This letterhead of Tafel's with a cartoon by Gary Zamchick reads "Edgar can't come to the phone right now... He's busy making our home our castle"
Archivists tend to swerve away from creating the dreaded ‘Miscellaneous’ folder, but there are usually odds and ends that one finds in an archive that just do not seem to fit. Even more feared is the folder labeled “Miscellaneous” by its own creator!
Such was the case in Tafel’s archive, where I found dispersed throughout his files humorous and satirical writings or drawings done by Tafel poking fun at architecture, such as letterhead with custom, cut-and-pasted designs by Tafel, chain emails, comics, and mocking phrases (“The flogging will continue until morale improves” was used on one version of Tafel’s letterhead!).
Gradually, however, while gaining knowledge of an architect through their archive, an archivist can sense an overall theme to seemingly ‘miscellaneous’ files. In Tafel’s case, his satirical writings and drawings are proof of his engaging, charming personality. As if the countless letters of praise for Tafel’s lectures also found in the archive were not proof enough! Once the Tafel archive finding aid is published online, examples of his letterhead and other humorous files can be found under his Personal Papers.
In 1978, June 2-9 was proclaimed as Frank Lloyd Wright Week in Los Angeles! Clearly his influence spreads all over North America. This document was found among Tafel’s papers, although there are no surrounding documents (so far!) to suggest who influenced the creation of Frank Lloyd Wright Week. Have a great one and do, as the proclamation states, ‘re-acquaint’ yourselves with Wright’s many contributions to modern day lifestyle.
Welcome to the About the Edgar A. Tafel Archive! This blog will document the processing of the archive until its eventual publication in an online finding aid. Being an apprentice at Taliesin from 1932-1941 and a lively, traveling lecturer as well as an architect led Tafel to meet interesting people and collect unique things. I also intend to highlight some of these fascinating findings and facts.
The Edgar A. Tafel Archive was acquired by the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library in 2011 (see the whole story here). The archive contains textual records, audio-visual material, and architectural drawings. The textual records are now in the process of organization and description and contain files about Tafel’s personal and professional life.
I find that processing an architect’s archive always leads to many discoveries. It is intriguing how one can begin to understand how architects lived and worked through their archive. I hope that this blog can be a dialogue between other archivists and researchers.
Until next time!