This record unit consists of the correspondence of Edgar P. Richardson, Director, 1954-1964; his successor, William E. Woolfenden, 1964-1983; Richard N. Murray, 1983-
, and other staff members; minutes and records of the Board of Trustees; manuscripts, correspondence, and other records of the Archives of American Art Journal; and the files
of various projects in which the Archives participated. These include the correspondence of Sandra J. Levy, area director for the Texas project, 1979-1985; correspondence
of Sharyn Udall, AAA representative, for the Southwest Project, 1969-1975; correspondence of Paul Cumming, Boston area office; and records related to the Treasury Relief Art
Project and other Depression-era relief programs for artists, surveyed and filmed in 1963-1964. Correspondents include William E. Woolfenden, Edgar P. Richardson, Garnett
McCoy, Sharyn Udall, Sandra J. Levy, Paul Cumming, Richard J. Nicastro, Sylvia Loomis, Gilbert H. Kinney, Regina Soria, and Eloise Spaeth.
The Archives of American Art (AAA) was founded as an independent non-profit corporation in 1954. Edgar P. Richardson, then Director of the Detroit Institute of Arts,
and businessman and art collector Lawrence Fleishman were its founders. AAA originally focused on collecting and microfilming information documenting artists' lives and careers
as reflected in the records of museums, galleries, family members, and collectors. Subsequently the Archives broadened its interests to include the visual arts in America
from the eighteenth century to the present day.
From its founding in 1954 until 1960 the AAA operated from Detroit, headquartered at the Detroit Institute of Arts, but independently supported by gifts and grants. In
1960 the Archives moved its headquarters to New York City, retaining an office in Detroit. In 1963 the AAA opened a field office in Rome in order to tap the records of American
artists' work in Rome and in Italy generally. In 1970 the AAA became a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1970-1971 field offices were established in Boston and San
Francisco, and in 1984 in San Marino, California.
Edgar P. Richardson, the first Director, had many other commitments, especially to his work at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. Increasingly, most duties fell to the
Assistant Director, William E. Woolfenden, who served in that capacity from 1960 until 1964, when he officially became Director. Woolfenden remained Director until 1983, when
he was succeeded by Richard N. Murray.
Boxes 3-6 contain materials restricted indefinitely; see finding aid; Contact reference staff for details.
Treasury Department Art Projects : painting and sculpture for federal buildings, November seventeen to December thirteen, nineteen hundred thirty-six, Corcoran Gallery of Art / introduction by Forbes Watson, 1936