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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: 5.5 linear feet

Summary: 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.

An addition donated 2017 includes sixty-nine letters (1872-1893) to Koehler 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, Francis Hopkinson Smith, and Frederic Porter Vinton.

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

Material on reels D182-D191 and 3533-3534 bought in 1959 from the Argosy Book Store. Approximately 400 letters of the 1959 purchase were also later microfilmed on reels 3533-3534. Material on reel D30 donated by Charles E. Feinberg, an active donor and friend of AAA. Additional letters donated 2017 by art historians and collectors Mary and John McGuigan.

Related Materials

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.

A Finding Aid to the Sylvester Rosa Koehler Papers,
1833-1904
(bulk 1870-1890)
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.koehsylv
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)
Provenance
Material on reels D182-D191 and 3533-3534 bought in 1959 from the Argosy Book Store. Approximately 400 letters of the 1959 purchase were also later microfilmed on reels 3533-3534. Material on reel D30 donated by Charles E. Feinberg, an active donor and friend of AAA. Additional letters donated 2017 by art historians and collectors Mary and John McGuigan.
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.

Additional Forms Available

The microfilm is available 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 of the material 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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