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Aline and Eero Saarinen papers, 1906-1977

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Jennifer Meehan
Scope and Contents
The Aline and Eero Saarinen papers measure approximately 14.2 linear feet and date from 1906 to 1977. The bulk of the collection consists of Aline Saarinen's papers which document her relationship with her husband Eero Saarinen and other aspects of their personal lives, as well as Aline's work as an art and architectural critic, author, and television correspondent. Papers include research files for published and planned books (in which can be found scattered original letters of Stanford White, John Quinn and Edward Root) and other projects, NBC correspondent files, writings, committee files, correspondence, photographs, printed material, and miscellaneous personal papers.
The portion of the collection relating to personal aspects of Aline and Eero Saarinen's lives consists of: Aline Saarinen's diary, guest book, notebooks, personal writings, biographical material, awards and honorary degrees; scattered papers of Eero Saarinen, including biographical material, drawings of furniture designs, various sketches and drawings, and some project timelines and notes; correspondence between Aline and Eero Saarinen (the bulk of which dates from the year they met and married), as well as general and family correspondence received by Aline Saarinen and some miscellaneous and personal correspondence of Eero Saarinen; printed material, mostly clippings, documenting aspects of the life, work, and achievements of both Aline and Eero Saarinen; and photographs, including ones of Aline Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, Aline and Eero Saarinen together, and family members, as well as ones from various trips and of various residences, and various slides.
The bulk of the collection consists of material, including research and writing files, NBC correspondent files, and committee files, stemming from Aline Saarinen's various professional activities. Writings include manuscripts, typescripts, notes, notecards, and clippings of Aline Saarinen's various articles, lectures and speeches on art and architecture, scripts for television, creative and college writing. Research files include material for Saarinen's published book on art collectors, The Proud Possessors, and her planned, but never completed, biography of the architect, Stanford White. Research material for The Proud Possessors includes files of notes, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and printed material on art collectors, and related material such as scrapbooks of correspondence and clippings in response to the book. Files also include scattered original material, such as correspondence and photographs, belonging to the collectors, John Quinn and Edward Root. Research material on Stanford White includes correspondence, notebooks, writings, printed material, photographs, and copies of architectural drawings. Also found is scattered original material belonging to Bessie White, Stanford White, and the firm of McKim, Mead and White. NBC material consists of files, including correspondence, printed material, notes, scripts, motion picture films and video transfers, and photographs, kept by Aline Saarinen while working as a television correspondent. Also found are miscellaneous research files on artists that may relate to television or other projects and files stemming from her involvement in various arts-related and other committees.
The Aline and Eero Saarinen papers were donated in 1973 by Charles Alan, Aline Saarinen's brother and executor of her estate, and microfilmed. In 1966 five photographs of Eliel Saarinen's home in Helsinki, Finland were donated by Florence Davis and were subsequently integrated into the collection. The NBC material was donated in 1974 by NBC Studios via Charles Alan. Additional material, which had originally been donated to the Parrish Museum by Aline Saarinen, was donated to the Archives in 1991 by the Museum.
Separated Material
Two exhibition catalogs and various clippings that were donated as part of the collection were transferred to the Smithsonian American Art Museum Library in 1981.
Related Material
Also found in the Archives are: the Museum of Modern Art exhibition correspondence concerning Eero Saarinen, 1958-1959; the Lily Swann Saarinen papers, 1924-1974; an oral history interview with Lily Swann Saarinen, 1979-1981; and an oral history interview on Aline Saarinen with Charles Alan, 1973 February 17.
Other related material includes: Eero Saarinen Collection, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.
Location of Originals
The originals of the microfilmed correspondence of Richard Grant White and Stanford White found in Series 2.3.4 are located in the Huntington Art Library.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by Terra Foundation for American Art
Processing Information
The collection received a preliminary level of processing after being donated in 1973 and 1991, and portions of it were microfilmed on reels 2064, 2069, 2076, and 2084. A graphite portrait of John Quinn received conservation treatment at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in 1987. Two 16 mm motion picture films, "Eyes Opening" and Untitled (John Lindsay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), were transferred to video for preservation and access. Previously microfilmed and unmicrofilmed portions were merged, arranged, and described in accordance with archival standards, and the collection was fully processed by Jennifer Meehan in 2006 as part of the Terra Foundation for American Art Digitization Grant. The collection was digitized in 2007. Two additional motion picture film reels ("Mobile Homes" and "outtake") were inspected and re-housed in 2016-2017 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.