Historical American Records Survey portrait survey records, 1935-1942

Historical Records Survey (U.S.)

Collection size: 4.4 linear ft. (on 12 microfilm reels).

Collection Summary: Records documenting activities of the Survey to inventory portraits in America done before 1860 in the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Included are research documents; correspondence; interoffice memoranda; survey manuals; press releases; clippings; photographs of works of art; short biographies of sitters and artists; ca. 15,000 of the original survey cards; first drafts of checklists and catalogs; and lists of portraits received too late to be included in the final version of the catalog.

Biographical/Historical Note: The Historical Records Survey (HRS) had its origins in the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the Civil Works Administration. In 1935 it came under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration Federal Writers' Project and eventually was designated as an independent program under Federal Project No. One. The projects, ideally suited for white collar workers, employed individuals to survey, classify and collect historical records. One program of the HRS was to document American portraits (sculpture, prints and paintings) done before 1860.

Lent for microfilming by the Massachusetts State Library, A. Hunter Rineer, State Librarian, Boston, Mass., 1977.

How to Use this Collection

  • Microfilm reels 1238-1249 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
  • The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.
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