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Joseph Cornell papers, 1804-1986, bulk 1939-1972

More Information

Jennifer Meehan
Provenance
The Joseph Cornell papers were donated and microfilmed in several installments from 1974 to 1989 by Joseph Cornell's sister, Betty Cornell Benton. Most, but not all, of the correspondence, which was loaned for microfilming in 1974, was subsequently donated in 1989. Additional material was donated in 2004 by the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
Separated Material
The bulk of Cornell's source material resides in the Joseph Cornell Study Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum, along with his library and record collection. Cornell's sister, Betty Cornell Benton, donated a portion of this material directly to SAAM (then known as the National Museum of American Art), occasioning the creation of the Study Center circa 1978. The bulk of the source material and library that she donated to AAA, including approximately 66 linear feet of three-dimensional and non-textual source material and 50 linear feet of books, was transferred to the Study Center in 1994 and 1995.
Originals of loaned material returned to the donor after microfilming include: some unidentified and miscellaneous correspondence; significant correspondence between Joseph Cornell and Helen S. Cornell; significant correspondence between Helen S. Cornell, family members and others; and some of Joseph Cornell's family correspondence and general correspondence from the Robert Cornell papers. The loaned material is available on microfilm reels 1055-1058 but is not described further in the Series Descriptions/Container Listing of this finding aid.
Related Material
The Archives holds several collections of different provenance that relate to Joseph Cornell, including the small collections of Allison Delarue (comprised of two letters from Cornell, available on reel 2803), Muriel Streeter Schwartz (comprised of two letters from Cornell, available on reel 4283), Wayne Andrews (comprised of letters from Cornell and printed material), and Marion Netter (comprised of items received from Cornell). In addition, photographs of Cornell can be found amongst the Hans Namuth photographs and papers. Also found within the Archives is a transcribed interview of Cornell's sister, Elizabeth Cornell Benton, conducted on April 21, 1976 as part of the oral history program.
Funding
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Getty Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Processing Information
Portions of the collection received a preliminary level of processing at some point after donation. The collection was typically microfilmed in the order in which it was donated on reels 1058-1077, 1315, and 2729, except for the last donation by Benton, comprised of the Joseph Cornell Estate Papers and Robert Cornell Papers, and the additional material donated by the Trust, which were never microfilmed. The entire collection was fully processed, arranged, and described by Jennifer Meehan in 2004 and 2005 and the bulk of it was scanned in 2006 and 2009, with funding provided by the Getty Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art.