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Charles Moore papers, 1901-1940

1.3 linear feet

Chairman of the National Commission of Fine Arts. Reminiscences, 1889-1909, relating in part to his activities as clerk of the U.S. Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, and including his impressions of U.S. Senators and prominent architects and artists; scrapbook of postcards depicting European scenes and art work; scrapbooks of correspondence and clippings, 1921-1922, largely concerning his biography of architect, Daniel H. Burnham; correspondence with friends, artists, editors, learned societies; articles, addresses, miscellaneous papers, and photographs.

The Moore collections include reminiscences, 1889-1909, relating in part to his activities as clerk of the U.S. Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, and including his impressions of U.S. Senators and prominent architects and artists; scrapbook of postcards depicting European scenes and art work; scrapbooks of correspondence and clippings, 1921-1922, largely concerning his biography of architect, Daniel H. Burnham; correspondence with friends, artists, editors, learned societies; articles, addresses, miscellaneous papers, and photographs. The collection has been arranged into the following series: Correspondence; Manuscripts of addresses and articles; Diary / Reminiscences; Other materials; Daniel Burnham materials; and Visual Materials.

Additional Charles Moore papers are located at the Library of Congress and the Detroit Institute of Art.


David Wheeler Palmer and family papers, 1807-1982

3 linear feet — 1 oversize folder

David Wheeler Palmer was a Bridgewater, Michigan school teacher and farmer. His papers consist of diaries, 1846-1864, 1876-1882, and 1887-1892, concerning daily activities and farm life. There are also papers of other family members, including Emmett Newton Palmer, a Brooklyn, Michigan physician, Fred E. Palmer, a surgeon who served in the Spanish-American War, and Louisa Palmer, who was a teacher in Hawaii.

The David Wheeler Palmer collection consists mainly of his diaries and other papers. These diaries, dating from 1846 to 1892 with some gaps, comment in detail on his life, his family, the weather, financial transactions, and local politics. Other portions of the collection include materials of other family members: Palmer's wife Fidelia Randall Palmer; her brother Roswell Randall, Jr.; Emmett Palmer, the son of David and Fidelia; Fred Palmer, the son of Emmett; and Joseph Palmer, the father of David. Of interest are the photographs accumulated by Dr. Fred Palmer while he was serving in the Philippines. These include images of Hawaii on route to the Philippines and of the Santa Mesa facility in the Philippines. Another family member represented in the collection is Louisa Palmer who taught in Hawaii. She was an inveterate traveler who wrote extensive letters describing places visited for her students and family.


Eskimo Art, Inc. Records, 1953-1994

2 linear feet (in 3 boxes)

Agency established by Eugene Power to provide market for Inuit art, also gallery for Inuit art. Correspondence, scrapbooks, and office files detailing the company's activities.

The records of Eskimo Art, Inc. is valuable for their documentation of the firm's role in bringing awareness of Inuit art and culture to the United States, and its attempt to prevent the commercialization of this artwork. The records have been arranged into four series: Correspondence files, Informational, Scrapbooks, and Cape Dorset Annual Exhibit.


Fenno-Hoffman family papers, 1780-1883 (majority within 1789-1845)

1.25 linear feet

The Fenno-Hoffman papers contain the personal correspondence of three generations of the Fenno and Hoffman families of New York City. Correspondence from, to, and between the family members of Maria Fenno Hoffman, daughter of John and Mary (Curtis) Fenno of Boston and Philadelphia, and wife of Josiah Ogden Hoffman of New York.

The Fenno-Hoffman papers contain the personal correspondence of three generations of the Fenno and Hoffman families of New York City. It appears that the collection was initially assembled by Maria Fenno Hoffman, who was the bridge linking the Fennos and Hoffmans, or one of her children. The majority of the letters in the collection are addressed to Maria, and those written following her death are mainly from her three children. As a whole, the collection forms a diverse and uniformly interesting resource for the study of family life, politics, and literary culture in the early Republic. The Fennos and Hoffmans seem all to have been blessed with literary talent and excellent educations, enjoying interests ranging from politics and commerce to publishing and writing, but cursed with short lives and disastrous fortune. Their correspondence creates a vivid impression of a once-wealthy family struggling with adversity and personal loss. Yet despite all of their connections to the centers of political and social power, and despite all the setbacks they encountered, the overriding impression gleaned from the Fenno-Hoffman correspondence is of the centrality of family in their emotional and social lives.

The collection can be roughly divided into two, interrelated series: the letters of the Fenno family, and the somewhat later letters of the Hoffmans. Within the Fenno series are 25 letters from John Fenno to his wife, Mary, and six from Mary to John, written primarily during two periods of separation, in the spring of 1789, and summer, 1798. This correspondence conveys a sense of the passionate attachment these two held for each other, expressed with their exceptional literary gifts. John discusses the founding of the United States Gazette in 1789, including a visit with Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia where he had gone to purchase type. His letters are full of political commentary relating to the establishment of the federal government in 1789 and the young nation's Quasi-War with France, 1798. Although Fenno's letters to his wife are filled with political opinions, he urged her not to get involved in political controversies herself, nor to form opinions of her own. Mary apparently felt free to express herself to her husband, but significantly, her letters tend to mirror his staunchly Federalist political sympathies. The collection also contains four letters from John Fenno to his children, in which he discusses the French Revolution (1794) and general political news (1797-98), while doling out some fairly standard fatherly advice.

All nine of the Fenno children who survived infancy are represented as writers in the Fenno-Hoffman Papers, each one of whom seems to have been blessed with literary talent. The most frequent correspondents among the Fennos -- Maria, Charles J., and Edward -- display an intense interest in the affairs of their family, and express a powerful attachment for one another.

The collection contains twenty letters from Maria Fenno Hoffman (1781-1823), wife of lawyer and judge Josiah Ogden Hoffman (1766-1837), and most of the other letters in the collection were addressed to her. The letters written by Maria were nearly all addressed to her children and contain information on the family, laden with large doses of motherly advice. Among her most notable letters is one addressed to Washington Irving, whose fiancée, Matilda Hoffman, Maria's step-daughter, had died shortly before their wedding day.

The young British Navy officer, Charles J. Fenno, wrote thirty-nine letters, all to his siblings, and the collection also includes one letter to Charles from British Navy officer Charles Williamson (1757-1808), advising him to take an appointment in the West Indies. Fenno's letters include detailed descriptions of his attempts to cope with the debts incurred by his brother, John Ward Fenno, his part in the Tripolitan War and the turmoil in Haiti in 1802-3, naval sparring between French and English on the high seas, and family matters. With the typical Fenno style, Charles' letters provide an excellent view of these conflicts from the perspective of a young junior officer. His last letter was written while on vacation at Coldenham, N.Y., five weeks before his death.

Charles' younger brother, Edward, wrote 69 letters to his sister and surrogate mother, Maria, and 31 to his brother, James, along with a few miscellaneous letters. As lengthy as they are literate, Edward's letters provide an engrossing, running commentary on all facets of life in New Orleans during the 1820s and 30s, when it was still more a French city than American. His interests range from politics to business, high society to love affairs (his own, as well as others'), the annual yellow fever season, death and dying, race relations, piracy, and military exploits. They offer an intimate and detailed view of Louisiana during the years in which it was undergoing a rapid Americanization, and Edward's membership in the American militia, and his keen observational abilities provide a memorable account of the changes. His last letter to Maria, written a month before her death, discusses the necessity of family loyalty.

Comparatively speaking, the other Fenno children are represented by only scattered letters. Only two letters survive from the shortest-lived of the adult Fennos, John Ward, both written in 1797. In these, Jack discusses the acute controversy between Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) and the Federalist Gazette of the United States. Three of Harriet Fenno Rodman's letters survive -- containing social news and observations -- along with seven poems, including love poetry to her husband. Harriet's daughter, Anne Eliza Rodman, is represented by 24 letters, mostly addressed to her aunt Maria Hoffman, that include excellent descriptions of politics, society, and race relations in St. Augustine. George Fenno's four letters, also to his sister Maria, reflect the tedium felt by an educated urbanite set down in the countryside. Mary Elizabeth Fenno Verplanck's nine letters describe social life in Philadelphia, Fishkill, and Ballston Springs, and her efforts to mend a serious rift between her fiancée (later husband) and her brother-in-law Josiah. The ill-fated Caroline Fenno apparently had little time to write before dying, leaving only two letters describing life in Albany in 1804. James Bowdoin Fenno's six letters concern the business climate in South Carolina and Georgia and, as with all other Fenno correspondence, underscore the importance of family ties.

The second major series of correspondence in the Fenno-Hoffman Papers is centered on the children of Josiah Ogden Hoffman and his second wife Maria Fenno, Charles Fenno, George Edward, and Julia Hoffman. This series also includes eight letters from Josiah to his wife and sons, consisting principally of advice to his wife on how to run the household and, to his sons, on how to study industriously and become a credit to their "indulgent father." The letters he received in his old age from his children are particularly revealing of Josiah's personality. In these, Josiah appears as a hypochondriac and as a literal-minded businessman obsessed with commerce who had difficulty understanding any mindset other than his own.

As a poet and writer, Charles never ceased to perplex and irritate his father. Charles was a sensitive, observant man and an exceptional literary talent whose ability to express his thoughts and feelings grew as he grew older. His 62 letters to his brother (1826-1834, 1845) and sister (1833-1845) include discussions of many issues close to his heart, from his literary career to the "place" of the artist in society, from the continual rack and ruin of his personal finances to his family relationships, pastimes, politics, and general reflections on life. His letters to George are pun-filled and witty, even when he was in the throes of adversity. Charles wrote nine letters during his famous western trip, 1833-34, some of which were rough drafts intended for publication in the American after his sister Julia edited them. His letter of July 22, 1829 offers a marvelous description of an all-night party, and the single extant letter to his father (April 26, 1834) exhibits an uncharacteristic interest in politics, perhaps to please the elder Hoffman. There are also five excellent letters from a classmate of Charles, written while Charles was recuperating from the loss of his leg in New York. These are enjoyable, but otherwise typical schoolboy letters describing the typical assortment of schoolboy pranks.

The largest run of correspondence in the series of Hoffman letters, and the core of the collection, consists of the 63 letters from Julia to George. Julia's letters (1834-45) relate her experiences in several residences, particularly in the Philadelphia home of Jewish philanthropist, Rebecca Gratz (1781-1869). Julia comments frequently on Charles's literary activities and George's checkered career as a civil engineer. Much of what she writes is commonplace yet her style makes each episode intrinsically interesting. There are no letters from George. Considering that George was Julia's executor in 1861 and was responsible for Charles's well being after being committed to an asylum in 1849, suggests that George may have assembled the collection. The only item in the collection written by George is a love poem written for Phoebe on their first wedding anniversary. He was the recipient of letters from his brother and sister, but also his cousin William J. Verplanck, niece Matilda Whitman, sister-in-law Virginia Hoffman, and nephew Ogden Hoffman, Jr.

There is a single letter from Ogden Hoffman (1794-1856), Josiah's son by his first marriage to Mary Colden, in which he gives friendly advice to his young half-brother Charles. Ogden appears to have been a valued friend to his half-siblings. He was considered the outstanding criminal lawyer of his generation. There are no letters from the servant, Caty, but there are several excellent discussions of her, particularly in Julia Hoffman's letter of February 18, 1837 and James Fenno's letter of December 1, 1821.

Among the few miscellaneous pieces written by non-members of the family are four letters from Rebecca Gratz, a close friend of the family whose name runs throughout the entire collection, particularly in Julia Hoffman's correspondence.


George Vargas papers, 1933-2016 (with gaps), undated

7.6 linear feet (in 8 boxes) — 3.85 GB (online) — 3 oversize folders — 2 tubes — 1 oversize poster — 1 oversize box

University of Michigan graduate (BFA '74, MA '76, and Ph.D. '88) and artist, art historian, and educator with an emphasis in Latino art. Materials include artwork as well as research, teaching, and professional topical files.

The George Vargas papers present a look at the interests, work, and activities of artist and historian George Vargas. The material is dated from approximately 1933-2016 and includes topical files, artwork, and correspondence.

The strength of the collection is found in the numerous lectures written by Vargas, which reveal the depth of his research, the original artwork, and the broader view of multi-cultural and, particularly, Latino art activities in Michigan. Also of note are his extensive files of artists that were of interest to him as well as his own papers and publications.

The researcher should note that many items in the collection overlap various series. As a result, researchers should—in addition to reviewing multiple series—be sure to look for the "see also" notes that help identify some of these overlaps.


Jasper Francis Cropsey visual materials, 1855-1856

1 volume — 2 paintings — 1 drawing

Sketch book of scenes along the St. Lawrence River and the University of Michigan campus.

Sketchbook, 1855-1856 The original of the sketchbook is located in the library vault; the use copy (photocopies) is located in Aa/1 Cropsey. A master negative microfilm of the sketchbook is available for staff use only.

The Cropsey paintings include The University of Michigan campus, 1855 and The Detroit Observatory of the University of Michigan, 1855. Originals of both are on display in the library director's office. Digital files scanned from copy negatives are available online.

The Cropsey drawing is a pencil sketch of The University of Michigan campus, 1855.


Jean Paul Slusser papers, 1905-1978

2 linear feet — 2 oversize volumes

Artist, art critic, director of the University of Michigan Art Museum. Scrapbooks with clippings of Ann Arbor News art reviews, scrapbook, 1905-1907, concerning University of Michigan student life, topical files relating to his interest in art and cultural organizations, original scripts of lectures and radio talks.

The Slusser papers document only portions of this artist/critic's life. The majority of the collection consists of scrapbooks containing his art review columns for the Ann Arbor News. These were written in the period of his retirement, 1963 to 1978. There is also one scrapbook from his years as a student at the University of Michigan, 1905-1907. The remainder of the collection consists of such personal materials as a diary he kept of a trip to Europe in 1909 when he went to study in Munich, a selection of some of his lectures and radio talks, and miscellaneous topical files relating to art and artists. Of interest is a series of letters written to his brother Herbert and letters received from artist William H. Littlefield.


Laura Page Butcher photograph album, 1897-1903

2 volumes

The Laura Page Butcher photograph album contains photographs, newspaper clippings, and ephemera pertaining to Butcher's leisure activities and travels in the United States, Europe, and North Africa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Laura Page Butcher photograph album (27cm x 37cm) contains around 350 photographs with newspaper clippings and printed ephemera pertaining to Butcher's career as an artist, her leisure activities, and her travels in the United States, Europe, and North Africa from June 1897-June 1903. The photographs include single prints, cyanotypes, and individual prints assembled into panoramas. Most of the photographs are original snapshots, with professionally portraits and some commercially produced views included. The album has been reconstructed and re-bound; the original cover, with the title "Photographs" printed on the front, is housed separately. Some quotations and captions, usually providing a location and date, are written directly onto the album pages or onto photographs.

Most photographs are informal and studio portraits of men and women, pictures of women enjoying leisure activities, exterior and interior shots of mansions and hotels, and views of natural and urban scenery from Butcher's vacations and international travels. Portrait subjects include Laura Page Butcher, her traveling companions, artist friends, and a large formal wedding party. Groups of women are shown painting, riding horses, driving carriages, swimming in an indoor pool, and golfing. Butcher's travel photographs from Paris, France; Funchal, Madeira; Granada, Spain; Algiers, Algeria; and Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt, focus on urban scenery, landmarks, and local populations. Included are the Eiffel Tower, Alhambra, the Great Sphinx, and Giza pyramids. Timeless examples of tourists photographed at Giza in Egypt appear. Photographs of Paris include the Exposition Universelle of 1900. Butcher's return to the United States on the steamship St. Louis is documented with several dramatic seascapes. Many images of leisure activities taken along the eastern shore of the United States. Other images of note show the parade for the dedication of the Fairmount Park, Philadelphia Washington Monument in 1897, an American soldier in uniform taken in Manila, Philippines; one colored photomechanical print shows a group of people in Algiers surrounding a ritual activity or performance. Also of note is a panorama of a bull fight given by Spanish prisoners of war held on Seavy's Island, Maine, with William Jean Howells identified as a spectator.

The album also includes newspaper clippings and ephemera items. The clippings are primarily society page items about the activities of Laura Page Butcher and her siblings, such as the family's vacations in West Virginia, Laura's winter in France, and Alice Tyson Butcher's wedding. Quotations often pertain to art, among other subjects.

Of particular note are the photographs, notes, and ephemera related to Butcher's art career. Images appear of young women in artists' smocks with palettes, in life classes, sketching outdoors at the Shinnecock School, in a Paris atelier and other unidentified studios. An interest in James McNeill Whistler is revealed by the inscriptions quoting Whistler's "Ten O'Clock" lecture, a copy of the butterfly monograph of Whistler, and comment on Whistler's work transcribed from the periodical "The Trimmed Lamp" appearing on pages five and ten, and Whistler antidotes in clippings elsewhere in the album. Material related to Butcher's participation in the exposition of the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts at the Grand Palais, including her letter of admission, is on page 19.


Museum of Art (University of Michigan) records, 1946-2011 (majority within 1946-2003)

26.3 linear feet — 691 GB

Established as a separate unit of the university in 1946, the University of Michigan Museum of Art serves as a research and teaching facility for the university and surrounding communities. The record group documents the museum's exhibitions and installations of the permanent collection and complementary interpretive programming. Records include exhibition files; executive committee minutes and director's correspondence; photographs; publicity files; and material related to the Museum Practice Program.

The records of the University of Michigan Museum of Art document its exhibition program, administration and its educational function through the Museum Practice Program. The UMMA record group has been arranged into seven series: Exhibition Files, Executive Files, Photographs, Publicity, Museum Practice Program, Historical Background, and Docents. The records include correspondence, committee minutes, publicity material and photographs. Exhibit catalogs and other publications are described separately in the Museum of Art Publications finding aid.


Patricia Hill Burnett papers, 1967-2002 (majority within 1967-1987)

12.5 linear feet — 1 oversize box — 1 oversize folder

Detroit portrait painter and feminist activist. Correspondence, printed material, newspaper clippings, photographs, reports, speeches, articles and other papers documenting her career as an artist, and with the Michigan Women's Commission, the National Association of Commissions for Women, the National Organization for Women (NOW) and other civic, Republican, and feminist organizations.

While most of the material relates directly to Patricia Hill Burnett, the papers also relate to the more general women's movement during the 1970s and early 1980s.