Jayna M. Josefson
Scope and Contents
The papers of artists and educators Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo measure 19.6 linear feet and date from 1851 to 1986, with the bulk of the material dating from 1920s to the 1960s. Together, they traveled throughout Mexico and Latin America where they became involved in the social and art scenes. Hirsch and Rogo's artistic, teaching, and journalism careers are documented through biographical materials, correspondence, writings and notes, professional files, printed materials, photographs and motion picture films, and sketchbooks and other artwork.
Biographical materials include address lists, resumes and biographical sketches, identification cards, material relating to Hirsch's military service, and legal documents. Two sound recordings, one personal and another of Rogo on Spanish National Radio, are also found here.
Correspondence is both professional and personal. Professional correspondence concerns commissions, exhibitions, travel, and teaching. Notable correspondents include Josef Albers, Justus Bier, Downtown Gallery (Edith Halpert), Carlos Mérida, Lewis Mumford, Ben Shahn, and many others. Personal correspondence is largely between Hirsch and Rogo. Writings are found for both Hirsch and Rogo and include notebooks, diary fragments and transcripts, lectures, essays on art, articles, and notes. A manuscript by Hamilton Easter Field is also found and a writing by an unknown author. Professional files document teaching positions, projects, commissions, memberships, and other professional activities undertaken by Hirsch and Rogo. They document Hirsch's teaching career at Bard College, Bennington College, and his mural work in South Carolina and Mississippi. Files concerning Rogo's work with the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs are found here, as well as files documenting their professional and personal travel. These contain a wide variety of materials, such as correspondence, printed material, meeting minutes, photographs, and writings. Also found are scattered files relating to general areas of interest.
Hirsch's and Rogo's business records include contracts concerning Elsa Rogo's book agreements, records settling the estate of the Hirsch family in Nürnberg (Nuremberg), Germany, insurance records, a lease, price lists, and general receipts and invoices. Also found are personal art collection records including a sales agreement and a list of Latin American art owned by Hirsch and Rogo. Printed materials include books, brochures, clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs for Stefan Hirsch and others, issues of magazines and other periodicals, copies of published writings by Hirsch and Rogo, and a dismantled printed materials scrapbook.
Photographs are extensive and include personal photos of Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo, their family, friends, and colleagues. Numerous travel photos were taken by Rogo in her role as a journalist in Latin American and the United States. The bulk of the professional travel photos were taken in Mexico in the 1930s to the 1960s and show events, cities, and cultural activities. Also found are glass plate negatives, photographs of works of art, and sixteen reels of motion picture film taken in Mexico, Bard College, and Oqunquit, Maine.
Eighteen sketchbooks are largely unsigned but are likely by Stefan Hirsch. Additional artwork includes sketches and etchings by Hirsch, sketches by Elsa Rogo, and works by others including Raul Anquiano and Efren Villalobos.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Portions of the Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo papers were donated in 1996 by the Elsa Rogo estate, via Sylvia Siskin, executrix. Additions were donated 2002, 2014, and 2019 by professor James Oles, Art Department, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts on behalf of Sylvia Siskin.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund. Funding for the preservation of the Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo home movies shot in Mexico was provided by the National Film Preservation Foundation. Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
Multiple accessions were merged and processed and a finding aid prepared by Jayna Josefson in 2016 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution's 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. Motion picture film reels were inspected and re-housed in 2017 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The 2019 addition was processed in 2019 by Ryan Evans.