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Series 5 | A Finding Aid to the Joseph Cornell papers, 1804-1986, bulk 1939-1972 | Digitized Collection

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

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Series 5: Ephemera and Artifacts , 1858-1946
(boxes 18, 23; 0.8 linear feet)

Series consists of various items of ephemera and memorabilia, and various artifacts. Included are Victorian cards, an album of remembrance with entries by various individuals who were friends and acquaintances of the original owner, an autograph book, cartes-de-visite, dried flowers from Lawrence farm, cabinet cards (including one of Fanny Ward), hat pins, leather post cards, tobacco cards, boxes with cloth scraps and dried flowers from Ulysses S. Grant's funeral (which were mementos belonging to Cornell's grandparents), a papier-mache pull-toy horse, a shell box, sheet music, plastic dolls, match boxes, stuffed bird figures, metal pendants, clockhands, wood and cork pieces, beads, and other material. Most, if not all, of this material was accumulated by Cornell in the course of his regular collecting activities. Some of the objects are of uncertain origin and may have belonged to his brother, Robert.
Cornell seems to have used some of these items, including the tobacco cards, sheet music, hat pins, leather post cards, cartes-de-visite, autograph book, and miniature rug samples, in a layout he designed for Good Housekeeping magazine. Other items, including the shell box, papier-mache pull-toy horse, and memento boxes from General Grant's funeral, seem to have been part of the 1982 exhibition, "Joseph Cornell: An Exploration of Sources," at the National Museum of American Art, which presented a select group of boxes and collages in the context of his source materials. ( See Series 10 for a letter from the Acting Director of NMAA identifying these materials.)
Other items in this series, such as the wood and cork pieces, the clockhands, and wooden beads, could also constitute some of the found objects that Cornell collected and often used in many of his box constructions. Items, such as dried flowers from Lawrence farm and even the memento boxes of Grant's funeral, could constitute those objects that Cornell often collected as souvenirs and memorabilia relating to a particular event or idea. The dried flowers, for instance, seem to relate to the GC 44 "exploration," of which Cornell's visits to Lawrence farm played a part.
As far as possible, material is arranged in chronological order. For storage and preservation purposes, loose objects that cannot be housed in folders are housed together within smaller boxes, which are then housed in an archival box. For descriptive purposes, loose objects are treated as one file with an item list (provided below).
The bulk of this series has been scanned with the exception of loose objects.
Description Container
Album of Remembrance, 1858-1860
18
20
Cartes-de-visite, 1867-1873
18
21
Autograph Book (mostly blank), circa 1893
18
22
Sheet Music, "Summer Girl Song,", 1896
18
23
Leather Postcards, 1906, undated
18
24
Dried Bouquet, circa 1940
18
25
Dried Flowers from Lawrence Farm, 1946
18
26
Cabinet Cards, undated
18
27
Hat Pins, undated
18
28
Miniature Rug Samples, undated
18
29
Song Recording (broken), undated
18
30
Tobacco Trade Cards and Designs, undated
18
31
Victorian Cards, undated
18
32
Victorian Valentine Card, undated
18
33
Loose Objects, undated
(3 small boxes and 1 item; not scanned)
23

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.