Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America

Archives related to: Babbott, Frank Lusk, 1854-1933

titleWilliam Henry Fox records, 1913-33 (bulk), 1908-35 (inclusive).
repositoryThe Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives
descriptionThe records of William Henry Fox's administration document all activities of the Museum and include correspondence with artists, donors, lenders, and vendors; Board of Trustees and Governing Committee members; New York City agencies, particularly the Parks Department; Museum staff; and staff of other museums and cultural institutions.

The activities of the curatorial departments can be tracked through files on the individual curators and departments. These files often contain letters reporting on collecting expeditions, information that may not be available elsewhere. In addition, the files document everyday activities, from routine memos to requisitions for works of art. Among the most important curatorial correspondents are Stewart Culin and Herbert Spinden (Ethnology); William Henry Goodyear, Herbert Tschudy, and Andre Rueff (Fine Arts, Paintings); George P. Engelhardt and Robert C. Murphy (Natural History); Elizabeth Haynes (Decorative Arts); Susan Hutchinson (Library ? and Tassilo Adam (Oriental Art). Donor correspondence documents the offer and acquisition (or rejection) of objects as diverse as a small curiosity or a major art collection. Bequest files also contain valuable acquisitions information. The provenance of objects in the collection can often be traced through these files.

Among the donors and artists found in the files are Edwin H. Blashfield, Charles Caryl Coleman, M.D.C. Crawford, Frank Crowninshield, Katherine and Dorothea Dreier, Michael Friedsam, Emil Fuchs, Albert E. Gallatin, Samuel E. Haslett, A. Augustus Healy, Paul Helleu, William H. Herriman, Alfred W. Jenkins, Joseph Pennell, Dick S. Ramsay, Augusta Saint-Gaudens, Louis Sparre, Joseph Stella, Theodora Wilbour, and Claggett Wilson. Correspondence with Trustees also provides valuable insights into administrative matters, collecting policy, and Museum activities. Several Trustees, including Frank L. Babbott, Edward C. Blum, A. Augustus Healy, Adolph Lewisohn, Luke V. Lockwood, John Hill Morgan, and Caroline A. L. Pratt took a very active interest in the day-to-day activities of the Museum and generated a significant amount of correspondence. During Fox's administration, a number of exhibition series were established, among them the biennials "Water Color Paintings by American Artists," beginning in 1921, and "Paintings, Sculpture & Drawings by American & Foreign Artists," beginning in 1928.

The Museum also hosted the annual exhibitions of the Brooklyn Society of Etchers from 1915, The Brooklyn Society of Miniature Painters from 1916, and the Brooklyn Society of Artists from 1922. The Director's files provide important adjunct material to the primary exhibition documentation, which appears in curatorial files. Of particular significance are exhibition files that document Fox's organization of circulating loan shows of contemporary art and decorative arts. Fox acted as curator for many shows, often assisted by art critic Christian Brinton.

The files include correspondence and lists compiled during trips to Europe to visit museums and artists, select works, and arrange loans; efforts to arrange venues; administration; and critical reaction. In addition, several important exhibitions organized by outside groups were held at the Museum. Among these, the Société Anonyme's "International Exhibition of Modern Art" (1925-27), the "International Exhibition Organized by the Carnegie Institute" (1928), and the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen (AUDAC) exhibition (1931), are of particular significance. Circulating exhibitions from the American Federation of Arts also appeared at the Museum. While the depth of information seen above does not exist in these files, they do provide critical material not found elsewhere.

The son of Daniel M. Fox, lawyer and mayor of Philadelphia, William Henry Fox received academic (1881) and law (1883) degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. He also studied studio art and drew and painted as an amateur. In 1904, Fox served as Secretary of the Fine Arts Department of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, and the following year became the first Director of the John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis. In 1910, he served as Secretary General of the American Section of the International Exposition of Art and History in Rome.

Brooklyn Archives

Call Number:
extent15.25 linear ft. plus. 1.25 linear ft. oversize materials plus. .5 linear ft photographs.
formatsAdministrative Records Correspondence Exhibition Files Notes Ephemera
accessSome folders may be restricted. Consult archivist for details.
record source
finding aidUnpublished finding aid available in repository. Folder-level descriptions available on-line in repository. Contemporaneous card index available in repository.
acquisition informationThese files were held by the Registrar's Office until accessioned by the Archives.
updated03/16/2023 10:29:51

titleCulin Archival Collection Series 1: General Correspondence 1886-1929 1919-1929 (bulk).
repositoryThe Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives
descriptionSeries 1 includes correspondence with Culin's colleagues and peers: museum professionals, artists and designers, traders and collectors, exposition directors and exhibitors, students and would-be proteges, editors, authors, translators, merchants, and the general public familiar with his work.

Subseries 1.1 contains letters from German and American museum curators and professors recommending Culin's appointment at the University of Pennsylvania.

Subseries 1.2 focuses on Culin's work as an ethnologist, and includes letters directly related to collecting or the profession itself, with some mention of his personal or social life. Correspondence documents Culin's association with The Brooklyn Museum, as well as dealings with collectors and curators. Important correspondents include George Dorsey (Field Columbian Museum), Thomas Keam (collector and trader of Native American objects), Charles H. Read (British Museum), artist Thomas Eakins, Franklin W.Hooper (Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences), and John Wanamaker.

Subseries 1.3 consists of a letter press book containing Culin's outgoing correspondence during his first four years at The Brooklyn Museum, and relating primarily to museum business and the collection of Native American materials in the Southwest. Franklin W. Hooper, Director of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, is the primary correspondent. Other important correspondents include Alfred G. Mayer (Curator-in-Chief, The Brooklyn Museum), George Dorsey (Field Columbian Museum), and Andrew Vanderwagen (a trader in Native American objects).

Subseries 1.4 is a large and diverse collection of materials detailing Culin's daily museum, professional, scholarly, and personal activities. This wide-ranging correspondence deals with the acquisition, interpretation, and display of artifacts, as well as documentation of museum administrative matters.

Purchases and gifts to The Brooklyn Museum, loans to other institutions and department stores, activities of the Museum Governing Committee, and major installations such as the Rainbow House (1925-26) and exhibitions such as "Primitive Negro Art" (1923) are documented in correspondence with directors, trustees and Culin's colleagues at the Museum, including Frank Babbott, Edward Blum, and Walter Crittenden (trustees), and William Henry Fox (Director).

Purchases and donations to The Brooklyn Museum are further documented in correspondence with professional dealers, collectors, and missionaries, including William O. Oldman, Edwart Barrett, Wise & Company, Yamanaka & Company, and Hassan Khan Monif (Persian Antique Gallery, New York).
Primary correspondents among museum professionals include: Louis Clarke (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology); John deVegh (National Museum of Applied Art, Budapest); Berthold Laufer (Field Columbian Museum, Chicago); Charles Lummis (Southwest Museum), Albert A. von le Coq (German ethnologist and archaeologist), as well as directors and curators at the British Museum; Commercial Museum, Philadelphia; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation; Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Smithsonian Institution; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Culin supplied study pieces for design institutes and manufacturers, and arranged for loans of exhibition material to department stores; particularly significant is the "Primitive Negro Art" exhibition (1923), where textile patterns created from museum objects were used in the creation of new lines of textiles and clothing. Correspondents include representatives of Aaron & Company; Abraham & Straus; Arditti & Sons; Blanck & Company; Bonwit Teller; Lord & Taylor; Macy & Company; A. Namm & Sons; Wanamaker Company; Edward L. Mayer & Company; and Pratt Institute.
Correspondence with Frederic B. Pratt (President) and William Longyear (Professor, School of Fine Arts), reflect the Museum's relationship with Pratt Institute, including having students study at and display their work at the Museum; Pratt's purchase of objects that Culin wanted to acquire for the Museum; and Culin's assistance in arranging exhibitions at Pratt, including "German Textiles" (1924).

In Culin's extensive correspondence with M. D. C. Crawford (editor, Women's Wear), many subjects are considered: the International Congess of Americanists; the International Silk Exposition; department stores; the "Primitive Negro Art" exhibition; development for a study room for designers; textiles; museum acquisitions; the Pratt Peasant Costume exhibition (1924); the Rainbow House; Culin's "Road to Beauty" manuscript; the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial (1926); the "History of the Blouse" exhibition at the United States Waist League (1922); object loans; and Crawford's books, "The Heritage of Cotton" (1924), and "The History of Silk" (1925). Culin's collaboration with Crawford provided the foundation for the Museum's Industrial Division (1935-46), and Design Laboratory (founded 1947).

Culin's professional relationships with designers are revealed in correspondence with artist Ruth Reeves, accompanied by clippings of her lectures and fashion designs, which were reproduced in Women's Wear illustrations. Culin also corresponded with Elizabeth Alexander (Arden Gallery), Lee Simonson (Theatre Guild), the Neighborhood Playhouse about loans for performances and exhibitions, and with the Art Alliance on the subject of art competitions.

Correspondence with John deVegh, Director of the National Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest, offers a portrait of Hungary recovering from World War I. Correspondence with Charles Winter of the Hungarian Consulate, Walter T. Swingle (United States Department of Agriculture, and editor of the Hungarian newspaper Szabadsay), and Anna Igumnova provide additional views of life in eastern Europe at that time.

A large collection of clippings includes many "Design Department" and "Romance of Merchandise" columns from Women's Wear, some with Culin's byline; clippings documenting the effect of Brooklyn Museum exhibitions and programs on the general population, the textile manufacturers, and museum community in general; reviews and synopses of Culin's lectures and exhibitions; articles on topics such as Asia, games, clothing and textiles; and obituaries.

Culin's lectures at various institutions are documented in clippings and correspondence. Lectures at The Brooklyn Museum on topics such as divination and fortune telling, dolls, and games are similarly chronicled.
Also included are photographs related to or attached to correspondence, and an extensive collection of ephemeral material, including announcements, flyers, catalogs, invitations, notices, holiday cards, business and calling cards, loan forms, invoices, booklets, sketches, press releases, notes, receipts, and labels.

Biographical/Historical Note:
Stewart Culin (1858-1929), ethnologist and museum curator, worked at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology from 1890 to 1903, and served as Curator of Ethnology at The Brooklyn Museum from 1903 until his death.

Letters to or from Babbot can be found in Subseries 1.4: correspondence (incoming and outgoing), Dates 1918-1929, Extent 28 DB, 90 photos (11.75 l.f.)

Found In
Culin, Stewart Culin Archival Collection

Brooklyn Archives

Call Number:
S01 1
extent13.75 l.f.
formatsCorrespondence Exhibition Files Business Records Financial Records Ephemera
accessPermission of Archivist/Librarian required.
record link
record source
acquisition informationA year after Culin's death in 1929, the Brooklyn Museum purchased his library and archival collection from his widow, an acquisition that included both institutional records and personal papers. The library materials were accessioned into the Museum Library and the archival materials were placed in storage. The bulk of the Culin Archival Collection remained there until the 1970s, although some of the expedition reports and parts of the correspondence files were removed by the Museum Library and several curatorial departments over the years. In 1980, Chief Librarian Margaret B. Zorach surveyed curatorial departments and created a list of materials separated from the collection.
updated11/29/2022 15:49:50