

Subseries 3, Business Correspondence and Related materials, 1938-2005

Series 3, Photographs, circa 1908-2005

Subseries 1, With and of Family and Friends, circa 1908-2005

Subseries 2, With Celebrities and Notable People, circa 1953-1990s

Subseries 3, Other Performers, Notable People, and Autographed, circa 1920s-1990s

Subseries 4, In Performance and Related Subjects, circa 1940s-2001

Subseries 5, Publicity, Fashion, and Advertising, circa 1930s-2000s

Subseries 6, Photographs of Artworks Depicting Bobby Short, circa 1960s-1990s

Series 4, Contracts and Related Documents, circa 1953-2005

Subseries 1, Appearances in the United States and Foreign Countries, circa 1953-2005

Subseries 2, Radio, Television, and Film Appearances, 1978-2000

Subseries 3, Recording Contracts, Royalty Statements and Related Materials, 1955-2003

Subseries 4, Print, Radio and Television Advertising, 1976-1997

Subseries 5, Licensing Proposals, 1984-2000

Subseries 6, Union and Labor Department Documents, 1981-2005

Series 5, Programs, Publicity, and Promotion, 1956-1996

Subseries 1, Programs for Performances by Bobby Short

Subseries 2, Newspaper Clippings and Magazines

Subseries 3, Promotional Materials

Series 6, Special Events, 1963-2003

Series 7, Musical Materials, circa 1920-1995

Series 8, Theatrical Productions as Producer or Investor, 1979-1988

Series 9, Manuscripts, Research, And Publishing Materials, circa 1954-1997

Subseries 1, Writings: Bobby Short

Subseries 2, Writings: Others
Biographical / Historical:
Bobby Short (Robert Waltrip Short) was born to Rodman and Myrtle Short on September 15, 1924, in Danville, Illinois. He was one of six surviving children. As part of the town's relatively small African American community, the Short family maintained a middle-class standard of living, even during the Great Depression. Rodman Short pursued several occupations but spent most of his life as a coal miner in West Virginia and was seldom at home. Myrtle Short, a domestic worker, was a fastidious housekeeper who expected a high standard of deportment in her children. In Bobby Short's first memoir, Black and White Baby, he wrote: "Except for our color, we conformed in almost every degree to the image of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant-in our manners, our mores, and our way of life." Music was an important part of that life; many members of the extended family played instruments or sang, some professionally. Short first played a song by ear at the family upright piano when he was four years old and began his life-long love affair with words and music. Church, school, vaudeville, and minstrel shows provided his earliest musical influences and repertoire; his innate musicality and enthusiasm enabled him to become a skilled performer at an early age. By the time he was ten years old, he was playing and singing in local night spots and as far away as Indianapolis. At twelve, he was playing in vaudeville, at times billed as "the Miniature King of Swing." At thirteen, he returned to Danville, attended high school, and after graduating in 1942, left his home town to begin his professional life in earnest.

Short spent the 1940s and early 1950s as an increasingly successful entertainer in sophisticated night clubs and jazz venues in Chicago and other Midwestern cities, California, and New York, as well as Paris and London. While his early repertoire featured novelty songs and boogie-woogie, as he matured he embraced the standards of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and other notable composers and song writers. He enthusiastically promoted the work of African American composers such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller and Andy Razaf. His encyclopedic knowledge of popular songs, both the well-known and the obscure, gave his performances a freshness that delighted his audiences.

In 1956, Short moved to New York City, taking up residence in a Carnegie Hall studio apartment. His career as a "saloon singer" (his words) continued in New York and in frequent visits to the Midwest and California. He appeared in theatrical roles and began recording for Atlantic Records. In 1968 his concert at Carnegie Hall with Mabel Mercer led to his engagement at the intimate Café Carlyle at the Hotel Carlyle. He remained there, playing for six months of the year, for the rest of his life. His performances at the Carlyle made him a darling of society and an icon of sophisticated New York style. In the early 1970s his album "Bobby Short Loves Cole Porter" introduced him to a larger audience; he published his first memoir, Black and White Baby, in 1971.

Short recorded numerous albums, earning several Grammy nominations. He appeared on radio and television, occasionally acted on stage and was seen in small roles in several films. He produced "Black Broadway," a theatrical review featuring many veteran performers he had long revered; he was instrumental in the revival of Alberta Hunter's career. Four Presidents--Nixon, Carter, Clinton and Reagan--invited him to perform at the White House. When he was not at the Café Carlyle, he traveled extensively in the United States and abroad, appearing in both night clubs and symphony halls. Success enabled him to purchase a villa in the south of France. His second memoir, Bobby Short, the Life and Times of a Saloon Singer, was published in 1995. Short earned many awards and honors during his lengthy career and was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 1999. He died in New York on March 21, 2005.

Sources: Short, Bobby. Black and White Baby, New York: Dodd, Mead & Company,1971. Short, Bobby (with Robert Mackintosh). Bobby Short, the Life and Times of a Saloon Singer, New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1995.
Related Materials:
Objects (2006.0071): awards, clothing, medals, and a music portfolio, including thirteen sound recordings (1984.0134), are housed in the Division of Music, Sports, and Entertainment (now Division of Cultural and Community Life), National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institution by Bobby Short.
This collection is open for research use.

Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow. Researchers must use photocopies of scrapbooks due to the fragility of the originals, unless special access is approved.

Technical Access: Listening to sound recordings requires special appointment; please inquire.
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.
Entertainment  Search this
Works of art  Search this
African American entertainers -- 20th century  Search this
Vaudeville  Search this
Pianists  Search this
Nightclubs  Search this
Popular music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Musicians -- 20th century  Search this
Music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Correspondence -- 20th century
Business records -- 20th century
Music -- Manuscripts
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 20th century
Scrapbooks -- 20th century
Concert programs
Bobby Short Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
See more items in:
Bobby Short Papers
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Archives Center, National Museum of American History
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William L. Bird Holidays on Display Collection

Bird, William L.  Search this
6.5 Cubic feet (19 boxes, 1 oversize folder)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
1877 - 2010
The collection consists of archival materials assembled by National Museum of American History Curator William Lawrence Bird. The materials were used as background research for the publication of his book Holidays on Display (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007), and as exhibit objects for the exhibit by the same name that opened shortly after the museum's architectural renovation (November 2009-September 2010). The materials include advertising and trade literature, especially for department stores and with emphasis on the display of toys; catalogs; photographs and slides; postcards; parade programs; design drawings; correspondence; stock certificates, and miscellaneous items relating to department stores and their displays, parades and the amusement industry.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of archival materials assembled by National Museum of American History Curator William Lawrence (known as Larry) Bird. The materials were used as background research and as exhibit objects for the exhibit "Holidays on Display" (November 2009-September 2010). The materials include advertising and trade literature (especially for department stores and with emphasis on the display of toys); catalogs; photographs and slides; postcards; parade programs; design drawings; correspondence; stock certificates, and miscellaneous items relating to department stores and their displays, parades, and the amusement industry.
The collection is arranged into fourteen series.

Series 1, Advertisements, 1925, 1954, undated

Series 2, Articles/Newspaper clippings, 1922-2009 and undated

Series 3, Artwork/Drawings, 1952, 1966

Series 4, Buttons/Pins (souvenir), 1901-2009

Series 5, Certificates, 1975-1976

Series 6, Correspondence, 1928

Series 7, Department Stores, 1903-2001

Series 8, Design/Display Companies, 1890-2001

Subseries 8.1, Adler-Jones Company, 1947

Subseries 8.2, American Decorative Flower Company, Inc., undated

Subseries 8.3, Chance Manufacturing Company, Inc., 1975

Subseries 8.4, Chicago Artificial Flower Company, 1938-1939, 1951

Subseries 8.5, Eden Musee, 1892-1910 and undated

Subseries 8.6, Dennison Manufacturing Company, 1913-1956

Subseries 8.7, Display Sales, 2008 and undated

Subseries 8.8, Garrison-Wagner Company, 1949-1952, 1959

Subseries 8.9, Gasthoff's Display Service, Inc., 1937-1938, 1956

Subseries 8.10, General Electric, 1931, 1938, 2000

Subseries 8.11, D. Glosser and Associates, Inc., undated

Subseries 8.12, Hamberger Displays, Inc., 1989., 1997-1998, 2001

Subseries 8.13, Intamin AG (observation towers), undated

Subseries 8.14, International Register Company, 1931

Subseries 8.15, Heinrich Mark, undated

Subseries 8.16, Maytag Parade Floats and Moving Displays, [1938?]

Subseries 8.17, Roberto Meluzzi, undated

Subseries 8.18, Messmore & Damon, 1890-1960s

Subseries 8.19, Modern Art Studios, circa 1920s

Subseries 8.20, Motion Machines, Inc., undated

Subseries 8.21, Phoenix Decorating Company, 2006-2010

Subseries 8.22, Pinfari, undated

Subseries 8.23, Pittsburgh Display Advertising, Inc., 1952

Subseries 8.24, S.B. Ramagosa and Sons, 1974

Subseries 8.25, Rubies Costume Company, Inc., 2000

Subseries 8.26, Schack's Artificial Flower Company, 1922

Subseries 8.27, Anton Schwarzkopf, undated

Subseries 8.28, Sherman Display Guide, 1942

Subseries 8.29, Vaughan's, Inc., 1950s, 1992 and undated

Subseries 8.30, Venture Ride Manufacturing, Inc., 1975

Subseries 8.31, Victory Corporation, 1978-2000

Series 9, Parade Programs, 1909-2009

Series 10, Photographs, 1877-2009

Subseries 1, Parades, 1877-1980s

Subseries 2, Window Displays, circa 1930s-2000s

Subseries 3, Miscellaneous, 1935-1965 and undated

Subseries 4, Slides, 1948-1976

Subseries 5, Lantern Slides, undated

Series 11, Postcards, 1909-1973 and undated

Series 12, Publications, 1938-1989, 2007

Subseries 12.1, Amusement Business, 1962-1967

Subseries 12.2, Chicago Railroad Fair Official Guide Book, 1948

Subseries 12.3, Commercial Christmas Decor, 2001-2002

Subseries 12.4, Department Store Economist, 1963 July

Subseries 12.5 Display World, 1949, 1950-1952

Subseries 12.6, The Fellow Worker (Jordan Marsh Company), 1928 December

Subseries 12.7, Good Year News (Good Year Tire and Rubber Company), 1962 November

Subseries 12.8, The Holiday Messenger, 1891-1892

Subseries 12.9, The Hudsonian (J. L. Hudson Company), 1937-1954

Subseries 12.10 International Correspondence Schools, 1946-1956

Subseries 12.11, Jolly Book for Boys and Girls (John Wanamaker and Company), 1929-1931

Subseries 12.12, Koester School Year Book, [circa 1920s?]

Subseries 12.13, Merchants Record and Show Window, 1906,1917, 1918

Subseries 12.14, Signs of the Times (National Journal of the Advertising Display), 1953 January

Subseries 12.15, Sparks (R.H. Macy and Company), 1938-1947

Subseries 12.16, Store Chat (Strawbridge and Clothier), 1949, 1951, 1957

Subseries 12.17, Time Magazine, 1948 December 27

Subseries 12.18, Tourist Attractions and Parks, 1989 February

Subseries 12.19, Childrens Souvenir Books, 1926-2003 (bulk 1920s)

Series 13, Travel/Tourism, 1927-2007

Series 14, Tru-Vue, circa 1940s
Historical Note:
The collection consists of archival materials assembled by National Museum of American History Curator William Lawrence Bird. The materials were used as background research for the publication of his book Holidays on Display (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007), and as exhibit objects for the exhibit by the same name that opened shortly after the museum's architectural renovation (November 2009-September 2010).
Related Materials:
Materials held in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Messmore & Damon Company Records, 1892-1998 (AC0846)

Landy R. Hales Papers, 1908-1969 (AC0906)

Hudson-Fulton Celebration Photograph Album, 1909 (AC1149)
The collection was assembled and donated by William L. Bird.
The collection is open for research. Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs, negatives, and slides.
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.
William L. Bird Holidays on Display Collection, 1877-2010, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
William L. Bird Holidays on Display Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
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