This post is an epilogue of sorts. The project to process, describe, and make accessible the Meyer Schapiro Collection at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now complete.
This post is also a prologue. Now that the collection will soon be available to the public, I can only imagine that new scholarly and historical perspectives will emerge relating to Schapiro: his influence, relationships, and contributions to the field of art history. As a historical figure, Schapiro was at the center of many important circles, whether artistic, philosophic, or scholarly and this collection will give the public a new understanding of not only Schapiro but to the historical period of the pre- and post-war years.
The collection, with a total of 398 linear feet of material, is a portrait of a man through documents, recordings, and his art works.
I’d like to use this final post to give readers a description of the collection and how the records were arranged. Stay tuned for the full finding aid to the collection in the near future.
Description of the collection
The collection of art historian Meyer Schapiro contains a vast range of material documenting the professor’s personal, professional, and artistic life. The collection encompasses Schapiro’s early academic training to his rise as a prominent theorist and historian of Medieval, Romanesque, Impressionist, and Modern art. His personal life is documented through early school records, course notes from college, typescripts and notes relating to his masters thesis and doctoral dissertation, and photographs and notebooks from his travels abroad between 1927 through 1957. The collection also houses an extensive set of Schapiro’s own art work in various mediums that spans from the early 1920s through the 1980s.
Schapiro was at the center of many artistic and political debates from the 1930s through the 1990s and his correspondence in the collection reflects his ongoing support of academics, artists, and philosophers. This includes his efforts to aid German and Jewish refugees of World War II.
Schapiro’s professional activities as a professor and lecturer are strongly represented in the collection. Materials include transcripts, outlines, research notes, and audio recordings of his lectures, many of which formed the basis for his written corpus. Also in the collection is Schapiro’s extensive research notes on subject matter relating to art, politics, and sociology that are arranged alphabetically by subject.
Included in the collection is a substantial array of Schapiro’s published and unpublished writings, including articles, essays, manuscripts, published works, reviews, translations and poetry. Schapiro’s intellectual curiosity necessitated his own constant reappraisal of his professional written work. This includes editing, clarifying, and expanding upon typescripts, outlines, and notes relating to lectures that he foresaw as being published.
A constant source of support for Schapiro’s professional and artistic output was his wife, Lillian Milgram Schapiro. After Schapiro’s death, she would work to complete projects that Schapiro began and oversaw the management of his legacy. As a result, material in the collection that post-dates Schapiro’s death in 1996 was generated by Lillian Milgram Schapiro and is noted throughout the finding aid.
This collection is arranged in VIII series.
Series I: Personal papers, 1919-2001
Subseries: I.1: Awards, degrees, and prizes, 1959-1995
Sub-Subseries: I.1.1: Awards, 1959-1995
Sub-Subseries: I.1.2: Degrees, 1966-1988
Sub-Subseries: I.1.3: Prizes, 1979-1985
Subseries: I.2: Biography files, 1927-2001
Subseries: I.3: Dedications and eulogies, 1980-1996
Sub-Subseries: I.3.1: Dedications, 1980-1996
Sub-Subseries: I.3.2: Eulogies, 1996
Subseries: I.4: Exhibitions, 1960-1989
Subseries: I.5: Photographs, 1928-1990s
Sub-Subseries: I.5.1: Portraits , 1928-1990s
Sub-Subseries: I.5.2: Travel photographs, 1927-1957
Subseries: I.6: Private collection, 1961-1998
Subseries: I.7: School records, 1919-1929
Subseries: I.8: Travel notebooks, 1926-1974
Sub-Subseries I.8.1: Notebooks, 1927-1974
Sub-Subseries I.8.2: Detached leaves and tourist maps, 1927-1947
Series II: Correspondence, 1920s-2001
Series III: Professional papers, 1929-1990
Subseries: III.1: Administrative records, 1950s-1990s
Subseries: III.2: Courses, 1929-1977
Sub-Subseries: III.2.1: Columbia University, 1929-1977
Sub-Subseries: III.2.2: New School for Social Research (New York, N.Y.), 1930s-1954
Sub-Subseries: III.2.3: New York University, 1930s
Sub-Subseries: III.2.4: Other or unknown institutions, 1930s-1965
Subseries: III.3: Lectures, 1930s-1980s
Sub-Subseries: III.3.1: 1930s
Sub-Subseries: III.3.2: 1940s
Sub-Subseries: III.3.3: 1950s
Sub-Subseries: III.3.4: 1960s
Sub-Subseries: III.3.5: 1970s
Sub-Subseries: III.3.6: 1980s
Subseries: III.4: Committees, memberships, and professional affiliations, 1972-1990
Sub-Subseries: III.4.1: Committees, 1972-1978
Sub-Subseries: III.4.2: Memberships, 1939-1989
Sub-Subseries: III.4.3: Professional affiliations, 1989-1990
Series IV: Writings, 1928-2009
Subseries: IV.1: Administrative records, 1960s-2003
Subseries: IV.2: Articles, 1929-1994
Sub-Subseries: IV.2.1: 1929-1930s
Sub-Subseries: IV.2.2: 1940s
Sub-Subseries: IV.2.3: 1950s
Sub-Subseries: IV.2.4: 1960s
Sub-Subseries: IV.2.5: 1970s
Sub-Subseries: IV.2.6: 1980s
Subseries: IV.3: Essays, 1930s-1990s
Subseries: IV.4: Manuscripts, 1930s-2002
Subseries: IV.5: Publications, 1928-2009
Subseries: IV.6: Reviews, 1930-1972
Subseries: IV.7: Scrapbooks, 1928-1966
Subseries: IV.8: Translations and Poetry, 1930s-1970s
Series V: Research files, 1930s-1990s
Subseries: V.1: Administrative records, 1950s-1980s
Subseries: V.2: Articles and clippings, 1930s-1980s
Subseries: V.3: Bibliographies, 1930s-1960s
Subseries: V.4: Research card files, 1930s-1980s
Subseries: V.5: Research notes, 1920s-1990s
Subseries: V.6: Reproductions, 1930s-1990s
Series VI: Exhibition announcements, invitations, and press releases, 1920-2001
Subseries: VI.1: 1920-1942
Subseries: VI.2: A-E, 1943-2001
Subseries: VI.3: F-L, 1943-2001
Subseries: VI.4: M-R, 1943-2001
Subseries: VI.5: S-Z, 1943-2001
Subseries: VI.6: Group exhibitions, 1945-2001
Subseries: VI.7: Oversize
SeriesVII: Sound and video recordings, 1952-1990s
Subseries:VII.1: Administrative records, 1985-1990s
Subseries:VII.2: Audiocassettes and audiotapes, 1952-1982
Subseries: VII.3: Videocassettes, 1988
Series VIII: Works of art, 1920s-1980s
Subseries: VIII.1: Administrative records, 1980s-1990s
Subseries: VIII.2: Prints and drawings, 1920s-1980s
Subseries: VIII.3: Paintings, 1930s-1980s
Subseries: VIII.4: Sculptures and printing plates, 1930s-1980s
Subseries: VIII.5: Linoleum printing blocks, circa 1930s-1960s
Subseries: VIII.6: Sketchbooks, 1960s
I’d like to thank the following interns for their excellent work in making this project a success. Bronwen Bittetti rolled her sleeves up to work on Series VIII: Works of art, 1920s-1980s; Tamara Kemp organized Series VI: Exhibition announcements, invitations, and press releases, 1920-2001 brilliantly; and Megan S. Rulli jumped right in to sort out Series V: Research files, Subseries: V.2: Articles and clippings. Additional collection management support was provided by Columbia University work-study student Haruna Otsuka.
I will end with a quote from John Pope-Hennesy’s Learning to look where he describes Schapiro brilliantly:
Thank you all for following this blog!
Signing off …
Project Archivist, Meyer Schapiro Collection
Columbia University | Rare Book & Manuscript Library