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Francis V. O'Connor papers, 1920-2009

O'Connor, Francis V., 1937-

Art historian, Poet

Collection Information

Size: 23.4 linear feet

Summary: The papers of New York art historian Francis O'Connor measure 23.4 linear feet and date from 1920-2009. Found within the papers are artist and exhibition files, questionnaires, transcripts, writings, project files, and printed material that pertain to O'Connor's research and publications on the New Deal and the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration.
The "NCFA Library" consists of research materials collected, created, and compiled during the course of O'Connor's research project supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities for his books, "Federal Support for the Visual Arts," (1969) and "Art for the Millions," (1973). Files contain administrative records, artists' files, and questionnaires and essays that document the administration of New Deal art projects. The files were collated by O'Connor into a set that remains intact.
The publications series consists of additional research and administrative materials specifically related to O'Connor's four publications on the WPA/FAP and New Deal artists: "Federal Support for the Visual Arts: The New Deal and Now" (1969), "New Deal Art Projects: An Anthology of Memoirs" (1972), "Art for the Millions" (1973), and "Federal Art Patronage Notes" (newsletter, 1974-1984).
New Deal research files are more general research materials collected by or sent to O'Connor in the course of his academic career. These include information on New Deal administrators and state specific WPA projects; photocopies of original WPA activity and reports; and New Deal scholarship, academic symposia, and conferences.
New Deal exhibitions include announcement and catalogs of contemporary New Deal art exhibitions in the U.S. from the 1960s to the 1990s. Project files are related to three publically and privately funded New Deal research projects O'Connor directed or participated in. Printed materials consists of press coverage of federal arts patronage in the United States dating from the 1960s to 2008.

Biographical/Historical Note

New York art historian and poet Francis O'Connor (1937- ) is best known for his research and writings on the New Deal art programs of the Depression and the Roosevelt Administration.


The papers were donated by Francis O'Connor to the National Collection of Fine Arts, now the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which subsequently transferred the papers, with O'Connor's permission, to the Archives of American Art in 1974. In 2010, O'Connor donated an additional 15.8 linear feet of papers to the Archives.

Related Materials


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