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Hildreth Meière papers, 1901-2011, bulk 1911-1960

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Megan McShea
Scope and Contents
The papers of Hildreth Meière measure 27.3 linear feet and 1.40 GB and date from 1901 to 2011, with the bulk of material dating from 1911 to 1960. The collection documents Meière's life and travels, and her long and prolific career as an architectural muralist through biographical material, correspondence, writings, thirteen diaries, files regarding her war relief work during the Spanish Civil War and World War II, printed and digital materials, extensive photographs and slides, eight sketchbooks, and two videocassettes and 93 reels of motion picture film documenting her travels, her volunteer efforts in Spain following the civil war, artwork, and home movies.
Biographical material includes an autobiographical narrative written by Meière, her many awards and certificates, membership information, passports, her U.S. Navy service records from World War I, documentation of her brief marriage and family genealogy, obituaries, and memorial service documentation. Also found are extensive writings and research conducted by Meière's daughter, Louise Meière Dunn, which include a complete list of Meière's commissions, detailed biographical narratives, and records of Meière's works held elsewhere.
The papers contain Meière's personal and family correspondence, travel correspondence, and business correspondence regarding professional activities. Much of the correspondence with family and friends was written during Meière's extensive travels over the world. Both family and travel correspondence have extensive indexes, summaries, and in some cases, transcripts prepared by Meière's daughter, Louise Meière Dunn. Some of the indexes, summaries and transcripts are digital. Writings include poetry and diaries kept during childhood and school years, travel diaries, essays and talks written about Meière's work, writings Meière prepared for committees of the National Mural Painters Association, and detailed travelogues of her trips to Constantinople and the Balkans in 1933, to Russia in 1936, her "Grand Tour" to Australia, Southeast Asia, India, Africa, and Europe in 1952-1953, and her "Holy Land" tour of the Middle East in 1954.
Civilian War Service Records document Meière's efforts at war relief organization during and after the Spanish Civil War and during World War II. The Spanish Civil War files include extensive photographs provided by the Spanish government as well as three motion picture films documenting refugees and damaged architecture and public artwork shot by Meière during a trip sponsored by Franco's government. World War II activities concern Meière's efforts to organize artists in the United States to design and execute murals and other works of public art at military facilities around the U.S.
Travel records include maps, ephemera, slides, and 83 motion picture films taken on trips abroad between 1933 and 1958. Trips include Eastern and Western Europe, the Mediterranean Region and the Middle East, South America, Mexico and Guatemala, India, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, and the UK. The motion picture films are mostly shot in Kodachrome color and many contain intertitles prepared by Meière to identify locations for travel lectures.
Printed materials consist primarily of clippings and publications that reference Meière's work, contain profiles of her, or contain published writings by her. A single published educational film is also found, given to her by an Australian filmmaker friend. Additional photographs, digital photographs and moving images include personal photographs of Meière, with portraits by Peter A. Juley and Sons and Berenice Abbott, photographs of many of her commissioned works, and a few photographs of artwork by others. Home movies show Meière with friends in 1926 and 1940. Among the photographic documentation of artworks by Meière and others are motion picture films of the 1939 New York World's Fair, the D.C. Municipal Building Frieze, and the 1937 Paris Fair; also found are 311 lantern slides and 201 glass copy negatives of her own completed works as well as murals she documented while traveling, notably murals in Norway and Oberammergau, Bavaria, taken in the 1930s.
Eight sketchbooks date to her early years as an art student and artist and include many figure studies, landscapes, and theatrical sketches made at home and abroad.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
A majority of the collection placed on deposit 2001 by Louise Meière Dunn, daughter of Hildreth Meière. The collection was donated incrementally by Dunn through 2012. Donations occurred 2001-2007, and again in 2010-2012.
Funding for the digitization of 84 reels of motion picture film in the collection was provided by The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University through a generous grant from the Ruth Dayton Foundation. Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
Processing Information
The collection was fully processed and a finding aid prepared by Megan McShea in 2015. Nine reels of motion picture film were reformatted for research access in 2006, 2012 and 2015. The digitization of the remaining 84 reels of film was funded by the The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University through a generous grant from the Ruth Dayton Foundation in 2015. Born-digital materials were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2019 and 2021 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.