The Cleveland Museum of Art

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Records of the Director's Office: Frederic Allen Whiting, 1913-1930

Series Descriptions

Series 1: Numbered Administrative Correspondence [View Box List: Boxes 1-20, 21-40, 41-61]
Dates: 1913-1930
Extent: 20.3 cubic feet, 62 boxes
Arrangement: Numerically

This is the largest series of records documenting Whiting's tenure as director of The Cleveland Museum of Art. Most of the series dates from 1913 to 1930, the years that Whiting was director, although a small percentage predates his arrival in Cleveland (see, for example, Henry Kent's correspondence with the building committee from 1912-1913, located in box 1).

These records reflect a time when museum functions and departments were not yet fully delineated. Together, they constitute the original central correspondence file not only for the director but for all curatorial staff. Records are arranged numerically according to the system that was instituted when Whiting was director, although some gaps do exist in the numbering sequence as files were removed by staff in the director's or curatorial offices. Files with the same titles were also retrospectively combined by archives staff to facilitate access. File titles tend to be proper names of institutions, business organizations, or persons, although they also include a small number of subjects terms. Materials in each file are usually arranged chronologically, although general correspondence files such as those pertaining to loans are arranged alphabetically by correspondents' names, as indicated in the file list below.

Although this series consists almost entirely of incoming and outgoing correspondence, it also contains internal memoranda, minutes from meetings, transcripts of speeches and lectures, newspaper and magazine clippings, financial statements and invoices, photographs, and blueprints. Whiting's correspondents included 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. Some of the outgoing correspondence was written by museum employees who were appointed acting director during Whiting's absence from the museum.

Whiting's numbered administrative correspondence is especially valuable for researching the establishment and formative years of The Cleveland Museum of Art. Of particular interest are files pertaining to the armor collection, Inaugural Exhibition, Fine Arts Garden, and Whiting's cultivation of prominent Cleveland families. Files in boxes 1 and 2, which contain correspondence with various staff members of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, are especially valuable for documenting the exchange of information between established art institutions and the new museum in Cleveland. This section is not particularly useful, however, for researching Whiting's personal life and family relationships.

To be as comprehensive as possible in locating information in this series, researchers are advised to consult the card index (series IV) in addition to the file list provided below.

Series 2: Unnumbered Administrative Correspondence [View Box List]
Dates: 1913-1930
Extent: .3 cubic feet, 1 box
Arrangement: Alphabetically

This section pertains mostly to Frederick Allen Whiting's work on behalf of other cultural and educational institutions, specifically his efforts to promote adult education and the University Circle area as a cultural center. It also contains a small amount of records that, for an unknown reason, were not included in the numerical file even though they, too, document his responsibilities as director of the museum. In addition to correspondence, this section includes meeting minutes, reports, and financial statements. It is arranged alphabetically by folder title and thereafter chronologically.

Series 3: Biographical Material [View Box List]
Dates: 1913-1930
Extent: .3 cubic feet, 1 box
Arrangement: Alphabetically

This series provides background information about Whiting and his life before and after his association with The Cleveland Museum of Art. It includes articles, notes, census records, and correspondence about the Whiting family as well as some autobiographical materials. It also contains information about relevant documents housed in other archives, including inventories and photocopies of original records from the Archives of American Art (in folders 1 and 3, respectively) pertaining to Whiting's work for the American Federation of Arts and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, held in St. Louis.

Series 4: Caroline Ransom Williams notes on the Egyptian Collection [View Box List]
Dates: n.d.
Extent: .1 cubic feet, 1 box
Arrangement: Original order

This small box includes handwritten notes by Caroline Ransom Williams describing the Cleveland Museum of Art Egyptian Collection

Series 5: Financial Records [View Box List]
Dates: 1915-1975 [bulk 1915-1930]
Extent: 1 cubic foot, 3 boxes
Arrangement: Alphabetically

This series includes early museum financial records such as check registers, cash books, check stubs, payroll books, and savings account passbooks.

Series 6: Index to Whiting's Numbered Administrative Correspondence [View Box List]
Dates: 1913-1930
Extent: 1.6 cubic feet, 9 boxes
Arrangement: Alphabetically

This index is indispensable for locating letters from persons and institutions who were not assigned an individual file number. It consists of 3" x5" cards arranged alphabetically, mostly by proper names, although some subject terms are included. Each card provides the file number(s) in which the organization or individual appears, either as a correspondent or subject of correspondence. Addresses, telephone numbers, and other personal information (e.g., death dates, names of spouses) are also frequently listed on the cards.