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Livingston L. Biddle, Jr. papers, circa 1940-2002

Livingston L. Biddle, Jr. papers, circa 1940-2002

Biddle, Livingston, 1918-2002

Writer, Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 40.2 linear feet

Summary: The papers of government arts administrator and novelist Livingston L. Biddle, Jr. (1918-2002) measure 40.2 linear feet and date from circa 1940 to 2002. The papers are comprised of biographical materials, correspondence, interviews, writings, numerous files reflecting his work to establish the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), political committee files, personal legal records, printed materials, scrapbooks, and photographs. Throughout the collection are video and sound recordings.

Biographical materials consist of awards; diplomas; genealogy records; resumes; and files for Biddle's work at Fordham, his nomination for the National Medal of Arts award, and about his second wife Catharina Baart. Correspondence is with family, friends, and professional and political contacts such as Jane Alexander, President Jimmy Carter, Armand Hammer, Nancy Hanks, Edward Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Sandra Day O'Connor, Claiborne Pell, Robert Rauschenberg, Slava Rostropovich, and others.

Interviews with Biddle include transcripts, four sound recordings, and two video recordings of Biddle with R.A. Davis, Bob Edwards, Peter Jessup, Susan King, Bob Schieffer, and Louann Temple. Among the writings are journals, articles, poetry, speech notes, manuscript drafts of "Our Government and the Arts: A Perspective from the Inside" and "Sam Bentley's Island," one video recording of "Art/Work/USA" by Barbara Rose, and one sound recording of a film introduction entitled "The Eagle".

Files concerning the establishment and early years of the National Endowment of the Arts consist of correspondence; congressional briefing books, committee files, and reports; financial material; drafts of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965; one sound reel titled "Swearing-In of L.L. Biddle, Jr.," and three video recordings. Additional files concerning Biddle's work for congressional committees and political campaigns include correspondence, meeting agendas and notes, and printed material concerning multiple arts organizations and the political campaigns for Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, and Claiborne Pell. Family and real estate records, a partnership agreement, and will are in personal legal records.

Printed materials include booklets, clippings, event invitations and programs, flyers, magazines and journals, and posters autographed by Jacob Lawrence, Fritz Scholder, and John Glenn. Additionally, one commercial sound cassette recordings of National Public Radio's program Performance Today is also found. Two mixed-media scrapbooks contain memorabilia from Biddle's professional life and international travel.

Photographs are of family, travel, and friends and colleagues at various events. Six video recordings are home movies of Bryn Mawr and documentaries about St. Katherine Drexel. Artwork in the form of pencil and watercolor sketches is by Ruth Asawa Lanier, Barb Maxwell, Pat Oliphant, James Rosenquist, and Howard N. Watson.

Biographical/Historical Note

Livingston L. Biddle, Jr. (1918-2002) was a federal government arts administrator and novelist active in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Biddle graduated from Princeton University in 1940. He later wrote legislation to create the National Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and was chair of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1977-1981.

Provenance

The Livingston L. Biddle, Jr. papers were donated in 2013 by Thomas O'Callaghan, a close friend of Biddle's who inherited the papers.

A Finding Aid to the Livingston L. Biddle, Jr. Papers, Circa 1940-2002, in the Archives of American Art
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Biographical/Historical note
Livingston L. Biddle, Jr. (1918-2002) was a federal government arts administrator and novelist active in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
Livingston L. Biddle was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in 1918 to a distinguished and wealthy family. He graduated from Princeton University in 1940. During World War II, Biddle volunteered as an ambulance driver in Africa for the American Field Services.
While working as a special assistant to Rhode Island Democratic Senator Claiborne Pell in the 1960s, Biddle drafted the legislation for the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965, which led to the creation of the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) one year later. Biddle served as deputy chairman of the NEA from 1966 to 1967, as congressional liaison director in 1975, and as chairman from 1977 to 1981. In 1976, he served as director of the Congressional Subcommittee on Education, Arts, and Humanities.
Also a writer, Biddle wrote four novels, all set in Philadelphia, including
Sam Bentley's Island
published in 1961. From 1968 to 1970, he was a professor and chairman of Fordham University's arts division. Biddle also published a non-fiction book about his experiences establishing and working for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) titled
Our Government and the Arts: A Perspective from the Inside
in 1988.
Biddle married artist Catharina Baart in 1973 after his first wife, Cordelia Frances Fenton, died in 1972. Biddle died in Washington, D.C. in 2002.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 11 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1950-2002 (2.5 linear; Box 1-3, 41, OV 43)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1956-2001 (2 linear feet; Boxes 3-5)
Series 3: Interviews, 1978-2002 (0.5 linear feet; Boxes 5-6)
Series 4: Writings, 1940-2002 (12 linear feet; Boxes 6-18)
Series 5: National Endowment for the Arts, 1964-2000 (10 linear feet; Boxes 18-27, 42)
Series 6: Committees and Political Campaigns, 1944-2001 (3.5 linear feet; Boxes 27-30)
Series 7: Personal Legal Records, 1952-1986 (1 linear foot; Boxes 30-31)
Series 8: Printed Materials, circa 1950-2000 (3.5 linear feet; Boxes 31-34, 41, OV 44)
Series 9: Scrapbooks, 1970-1998 (0.3 linear feet; Boxes 34, 42)
Series 10: Photographs and Video Recordings, circa 1950-2002 (4.6 linear feet: Boxes 34-40, OV 44)
Series 11: Artwork, 1976-1989 (0.3 linear feet; Box 40, OV 44)
Provenance
The Livingston L. Biddle, Jr. papers were donated in 2013 by Thomas O'Callaghan, a close friend of Biddle's who inherited the papers.
Processing Information note
This collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Mundy in 2016 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The Archives of American Art has implemented accelerated processing when possible to increase information about and access to more of our collections. For this collection, accelerated processing included arrangement to the series, subseries and folder levels, adhering to the creator's original arrangement as much as possible. Generally, folder contents were simply verified with the original folder titles, but items within folders were not arranged further. All materials were rehoused in archival folders and boxes for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

How to Cite This Collection

Livingston L. Biddle, Jr. papers, circa 1940-2002. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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