Robert Franklin Gates papers, 1910-1988, bulk 1928-1988

A Finding Aid to the Robert Franklin Gates Papers, 1910-1988, bulk 1928-1988, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald

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Table of Contents:



Biographical Information

Robert Franklin Gates was born on October 6, 1906 in Detroit, Michigan. He studied at the Detroit School of Arts and Crafts, and from 1929 to 1930 attended the Art Students' League in New York. Between 1930 and 1932, Gates studied under C. Law Watkins at the Phillips Gallery Art School in Washington, D.C., later becoming an instructor in life drawing and painting there. During this time, he met fellow student Margaret Casey, and they married on January 7, 1933. Between 1934 and 1938, Robert Gates was an art instructor at the Studio House in Washington, D.C.

In 1934, Gates received a commission from the U.S. Treasury Department Section of Fine Arts to create a series of watercolors of Charles Gardens, South Carolina, and from 1929-1940, murals for post offices in Bethesda, Maryland, Oakland, Maryland, and Lewisburg, West Virginia. In 1936, the Treasury Department also commissioned Gates and fellow artists Mitchell Jamieson and Prentiss Taylor to create series of watercolors of the Virgin Islands, arranging for several voyages there.

Between 1937 and 1942, Gates was a guest instructor at the University of Florida, taught art classes at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland and at the Washington County Museum of Art in Hagerstown, Maryland. He also taught at the Phillips Gallery Art School in Washington, D.C. while his wife was employed as the school secretary. In 1938, Gates received a summer scholarship to study under Henry Varnum Poor at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

During World War II, Gates worked as a civilian technician for the Navy Department doing model making and camouflage design, receiving the Distinguished Civilian Service Award for his work.

After the war, and the closing of the Phillips Gallery Art School, Gates attended classes taught by Bill Calfee at American University. In 1946, he joined the faculty and eventually becane chairman of the Art Department in 1954. Robert and Margaret Gates were divorced sometime in the mid-1950s. From 1966 to 1967, Gates was Artist-in-Residence at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, under the Department of State Educational and Cultural Exchange Program. In 1967, he married his second wife, Sarita, while in Baghdad.

Gates is represented in the permanent collections of the American University, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Dumbarton Oaks collection, the Phillips Collection, and the Lewisshon collection.

Robert Franklin Gates died on March 11, 1982 in Alexandria, Virginia.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of Washington, D.C. area painter and art instructor Robert Franklin Gates date from 1910-1988, bulk 1928-1988, and measure 2.3 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical materials; letters from government agencies, museums, galleries, and colleagues; business records primarily concerning transactions with the Jack Rasmussen Gallery; artwork including scattered drawings by Gates and block prints by Joe Goethe and D. Neufeld; two scrapbooks; printed materials; and photographs of Gates, family members, models, artwork, and exhibition installations. There are also photograph albums and miscellaneous photographs documenting a 1936 voyage to the Virgin Islands commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Biographical material includes resumes, biographical accounts, award certificates, records for employment through a State Department Specialists Grant, address lists, teaching notes, writings about Gates, and a guest book signed by colleagues celebrating Gates' forty years at American University. There is a also a group of Navy Department records documenting Gates' employment designing three-dimensional photo-surfaced topography models for use by troops during World War II.

Letters are primarily from the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Works Agency discussing commissions, including the painting of post office murals in Maryland and West Virginia, and from various museums and galleries discussing exhibitions and other art-related activities. There are one or two letters each from colleagues Alice Acheson, Adelyn Breeskin, Charles Burchfield, Alida Conover, John Gernand, Duncan Phillips, Henry Varnum Poor, and Prentiss Taylor. Some letters are Christmas cards decorated with original block prints.

Business records primarily document Gates' interaction with the Jack Rasmussen Gallery in Washington, D.C., but also include miscellaneous sales records and pay stubs from American University.

Artwork consists of scattered drawings of modern houses by Gates and abstract sketches by others, and small block prints by Joe Goethe and D. Neufeld. Two Scrapbooks contain clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and scattered letters.

Additional printed material includes clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs for Gates and others, prospectuses for art exhibitions, press releases, calendars of events, booklets about color and lenses, brochures for art schools and books, and an unannotated calendar containing a reproduction of one of Gates' paintings.

Photographs are of Robert Gates, various family members including Gates with his first wife photographed by Prentiss Taylor, models, artwork, and exhibition installations. There are two photograph albums and unbound photographs documenting a 1936 voyage to the Virgin Islands commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department. Images of this trip are of Gates and colleagues including Mitchell Jamieson, the ship Doris Hamlin, the crew, markets, a cock fight, miscellaneous buildings, town squares, and the countryside of the Virgin Islands.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into 7 series. Each series is arranged chronologically:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed under the following terms:

Subjects:

  • American University (Washington, D.C.)Fine Arts Dept -- Faculty
  • United States -- Dept. of the Treasury -- Section of Fine Arts
  • Jack Rasmussen Gallery (Washington, D.C.)

Subjects-Topical:

  • Painters -- Washington (D.C.)
  • Mural painting and decoration, American
  • Art teachers -- Washington (D.C.)
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Art and the war
  • Post office buildings

Types of Materials:

  • Photographs
  • Drawings
  • Christmas cards
  • Scrapbooks

Names:

  • Taylor, Prentiss, 1907-

Provenance

The Robert Franklin Gates papers were donated in 1995 by Sarita W. Gates, the artist's widow, via legal representative Bradford G. Weekes III.

Separated and Related Materials

Also in the Archives of American Art are the papers of Gates' first wife Margaret Casey Gates, 1934-1988,

How the Collection was Processed

The Robert Franklin Gates papers were processed in December 2007 by Jean Fitzgerald.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Robert Franklin Gates papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

Robert Franklin Gates papers, 1910-1988, bulk 1928-1988. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1928-1975
(Box 1, OV 4; 34 folders)

Biographical material includes resumes, biographical accounts, award certificates, and Navy Department employment records which include letters, writings, floor plan drawings, and photographs concerning Gates's designs for three-dimensional photo-surfaced topography models during World War II. Also included are records of employment through a State Department Specialists Grant, address lists, teaching notes, writings about Gates, and a guest book signed by colleagues celebrating Gate's forty years at American University.

Box Folder
1 1 Student Pilot Permit, 1928
1 2 Resumes and Biographical Accounts, 1957-1967, undated
1 3-4 Award Certificates, 1933-1975
(2 folders)
1 5-24 Navy Department Employment Records, 1942-1951
(20 folders; oversized items housed in OV 4)
1 25-27 State Department Specialists Grant Employment Records, 1966-1967
(3 folders)
1 28-29 Address Lists, 1956, undated
(2 folders)
1 30 Teaching Notes, undated
1 31-32 Writings about Robert Gates, 1962, undated
(2 folders)
1 33 Guest Book for Roberts Gates "Gala," 1975
Box
OV 4 Nine Oversize Drawings of Floor Plans for the Photo-Surfaced Model Project from the Navy Department Employment Records, 1945
(removed from Box 1, F 5-24)

Series 2: Letters, 1930-1988
(Box 1; 25 folders)

Letters are from the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Works Agency regarding commissions, and from various museums and galleries discussing exhibitions and other art-related activities. There are one or two letters each from colleagues Alice Acheson, Adelyn Breeskin, Charles Burchfield, Alida Conover, John Gernand, Duncan Phillips, Henry Varnum Poor, and Prentiss Taylor. Some letters are Christmas cards decorated with original block prints.

Box Folder
1 34 Letters from Correspondents with Unknown Surnames, undated
1 35 Letters from Correspondents with Surnames "A-G," undated
1 36 Letters from Correspondents with Surnames "H-Z," undated
1 37 Letters, 1930-1935
1 38 Letters, 1936-1938
1 39 Letters, 1939
1 40 Letters, 1940
1 41 Letters, 1941
1 42 Letters, 1942-1946
1 43 Letters, 1947
1 44 Letters, 1948
1 45 Letters, 1949
1 46 Letters, 1950-1951
1 47 Letters, 1952
1 48 Letters, 1953
1 49 Letters, 1954
1 50 Letters, 1955-1959
1 51 Letters, 1960
1 52 Letters, 1961-1969
1 53 Letters, 1970-1971
1 54 Letters, 1973-1975
1 55 Letters, 1977-1978
1 56 Letters, 1979
1 57 Letters, 1980
1 58 Letters, 1981-1988

Series 3: Business Records, 1961-1982
(Box 1; 5 folders)

This series consists primarily of business transactions with the Jack Rasmussen Gallery in Washington, D.C. Also included are miscellaneous sales records and pay stubs from American University.

Box Folder
1 59-61 Records Concerning the Jack Rasmussen Gallery, 1975-1982
(3 folders)
1 62 Miscellaneous Sales Records, 1963-1980
1 63 Pay Stubs from American University, 1961-1966

Series 4: Artwork, circa 1962
(Box 1; 6 folders)

Artwork consists of scattered drawings by Gates, including images of Bauhaus style houses. There are also block prints by Joe Goethe and D. Neufeld.

Box Folder
1 64 Drawings by Robert Gates, circa 1962
1 65 Drawings by an Unidentified Artist, undated
1 66-68 Block Prints by Joe Goethe, undated
(3 folders)
1 69 Block Print by D. Neufeld, undated

Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1932-1939
(Box 1, 2; 4 folders)

Two scrapbooks contain clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and scattered letters documenting the beginning of Gates's career. One scrapbook has been disbound.

Box Folder
1 70 Scrapbook 1, 1932-1933
Box Folder
2 1-3 Scrapbook 2, 1933-1939
(3 folders)

Series 6: Printed Material, 1916-1988
(Box 2; 48 folders)

Printed material includes clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, prospectuses for art exhibitions, press releases, calendars of events, booklets about color and lenses, brochures for art schools and books, and an unannotated calendar containing a reproduction of one of Gates's paintings.

Box Folder
2 4 Clippings, undated
2 5 Clippings, 1916-1932
2 6 Clippings, 1933-1934
2 7 Clippings, 1935
2 8-9 Clippings, 1936
(2 folders)
2 10 Clippings, 1937-1939
2 11 Clippings, 1940-1942
2 12 Clippings, 1946-1947
2 13 Clippings, 1948-1949
2 14 Clippings, 1950-1953
2 15 Clippings, 1954
2 16 Clippings, 1955-1959
2 17 Clippings, 1960-1969
2 18 Clippings, 1977-1978
2 19 Clippings, 1980-1988
2 20 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, undated
2 21 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1932-1933
2 22 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1934
2 23 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1935
2 24 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1936
2 25 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1937
2 26 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1938
2 27 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1939
2 28 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1940
2 29 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1941
2 30 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1942
2 31 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1943-1944
2 32 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1946-1947
2 33 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1948
2 34 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1949
2 35 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1950-1952
2 36 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1953
2 37 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1954
2 38 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1955-1959
2 39 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1960-1962
2 40 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1975-1978
2 41 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1980-1988
2 42 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs for Others, 1931-1940
2 43 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs for Others, 1947-1982
2 44 Prospectuses for Art Exhibitions, 1939-1940
2 45 Press Releases, 1941-1960, undated
2 46 Calendars of Events, 1948-1953
2 47 Booklets Concerning Color, undated
2 48 Booklet Concerning Lenses, 1944
2 49 Brochures for Schools, 1941-1944
2 50 Brochure for Books, 1952
2 51 Unannotated Calendar Containing a Reproduction of a Painting by Robert Gates, 1969

Series 7: Photographs, circa 1910-1982
(Boxes 2-3, OV 4; 20 folders)

Photographs are of Robert Gates, various family members, models, artwork, and exhibition installations. There are also two photograph albums and miscellaneous photographs documenting a 1936 voyage to the Virgin Islands commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department that include images of Gates and colleagues including Mitchell Jamieson, the ship Doris Hamlin, the crew, markets, a cock fight, miscellaneous buildings, town squares, and the countryside of the Virgin Islands.

Box Folder
2 52-53 Photographs of Robert Gates, circa 1910-1982
(2 folders; oversized items housed in OV 4)
2 54-55 Photographs by Sam Tamashiro of Robert Gates Conducting Class, undated
(2 folders)
2 56 Photographs of Family Members, 1934-1967, undated
(oversized items housed in OV 4)
2 57 Photographs by Prentiss Taylor of Robert Gates and Margaret Casey Gates in Charleston, South Carolina, 1934
Box Folder
3 (pam) 1 Album 1 of Photographs of Voyage to the Virgin Islands, 1936
3 (pam) 2 Album 2 of Photographs of Voyage to the Virgin Islands, 1936
3 (pam) 3-7 Photographs of Voyage to the Virgin Islands, 1936
(5 folders)
3 (pam) 8-9 Photographs of Nude Models, undated
(2 folders)
3 (pam) 10 Photographs of Artwork by Robert Gates, 1939-1972, undated
(oversized items housed in OV 4)
3 (pam) 11 Photographs of Artwork by Others, undated
3 (pam) 12 Photographs of Exhibition Installations, 1940, undated
3 (pam) 13 Miscellaneous Photographs, undated
Box
OV 4 Three Oversize Photographs of Robert Gates, undated
(separated from Box 2, F52-53)
OV 4 Oversize Photograph of a Member of Robert Gates' Family, undated
(separated from Box 2, F54-55)
OV 4 Oversize Photograph of Post Office Mural, Bethesda, Maryland, 1939
(separated from Box 3, F10)