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Oral history interview with Margaret Babcock, 1998 July 21

Babcock, Margaret Meras, 1907-



Collection Information

Size: 2 sound cassettes (total 120 min.) : analog.

Format: Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 6 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 56 min. Babcock's speech is impaired by a stroke and deafness.

Summary: An interview of Margaret Babcock conducted 1998 July 21, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art, in Camden, Maine. The interview covers her family background up through the 1920s.

Babcock discusses being raised in Exeter, New Hampshire, where her father owned Daniel Chester French's former house; being a precocious student; attending Phillips Exeter Academy's June Ball with Francis Grover Cleveland, a grandson of the president (she recites a poem that commemorated her romantic thrill over the experience); attending Smith College where she concentrated in zoology but aspired to be a writer and teacher; devoting much time to modern dance; meeting, her freshman year, an Amherst College senior & pupil of Robert Frost, Ernest Robson (formerly Rosenblum) from Chicago; the snobbish economic and anti-semitic caste system at Smith; her parents divorce while at Smith, causing sudden financial problems, and becoming a scholarship student; Robson coming to Smith to see her during her junior year, and following her at the end of that year to Camden, Maine, where her grandmother Frye and her mother lived, and a secret camping trip to northern Maine and Provincetown; marrying Robson April 7, 1926 and graduating from Smith; Peter Blume, the poet Sidney Peak Crawford, and his dog "Little Peak" joined her and Robson on Lime Island, off Camden, summer of 1926; Blume staying behind and showing his "Maine Coast", which he had painted on the island, to her shocked mother and grandmother; supporting Blume financially.

Biographical/Historical Note

Margaret Mera Babcock (1907- ) was a curator from Camden, Maine.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.


Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

How to Use This Collection

Use requires an appointment.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Margaret Babcock, 1998 July 21. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.