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Charles Henry Caffin papers, circa 1883-1973, bulk 1883-1918

Charles Henry Caffin papers, circa 1883-1973, bulk 1883-1918

Caffin, Charles Henry, 1854-1918

Art critic

Representative image for Charles Henry Caffin papers, circa 1883-1973, bulk 1883-1918

The papers of Charles Henry Caffin in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2009. The bulk of the papers have been scanned, and total 167 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 1.2 linear feet

Summary: The scattered papers of art critic and writer Charles Henry Caffin measure 1.2 linear feet and date from circa 1883-1973. Found within the papers are an interview transcript, two letters, printed materials, one scrapbook, and family photographs dating from circa 1883 to circa 1911, many by noted photographers Arnold Genthe, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Gertrude Käsebier, Edward Steichen, and Alfred Stieglitz. The scrapbook contains Caffin's columns for the New York American, 1913-1915.

Biographical information includes an autograph book, and a transcript and written summary of a 1973 interview with Caffin's daughter, Donna Layton, conducted by Wanda Corn and Deborah Loft concerning Charles Henry Caffin. The two letters found within the papers are written to Caroline Caffin. Printed material consists of play announcements, a play written by Charles Rann Kennedy, and excerpts from a 1974 published book on photography mentioning Caffin.

Photographs are of the Caffin family, including Charles Henry, Caroline, Donna, Freda and Charles's mother Harlet. Also found are photographs of Ben Greet. Notable photographers include Arnold Genthe, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Gertrude Käsebier, Edward Steichen, and Alfred Stieglitz. There is one scrapbook containing Charles Henry Caffin's articles written for the New York American magazine from 1913-1915.

Biographical/Historical Note

Charles Henry Caffin (1854-1918) was an art critic from New York, N.Y. Charles Caffin was an early supporter of the Photo-Secessionists and modern art. Born in England, trained at Oxford, he came to the U.S. in 1892. He was primarily a journalist, writing and contributing to many publications, including "Camera Work." Caffin wrote many books about art, drama, and dance, including "Photography as Fine Art" (1901), "American Masters of Painting" (1902), "How to Study Pictures" (1905), and "Art for Life's Sake" (1913).

Provenance

Donna Caffin Layton, daughter of Charles Caffin, donated most of the papers in 1974. Stephen D. Rockstroh, Caffin's son-in-law, donated additional material in 1985.

Funding

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the Charles Henry Caffin Papers,
circa 1883-1973, bulk circa 1883-1918
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.caffchar
Biographical Note
Charles Henry Caffin was born in 1854 in England. After graduating from Oxford University, Caffin served as stage manager for outdoor productions with Ben Greet and His Shakespearean Players. During this time, he met actress Caroline Scurfield, whom he later married and had two daughters, Freda and Donna. Caffin moved to United States in 1892 where he began to write about art, drama, and dance. He was an early supporter of the Photo-Secessionists and American modern art.
Initially, Caffin worked for several years executing murals from designs prepared by other artists for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the new Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Shortly thereafter, however, he began writing for Alfred Stieglitz's
Camera Notes
and later
Camera Work
. He moved to the New York City area and worked as a critic for the
New York Evening Post, New York Sun
, and later for the
New York American
. Caffin wrote many books about art, drama, and dance, including
Photography as Fine Art
(1901),
American Masters of Painting
(1902),
How to Study Pictures
(1905), and
Art for Life's Sake
(1913).
Charles Caffin died in 1918.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 5 series:
Series 1: Biographical Information, 1915, 1973 (Box 1; 2 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1920 (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 3: Printed Material, 1908, circa 1920, 1973 (Box 1; 3 folders)
Series 4: Photographs, circa 1883-circa 1910s (Box 1, 3-4; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1913-1915 (Box 2; 0.4 linear feet)
Provenance
Donna Caffin Layton, daughter of Charles Caffin, donated most of the papers in 1974. Stephen D. Rockstroh, Caffin's son-in-law, donated additional material in 1985.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Catherine S. Gaines in 2003, merging the two accessions. The collection was digitized in 2009, with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The bulk of this collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website. Materials not scanned include duplicates, negatives, and some printed and published works that are not annotated.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Charles Henry Caffin papers, circa 1883-1973, bulk 1883-1918. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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