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William P. Daley papers, 1905-2003, (bulk 1951-2001)

William P. Daley papers, 1905-2003, (bulk 1951-2001)

Daley, William, 1925-


Collection Information

Size: 15.2 linear ft.

Summary: The collection documents Daley's career as both artist and teacher through biographical information, correspondence, exhibition files, project files, material on workshops, seminars, and lectures, teaching files, artist files, reference files, printed material, photographs, financial files, and artwork. Biographical files encompass items from Daley's early life including family, education, and military materials, as well as files on awards he has earned, and interviews he has given during his career. Correspondence includes general correspondence with family, friends, artists, colleagues, and schools, as well as named files on correspondence with galleries, organizations, and individuals. The largest series in the collection, Exhibition Files, spanning a fifty year period, contain materials on group and solo exhibitions in which Daley participated, and also includes Auction Files and Exhibition Juror Files.

Project Files contain materials related to public and private commissions. Workshops, Seminars, and Lectures, documents the numerous events at which Daley taught or spoke on topics of art, ceramics, and/or education. Many of these topics are also found in Writings, which include drafts of writings by Daley and others. Within this series Daley's personal address lists and calendars are also found. The Teaching Files provide insight into Daley's teaching methods, primarily at the Philadelphia College of Art, from materials such as curriculum plans, lesson notes, and assignments. The Artist Files that Daley created house materials concerning artists who were friends, former students, co-workers, and colleagues. Daley also compiled Reference Files containing materials on various topics for use in teaching and projects. Topics include the art of various countries, formulas and tables for ceramics, essays on art and education, and other general subjects.

Printed Material provides information, primarily on ceramics, through press clippings, exhibit announcements, catalogs and journals, as well as other miscellaneous materials. Also found are reviews of Daley's work. While photographs are included throughout the collection, the Photographs series contains additional photographs of Daley in the studio or in the classroom, as well as photographs of artwork by others. Also found in the collection are copies of drawings Daley completed throughout his career.

Biographical/Historical Note

Potter, educator; Elkins Park, Pa.; b. 1925. A self proclaimed "mud man" and maker of "cosmic pots". Daley studied at the Massachusetts College of Art with Charles Abbott and others and taught at various universities before his 30- year tenure at the Philadelphia College of Art.


Donated 2003 by William P. Daley as a part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Art in America.

A Finding Aid to the William P. Daley Papers, 1905-2004 (bulk 1951-2001), in the Archives of American Art
Biographical Note
Born in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, in 1925, William P. Daley developed an interest in art at an early age, and was encouraged by his parents William and Alice. In 1943 Daley finished high school and enlisted in the Army Air Corps. When the war ended, he returned home, and with the help of the G.I. Bill, completed a B.S. in Art Education from Massachusetts College of Art, and a M.A. from the Teachers College at Columbia University. While at the Massachusetts College of Art he met and married fellow student Catherine Stennes. They had three children together, Barbara, Charlotte, and Thomas.
Originally intending to focus on painting, Daley discovered his love for ceramics while in art school. Much of his early work after graduation consisted of architectural and sculptural commissions. From 1961 to 1965 he held teaching positions as a ceramics instructor at the University of Northern Iowa, State University of New York at New Paltz, Philadelphia College of Art and Design, and the State University of New York at Fredonia. In 1965 he settled in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and returned to the Philadelphia College of Art and Design, University of the Arts. There he taught in both the Industrial Design and Craft Department until his retirement from the college in 1990. When not teaching in the classroom, and even after retirement, Daley traveled extensively giving workshops and lectures at art centers, high schools, colleges, and universities. He has won several awards for teaching in the arts, including the College Art Association of America Distinguished Teaching of Art Award in 1991.
Daley became an active member of the crafts movement in Philadelphia, co-founding the Philadelphia Council of Professional Craftsmen. The Helen Drutt Gallery opened in Philadelphia in 1974 and gave Daley his first one man show there. Later, the gallery would become Daley's primary dealer. A self-proclaimed "mud man" and maker of "cosmic pots," Daley has focused throughout his career on the issues of the ceramic vessel, using drawings to explore his ideas. In 1994 the Renwick Gallery held a retrospective entitled, "William Daley: Ceramic Works and Drawings" which featured thirty years of his work. William Daley is still producing new work today.
The collection is arranged into thirteen series. Each series is arranged either in rough chronological or alphabetical order.
Series 1: Biographical Files, 1905-2003 (Box 1; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1957-2001, undated (Boxes 1-2; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 3: Exhibition Files, 1949-1999, undated (Boxes 3-5; 2.7 linear feet)
Series 4: Project Files, 1956-2000 (Boxes 5-6; 1.0 linear foot)
Series 5: Workshops, Seminars, and Lectures, 1958-1998, undated, (Boxes 6-8; 2.3 linear feet)
Series 6: Writings, 1951-2003, undated (Box 9; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 7: Teaching Files, 1951-1998, undated (Boxes 9-10; 1.3 linear feet)
Series 8: Artist Files, 1938-2001, undated (Boxes 10-12; 2.1 linear feet)
Series 9: Reference Files, 1951-2001, undated (Box 13; 1.0 linear foot)
Series 10: Printed Material, 1936-2004 (Boxes 14-15; 1.9 linear feet)
Series 11: Photographs, 1953-2001, undated (Box 15; 5 folders)
Series 12: Financial Files, 1962-1997, undated (Box 16; 4 folders)
Series 13: Artwork, 1954-2003, undated (Boxes 15-16; 3 folders)
Donated 2003 by William P. Daley as a part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Art in America.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Erin E. Corley in 2003, as part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Art in America.

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.

Restrictions on Use

William P. Daley retains the copyright of all drawings and photocopies of drawings.

How to Cite This Collection

William P. Daley papers, 1905-2003, (bulk 1951-2001). Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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