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Beaumont Newhall Papers

in The Museum of Modern Art Archives





The Museum of Modern Art
Museum Archives
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019-5497
moma.org/learn/resources/archives

© 2003 The Museum of Modern Art. All rights reserved.
The Museum of Modern Art, Publisher
Finding aid prepared by Eve Lambert, 2003.
Machine-readable finding aid derived from Beaumont Newhall Finding Aid.doc, 2007. Machine-readable finding aid created by Kathleene Konkle. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Beaumont Newhall
Title: Beaumont Newhall Papers
Dates: 1934-1954
Quantity: One 5" document box

Arrangement

The papers are arranged in chronological order, and separated into two Series. Series I consists of Library administrative papers from 1934 to 1954. Series II begins with the Beaumont Newhall - Ansel Adams correspondence, from 1938 to 1945, and then concludes with additional Department of Photography administrative material, including several budget statements, from 1940 to 1945.
The Papers are organized into two Series:
Series I: Library, 1934-1954.
Series II: Department of Photography, 1938-1945.


Biographical Notes

Beaumont Newhall: Newhall was born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1908 and graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, in 1926. He studied art history at Harvard University, receiving the degree of A.B. cum laude in 1930 and a master's degree in 1931. He continued his studies at the Courtauld Institute and the University of Paris. He lectured and published extensively in the U.S. and worked briefly at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1935, Newhall was hired as the librarian of The Museum of Modern Art. Two years later, he organized and wrote the catalogue for Photography 1839-1937 [MoMA Exh. #60, March 17-April 18, 1937] at the request of Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the Museum's founding director. The exhibition was followed by the publication of Photography: A Short Critical History in 1938. The two works established Newhall as America's pre-eminent historian of photography. In 1940, he helped create The Museum of Modern Art's Department of Photography, the first such department at any museum, and became its first curator. Between 1942 and 1945, Newhall served in the military. His wife, Nancy Newhall, served as Acting Curator in his absence. Newhall left the Museum in 1947 on a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, and in 1948 was named curator of the George Eastman House, now known as the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, NY.

Ansel Adams: Adams was born in San Francisco in 1902 and was educated as a musician by private tutors, but turned to photography in 1927. His correspondence with Beaumont Newhall began in the late 1930s, after writing to several leading museums to propose the creation of a photography department. Over the following years, Adams wrote to several institutions, schools, museums, and photographic suppliers to garner interest and support for the fledgling MoMA department. Adams also encouraged David McAlpin, a newly elected MoMA trustee, to join him in establishing a department of photography at The Museum of Modern Art. While working in California, Adams corresponded regularly with Newhall, helped to curate the department's inaugural exhibition, Sixty Photographs: A Survey of Camera Esthetics [MoMA Exh. #121, December 31, 1940-Jan 12, 1941], and worked with the Circulating Exhibitions Department to send it to several museums around the country. Through letters and sporadic visits to the east coast, Adams worked as Vice-Chairman of the Department of Photography, helping to organize these exhibitions: Photographs of the Civil War and the American Frontier [MoMA Exh. #172, March 3-April 5, 1942], Two Years of War in England: Photographs by William Vandivert [MoMA Exh. #177, April 15-June 10, 1942], Action Photography [MoMA Exh. #240, August 18-September 19, 1943], and Manzaanar: Photographs by Ansel Adams of Loyal Japanese-American Relocation Center [MoMA Exh. #265, November 10, 1944-December 24, 1944].


Scope and Content Note

This small collection of papers documents early Library history and the creation of the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art. The collection is divided into two Series. The papers are not in any way a comprehensive history of the MoMA Library, nor of the Department of Photography, but they offer a broad overview of the Departments in their fledgling states. The entire collection consists of administrative papers of the Library from 1934 to 1954, as well as correspondence between MoMA Librarian Beaumont Newhall and photographer Ansel Adams, tracing the establishment and development of the Department of Photography from 1938 to 1945. Series I consists of four folders that include minutes from Library Committee meetings, lists of members, fundraising activities, lists of proposed and recent book acquisitions, early attempts at creating a consistent bibliographical format, and Beaumont Newhall's application material for the position of MoMA Librarian. Series II begins with the correspondence regarding the founding of the Department of Photography and is primarily between Beaumont Newhall and Ansel Adams, but also includes David McAlpin, Nancy Newhall, and William Morgan, the Department's first Director. The correspondence covers the first ten years of the Department of Photography, revealing the initial efforts involved in creating a new museum department, and forms what can be considered the crux of the collection, as it is the most extensive and substantive. Series II also includes budget and expense reports and initial administrative papers from the Department of Photography.


Restrictions

Access Restrictions

The records are open for research and contain no restricted materials.

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Beaumont Newhall Papers are the physical property of The Museum of Modern Art. Literary rights, including copyright belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Rights to work produced during the normal course of Museum business resides with The Museum of Modern Art. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archivist.


Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in DADABASE, the library catalog of The Museum of Modern Art. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Persons:
Adams, Ansel, 1902-
Lambert, Eve.
Newhall, Beaumont, -- 1908-
Subjects:
Adams, Ansel, 1902- -- Correspondence.
Art museum curators -- New York (N.Y.) -- Correspondence.
Librarians -- New York (State) -- New York -- Correspondence.
Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Dept. of Photography -- History.
Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Library -- Administration.
Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Library -- History.
Newhall, Beaumont, 1908- -- Corresponsence.


Related Collections at MoMA and Elsewhere

The Public Information Records include extensive clippings regarding nearly every Museum exhibition, personality, and event.

For complementary exhibition-related materials, please consult the Registrar Exhibition Files. Similarly, the Department of Circulating Exhibitions (C/E) Records include information regarding MoMA exhibitions that toured domestically, and the International Program Records include documentation regarding International Circulating Exhibitions (ICE) of The Museum of Modern Art.


Administrative Information

Provenance

The collection was created by the Department of Photography and accessioned into the Library of The Museum of Modern Art via internal transfer at an unspecified date. The Papers entered the collection of the Museum Archives at the time of the Department's founding in 1989.

Preferred Citation

Beaumont Newhall Papers, [series.folder]. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York.

Condition

The records are in good condition. There is minimal tearing of the onion skin paper and a few instances of rusted paperclip impressions.


Additional Descriptive Data

Explanation of Abbreviations

ACS is an Autographed Card Signed.
ALS is an Autographed Letter Signed.
TLS is a Typed Letter Signed.
TL stands for Typed Letter.
MoMA is The Museum of Modern Art.
n.d. stands for no date.
re: stands for regarding.


Container List

 

Series I: Library 1934-1954

Series I consists of Library administrative papers.

Folder Title Date
I.1 Early Library Correspondence

Application materials for Beaumont Newhall
List of librarian duties
Early drafts of classification systems for MoMA Library

TLS Beaumont Newhall - Thomas Dabny Mabry, Jr. (8/23/1935), letter of application for the position of librarian; indicates interest in photography.

8/23/1935 - 5/9/1954
I.2 Library Committees

Minutes and agendas of Library Committee meetings
Lists of members and gifts
Lists of expenses and accounts

12/31/1934 - 12/6/1935
I.3 Library Business

Lists of books considered for purchase by MoMA Library, many focusing on dance and theater

3/30/1936 - 1/1/1943
I.4 Japan Art

Bibliography of Modern Japanese Art, n.d.

n.d.

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Series II: Department of Photography 1938-1945

Series II begins with the Beaumont Newhall - Ansel Adams correspondence, from 1938 to 1945, and then concludes with additional Department of Photography administrative material, including several budget statements, from 1940 to 1945.

Folder Title Date
II.1 Adams Correspondence: 1938 - 1940

Initial correspondence between Beaumont Newhall and Ansel Adams concerning Adam's book, Making a Photograph

Correspondence eventually turns to the creation of a photography department at MoMA

Corespondence regarding the department's inaugural exhibition, Sixty Photographs: A Survey of Camera Esthetics [MoMA Exh. #121, December 31, 1940-Jan 12, 1941]

TLS Ansel Adams - Beaumont Newhall (4/15/1938) outlining Adams' conception of a photography department, as well as a list of interested individuals (Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Paul Strand) Adams offered to contact

TLS Ansel Adams - Beaumont Newhall (3/1938) includes "Making a Photograph," an extended essay by Adams to initiate interest in the creation of a photography department at MoMA

TLS Ansel Adams - Beaumont Newhall (3/15/1938) describing Adams' relationship with Stieglitz

2/14/1938 - 10/17/1940
II.2 Adams Correspondence: 1940 - 1941

Corresepondence from Ansel Adams to various photographic departments, institutes, and suppliers requesting information, data, suggestions, and technical advice for the newly formed MoMA Department of Photography

Correspondence regarding the department's inaugural photographic exhibition, Sixty Photographs: A Survey of Camera Esthetics [MoMA Exh. #121, December 31, 1940-Jan 12, 1941]

Correspondence concerning the photographic competition held by MoMA to raise money for the Photography Department

TLS Beaumont Newhall - Ansel Adams (2/4/41) discussing Georgia O'Keeffe's resistance to an Alfred Steiglitz exhibition at MoMA, and her criticism of Sixty Photographs

TLS Ansel Adams - Beaumont Newhall (1/24/41) discussing reactions to Sixty Photographs

ACS Dorothea Lange - Ansel Adams (8/14/41) discussing her submission of work to the photographic competition held by MoMA.

4/28/1938 - 12/22/1941
II.3 Adams Correspondence: 1941 - 1942

Correspondence between Ansel Adams in California and Beaumont Newhall (and later, Nancy Newhall) concerning technical aspects of framing, matting, and mounting shows, including Photographs of the Civil War and the American Frontier [MoMA Exh. #172, March 3-April 5, 1942] and Two Years of War in England: Photographs by William Vandivert [MoMA Exh. #177, April 15-June 10, 1942]

Correspondence about a planned MoMA exhibition, Negative and Print, which was ultimately cancelled

ALS Arnold Newman - Ansel Adams (3/10/1942) asking for advice in submitting work

TLS Ansel Adams - Nancy Newhall (9/5/42) resumé detailing Adams' activites as Chairman of the Committee of the Department of Photography at MoMA.

12/10/1941 - 10/28/1942
II.4 Adams Correspondence: 1943 - 1945

Correspondence between Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall about the planning of exhibitions Action Photography [MoMA Exh. #240, August 18-September 19, 1943] and Manzaanar: Photographs by Ansel Adams of Loyal Japanese-American Relocation Center [MoMA Exh. #265, November 10, 1944-December 24, 1944] and outlining the development of Department of Photography

TLS Ansel Adams - Nancy Newhall (6/19/43) responding to an informal report on the progress of the Department of Photography and suggesting new avenues for expansion

TLS Nancy Newhall - Ansel Adams (5/17/43) describing new developments in the Department of Photography.

1/28/1943 - 1/14/1945
II.5 Projects: Ideas in Photography Department

Detailed lists of projects and programs for the Department of Photography

Initial drafts of reproductions rights policy.

10/21/1940 - 5/14/1945
II.6 Personnel: Photography Department

Documents detailing the creation of the position of Director of Photography, and the proposed expansion of the Department.

4/30/1943 - 5/3/1944
II.7 Analyst's File: Budget, 1944

Documents outlinging budget changes and re-allocation of funds

Budget and expenses for Department of Photography, 1943 - 44

Lists of proposed photography exhibitions for 1944 - 45

5/11/1943 - 9/29/1944
II.8 Budget: 1945 - 1946

Department of Photography budget estimate for 1945/46

6/30/1944 - 6/3/1945

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