The Cleveland Museum of Art

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Records of the Director's Office: William Mathewson Milliken, 1930-1958

Series Descriptions

Series 1: Alphabetical Administrative Correspondence [View Box List 1-24 25-48]
Dates: 1930-1958
Extent: 16 cubic feet, 48 boxes
Arrangement: Alphabetical

This is the central correspondence file from Milliken's tenure as director, dating from 1930-1958. When Milliken became director, he apparently continued Whiting's numerical filing scheme for awhile, but at some point he (or someone on his support staff) decided to establish a new central file of director's correspondence in an alphabetical sequence by correspondent names and subject terms. Materials in each file are usually arranged chronologically, although general files, such as those pertaining to loans and objects offered, are arranged alphabetically by correspondents' names.

This series is particularly useful for researching museum operations during a period of tremendous growth and during important historical events such as the Depression and World War II. Whereas Whiting's administrative correspondence is frequently the only source for some early events, however, Milliken's is supplemented by records created in other departments during the same period. For example, most of the records pertaining to the planning and construction of the museum's 1958 building are located in the files of the buildings and grounds department (now design and facilities) and of Harold T. Clark, who was then the museum's president and legal counsel.

In addition to correspondence, this series contains transcripts from speeches and lectures, newspaper and magazine clippings, financial statements, invoices, photographs, and blueprints. Like Whiting, Milliken corresponded with art dealers, insurers, handlers, collectors, and purchasing agents, as well as artists, building architects and contractors, prominent members of the Cleveland community, and representatives from other cultural and educational institutions. In addition, his records contain internal memoranda and reports from staff in various departments, including the business office, library, buildings and grounds, prints and drawings, and textiles.

Researchers should be aware that this series is not as comprehensive as it should be, because a significant but unknown amount of materials were removed by staff in the director's and curatorial offices. It is known that William Milliken himself weeded and discarded those materials that he considered nonessential. To determine whether materials were once included, researchers should consult the card index (series IV).

Series 2: Personal Papers [View Box List]
Dates: 1919-1974
Extent: 1.6 cubic feet, 5 boxes
Arrangement: Alphabetical

This records series documents Milliken's personal life and is arranged alphabetically by document type. About one quarter of Milliken's personal papers consists of three drafts of his book, tentatively called Stories Behind the Museum Collection, which was never published (see box 50). The remainder is a miscellany of Christmas cards, personal correspondence, souvenir books, poems, jottings, sketches, and other materials.

Researchers should be aware that personal papers and memorabilia comprise most of the two collections housed with the Archives of American Art and the Western Reserve Historical Society. Inventories of materials held in those repositories are available in the museum's archives. A microfilm copy of Milliken's papers in the Archives of American Art can also be viewed in the Ingalls Library.

Series 3: Records Relating to Federal Arts Programs [View Box List]
Dates: 1933-1943
Extent: 1 cubic foot, 3 boxes
Arrangement: By program, thereunder alphabetically

This section documents William Milliken's work for federal art programs of the New Deal. It is arranged primarily by program--either the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) or the Treasury Relief Art Project (TRAP)--and then by subject and date. Included in the files are correspondence with artists and administrators in Columbus and Washington, D.C., pamphlets, newspaper clippings, meeting minutes, ledgers, and photographs of art works. Of particular interest is Milliken's journal of his work for the PWAP, found in the folder titled "Cleveland Artists and their Projects" in box 54. Arranged by artists' names, it provides titles and descriptions of projects assigned, as well as a daily journal of progress for each project. Also, all of the files pertaining to TRAP projects planned for post offices in Ohio and Illinois (in boxes 55-56) contained blueprints that have since been removed to oversize storage but are available to researchers.

Most of the records documenting federal art programs in Ohio and the Midwest are housed in the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C.

For more information about William Milliken's work for federal art programs of the New Deal, see Karal Ann Marling's article cited in the bibliography.

Series 4: Index to William Milliken's Correspondence [View Box List]
Dates: 1930-1958
Extent: 1.6 cubic feet, 10 boxes
Arrangement: Alphabetically

This is a 3" x 5" card file to correspondence received by the first two directors, although it appears to be a more comprehensive index for Milliken's administrative correspondence. The cards are arranged alphabetically by correspondents' names, under which are noted the dates and contents of the letter(s) received and an abbreviation for the director to whom the correspondence was addressed (i.e., M or W).

This is not an effective tool for locating specific letters, however, since it does not identify the numbers or names of folders in which incoming correspondence was filed. Researchers interested in Whiting's correspondence should use the card file described in this finding aid under the records of Frederic Allen Whiting, series IV. Those searching through Milliken's correspondence can use this index only to verify that Milliken did receive correspondence from a specific person or institution.

Series 5: Scrapbooks [View Box List]
Dates: 1937-1955
Extent: 6 boxes of microfilm
Arrangement: Chronologically

This series consists mostly of newspaper and magazine articles that William Milliken collected and pasted into individual scrapbooks in chronological order. The scrapbooks--available on microfilm--generally tend to memorialize significant events at the museum during Milliken's tenure as director, although they also include a small amount of personal memorabilia (e.g., theater tickets, menus, and invitations).

Series 6: Radio Talks [View Box List]
Dates: ca. 1934-1951
Extent: 3 boxes of microfilm
Arrangement: Chronologically

These are transcripts of radio talks given by Milliken and other museum staff on local radio stations. No audio accompanies these transcripts.