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Beatrice Wood papers, 1894-1998, bulk 1930-1990

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Diana Shenk
Scope and Contents note
The papers of California ceramicist Beatrice Wood measure 26.6 linear feet and date from 1906 to 1998, with the bulk dating from 1930-1990. There is extensive correspondence with gallery owners, fellow artists, clients, friends, and family. The collection also contains biographical materials, personal business records, writings, printed materials, photographs, and works of art. Of particular interest are the 28 diaries that Wood maintained from 1916 until her death in 1998 and 42 glazing formula notebooks dating from 1934-1997. Also found are documents of Steven Hoag and Esther Rosencranz, her husband and aunt respectively, that consist of correspondence, business records, and photographs given to the Archives of American Art as part of the Beatrice Wood papers.
Biographical material contains certificates, licenses, degrees, legal documents, and extensive interview transcripts, which describe her philosophy on art and her development as a ceramic artist.
Correspondence is particularly rich in documenting Wood's passion and dedication to her work as a writer and artist. The records reflect Wood's close professional and personal relationships with many friends and colleagues, including Henri-Pierre Roche, Marcel Duchamp, Anais Nin, Elizabeth Hapgood, and Walter and Lou Arensberg. Additional correspondence with editors and publishers is also included. Wood enjoyed illustrating her letters, as did many of her correspondents.
Personal business records include financial material, sales and consignment records, and correspondence with gallery owners, including Garth Clark Gallery, John Waller Gallery, and Zachary Waller Gallery.
Notes and writings extensively document Wood's second career as a writer. Edited drafts of her monographs and short stories are available, as well as her journal writings and notes. Drafts of I Shock Myself: The Autobiography of Beatrice Wood, Angel Who Wore Black Tights, 33rd Wife of a Maharajah, among others are included. Also found here are the illustrations that Wood created for her monographs. She often did a series of drawings for each illustration and these copies are included as well.
Twenty-eight detailed diaries contain information about studio sales, clients, and the economic uncertainties of being a self-employed artist. The diaries, arranged in one-year and five-year volumes, begin in 1916 and end just a few days before her death in 1998.
Forty-two glaze books record the formulas for the pottery glazes Wood developed throughout her career.
Printed material includes copies of Wood's published monographs as well as exhibition announcements and brochures. Also found are clippings about Wood, including numerous articles about her trips to India.
Photographic material includes photographs and slides of Wood, her friends, travels, and other events. Many of the photographs are identified by Wood.
Artwork includes original sketches, drawings, watercolors, lithographs and designs by Wood. The original illustrations from her books are included in this series.
The last two series contain records generated by her husband, Stephen Hoag and her maternal aunt, Esther Rosencrantz. Wood was married to Hoag from 1937 until his death in 1960. The bulk of the material contains Hoag's financial records, mostly receipts, from his early years as a engineer in the Pacific Northwest. Esther Rosencranz, a physician in San Francisco, collected book plates that are included in this series.
Beatrice Wood donated her papers in several accretions between 1976 and 2002. Additional material was donated by Francis Naumann in 1993 and the Beatrice Wood Personal Property Trust in 1999. Material from a 1977 loan was included in Wood's later donations.
Related Archival Materials note
The Archives of American Art holds two oral history interviews with Beatrice Wood completed by Paul Karlstrom in 1976 and 1992.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Processing Information
Portions of the collection received a preliminary level of processing for microfilming on reels 1236 and 3483-3500; these reels are no longer in circulation. Material loaned for microfilming in 1977 was later donated. All accretions, as well as three collections that were previously cataloged separately were fully integrated as one collection and processed by Diana Shenk and digitized in 2011 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation of American Art.