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Esphyr Slobodkina papers, circa 1925-1995

Slobodkina, Esphyr, 1908-2002

Painter, Author, Sculptor, Illustrator

Collection Information

Size: 1.9 linear feet

Summary: The papers of painter, sculptor, author, and illustrator Esphyr Slobodkina measure 1.9 linear feet and date from circa 1925 to 1995. Found within the papers are personal and professional correspondence, including letters from Ilya Bolotowsky, George L.K. Morris, and Paul Kelpe; writings, including a copy of the autobiography, "Notes for a Biographer," (vol. 1); printed materials; photographs; and material on the American Abstract Artists, including administrative records, business correspondence, and publications.
Correspondence is primarily with Slobodkina's family, friends, and business associates. The series includes significant correspondence from her first husband, Ilya Bolotowsky, as well as abstract artists George L.K. Morris, Paul Kelpe, Ruth Eckstein, Leo Rabkin, and Harry Tedlie. The series also includes correspondence regarding her published works.
Writings consist of 3 essays by Slobodkina on abstract art, the autobiography, "Notes for a Biographer," (vol. 1), the edited folio, "Ilya Bolotowsky," and a small notebook kept by Ilya Bolotowsky during the 1920s-30s.
Printed material includes clippings; samples of announcements and cards designed by Slobodkina; exhibition announcements and catalogs; and press releases.
Photographs are of Slobodkina and her paintings and sculptures, as well as photographs of artwork by other abstract artists.
American Abstract Artists' records includes administrative material, correspondence, writings, selected exhibitions, and printed material dating from 1936 to 1996.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter, sculptor, author, and illustrator Esphyr Slobodkina (1908-2002) lived and worked in New York City, Great Neck, and Long Island, New York and was known for her abstract art and her children's books, including the seminal "Caps For Sale."


Esphyr Slobodkina donated a portion of her papers in 1970, and made additional multiple gifts between 1995 and 1996.

Related Materials

Originals of material loaned for microfilming, including a travel album, printed material, notes, McDowell colony correspondence, and an American Abstract Artists financial ledger, were returned to Slobodkina in 1970. Loaned material is available on reels N70-61, but is not described in the container listing of this finding aid. Additionally, 69 rolled drawings on tracing paper were transferred to Hillwood Art Museum in 2006.


Processing of this collection was funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art 2013 September 18.

Location of Originals

  • Reel N70-61: Originals returned to lender, Esphyr Slobodkina, after microfilming.