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National Academy of Design records, 1817-2012

National Academy of Design (U.S.)

Collection Information

Size: 92.7 Linear feet

Summary: The records of New York City's National Academy of Design measure 92.7 linear feet and date from 1817-2012. The records pertain to all three constituents of the tripartite organization consisting of the Academy, a membership body of artists founded in 1825; the school, founded at the same time to promote arts education; and the exhibition program, inaugurated in 1826. Extensive administrative records include minutes, committee files, director files, annual reports, constitutions, and correspondence and subject files of council officers. Exhibition records, also substantive, date to the Academy's first annual exhibition and include gallery and special exhibitions, as well as exhibitions at the Academy's museum, established in 1979. The collection also includes gifts and funding files, especially relating to endowments and prizes; membership records; National Academy Association records; Ranger Fund assignments; extensive files pertaining to the school's administration, courses of instruction, registrations, and attendance; twenty scrapbooks containing clippings and ephemera; Society of American Artists records; correspondence and ephemera from other organizations; transcripts from oral histories with Academy members; extensive photographic material documenting artists, members, the school, exhibitions, buildings, and artwork created by Academy members; artist files containing correspondence, writings, and sketches from those associated with the Academy; and assorted printed material and ephemera.

Biographical/Historical Note

The National Academy of Design (1825- ) based in New York City, is a tripartite organization consisting of a membership body of artists, a school, and an exhibition program. The Academy was founded in 1825 by a group of professional artists with the mission to promote the fine arts in America through exhibition and education. Originally named the New York Drawing Association, the Academy was the first organization in the United States established and managed by professional artists. Samuel F.B. Morse, the Academy's first president, was influenced by the organization of the Royal Academy in London, which was comprised of professional artist members and elected government council, an art school, and a venue for exhibitions. After unsuccessful negotiations to unite with the American Academy of Fine Arts, the New York Drawing Association reformed as the National Academy of The Arts of Design on January 19, 1826. Among the founders were mostly young artists who became prominent figures in American art, including Frederick S. Agate, Thomas Cole, Thomas S. Cummings, Asher B. Durand, John Frazee, Charles C. Ingham, Henry Inman, Gerlando Marsiglia, Samuel F. B. Morse, Samuel L. Waldo, and Charles Cushing Wright.


The bulk of the collection was donated by the National Academy of Design in 2018. The trustees' ledger book in series 6 was donated in 1979 by Warder Cadbury of the Adirondack Museum; it is unclear how Cadbury acquired the ledger. Microfilm reels 798-799 containing transcriptions of minutes were given to the Archives by Lois Fink in 1974.

Language Note

English .