Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America

Archives related to: Altman, Benjamin, 1840-1913

titleB. Altman & Co., Records, 1876-1955 (bulk 1881-1933).
repositoryThe New-York Historical Society
collection titleCorrespondence, record books, receipts, bills, checks, legal records, estate records, clippings, certificates, invitations, medals, and other materials related to the B. Altman & Co. department store (1876-1955, bulk 1881-1933).

Most of the material pertains to President Michael Friedsam or employee records. In addition to the firm, the Friedsam material also concerns associations and clubs, charitable organizations, stocks and bonds, and his art collection. The volumes of employee records includes name, dates of employment, residence, and, in some cases, remarks by superiors, references, or amendments added after the employee left the company. Financial records concern auction sales, real estate and charity receipts, charitable contributions, municipal bills, and bonds. Legal records include a trial transcript of Weitsman v. B. Altman & Co., a case of malicious prosecution, and copyright and trademark certificates of registration. Material related to the estate of Benjamin Altman pertains to his real estate and financial holdings as well as his philanthropic bequests. Other material includes a report on shopping habits, electrical equipment and inspection certificates, and four commemorative medals.

Historical Note:
Department store founded in 1865 by Benjamin Altman. Upon Altman's death, Michael Friedsam succeeded him as president of the company in 1913 and served until his death in 1931.

New-York Historical Society

Mss Collection

Call Number
B. Altman & Co. Records
extent3.5 linear ft. (2 boxes, 18 volumes)
formatsBusiness Records Correspondence Financial Records Clippings Estate Papers
accessopen to qualified researchers at The New-York Historical Society
record link
record source
finding aidFinding aid available online and in repository
acquisition informationPurchased at auction, 1990.
updated02/07/2020 18:19:33

titleDuveen Brothers Records, 1876-1981, bulk 1909-1964
repositoryThe Metropolitan Museum of Art
collection titleThe records provide an detailed view of the Duveen Brothers business activities in London, Paris, and New York. Although the archive extends from 1876-1981, the bulk of the material dates from Joseph Duveen's tenure as president of the firm, 1909-1939, and the period from 1939 to 1964 when Edward Fowles directed the firm (with Armand Lowengard until 1943). The mass of documents, such as cables and letters, invoices, and ledger and stock books, give a day-by-day account of art dealing, business strategy, and the individuals involved

NOTE Series I (ca. 112 linear feet) contains the firm's business records. Stock books indicate where objects were sent for repair, to whom objects were sent on approbation along with the date of sale and the price realized. Invoices include receipts, sales invoices sent to clients, lists of cablegrams and shipment of stock from each branch of the business

Series II (ca. 155 linear feet) consists of papers and correspondence which broadly cover the interaction between the Duveen Brothers firm and its clients, business associates, and the public. The correspondence describes art collecting trends among museums and individuals, the availability and purchase of art, art research and authentication, and the firm's general business practices. Eleven boxes of correspondence with Bernard Berenson detail his business relationship with the firm. Also included are records of lawsuits, correspondence between branches (some written in code), correspondence with museums, papers regarding galleries, Edward Fowles' papers, papers concerning exhibitions and loans, and papers regarding major art collectors and consultants. Some records of Kleinberger Galleries (apparently the papers of Harry G. Sperling, president) form a subseries within this series, and contain correspondence

Series III (c. 127 linear feet) includes some photographs, indices, negatives, and x-rays. This series represents the Duveen Brother's stock of images. Indices are available for the majority of the negatives in cold storage

("X Book" (Berenson transaction) is the only unique Duveen document not transferred to the GRI. It has not yet been photocopied. The "X Book" details, for a limited number (about 250) of Italian paintings in which Berenson had a financial interest, precise dates of purchase and sale, primarily in the years 1910-27. There is no index.) AAM

Watson Library Reference

Microfilm Cabinet
extentCa. 394 linear ft. 584 boxes, glass negative cabinets, and 18 flat file folders. 422 microfilm reels : positive ; 35mm
formatsPhotographs X rays Correspondence Financial Records Inventories
accessMicrofilm of the archive is available for use by qualified researchers. The originals are held at the Getty Institute in CA.
record source
finding aidUnpublished finding aid available in the repository (the Getty Research Library): folder level control. Online finding aid, Watson Online, Metropololitan Art Museum.
acquisition informationThe Metropolitan Museum of Art donated the Duveen archive to the Getty Research Library in 1996. Edward Fowles had donated the archive to the Metropolitan in 1968
updated11/12/2014 11:29:51

titleWilhelm Reinhold Valentiner papers, 1860-1974.
repositoryArchives of American Art
collection titleDiaries, writings, correspondence, scrapbooks, printed material, and photographs.

REEL D31: Diary entries, 1914-1957, describing his service in the German army, 1914-1918, with the War Information Office in Berlin, the overthrow of the monarchy and German politics, relations between Germany and Russia and communist activity in Germany, the administration of Berlin museums and radical artists' activities, his work with the L.A. County Museum, Detroit Institute of Fine Arts, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and private collectors, impressions of friends, including Henry Ford, Carl Hamilton, the Hohenzollerns, Franz Marc, Rainer Maria Rilke, Walter Rathenau, Helen Wills, Benjamin Altman, J. Pierpont Morgan, and recollections of women art collectors, including Mrs. August Belmont, Rita Lydig, and Mrs. Leonard Thomas.

REELS 272-276: Documents; correspondence with Valentiner's family, E. Colin Agnew, Chester Holmes Aldrich, William von Bode, Duveen Brothers, Max J. Friedlander, Walter Gropius, John Johnson, John McIlhenny, Erich Mendelsohn, M. Perzynski, Edi Redslob, the Rockefeller family, Maria Sarre, Albert Souvier, and C.F. Williams. Correspondence prior to 1920 concerns World War I and life in Germany; also included are essays and research notes on modern European artists; photographs of Valentiner and his family; and printed material.

REELS 2140-2144: 26 diaries, 1904-1958; autobiographical writings; manuscripts and lectures by Valentiner; correspondence with family, friends, authors, museums, galleries, and dealers, including Harry Berotia, Charles Culver, Lyonel and Julia Feininger, Walter Gropius, Paul and Mary Weschler, and Morris Graves; and a scrapbook containing clippings, drafts of speeches, and invitations.

REELS 3963-3967: Biographical material including a resume, a family history and family tree; correspondence with family, Kurt Bauch, Guy DeLauney, Walter Friedlaender, Henry Goldman, Liselotte Moser, Maria Sarre, Wolfgang von Eckardt, and Helen Wills; manuscripts of an autobiography, writings on art, and articles by Valentiner; notebooks and notes; diaries, 1884-1939; exhibition catalogs and clippings; scrapbooks; photographs, 1875-1965, of Valentiner, his family, Walter Friedlaender, Giacometti, Maria Sarre, Helen Wills, William von Bode, Diego Rivera, Harry Bertoia, and other artists and art work; and an etching of Heidelberg.
extent6.3 linear ft. (on 16 microfilm reels) reels D31, 272-276, 2140-2144, and 3963-3967
formatsCorrespondence Diaries Photographs Scrapbooks
accessPatrons must use microfilm copy.
record source
finding aidFinding aids for reels 2140-2144 and 3963-3967 are available at AAA offices.
acquisition informationMaterial on reels D31, 272-276 & 3963-3967, donated 1959. Material on reels 2140-2144 lent for microfilming by the North Carolina Museum of Art, 1974.
updated11/12/2014 11:29:51

titleAline and Eero Saarinen papers, 1906-1977
repositoryArchives of American Art
collection titlePersonal papers of Aline and Eero Saarinen, and Aline Saarinen papers relating to her unpublished biography of architect Stanford White, her published book The Proud Possessors, and her work as an NBC Television correspondent. Papers relating to Stanford White and to Proud Possessors contain primary source material gathered by Saarinen during her research on White and collectors Edward Wales Root and John Quinn.

REELS 2074-76, and 2064 (photos): Biographical material; Eero Saarinen's sketches, notes and letters; correspondence between Aline and Eero; Aline Saarinen's correspondence, including letters from John McAndrews, Clifford Odets, Robert Osborne, Frank Lloyd Wright, Joseph Louchheim, and her children; awards; files on her involvement with the Fine Arts Commission, Yale University, and the Design Advisory Committee of the Federal Aviation Agency; speeches, articles on art and architecture; television scripts; clippings and printed material; notes; and photographs and slides of the Saarinens (2 copyprints are also microfilmed on reel 1817 fr. 1054-1058), Charles Alan, and other family members, friends, works of art, and architecture.

REELS 2069-2072 and 2084 (photos): Research material, 1903-1960, relating to Saarinen's book The Proud Possessors (1958). Included are notes, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, and printed material on art collectors Dr. Albert C. Barnes, Dr. Claribel and Etta Cone, Katherine Sophie Dreier, Charles Lang Freer, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Thomas Gilcrease, Peggy Guggenheim, Mr. and Mrs. Henry O. Havemeyer, Joseph Hirshhorn, R. Sturgis Ingersoll, John G. Johnson, J. Pierpont Morgan, Mrs. Potter Palmer, John Quinn, the Rockefeller family, Edward Wales Root, Gertrude, Leo, Michael and Sarah Stein, and Electra Havemeyer Webb. Among the correspondents is Bernard Berenson.

The material on Edward Root contains letters to Saarinen from Grace Cogswell Root; correspondence between Root and his father Elihu, 1903-1936; one or more letters to Root, 1909-1936, from Charles Culver, Robert De Forest, Frederick James Gregg, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, Duncan Phillips, and Grace Root; copies of 2 letters to Edward Christiana, 1949; a catalog for a Root memorial exhibition, 1957; Saarinen's notes; and a photograph of Root, one of his home, and photographs of works of art in his collection. Copyrpints also available.

Material on John Quinn includes correspondence between Saarinen and Jeanne Robert Foster; letters to Foster from Quinn and his sister, Julia Anderson; a copy of a letter to Foster from William B. Yeats and a drawing of Quinn possibly by Yeats; material relating to Roger Casement; and photographs of Quinn and Foster, and Quinn with Constantin Brancusi, Picasso and Mme. Picasso, Henri Pierre Roche, and Erik Satie.

REELS 2072-2073 and 2064 (photos): Research material for Saarinen's unpublished biography of Stanford White. Included are: notes, drafts; correspondence with her publisher, scholars, friends and relatives of White, architects, and others; printed material, 1896-1968; McKim, Mead and White memoranda and correspondence, 1887-1906, much of it with Whitelaw Reid; a letter from Charles Lang Freer, 1900; contracts; architectural descriptions and copies of blueprints; a record book; and miscellaneous letters and documents. Letters from White's father, Richard Grant White, to his daughter-in-law Bessie, Bessie White's reminiscenses of Stanford, and her scrapbook on the Washington Centennial and White's Washington Arch are also included.

Photographs include over 300, 1878-ca. 1970, of White, his wife; his father and mother; Evelyn Nesbit; his clients, Anne, Louise and Robert Cheney; and 280 photographs of buildings and residences designed by White or McKim, Mead and White, many photographed by Wayne Andrews.

UNMICROFILMED: Primarily papers kept by Aline Saarinen while a NBC television correspondent reporting on mainly art related topics. Included are correspondence, printed material, notes, scripts, clippings, kinescope motion picture film, including "Eyes Opening", transferred to VHS, and photographs. Also included are printed material on Eero Saarinen, and photographs of his work.

ADDITION: Notebooks containing Aline Saarinen's notes on architecture, art collectors and Stanford White; printed material; Saarinen's journal, 1928-1932; a guest book; photographs; scripts for Venus in Venice (1964), The American Image and other writings. Three phonograph recordings (33 1/3) of a discussion on opera between Eero Saarinen, Professor H. Ingham Ashworth and Professor Leslie Martin on the Australian Braodcasting Commission, January 29, 1957 are not available for research use.
extent13.5 linear ft. (partially microfilmed on 10 reels)
formatsCorrespondence Notes Sketches Photographs Clippings
accessCollection is being processed and digitized, and is closed to researchers. Access is to microfilmed material only. NBC TV material: Authorization to quote from scripts or film prepared for television must be cleared for rights with: NBC Studios, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y.
record link
record source
acquisition informationDonated in 1973 by the Aline Saarinen estate via Charles Alan, art dealer and brother of Saarinen. The NBC TV material was donated 1974 by NBC Studios. Additional material donated 1991 by the Parrish Art Museum, who had received it from Aline Saarinen.
updated11/12/2014 11:29:51

titleOffice of the Secretary records, 1870-[ongoing].
repositoryThe Metropolitan Museum of Art
collection titleRecords comprise correspondence and subject files created by the Secretary and General Counsel, Trustees and several past Directors of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This material relates to all aspects of Museum operations and administration including: acquisition of artworks through purchase, gift and bequest, exhibitions, building maintenance and construction, relations with City and State agencies, drafting and negotiating contracts, managing litigation, cultural property issues, legal and business affairs, grants and corporate donations. Files documenting the tenures of each Secretary of the Museum are included.

In addition, there is substantial original documentation created by: former Directors of the Museum, including Luigi Palma di Cesnola, Caspar Purdon Clarke, Edward Robinson, Herbert E. Winlock; past Trustees, including: John Taylor Johnston, Henry Gurdon Marquand, Robert W. De Forest, and J. Pierpont Morgan; and key curatorial and administrative staff.

Biography or History
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 in New York City by a group of businessmen, financiers, artists and collectors. On April 13 of that year the New York State Legislature granted an Act of Incorporation "for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said City a Museum and Library of Art, of encouraging and developing the Study of the Fine Arts, and the application of Art to manufacture and natural life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and to that end of furnishing popular instruction and recreations." Railroad executive John Taylor Johnston served as the institution’s first President. Luigi Palma di Cesnola was appointed the first Director in 1879.

The Office of the Secretary was established concurrently with the founding of the Museum, and is the central repository for official Trustee records, administrative correspondence and legal files of the Museum’s General Counsel. The Secretary is a member of the Museum staff who performs administrative duties under the general direction of the President or as may be assigned by the Chairman or Board of Trustees.

The Secretary is responsible for coordinating and recording the proceedings of meetings the Board of Trustees and Trustee committees. The Secretary attends to official correspondence, has custody of and preserves the corporate seal and the archives, and oversees the legal affairs of the Museum.

The following have served as Secretary of the Museum: William J. Hoppin (1874-1877), Luigi Palma di Cesnola (1877-1904), Robert W. DeForest (1904-1913), Henry W. Kent (1913-1940), George Lauder Greenway (1941-1942), Dudley T. Easby, Jr. (1945-1969), Ashton Hawkins (1969-1987), Linden Havemeyer Wise (1987-1992), Sharon H. Cott (1992-present).

[Title of item], [date], [folder title], Office of the Secretary Records, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives.

Most materials in English; French, Italian, German and other languages are represented as well.
extent2500 linear feet.
formatsCorrespondence Subject Files Administrative Records Financial Records Legal Papers
accessConsult Archives staff regarding permission to quote or reproduce.
record link
record source
finding aidnpublished index and folder level database; access restricted to Archives staff only.
acquisition informationTransferred from Office of the Secretary.
updated11/12/2014 11:30:08

titleBernard and Mary Berenson Papers, 1880-2002 (bulk 1880-1959)
repositoryBiblioteca Berenson, Villa I Tatti
collection titleIncludes Bernard Berenson and Mary Berenson's published and unpublished manuscripts, notes, diaries, letters, offprints of articles, surplus volumes of published books, biographical material, and personal photographs.

The bulk of the correspondence consists of letters to Bernard Berenson, but also some letters by the Berensons and Nicky Mariano.

Among the correspondents included are: Baroness Alda Anrep, Margaret Scolari Barr, Robert Woods Bliss, Jacqueline Onassis, Kenneth Clark, Cass Canfield, John Coolidge, Duveen Brothers, William G. Constable, Charles H. Coster, Katherine Dunham, Max Eastmen, Henry Sayles Francis, Edward Waldo Forbes, Felix Frankfurter, Helen C. Frick, Isabella S. Gardner,

Martha Gellhorn, J. Paul Getty, Bella da Costa Greene, Hamish Hamilton, Learned Hand, Ernest Hemingway, Philip Hofer, Robert Lehman, Walter Lippmann, Mary McCarthy, Agnes Mongan, Walter Pach, Harold W. Parsons, Carlo Placci, Arthur Kingsley Porter, Paul J. Sachs, Jacques Seligmann, King Gustaf Adolf VI of Sweden, Grenville L. Winthrop, and Edith Wharton.

Cite as: Cite as:
Bernard and Mary Berenson, Papers, 1880-2002, Biblioteca Berenson, Villa I Tatti - The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies.

extent72.0 Linear feet
formatsCorrespondence Notes Photographs Subject Files
accessContact Ilaria Della Monica the archivist at the Berenson Library for restrictions and appointments.
record link
bibliographyPublished finding aid: The Berenson archive : an inventory of correspondence. Compiled by Nicky Mariano. Florence : Villa I Tatti, 1965.
record source|library/m/aleph|000603714
contact informationFiorella Superbi Gioffredi: Agnes Mongan Curator of the Fototeca Berenson; Curator of the Berenson Collection and Archive
finding aidAvailable in the Berenson Library: Bernard and Mary Berenson, Papers (1880-2002, bulk 1880-1959) : A Finding Aid. See also The Berenson Archive : An Inventory of Correspondence, compiled by Nicky Mariano (Florence : Villa I Tatti, 1965).
updated11/12/2014 11:30:15

titleM. Knoedler & Co. records, approximately 1848-1971
repositoryThe Getty Research Institute
collection titleThe records of M. Knoedler & Co. document the business of the prominent American art dealer from the mid-19th century to 1971, when the Knoedler Gallery was acquired by Armand Hammer. The archive traces the development of the once provincial American art market into one of the world's leading art centers and the formation of the private art collections that would ultimately establish many of the nation's leading art museums, such as the Frick Collection and the National Gallery of Art.

It brings to the foreground the business side of dealing as artworks shuttled back and forth among Knoedler, fellow dealers, and collectors, documenting developments in art connoisseurship, shifting tastes, the changing role of art in American society, and the essential role of private collectors in the formation of public American art collections.

The records provide insight into broader economic, social and cultural histories and the nation's evolving sense of place in the world. The Knoedler Gallery became one of the main suppliers of old master and post-Impressionist paintings in the United States. Financial records of the firm provide crucial provenance information on the large number of artworks in American museums that were sold by the gallery. The archive includes stock books, sales books and commission books; correspondence with collectors, artists, art dealers and other associates; photographs of the artworks sold by the gallery; records from the firm's offices in London, Paris and other cities; exhibition files; framing and restoration records, and records of the firm's Print Department.

Selected portions of the archive have been digitized and made available online. Connect to selected digitized portions of the archive.

Arranged in 14 series:
Series I. Stock books;
Series II. Sales books;
Series III. Commission books;
Series IV. Inventory cards;
Series V. Receiving and shipping records;
Series VI. Correspondence;
Series VII. Photographs;
Series VIII. Exhibition files;
Series IX. American Department records;
Series X. Framing and restoration records;
Series XI. Print Department records;
Series XII. Other financial records;
Series XIII. Library cards, scrapbooks, and research materials;
Series XIV. Knoedler family papers

Biographical/Historical Note:
M. Knoedler & Co. was a successor to the New York branch of Goupil & Co., an extremely dynamic print-publishing house founded in Paris in 1827. Goupil's branches in London, Berlin, Brussels, and The Hague, as well as New York, expanded the firm's market in the sale of reproductive prints.

The firm's office in New York was established in 1848. In 1857, Michael Knoedler, an employee of Goupil and a manager for the firm, bought out the interests in the firm's New York branch, conducted the business under his own name, and diversified its activities to include the sale of paintings. Roland Knoedler, Michael's son, took over the firm in 1878 and with Charles Carstairs opened galleries in Paris and London.

In 1928, the management of the firm passed to Roland's nephew Charles Henschel, Carman Messmore, Charles Carstairs and Carstairs' son Carroll. In 1956 Henschel died, and E. Coe Kerr and Roland Balaÿ, Michael Knoedler's grandson, took over. In 1971 the firm was sold to businessman and collector Armand Hammer. The gallery closed in November 2011.

extent3042.6 linear feet (5550 boxes, 17 flat file folders).
formatsAuction Catalogs Business Records Correspondence Financial Records Ephemera
accessOpen for use by qualified researchers, with the following exceptions. Boxes 77, 262-264, 1308-1512, 1969-1974, 3592-3723 are restricted due to fragility. Box 4468 is restricted until 2075.
record link
record source
contact informationContact gallery's archivist
finding aidAt the Getty Research Institute and over their website.
acquisition informationAcquired in 2012.
updated05/29/2018 14:44:15