Elinor Castle Nef papers

Inclusive Dates: 
1891–1966 (bulk 1920–1953)

This record forms part of the Chicago’s Art-Related Archival Materials: A Terra Foundation Resource project funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art. For this project, the Archives surveyed archival repositories throughout the Chicago region to identify art-related materials contained in their holdings. While the Archives of American Art does not own any of the materials described herein, information about those materials and links to the original repositories have been included when available.

Descriptive Summary

63 linear feet (123 boxes) of material, largely correspondence that documents Elinor Castle Nef's relationships with artists and thinkers throughout the United States and Europe, as well as notes, essays, and other writings in which Nef reflected on life in twentieth-century America. One of Nef’s most important correspondents was painter and art teacher Laura van Pappelendam, who lived with Nef’s family for a time and to whom Nef wrote some of her most intimate letters, particularly during her trips abroad. Also included is correspondence with the Arts Club of Chicago (1930–1945), in which Nef was active; with Fred Biesel and his wife, fellow painter Frances Strain (1945–1952); and with László Moholy-Nagy and his wife, Sybil (1943–1945).

Biographical Historical Note

Elinor Castle Nef, the first wife of University of Chicago professor John U. Nef Jr., was a prolific diarist and letter writer, corresponding with many important artists and intellectuals of the twentieth century.

Additional Notes

Related collection: Laura Van Pappelendam Papers, University of Chicago Library