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Contents and Arrangement | A Finding Aid to the René d'Harnoncourt papers, 1921-1983

René d'Harnoncourt papers, 1921-1983

Contents and Arrangement

The collection is arranged as seven series.

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Series 1: Biographical Material, 1925-circa 1978
5 folders
Box 1

Biographical material includes a document (in Austrian) issued by the Mexican Consulate in Vienna for d'Harnoncourt's departure for Mexico, stamped December 15, 1925.
Also found are pages from an appointment book from 1932 that provide scattered notes on d'Harnoncourt's professional and personal obligations on dates throughout the year, which included traveling with the
Mexican Art
exhibition to Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, El Paso, and Mexico.
The series also includes a set of index cards, and some "Notes for Family" prepared by Sarah d'Harnoncourt and referred to by her in a 1978 letter in Series 2: Correspondence. The letter explains that they were part of an effort to provide additional context to the papers for researchers and family before sending them to the Archives of American Art. The cards index references to d'Harnoncourt in publications, and published writings by d'Harnoncourt, amongst other things.
DescriptionContainer
Appointment Book Pages, 1932
1
1
Documents for Austrian Departure, 1925-circa 1927
1
2
Outline Notes for Unidentified Exhibition
1
3
Sarah d'Harnoncourt's Index Cards on d'Harnoncourt, circa 1978
1
4
Sarah d'Harnoncourt's "Notes for the family", circa 1978
1
5

Series 2: Correspondence and Memoranda, 1929-1981
5 folders
Box 1

The earliest correspondence and memoranda in this series relate to the
Mexican Arts
exhibition, and include a copy of a letter, and an original letter, from Dr. Atl. The 1930-1932 folder consists of copies of letters of appreciation to d'Harnoncourt and reviews of the exhibition translated into Spanish to send to the Mexican government, with a list of the letters and reviews contained therein.
The 1932-1939 correspondence and memoranda document d'Harnoncourt's work for the "Art in America" program; the concerted effort on behalf of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board to engage d'Harnoncourt's services at the outset of the Board; and negotiations between Sarah Lawrence College and the Department of the Interior over a schedule that would allow the Department of the Interior to employ d'Harnoncourt part-time as Assistant to the General manager of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. The folder also includes travel authorizations for d'Harnoncourt in this capacity.
Also found is a letter from
The Coast
magazine, and a copy of the issue referenced in the letter, that includes an article about the
Indian Arts and Crafts
exhibition (1939) at Treasure Island, San Francisco.
Correspondence from 1940 to mid-1944 is primarily official memoranda regarding d’Harnoncourt’s performance and appointment terms on the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, including memos relating to his resignation as General Manager in 1944. In response to a desire to retain d'Harnoncourt as a member of the Board, which is documented here, he subsequently served as Chairman of the Board for seventeen years.
1962-1968 correspondence consists of a 1962 letter to d'Harnoncourt from Maria Krisztinkovich, enclosing a copy of her book on Hungarian glazed stoneware, and d'Harnoncourt's letter of thanks. Also found are copies of three condolence letters to Sarah d'Harnoncourt following d'Harnoncourt's death.
Posthumous correspondence from 1975-1981 relates to inquiries made, and assistance provided, by Sarah d'Harnoncourt, primarily in relation to d’Harnoncourt’s activities on the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. It includes correspondence with Carol K. Rachlin and Alice Marriott in regard to their research for a book on the history of the Board, and a photocopy of a memorandum (July 21, 1936) from John Oliver, then Commissioner of Indian Affairs, stating his unequivocal belief in the importance of employing d'Harnoncourt for the Board: "From any point of view, and whether whole or part time, the Arts and Crafts Board needs him. No one else possesses his experience or his many-sided equipment. We need him at the start when we are laying foundations."
DescriptionContainer
Correspondence and Memoranda, 1929-1930
1
6
Correspondence and Memoranda, 1930-1932
1
7
Correspondence and Memoranda, 1932-1939
1
8
Correspondence and Memoranda, 1940-1945
1
9
Correspondence and Memoranda, 1962-1968
1
10
Correspondence and Memoranda, 1975-1981
1
11

Series 3: Writings, 1928-circa 1970s
0.4 linear feet
Box 1, OV 4

Published articles include “Pancho el Juguetero” (“Pancho the Toy Maker”) (1928) and “Las Artes Populares de México” (1930), both published in rare editions of
Mexican Folkways
, the latter including a cover; “The Mexican Exhibition” (
Design
, 1930); “The Loan Exhibition of Mexican Arts” (
Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
, October 1930); “Exposición de Artes Mexicanas” (
Boletín de la Unión Panamericana
, 1931); “Art and the People: First Steps of Approach” (
The American Magazine of Art
, 1933); “North American Indian Arts” (
Magazine of Art
, 1939); “Living Arts of the Indians” (
Magazine of Art
, 1941); “American Indian Art” (
Studio
, 1944); and “Arte Indio de Norte America,” Parts 1 and 2, written with Frederic H. Douglas (
Forma: Revisita de Arte
, 1943).
Also found here is the 1969 reprint of the expanded catalog for
Indian Art of the United States
(Museum of Modern Art, 1969), that d'Harnoncourt co-authored with Frederic H. Douglas; a photocopy of a foreword to
Music of the Sioux and the Navajo
(1953); a catalog written by d’Harnoncourt for the National Indian Institute,
El Arte del Indio en los Estados Unidos
(1943); and copies of two books of seminars/symposia,
The Changing Indian
(University of Oklahoma Press, 1942) and
The North American Indian Today
(University of Toronto Press, 1943) that both include papers by d’Harnoncourt: “Indian Arts and Crafts and their Place in the Modern World,” and “Function and Production of Indian Art.”
Typescripts are a foreword by d'Harnoncourt to
Mexican Constume: Twenty-five Color Plates and Text by Carlos Merida
(1941), and remarks on the subject of "Problems and Promise of Indian Arts and Crafts" (1958).
Writings by others include a draft (numbered #3) of "Ethnohistory of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board of the Department of the Interior" by Alice Marriott and Carol K. Rachlin; a typescript of a paragraph from
File on Spratling: An Autobiography
by William Spratling; and a typescript of paragraphs from
The Daybooks of Edward Weston
that relate to d'Harnoncourt.
DescriptionContainer
Published Writings
Articles, 1928-1944
Oversized material housed in OV 4
1
12-17
Articles, 1955
1
18
Book:
Indian Art of the United States (Museum of Modern Art
, 1941, 1969 reprint) by Frederic H. Douglas and René d'Harnoncourt, 1969
1
19
Catalog, 1943
1
20
Foreword, 1953
1
21
Seminar and Symposium Papers, 1942-1943
1
22-23
Typescripts, 1941, 1958
1
24
Writings by Others, circa 1970s
1
25
Oversized Published Writings, Articles from Box 1, Folders 12-17
OV 4

Series 4: Printed Material, 1921-1979
1.1 linear feet
Boxes 1-2, OV 4

Series includes announcements and exhibition catalogs, documentation of the "Art in America Program," published books belonging to and/or referencing d’Harnoncourt, Department of Interior publications, including some issued by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, Museum of Modern art press releases, and news clippings primarily relating to exhibitions and other events in which d’Harnoncourt was involved.
Announcements and exhibition catalogs include catalogs for
Las Exposicion de Artes Mexicanas
(Carnegie Corporation, 1930);
Mexican Arts
(The American Federation of Arts, 1930-1931);
Aboriginal Culture of the Western Hemisphere
(Treasure Island, San Franscisco, 1940);
American Indian Art
(Worcester Art Museum, 1941),
El Arte Indígena de Norteamérica
(1945) with an introduction by d'Harnoncourt; and
Australian Aboriginal Cave Paintings
(Australia House, 1947).
Material relating to the "Art in America" program includes issues 1-3, and 5-14 of
Art In America News
; d’Harnoncourt’s annotated copy of
Art in America from 1600-1865: An Illustrated Guide for a National Radio Broadcast From February 3 to May 19, 1934
(University of Chicago Press, 1934); a schedule of the program; a transcript of a radio broadcast for the program on November 10, 1934; and a draft of a 1935 report on the program.
Books belonging to d'Harnoncourt and/or Sarah d'Harnoncourt include:
Return Ticket
inscribed to d'Harnoncourt by author Salvador Novo in a presentation box; and three books in which d'Harnoncourt and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board are referenced, including
From Every Zenith: A Memoir
(1963);
The Indian: America's Unfinished Business
(1966); and
Dance Around the Sun
(1977). Also found are four publications that were used in the exhibition
Mexican Arts
to demonstrate the quality of typography:
Metodo d Dibujo Tradicion Resurgimiento y Evolucion d el Arte Mexican
(1923),
Antologia De La Poesia Mexicana Moderna
(1928),
Escalera (Tocata y Fuga)
(1929), and
El Nuevo Paraiso
(circa 1930).
Book covers include the cover of Volume 1 of two volumes issued in connection with the exhibition
Las Artes Populares en Mexico
, a catalog which d'Harnoncourt apparently consulted regularly, for an exhibition which Sarah d'Harnoncourt stated was the "ancestor" of
Mexican Arts
; and the illustrated cover, and pages from,
Domingos Mexicanos
(or
Mexican Sundays
), a published collection of reproductions of watercolors by René d'Harnoncourt, published by Fred Davis. Publications of the Bureau/Office of Indian Affairs include eight issues of the publication
Indians at Work
and five pamphlets on Native Americans by region.
Publications of the Department of the Interior Indian Arts and Crafts Board include
Bibliography of Articles and Papers on North American Indian Art
, compiled by students in d'Harnoncourt's class at Sarah Lawrence College; two pamphlets and seven
Fact Sheets
, one of which is accompanied by a note of transmittal from Pearl Moeller of the Museum of Modern Art stating how "René battled long and hard for the trademarks, and certification, and the publications, so it's rewarding to see it in print," referring to free pamphlets that are mentioned in a 1978 Fact Sheet; and eight issues of
Smoke Signals
, the "circular for Indian artists and craftsmen," including the first issue (1951).
One folder relates to Fred Davis's collection. It includes a 1951 catalog of the collection, and a 1957 issue of
Mexico This Month
, with an article about Davis's collection, and copies of several advertisements for his store.
Government legislation includes a copy of the Act of Congress establishing the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, and a regulation governing the use of "Government trademarks of genuineness for Indian products."
News clippings are primarily from newspapers and magazines and relate to art exhibitions and other events in which d’Harnoncourt was involved, as well as related events and people.
Miscellaneous printed material includes resolutions 16, 41, 43, 45, 52, 73, 88, 93, and 96 of the Papago Council; d’Harnoncourt’s copy of
Pageant of the Pacific
by Miguel Covarrubias (1940); two reports by the Division of Inter-American Activities in the United States; a catalog,
Celebrate: The Story of the Museum of International Folk Art
(Museum of New Mexico Press,1979); and an undated copy of a poem.
Museum of Modern Art press releases, 1934-1935, relate to the "Art in America Program"; press releases from 1941 relate to the opening of
Indian Art of the United States
exhibition.
DescriptionContainer
Announcements and Exhibition Catalogs, 1930-1931
1
26
Announcements and Exhibition Catalogs, 1940-1945
1
27-28
Announcements and Exhibition Catalogs, 1947-1963
1
29
Announcements and Exhibition Catalogs, 1973
1
30
Art in America Program, 1934-1935
1
31
Book,
Return Ticket
by Salvador Novo, 1928
1
32
Book,
From Every Zenith: A Memoir
, by John Collier, 1963
1
33
Book,
The Indian: America's Unfinished Business
, Compiled by William A. Brophy and Sophie D. Aberle, 1966
2
1
Book,
Dance Around the Sun
, by Alice Marriott and Carol K. Rachlin, 1977
2
2
Books Used in
Mexican Arts
, 1923-1930
2
3-5
Cover and Pages from
Domingos Mexicanos
by d'Harnoncourt, 192?
2
6
Cover of
Las Artes Populares en Mexico
, 1921
2
7
Department of the Interior
Bureau (then "Office") of Indian Affairs,
Indians at Work
, 1938-1945
2
8-10
Bureau of Indian Affairs Pamphlets, circa 1956-circa 1978
2
11
Indian Arts and Crafts Board
Bibliography of Articles and Papers on North American Art
, circa 1936-1937
2
12
Brochures
2
13
Fact Sheets
and Pamphlets, 1948-1978
2
14
Government Legislation, 1935
2
15
Reports, 1943
2
16
Smoke Signals
, 1951, 1962-1966
2
17-18
Fred Davis's Shop, circa 1925-1957
2
19
Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1940-1942, 1979
Oversized material housed in OV 4
2
20-21
News Clippings, circa 1930-1977
2
22-24
Press Releases of the Museum of Modern Art, circa 1934-circa 1941
2
25
Oversized Miscellaneous Printed Material from Box 2, Folders 20-21
OV 4

Series 5: Scrapbook(s), 1930-1933
0.3 linear feet
Box 2

Series consists of news clippings that appear to have been removed from a scrapbook, or more than one scrapbook, documenting the American Federation of Arts
Mexican Arts
exhibition as it traveled to cities throughout the United States.
DescriptionContainer
Contents of Scrapbook(s), 1932-1933
2
26-36

Series 6: Artwork and Artifacts, circa 1926-circa 1950s
3 folders
Box 3, OV 5

Artwork includes a remnant of a drawing, probably circa 1926, of d'Harnoncourt by an Austrian artist, Silverbauer, that was cut down to be framed; and photocopies of five sketches and various doodles including a caricature by d'Harnoncourt of himself and Homer and Mary Saint-Gaudens, two caricatures by Miguel Covarrubias of d'Harnoncourt and Fred Davis, one caricature by d'Harnoncourt of Covarrubias, and a drawing of d'Harnoncourt by Caroline Durieux.
DescriptionContainer
Drawing and Photocopies of Sketches
Oversized material housed in OV 5
3
1
Weaving Samples, circa 1950
Oversized material housed in OV 5
3
2
Oversized Drawing and Weaving Samples from Box 3, Folders 1-2
OV 5

Series 7: Photographs, 1930-1983
0.25 linear feet
Box 3, OV 4

Photographs of d’Harnoncourt and others include a copy print of a circa 1930 photo of d'Harnoncourt by Manuel Alvarez-Bravo from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art; a snapshot (1939) of Gladys Tantaquidgeon with Sarah d'Harnoncourt; a snapshot (1940) of architect, Henry Klumb, and his wife, Elsa, their son, and d'Harnoncourt in Tuscon; a snapshot (1951), with two copy negatives, of Fred Davis; two snapshots (1951) of Davis's house and garden in Cuernavaca, Mexico, taken by folk art specialist, Victor Fosada, who was a key member of staff at Fred Davis's shop in Mexico; a snapshot (1959) of d'Harnoncourt and Sarah d'Harnoncourt with Victor Fosado; a color photo (1968) of d'Harnoncourt; a color photo (1983) of Alice Marriott; and a color slide of Mrs. Roanhorse and a child named René, sent by Grace and Charles Cole.
Also found are twelve photographic prints of Native Americans, two of whom are identified as Brovira Soft Velvet, and Red Tomahawk, and two copy prints of "Seminole Indians, Florida probably 1950s."
There is one copy print of a Metropolitan Museum of Art photograph of the
Mexican Art
exhibition installation, and two prints of items that were also possibly installations in the exhibition; and a print of a Museum of Modern Art photograph showing an installation of printed material about Native American art.
Photographs of artwork by d'Harnoncourt include copy prints of three photographs by Will Brown of covers, and/or fronts pieces, for four children's books co-authored/illustrated by d'Harnoncourt:
Beast, Bird and Fish
,
Mexicana
,
The Hole in the Wall
, and
The Painted Pig
.
Photos of artwork by others include photos of Mexican artwork, some of which was used in
Mexican Arts
; a complete set of seventy-four photos of artwork from the exhibition
Australian Aboriginal Cave Paintings
(1947); a copy print of a caricature of d'Harnoncourt by Miguel Covarrubias; and photos of artwork by unidentified artists.
DescriptionContainer
Of d'Harnoncourt and Others, circa 1930-1983
3
3
Of Exhibition Installations, circa 1930s
3
4
Of Native Americans, circa 1930s-1950s
Oversized material housed in OV 4
3
5
Of Artwork by d'Harnoncourt
3
6
Of Artwork by Others, circa 1930s-circa 1960s
3
7
Of Artwork by Others, Mexican Artwork, 1930
3
8
Of Artwork by Others, Used in Exhibition,
Australian Aboriginal Cave Paintings
, 1947
3
9-11
Oversized Photographs of Native Americans from Box 3, Folder 5
OV 4

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.