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Sylvester Rosa Koehler papers, 1833-1904, bulk 1870-1890

Sylvester Rosa Koehler papers, 1833-1904, bulk 1870-1890

Koehler, S. R. (Sylvester Rosa), 1837-1900

Curator, Art historian, Editor

Collection Information

Size: 5.3 linear feet

Summary: The Sylvester Rosa Koehler papers measure 5.3 linear feet and date from 1833 to 1904, with the bulk of the material dating from 1870 to 1890. The collection consists primarily of Koehler's extensive correspondence during the late 1800s to and from many notable artists and printmakers such as Jean F. Harfin, John M. Falconer, Frederick Juengling, and James D. Smillie, as well as friends, and family members and professional correspondence concerning Koehler's activities as a writer, curator, and editor of the American Art Review, and his work promoting American graphic arts. The collection also contains financial records and other miscellaneous items.

Biographical/Historical Note

Sylvester Rosa Koehler (1837-1900) was a curator, editor, and art historian. Koehler was Curator of Prints at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, honorary curator of prints of the Smithsonian, and editor of the American Art Review.

Provenance

The collection was purchased from Argosy Book Stores, Inc, in 1959. A letter from John Sartain and eleven letters from William Merritt Chase were donated by Charles E. Feinberg, 1955-1962. Two postcards were donated in 2009 by William A. Turnbaugh, an autograph collector. In 2017, John F. McGuigan Jr. and Mary K. McGuigan donated sixty-nine letters from A. Barry, Truman Howe Bartlett, William Merritt Chase, Timothy Cole, Edward Henry Clement, Cyrus Edwin Dallin, Robert Swain Gifford, George Inness, Anna Lea Merritt, Stephen Parrish, John Sartain, Francis Hopkinson Smith, and Frederic Porter Vinton.

Related Materials

Funding

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the Sylvester Rosa Koehler Papers,
1833-1904
(bulk 1870-1890)
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.koehsylv
Author
Finding aid prepared by Erin Corley
Biographical Note
Art historian and curator Sylvester Rosa Koehler was born in Leipsic, Germany in 1837. He came to the United States with his family in 1849 and settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts. In 1868 he became the Technical Manager of Louis Prang and Company, a lithograph publisher. Koehler was the founding editor of the
American Art Review
, which commissioned artists for original etchings, and ran from 1879-1881. Through this publication, as well as his work as writer and exhibition curator, Koehler encouraged an American etching revival in the 1880s. Koehler also published many books on American art and was the first Curator of Prints at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. From 1886 to 1900 he served as the first Curator of Graphic Arts at the United States National Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution. While there, he created a permanent and traveling exhibition of graphic arts. His knowlege of the art world and his extensive personal contacts brought many important collections to the museum. Koehler died in Littleton, New Hampshire in 1900.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 3 series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1833-1904, undated (Box 1-5; 5.0 linear feet)
Series 2: Financial Records, 1870-1890, undated (Box 6; 14 folders)
Series 3: Miscellany, 1859-1896, undated (Box 6; 10 folders)
Scope and Content Note
The Sylvester Rosa Koehler papers measure 5.3 linear feet and date from 1833 to 1904, with the bulk of the material dating from 1870 to 1890. The collection consists primarily of Koehler's extensive correspondence to and from many notable artists and printmakers such as Jean F. Harfin, John M. Falconer, Frederick Juengling, and James D. Smillie, as well as friends, and family members and professional correspondence concerning Koehler's activities as a writer, curator, and editor of the
American Art Review
. The collection also contains financial records and other miscellaneous items.
Correspondence includes hundreds of letters to and from Koehler. Correspondents include many prominent artists, engravers, architects, art critics, curators, historians, journalists, authors, educators, publishers, and others during the late 1800s. Also found is correspondence with family, most of which is in German. Much of the correspondence concerns Koehler's role as editor of the publication
American Art Review
, and his work promoting American graphic arts.
Financial Records include Koehler's receipts, primarily from 1885, and a handwritten estimate of costs for publishing the
American Art Review
.
Miscellany includes biographical information on the wood engraver, Alexander Anderson, various notes by unidentified authors, news clippings, programs and handwritten song texts for music performances.
Provenance
The collection was purchased from Argosy Book Stores, Inc, in 1959. A letter from John Sartain and eleven letters from William Merritt Chase were donated by Charles E. Feinberg, 1955-1962. Two postcards were donated in 2009 by William A. Turnbaugh, an autograph collector. In 2017, John F. McGuigan Jr. and Mary K. McGuigan donated sixty-nine letters from A. Barry, Truman Howe Bartlett, William Merritt Chase, Timothy Cole, Edward Henry Clement, Cyrus Edwin Dallin, Robert Swain Gifford, George Inness, Anna Lea Merritt, Stephen Parrish, John Sartain, Francis Hopkinson Smith, and Frederic Porter Vinton.
Related Material
Additional correspondence can be found at the Library of Congress, which houses the Papers of S. R. Koehler, 1868-1904, and includes approximately 3,500 letters. Syracuse University Library houses S. R. Koehler Correspondence, 1879-1896, and includes 107 items.
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Erin Corley in 2005 as part of the Terra Foundation for American Art Digitization Project. An addition was merged into the existing arrangement in 2017.

Additional Forms Available

Portions of the collection are availbable on microfilm reels D182-191, 3533-3534, and D30. The microfilm is available for interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of material described in the finding aid does not reflect the order on microfilm.

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.

How to Cite This Collection

Sylvester Rosa Koehler papers, 1833-1904, bulk 1870-1890. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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