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San Francisco Women Artists records, 1925-1999

San Francisco Women Artists records, 1925-1999

San Francisco Women Artists

Collection Information

Size: 15.5 linear feet

Summary: The San Francisco Women Artists records measure 15.3 linear feet and date from 1925 to 1999. The activities of the SFWA are documented through administrative records, correspondence, membership files, exhibition files, inventory records, printed material, twenty scrapbooks, photographs, eight photograph albums, and two reels of motion picture film.

Biographical/Historical Note

San Francisco Women Artists (SFWA) is one of California's oldest arts organizations, dating back to 1887 when it was originally founded by local woman as the Sketch Club, meeting monthly to share and critique their work and to make field trips. San Francisco Women Artists (SFWA) is one of California's oldest arts organizations, dating back to 1887 as the Sketch Club, which was organized by independent women who met to share and critique each other's work and to counter the all-male Bohemian Club. During the early 1920s, it reorganized as the San Francisco Society of Art, and included men and women. By 1925, the women of the Society branched off as a separate entity as the San Francisco Society of Women Artists. In 1946 it became the San Francisco Women Artists. This organization, with a membership of 400, is dedicated to encouraging and promoting the work of women artists. In 1983 the SFWA procured a gallery which provides exhibition space for members. Members included Marcella Labaudt, Alice B.Chittenden, M. Evelyn McCormick, Helen Hyde, Dorr Bothwell, Claire Falkenstein, Ruth Asawa, Nell Sinton, Eva Almond Withrow, Imogen Cunningham, and Emmy LouPackard.

Provenance

Pam Foley, president of the San Francisco Women Artists, donated the records in 1999.

A Finding Aid to the San Francisco Women Artists Records, 1925-1999, in the Archives of American Art
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Author
Finding aid prepared by Anna Rimel
Biographical/Historical note
San Francisco Women Artists (SFWA) is one of California's oldest arts organizations, dating its founding to 1887 as the Sketch Club. At that time, members met monthly to share and critique one another's work and to travel together on sketching trips. After the great earthquake in 1906 destroyed the club's headquarters, the group floundered and reorganized and merged with other organizations that also included men. By 1925, however, a core group of women broke away and formed the San Francisco Society of Women Artists. The SFWA's founding mission was "... the study and furtherance of all interests common to the arts both graphic and plastic … and to support causes neglected by other art organizations in the Bay Area.” Early members include Alice B. Chittenden, Helen Hyde, Matilda Lotz, Clara Taggart McChesney, M. Evelyn McCormick, Dora Williams, and Eva Almond Withrow. Other members included Marcelle Labaudt, Dorr Bothwell, Claire Falkenstein, Ruth Asawa, Nell Sinton, Imogen Cunningham, Eleanor Dickenson, Jo Hansen, Emmy Lou Packard, Eleanore Rappe, Ruth Armer, Barbara Spring, Beth Van Hoesen and Dorothy Winslade.
The Society held its first exhibition in 1926. In 1932, Frida Kahlo’s painting,
Frieda and Diego Rivera
, was shown at the “Sixth Annual Exhibition of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists” and was the first public showing of Kahlo’s work. In 1946 the organization shortened its name to the San Francisco Women Artists.
In 1976 the SFWA and exective director Marcelle Labaudt were commended in a Senate Resolution for “outstanding contributions to the cultural enhancement of the City of San Francisco.” In 1983 the SFWA procured a gallery at 451 Hayes Street, which provided exhibition space for members, as well as an art rental program. In 1985 the gallery moved to 370 Hayes Street. The SFWA celebrated its centennial in 1994 with an exhibition including work of many past members.
This organization continues to host monthly themed juried shows and is dedicated to encouraging and promoting the work of women artists.
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged as 8 series:
Series 1: Administrative Records, 1925-circa 1998 (6.5 linear feet; Boxes 1-6, FC 17-18)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1931-1998 (0.7 linear feet; Boxes 6-7)
Series 3: Membership Files, 1925-circa 1998 (1.5 linear feet; Boxes 7-8)
Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1947-circa 1998 (0.7 linear feet; Boxes 8-9)
Series 5: Inventory Records, circa 1974-circa 1985 (0.4 linear feet; Boxes 9-10)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1926-1999 (1.5 linear feet; Boxes 10-11, 16)
Series 7: Scrapbooks, 1925-circa 1990s (2.7 linear feet; Boxes 11-13, 15)
Series 8: Photographs 1970-circa 1990s (1.5 linear feet; Boxes 13-14, 16)
Scope and Contents note
The San Francisco Women Artists records measure 15.5 linear feet and date from 1925 to 1999. The activities of the SFWA are documented through administrative records, correspondence, membership files, exhibition files, inventory records, printed material, twenty scrapbooks, photographs, eight photograph albums, and two motion picture film reels.
Administrative records include daily journals and publicity materials, historical materials and founding documents, meeting minutes and agendas, artist council and committee meetings, and member and patron surveys. Also found within administrative records are materials on Marcelle Labaudt, SFWA Executive Secretary then Executive Director for many years, including original film footage and sound recordings for a career retrospective film project. Correspondence is with potential donors and patrons, board members, members, and artists. Membership files contain ledgers of paid memberships, lists of dropped members, membership applications and rosters, membership biographies, renewals and statistics, and membership directories.
Exhibition files contain price lists and display placards, slides and photographs, and printed materials relating to shows and exhibitions presented by various SFWA members and cooperating organizations, including the San Francisco Art Institute. Shows include “Celebration of International Women” (1991), “The Paintings of Dorothy Windslade” (1994), annual juried SFWA shows and emerging artists exhibitions (1947-circa 1994), “Art of Susan A. Whitney Exhibit and Silent Auction” (1997), and “Hands and Heart, the Art of Healing” (1997), among others.
Inventory records contain artist inventory cards noting various artwork and exhibitions. Printed material includes books, SFWA bulletins, SFWA calendars, clippings, and exhibition printed materials, such as announcements, brochures, and catalogs. Twenty scrapbooks document the SFWA through clippings, exhibition documentation, photographs, biographies, and annotations. Eight photograph albums depict exhibitions and shows, artwork and artists. Also found within photographs are slides, negatives, and loose photographs depicting works of art, gallery and receptions, and meetings.
Provenance
Pam Foley, president of the San Francisco Women Artists, donated the records in 1999.
Processing Information note
The collection was minimally processed and a finding aid prepared by Anna Rimel in 2015 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution’s Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The Archives of American Art has implemented accelerated processing tactics when possible to provide 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.
Motion picture film reels were inspected and re-housed in 2016 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

Restrictions on Access

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

How to Cite This Collection

San Francisco Women Artists records, 1925-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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