A Finding Aid to the Lilian Swann Saarinen Papers, circa 1909-1977, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.saarlili
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.saarlili
Creators:
Saarinen, Lilian Swann, 1912-1995
Dates:
circa 1909-1977
Languages:
English
The bulk of the collection is in English.
Physical Description:
9 linear feet
Repository:
Archives of American Art
The papers of Cambridge sculptor and illustrator, Lilian Swann Saarinen, measure nine linear feet and date from circa 1909 to 1977. The collection documents Saarinen's career through correspondence with artists, architects, publishers, and gallery owners; writings and notes, including manuscripts and illustrations for children's books and publications; project and teaching files; financial records; artwork, including numerous project sketches; and photos of Saarinen and her artwork. Saarinen's personal life is also documented through diaries and correspondence with friends and family members, including Eero Saarinen, to whom she was married from 1939-1953.

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
The papers of Cambridge sculptor and illustrator, Lilian Swann Saarinen, measure nine linear feet and date from circa 1909 to 1977. The collection documents Saarinen's career through correspondence with artists, architects, publishers, and gallery owners; writings and notes, including manuscripts and illustrations for children's books and publications; project and teaching files; financial records; artwork, including numerous project sketches; and photos of Saarinen and her artwork. Saarinen's personal life is also documented through diaries and correspondence with friends and family members, including Eero Saarinen, to whom she was married from 1939-1953.
Biographical material consists of resumes and biographical sketches, as well as a 1951 blueprint for the Eero Saarinen and Associates Office Building in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Correspondence documents Saarinen's personal and professional life through letters to and from Eero Saarinen and other family members, including six letters from Loja Saarinen; correspondence with artists and architects, including Merle Armitage, Charles and Ray Eames, Carl Koch, Henry Kreis, Carl Milles, Laszlo and Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, Robert Venturi, and Harry Weese; and friends and colleagues at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Knoll Associates. Also documented is Saarinen's business relationship with Midtown Galleries and Caresse Crosby, and publishers and publications including
Child Life
,
Interiors
, Otava Publishing Company, and Reynal & Hitchcock, Inc.
Writings and Notes document Saarinen's work on several children's publications, including
Picture Book Zoo
(1935) and
Who Am I?
(1946), through correspondence, notes, manuscript drafts, and extensive sketches. This series also includes Saarinen's ideas for other publications and incorporates some early writings and notes, as well as typescripts of her reminiscences about Eliel Saarinen, the Saarinen family, and the Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Diaries consist of bound diary volumes, loose-leaf journal entries, and heavily annotated engagement calendars, documenting Saarinen's personal life, artistic aspirations, and career development from the 1930s-1970s. This material provides a deeply personal view of the emotional landscape of Saarinen's life, her struggles to balance her identity as a working artist with the roles of wife, mother, and homemaker, and the complex, and often competing, relationships within the renowned architectural family into which she married.
Project files document Saarinen's work on book cover designs, federal and post office commissions in Bloomfield, Indiana, Carlisle, Kentucky, and Evanston, Illinois, reliefs for the Crow Island School in Winnetka, Illinois, and other important commissions including the Harbor National Bank Clock in Boston, Massachusetts, the KLM Airlines installation at JFK Airport, the
Fountain of Noah
sculpture at the Northland Center in Detroit, Michigan, and the interior of Toffenetti's restaurant in Chicago, Illinois. Also documented is her role in designs for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, with Eero Saarinen.
Teaching files document Saarinen's "Language of Clay Course" which she taught at Cambridge Art Center and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Financial records document exhibition and sales expenses for two exhibitions, including her show at G Place Gallery in 1944.
Printed material consists of clippings about Saarinen and her family, exhibition announcements and catalogs for herself and others, and reference files from the 1930s-1940s, primarily comprising clippings of animals.
Additional printed material documenting Saarinen's career can be found in one of two scrapbooks found in the collection. An additional scrapbook consists of clippings relating primarily to Saarinen's parents.
Artwork comprises extensive sketches, particularly animal and figure sketches, in graphite, crayon, ink, pastel, and watercolor. The sketches demonstrate in particular Saarinen's developing interest in and skill with animal portraiture from her childhood to the 1960s.
Photographs are primarily of artwork and Saarinen's 1944 exhibition at G Place Gallery. Also found are one negative of Saarinen, probably with Eero Saarinen, and a group photo including Lilian, Eero, and Eliel Saarinen with the model for the Detroit Civic Center, circa 1940s.

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 11 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1930s-1960s (3 folders; Box 1, OV 12)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1920-1974 (1.9 linear feet; Boxes 1-2, 8, OV 12)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1920s-1973 (1.3 linear feet, Boxes 2-3, 8, OVs 13-16)
Series 4: Diaries, 1930-1973 (1.4 linear feet, Boxes 3-5, 8)
Series 5: Project Files, 1931-1966 (1.7 linear feet, Boxes 5-6, 8, OVs 17-19)
Series 6: Teaching Files, 1966-1970 (3 folders, Box 6)
Series 7: Financial Records, 1940s-1970s (2 folders, Box 6)
Series 8: Printed Material, circa 1930s-1970s (0.2 linear feet, Box 6)
Series 9: Scrapbooks, circa 1909-1974 (2 folders; Boxes 6, 9)
Series 10: Artwork, circa 1920s-circa 1960s (1.7 linear feet, Boxes 6-7, 9-10, OVs 20-27)
Series 11: Photographs, circa 1940s, 1977 (0.5 linear feet, Boxes 7, 11, OV 27)

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
Cambridge artist and sculptor, Lilian Swann Saarinen (1912-1995), studied at the Art Students League with Alexander Archipenko in 1928, and later with Albert Stewart and Heninz Warneke from 1934-1936, before moving to Michigan where she studied with Carl Milles at the Cranbrook Academy of Art from 1936-1940. Saarinen was an accomplished skier and a member of the 1936 US Olympic ski team.
At Cranbrook, Swann met architect Eero Saarinen, whom she married in 1939. She subsequently worked with Saarinen's design group on a variety of projects, including the Westward Expansion Memorial, which later became known as the "Gateway Arch" in St. Louis. Lilian and Eero had a son, Eric, and a daughter, Susie, before divorcing in 1953.
Saarinen, who had developed an affinity for drawing animals in childhood, specialized in animal portraits in a variety of sculptural media. In 1939, she exhibited her sculpture
Night
, which depicted Bagheera the panther from Rudyard Kipling's
Jungle Book
, at the World's Fair. The sculpture was placed in the Boston Public Garden in 1986. In the 1930s and 1940s Saarinen was commissioned to work on a variety of architectural projects, including reliefs for post offices in Bloomfield, Indiana, Carlisle, Kentucky, and Evanston, Illinois, and the Crow Island School in Winnetka, Illinois. She also executed commissions for the Harbor National Bank in Boston, KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) at JFK Airport, the Northland shopping Center in Detroit Michigan, and Toffenetti's Restaurant in Chicago.
Saarinen was a contributing author and illustrator for a variety of publications, including
Child Life
,
Interiors
and
Portfolio: An Intercontinental Quarterly
. In 1935 she illustrated
Picture Book Zoo
for the Bronx Zoo and in 1946 Reynal & Hitchcock, Inc. published
Who Am I?
, a children's book which Saarinen wrote and illustrated.
Saarinen taught ceramic sculpture to soldiers for the Red Cross Arts and Skills Unit rehabilitation program in 1945, served on the Visiting Committee to the Museum School at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from 1959-1964, where she taught ceramics, and later taught a course entitled "The Language of Clay" at the Cambridge Art Center and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of Saarinen's private students at Cambridge was her cousin, Edie Sedgwick.
Saarinen died in Cohasset, Massachusetts, in 1995 at the age of 83.

Administration
Separated Materials note
Also in the Archives are materials loaned for microfilming by Saarinen in 1976, including a scrapbook containing clippings, copies of letters and telegrams received, and reproductions of Saarinen's work; a copy of Saarinen's book,
Who Am I
?; and 3 albums containing photographs of Saarinen, photographs and reproductions of her work, a list of exhibitions, quotes about her, and writings by her about sculpture.
Loaned material is available on reels 1152 and 1192, but is not described in the Container Listing of this finding aid.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed to a minimal level, and a finding aid was prepared by Stephanie Ashley in 2015. The collection was further processed and prepared for scanning by Stephanie Ashley in 2017.
Existence and Location of Copies note
The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2017 with funding provided by The Walton Family Foundation. Material not digitized includes blank pages of diaries, unannotated pages of engagement calendars, routine financial transactions, blank versos of photographs, and duplicates.
Author
Finding aid prepared by Stephanie L. Ashley
Sponsor
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by The Walton Family Foundation; and John R. & Barbara Robinson and Deborah Schmidt Robinson & Dr. R. Perry Robinson, The Widgeon Point Charitable Foundation.
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
The papers were donated by Lilian Swann Saarinen in 1975.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives’ Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Conditions Governing Use note
The Lilian Swann Saarinen papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws
Preferred Citation note
Lilian Swann Saarinen papers, circa 1909-1977. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Armitage, Merle, 1893-1975 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cambridge Art Center. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cranbrook Academy of Art -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Crosby, Caresse, 1892- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Eames, Charles Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Eames, Ray Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
G Place Gallery (Washington, D.C.). Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Knoll Associates, inc. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Koch, Carl Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kreis, Henry, 1899-1963 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Midtown Galleries (New York, N.Y.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Milles, Carl, 1875-1955 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Moholy-Nagy, László, 1895-1946 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Moholy-Nagy, Sibyl, 1905- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Otava Publishing Company. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Reynal & Hitchcock. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Saarinen, Eliel, 1873-1950 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Saarinen, Loja Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Venturi, Robert Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Weese, Harry, 1915-1998 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art commissions Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Municipal Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art--Study and teaching Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Blueprints Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gateway Arch (Saint Louis, Mo.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Illustrated books, Children's Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Illustrations Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Illustrators--Massachusetts Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors--Massachusetts--Cambridge Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculpture, Modern--20th century--United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women artists--Massachusetts Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
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Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C., 20001
Phone: 202-633-7950
http://www.aaa.si.edu/askus