Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America

Ivins, William Mills, 1881-1961

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role Collector Scholar/Critic/Expert
dates 1881-1961
city New York City
stateNY
other citiesMunich, Germany;
gender M
historical notes William Mills Ivins, Jr. (1881-1961), a lawyer, first became interested in collecting prints and illustrated books while an undergraduate at Harvard.

He studied the history of printmaking through self-directed reading, by looking at prints in the major European libraries and museums, and tried his hand at many of the printmaking processes. While practicing law, he wrote articles and organized some small exhibitions of prints as early as 1908. In 1916, the Metropolitan Museum of Art appointed its first Curator of Prints to organized a Department of Prints and Drawings and to develop its small existing collection. Upon the recommendation of Paul J. Sachs who was unable to accept the position, Ivins was selected. He held the post until his retirement some thirty years later.

Ivins' private collection of prints and illustrated books, which he had continue to amass through the 1930's, was partially dispersed during his lifetime through gifts to the Metropolitan Museum and to a number of university and special libraries. The portion remaining in his estate was sold at auction by Parke Bernet between 1962 and 1964.

Florence Wyman Ivins, William's wife, died in 1948.
decades
of activity
1900-1910
1910-1920
1920-1930
1930-1940
updated 02/07/2020 18:21:20
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Archive Location Collection Title Links
Archives of American Art
Victor Building, Suite 2200
William Mills Ivins papers, 1878-1964.
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New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Rm 328
Ivins family papers, 1885-1961, bulk (1900-1946) (MssCol 1535)
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Yale University Library
Manuscripts and Archives
William Mills Ivins letters to Theodore Sizer, 1926-1960. see details...
University of Pennsylvania
Rare Book & Manuscript Library Collections
Correspondence with Edward Larocque Tinker, 1926. see details...
University of Pennsylvania
Rare Book & Manuscript Library Collections
Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1951-1961. see details...
University of Pennsylvania
Rare Book & Manuscript Library Collections
Correspondence with Carl Zigrosser, 1913-1946. see details...
University of Pennsylvania
Rare Book & Manuscript Library Collections
Correspondence with Carl Zigrosser, 1921-1961,n.d. see details...