Scope and Contents note
The papers of curator and museum director James J. Rorimer measure 2.3 linear feet and date from 1921 to 1982, with the bulk from 1943-1950. The papers include documentation of James J. Rorimer's World War II service in the Monuments, Fine Art and Archives Section of the U.S. Army and his activities protecting historic and cultural sites from bombing, and locating and recovering art work and cultural icons stolen by the Nazis. Found within the papers are scattered biographical materials and correspondence, writings include draft versions of Rorimer's book Safe-Keeping or Survival: The Salvage and Protection of Art in War, financial records, photographic materials including a photo album containing photographs of European art work and cultural sites where Rorimer worked, newsclippings and additional printed materials, and one scrapbook of clippings dating from World War II.
Scattered biographical materials include a college transcript and various certificates. Much of the correspondence is comprised of army directives but also includes some personal letters from Rorimer's wife Katherine.
Writings by Rorimer include several handwritten manuscripts and drafts of his book Survival: The Salvage and Protection of Art in War, which was originally titled Safe-Keeping. There is one folder of miscellaneous financial records, mostly dating from Rorimer's time in the army. There is also one folder of minutes of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Board of Trustees meetings.
Photographic materials include black and white photographs, negatives, contact prints, postcards, and one photo album. The photograph album was given to Rorimer from the headquarters of the Office of Military Government in Baden-Wurttemberg and is titled War Damage in Wurtemmberg: A Selection of Photographs. Many of the photographs document bomb damage to European cultural monuments and historic sites. There are photographs of Nazi stolen art repositories discovered by Rorimer and fellow Monuments Men at Buxheim monastery and Neuschwanstein castle, art recovery and transportation, and restitution work at Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point. Photographs of people, such as Edith Standen, Rose Valland, and Rorimer, are scattered throughout the series.
Printed materials include newspaper and magazine clippings, mostly related to The Cloisters or the activities and achievements of the Monuments Men. Printed materials also includes bulletins, brochures, and press releases. There is also a war-time scrapbook and two handbooks of maps showing historic monuments and sites in France and Germany.
The James J. Rorimer papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by his wife, Katherine Serrell Rorimer, in 2 installments in 1983.
Related Archival Materials note
Among the holdings of the Archives of American is an oral history interview with Anne Rorimer, James' daughter, conducted in 2010 by the Archives of American Art. The Archives also holds the papers of several members of the World War II Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) Section of the U.S. Army, including S. Lane Faison, Walker Hancock, Walter Horn, Thomas Carr Howe, George Stout, and Otto Wittman. as well as oral history interviews with some of them.
The official government records for James Rorimer's service during World War II in the MFAA Section of the U.S. Army are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration.
James J. Rorimer Papers, 1927-1966, are also located at Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
This collection was partially microfilmed upon receipt, reels 2800-2802; these reels are no longer in circulation. This collection was processed by Rihoko Ueno in April 2012.