Skip to main content

Eleanor Munro papers, circa 1880-2011, bulk 1950-2011

Eleanor Munro papers, circa 1880-2011, bulk 1950-2011

Munro, Eleanor, 1928-

Writer

Collection Information

Size: 36.7 linear feet

Summary: The papers of writer and art critic Eleanor Munro measure 36.7 linear feet and date from circa 1880-2011, bulk 1950-2011. The collection documents Munro's life, career, and research on women artists, through biographical and family material, correspondence, writing projects, diaries, dream journals and notebooks, subject and research files, printed material, and photographic material.

Biographical/Historical Note

Eleanor Munro (1928- ) is a writer and art critic working in New York City and Truro, Massachusetts. Munro is best known for her book, "Originals: American Women Artists," 1979.

Provenance

Donated by Eleanor Munro's son, David T. M. Frankfurter, in 2015.

A Finding Aid to the Eleanor Munro Papers, circa 1880-2011, bulk 1950-2011, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.munrelea
Author
Finding aid prepared by Catherine S. Gaines, Joy Goodwin, and Hilary Price
Biographical/Historical note
Eleanor Munro (1928- ) is a writer and art critic working in New York City and Truro, Massachusetts. She is best known for her groundbreaking work
Originals: American Women Artists
(1979), one of the first books to argue for the importance of women artists who were generally ignored by the art world. Munro was active in feminist art circles in New York.
Munro’s father, Thomas Munro, was an art educator and modernist intellectual. Her mother, Lucile Nadler, was a pianist. She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, after her father accepted a joint appointment at the Cleveland Museum of Art and Western Reserve University. Munro graduated from Smith College majoring in art history and earned a master’s degree in comparative literature from Columbia. She was married to Alfred Frankfurter, editor of
ArtNews
, from 1955 until his death in 1965. Munro remarried to the writer E. J. Kahn until his death in 1994.
While working on
Originals
, Munro interviewed forty women artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois, Jennifer Bartlett, Helen Frankenthaler, and Louise Nevelson. Her thesis sought to highlight the relationship between biography and the content of an artist’s work. The book serves as an illustration of Munro's idea that the “narrative memory” these artists had constructed for themselves was an important “generative source” of their creativity. Women artists continued to be a prominent interest of Munro’s throughout her life.
Munro is also the author of
On Glory Roads: a Pilgrim’s Book about Pilgrimage
(1987),
Memoir of a Modernist’s Daughter
(1988), and other books. In 1988, Munro received the Cleveland Arts Prize for Literature.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 7 series
Series 1: Biographical and Family Material, circa 1880s-2008 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1959-circa 2000s (0.7 linear feet; Box 1-2)
Series 3: Writings Projects, 1921-circa 2000s (10 linear feet; Box 2-12)
Series 4: Diaries, Dream Journals, and Notebooks, circa 1939-2011 (3.8 linear feet; Box 12-15)
Series 5: Subject and Research Files, circa 1950s-2000s (20.6 linear feet; Box 15-36, OV 38-40)
Series 6: Printed Material, circa 1959-circa 2000s (0.6 linear feet; Box 36)
Series 7: Photographic Material, circa 1980s-1990s (0.6 linear feet; Box 36-37)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of writer and art critic Eleanor Munro measure 36.7 linear feet and date from circa 1880-2011, bulk 1950-2011. The collection documents Munro’s life, career, and research on women artists, through biographical and family material, correspondence, writing projects, diaries, dream journals and notebooks, subject and research files, printed material, and photographic material.
Correspondence is both personal and professional in nature and is with family, friends, colleagues, agents, editors, and others regarding speaking engagements, writings, and other professional projects.
Writing projects make up a significant portion of the collection (10 linear feet) and include non-fiction works as well as fiction and poetry. Files contain drafts, notes, manuscripts, research, correspondence, contracts and agreements, royalty statements, and other business records for articles, books, reviews, talks, lectures, and other writing projects.
Diaries comprise twenty-six volumes of frequent entries that chronicle thoughts and feelings relating to Munro’s personal and professional life. Dream journals and notebooks total 210 volumes plus additional loose pages and capture thoughts, reflections, and fragments of remembered dreams.
Subject and research files compiled and organized by Eleanor Munro make up the most substantial portion of the collection (20.6 linear feet) and reflect a wide variety of research interests, work projects, activities, and topics of interest. Types of material in this series are varied and include notes, drafts, printed material, correspondence, proposals, interview transcripts, bibliographies, annotated articles, slides, photographs, original artworks, manuscripts by others, and four sound recordings. Many files relate to Munro’s interest in women artists and serve as research for
Originals: American Women Artists
(1979). Interview transcripts are with women artists Eleanor Antin, Nell Blaine, Lee Bontecou, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Mary Frank, Maya Lin, Joan Mitchell, Beverly Pepper, Sylvia Stone, Alma Thomas, and others.
The remainder of the collection is comprised of biographical and family material, printed material, and photographic material.
Provenance
Donated by Eleanor Munro's son, David T. M. Frankfurter, in 2015.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed to a minimal level and a finding aid prepared by Catherine S. Gaines, Joy Goodwin, and Hilary Price in 2015.

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. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

How to Cite This Collection

Eleanor Munro papers, circa 1880-2011, bulk 1950-2011. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available