Skip to main content

Herbert Waide Hemphill papers, 1776-1998, bulk 1876-1998

Herbert Waide Hemphill papers, 1776-1998, bulk 1876-1998

Hemphill, Herbert Waide, 1929-1998

Curator, Collector

Collection Information

Size: 26.3 linear feet

Summary: The papers of folk art collector and museum curator Herbert Waide Hemphill date from 1776-1998, bulk 1876-1998, and measure 26.3 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical materials, personal business records, files documenting his collecting, writings, art work, minutes of meetings, a scrapbook, printed material including exhibition and auction announcements and catalogs, and miscellaneous artifacts. The collection also contains numerous photographs of Hemphill, family members, his residences, friends and colleagues, exhibitions, travel, and art work. Sound and video recordings include interviews of Hemphill.

Biographical/Historical Note

Herbert Waide Hemphill papers (1929-1998) was a folk art collector from New York, N.Y. Hemphill was one of the founders of the Museum of American Folk Art. He organized several significant folk art exhibitions, and is the co-author of "Twentieth Century American Folk Art and Artist."

Provenance

Herbert Waide Hemphill donated his papers in 5 installments between 1988 and 1996.

A Finding Aid to the Herbert Waide Hemphill Papers,
1776-1998
,
bulk 1876-1998
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.hempherb
Finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald
Scope and Content Note
The papers of folk art collector and museum curator Herbert Waide Hemphill date from 1776-1998, bulk 1876-1998, and measure 26.3 linear feet. Found within the papers are biographical materials, personal business records, files documenting his collecting, writings, art work, minutes of meetings, a scrapbook, printed material including exhibition and auction announcements and catalogs, and miscellaneous artifacts. The collection also contains numerous photographs of Hemphill, family members, his residences, friends and colleagues, exhibitions, travel, and art work. Sound and video recordings include interviews of Hemphill.
Biographical material includes photocopies of Hemphill's birth certificate and passport, social security cards, and international health card, genealogical notes, an evaluation of his school work, membership cards, award certificates, address books, and an engagement calendar containing very brief annotations of his activities.
Correspondence documents Hemphill's affairs with miscellaneous museums and art institutions, discussing his presentation of lectures, exhibitions, and loans from his collection to organizations including the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Collection, the Folk Art Society of America, the Museum of International Folk Art, and the Smithsonian Institution's American Art Museum.
Hemphill's correspondence with friends and colleagues discuss collecting activities and pursuit of newly discovered folk art and artists. Many of the letters are from artists. Correspondents include Varick A. Crittenden, Michael D. Hall, A. Everette James, Daniel C. Prince, Neal A. Prince, and artists Rev. Maceptaw Bogun, Mary Borkowski, Tim Fowler, Joseph Victor Gatto, S. L. Jones, Gustav Klumpp, Roy Little, George Lopez, Kevin Orth, and Malcah Zeldis. There are also scattered letters from artists Miles Burkholder Carpenter, John W. Fancher, Rev. Howard Finster, William Hawkins, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Mr. Imagination, Mattie Lou O'Kelley, Clayton Patterson, St. EOM, and Mose Tolliver. One letter from Stephanie and John Smither is etched on a bone.
Personal business records include both legal and financial documents. There are wills for Hemphill, his mother, and for his friend Neal A. Prince. The records also include leases, insurance records, contracts, grant proposals, loan agreements, deeds of gift, price lists, consignment records, tax records, and miscellaneous receipts. Cancelled checks relate to Hemphill's collecting interests and activities, and include payments to artists for their work. There are court papers documenting a lawsuit by Hemphill's landlord who was attempting to evict him.
Art work consists of a sketchbook by Roy Little, a set of hand-cut Japanese mask designs, a collage of Polaroid photographs taped to glass created by Rev. Howard Finster, a hand-made book by Nancy Josephson, and miscellaneous drawings, watercolors, and prints by various artists including Justin McCarthy, Inez Nathaniel, and Nellie Mae Rowe.
Notes and writings include card files of artists, extensive bibliographic card files, and scattered notes on artists including Miles Carpenter, Raymond Coins, Rev. Howard Finster, Mattie Lou O'Kelley, Royal Robertson, Veronica Terrillion, Mose Tolliver, and Bill Traylor. Also found are lists of artists, patrons, and art work, miscellaneous notes, and minutes of meetings. Writings by Hemphill and others including Michael D. Hall, Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, A. Everett James, and Julia Weissman, consist of reports, typescripts, and poems concerning a wide range of art-related topics and travel.
A scrapbook consists of unbound pages of clippings and newsletters about Hemphill, his collection, and exhibitions of folk art.
There is extensive additional printed material illustrating Hemphill's many interests. This series primarily consists of clippings and exhibition announcements and catalogs for mainstream artists as well as folk artists. Also included are auction announcements and catalogs, announcements for festivals, press releases, and calendars of events. Numerous booklets, brochures, programs, menus, business cards, and novelty postcards concern a variety of topics including worldwide travel, the sale of art work, miscellaneous galleries, museums, organizations, conferences, schools, lectures, antiques and craft shops, films, publications, restaurants, household items, historical topics, and miscellaneous artists including Miles Carpenter, S. P. Dinsmoor, Lonnie Holley, Clementine Hunter, and Veronica Terrillion. There are also autographed copies of booklets
The Black Swan and Other Poems
by James Merrill, and
The Blood of Jesus
by Thomas Jefferson Flanagan. Novelty postcards range from photographs of Elvis Presley to cards with amusing captions or cartoon jokes. There is also sheet music by Charles Trenet. Miscellaneous printed material includes several eighteenth-century newspapers and a 1776 thirty shilling note from New Jersey.
Photographs are of Hemphill, family members, his residences, friends and colleagues including style editor Carrie Donovan, artist Rev. Howard Finster dancing at an exhibition opening, actress Alice Ghostley, Michael D. Hall, circus performers Vernon Goins and Tiny Hicks, Smithsonian curator Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, Neal A. Prince, and Jim Spies. Photographs of exhibitions include stereographic views of the International Exhibition in Philadelphia and the Exposition Universelle in Paris, and photographs of Hemphill's donation of his collection and its subsequent exhibition at the Smithsonian's American Art Museum. Travel photographs include views of South Dakota, Texas, the American West, Japan, Mexico, and The Netherlands.
Numerous photographs of art work sometimes include images of the artists with their work including Bruce Brice, Raymond Coins, John W. Fancher, Rev. Howard Finster, Theora Hamblett, Bessie Harvey, William Hawkins, James Harold Jennings, John Jordan, Charles Lisk, Alexander Maldonado, St. EOM, Fred Smith, Edgar Tolson, Hubert Walters, and Purvis Young. Some photographs of unattributed art work has been arranged by the state in which it is located and includes a Mardi Gras parade in Louisiana, a Mummer's parade in Pennsylvania,
Lucy
the Elephant-shaped building in New Jersey, and
Holy Ghost Park
in Wisconsin. Other photographs of unattributed art work include works on paper, paintings, sculpture, signs, collages, needlework, glass, ceramics, and architecture.
Sound and video recordings include a cassette from Hemphill's phone answering machine that contains only Hemphill's message to callers, cassette recordings of interviews with and concerning Hemphill, artist St. EOM, painter Robert E. Smith discussing his work, and the tour narration for a Smithsonian exhibition
Made With Passion
. There are videotapes about Hemphill and about artists Gayleen Aiken, Miller and Bryant, and Malcah Zeldis, and miscellaneous African American artists. There is also a videotape of an American Museum of Natural History tour group arriving in a succession of villages in Melanesia and Papua New Guinea where they are greeted by the native people and given the opportunity to purchase their art work.
Artifacts consist of a scattered assemblage of three-dimensional objects including three wooden "fringe" pieces from cigar store figures, ceramic fragments from a sword handle, a lock of horse hair, and a hand-painted View Master viewer souvenir from the opening of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. The View Master contains a disc of photographs of artists with their work including Vollis Simpson and Mary Frances Whitfield. Also included is a teacher's kit
Little Adventures in Art
containing four phonograph albums and four short film strips of slides showing art work in animal and bird forms.
Biographical Note
Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr., (1929-1998) lived in New York city and was a prominent curator, historian, and collector of American folk art. Hemphill was one of the founding members of the Museum of American Folk Art, organized several large exhibitions of folk art, and co-authored
Twentieth Century American Folk Art and Artist
.
Hemphill was born on January 21, 1929 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the son of businessman Herbert Waide Hemphill, Sr., and Emma Bryan Bradley Hemphill whose uncle, William Clark Bradley, was one of the owners of the Coca-Cola Company.
Hemphill was reared in his mother's home town of Columbus, Georgia, and attended Wynnton School. At the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and the Solebury School in New Hope, Pennsylvania, Hemphill's principle interests were in art and theater. In 1948, he spent a year studying fine arts at Bard College under Stefan Hirsch, a painter and folk art collector.
Hemphill developed his interest in collecting while accompanying his mother on her shopping forays searching for Dresden china. His first acquisition was a wooden duck decoy purchased when he was seven years old. His early collections were of glass bottles, marbles, stamps, and puzzle jugs. In 1949, Hemphill moved to Manhattan and began to focus on modern European and American art and African sculpture, but after 1956 he concentrated exclusively on 19th and early 20th century American folk art. He often discovered artists during his extensive travels, especially in the American South.
In 1961, Hemphill became one of the six founding trustees of the Museum of Early American Folk Art, later named the Museum of American Folk Art, in New York City. Between 1964 and 1973, he was the museum's first curator and curated many exhibitions, helping to promote awareness of work created by self-taught or visionary artists. He later served as Trustee Emeritus for many years.
Between 1974 and 1988, Hemphill loaned portions of his extensive personal collection to 24 museums nationwide and in 1976, the American Bicentennial Commission selected works from his collection for a goodwill tour of Japan. He was named guest curator at the Brooklyn Museum in 1976 and at the Abby Aldrich Folk Art Collection in 1980, and often appeared as guest lecturer at various universities, the Smithsonian Institution, and at the Library of Congress. In 1986, Hemphill donated more than 400 folk art works to the Smithsonian Institution's American Art Museum, resulting in a landmark exhibition
Made with Passion: The Hemphill Folk Art Collection of the National Museum of American Art
.
Hemphill's publications include books
Twentieth Century American Folk Art and Artists
, co-authored with Julia Weissman in 1974,
Folk Sculpture USA
for the Brooklyn Museum in 1976, and
Found in New York's North Country: The Folk Art of a Region
, co-authored with Varick A. Chittenden in 1982 for the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute.
Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. died on May 8, 1998 in New York City.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 10 series; all series are arranged chronologically:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1916-1997 (Box 1, 28; 12 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1901-1998 (Boxes 1-5, 27- 28, OV 31; 4.0 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1817-1997 (Box 5-7, 28; 2.0 linear feet)
Series 4: Art Work, 1911-1997 (Box 7, 32; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 5: Notes and Writings, 1938-1996 (Box 7-10, 28; 2.5 linear feet)
Series 6: Scrapbook, 1965-1976 (Box 10; 1 folder)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1776-1998 (Box 10-19, 28-29, OV 31; 9.5 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, 1876-1997 (Box 19-24, 29; 5.5 linear feet)
Series 9: Sound and Video Recordings, 1986-1991 (Box 25-26; 13 folders)
Series 10: Artifacts, 1968-1995 (Box 26, 30; 0.7 linear feet)
Provenance
Herbert Waide Hemphill donated his papers in 5 installments between 1988 and 1996.
Processing Information
The collection received some processing shortly after it was donated in 1988 and prior to microfilming on reels 4026-4029. All accessions were merged, arranged, and described in accordance with archival standards by Jean Fitzgerald in March 2009.

Additional Forms Available

A portion of this collection is also available on microfilm reels 4026-4029 at the Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the collection as described in this finding aid does not reflect the order of the collection on microfilm.

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

Herbert Waide Hemphill papers, 1776-1998, bulk 1876-1998. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Download Finding Aid

Selected Digitized Items

Tags

EAD XML

View EAD XML

  • No downloads available