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Juliette Elkon Hamelecourt papers, 1911-2000, bulk 1940s-2000

Hamelecourt, Juliette Elkon, 1912-

Fiber artist, Textile designer, Educator

Collection Information

Size: 3.1 Linear feet

Summary: The Juliette Elkon Hamelecourt papers measure 3.1 linear feet and date from 1911-2000, with the bulk of the records dating from 1940s-2000. The papers document Hamelecourt's career through resumes, personal business records, and writings, as well as general correspondence, printed material, scrapbooks, and photographs. The collection also contains a series of interviews conducted by Hamelecourt with artists at the Chelsea Hotel in New York.

Biographical/Historical Note

Juliette Elkon Hamelecourt (1912-2002) was a fiber artist, tapissiere, and lecturer in Haiti, New York, and Cleveland. Hamelecourt was born in Belgium and spent her early years traveling with her father in England and China. Hamelecourt first learned needlework in China at the age of 10. After her father's death a couple of years later, she returned to live in Belgium with her grandparents where Hamelecourt worked alongside her grandmother who was a volunteer conservationist, repairing chasubles for the local clergy. Hamelecourt's early tapestries were ultimately lost or destroyed during World War II when she and her family moved to New York as refugees. Until the late 1950s she worked as a culinary editor, food consultant, and author of non-fiction, while needlework remained a hobby. Hamelecourt first visited Haiti reporting on French Caribbean cuisine in the late 1950s, and soon after moved there as a representative for the World Craft Council. In Haiti, she trained local women to embroider designs from their own environment and folklore. Hamelecourt moved to the Chelsea Hotel in New York around 1970, at this time she began receiving commissions for her work--some of which she sub-contracted to her Haitian embroiderers--and consulting as a designer. She established an embroidery workshop at the hotel with a grant from the New York Council on the Arts. Hamelecourt moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1980.

Provenance

The collection was donated by Juliette Hamelecourt, 1978-1997, and by the Juliette Elkon Hamelecourt estate via Leonard Spremulli in 2014.

Language Note

The collection is in English and French.

Funding

The processing of this collection received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.