Skip to main content

Florence Arquin papers, 1923-1985

More Information

Stephanie Ashley, Jayna M. Josefson, and Olivia Evans
Scope and Contents
The papers of Florence Arquin measure 8.2 linear feet and date from 1923 to 1985. The papers highlight her expertise in the field of Latin American studies and document Arquin's career as a painter, photographer, educator, writer, and critic through biographical material, correspondence, writings, teaching and project files, printed material, photographs, artwork, and scrapbooks. Additionally, the papers relate to her personal relationships with her husband Samuel Williams and friends, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Teaching and project files include material from Arquin's work with the Federal Art Project at the Art Institute of Chicago and as director of the U.S. State Department's Kodachrome Slide Project, which was part of an effort to provide educational agencies with visual aids to support Latin American Studies.
Biographical materials include awards, biographical sketches and resumes, travel papers, identification cards, and ten address books.
The bulk of correspondence is comprised of letters written by Florence Arquin to her husband, Samuel Williams. These letters discuss her trips to Mexico in the 1940s, her role in the Kodachrome Slide Project, and her friendships with fellow artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and others. Also found are copies of letters from Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to Florence Arquin.
Writings and notes include extensive research notes, notebooks, and notecards by Florence Arquin, primarly on Latin American art and culture. Also found is a draft of Arquin's work on Diego Rivera, Diego Rivera (1886-1957): The Shaping of an Artist (Early Period--1889-1921). Writings by others include a draft of a foreword by Diego Rivera, and writings by Jose de Souza Pedreira, and Hilla Rebay.
Teaching and project files include materials from Arquin's time teaching at the Art Institute of Chicago, her work with the the Federal Art Project at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Kodachrome Slide Project. Teaching files are scattered and include student papers, class outlines, and a lecture. The Federal Art Project at the Art Institute of Chicago files include a proposal and project reports. The Kodachrome Slide Project files include correspondence, receipts, reports, educational guides and materials, slide sequences, and printed material.
Printed material includes exhibition catalogs and announcements, clippings, booklets, travel guides, magazines, education journals, subject files on Diego Rivera and Frank Lloyd Wright, and blank postcards from Arquin's travels. There are extensive booklets and pamphlets published by the Pan American Union, and travel guides and educational guides for Latin America. Some printed material is in Spanish.
Photographs include portraits and snapshots of Florence Arquin, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and others. Photos of Florence Arquin show her in her office, giving lectures, and at events with others. Photographs of works of art are by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Artwork is scattered and includes a sketchbook by Florence Arquin with watercolor and pencil sketches and a print signed by de Diego.
There are four scrapbooks created by Florence Arquin. Scrapbooks may include photographs, writings, maps, and printed materials. Materials relate to the Federal Art Project at the Art Institute of Chicago, travel, and the Kodachrome Slide Project.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated to the Archives of American Art by Samuel Williams, Arquin's husband, in 1991.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Processing Information
The collection was originally processed by Olivia Evans and microfilmed onto reels 4711-4719. The finding aid was updated in 2002 by Stephanie Ashley during conversion to EAD. In 2014, Jayna Josefson updated the finding aid and prepared the collection for scanning. The collection was digitized in 2015 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.