A Finding Aid to the Prentiss Taylor Papers,
1885-1991
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.taylpren
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.taylpren
Creators:
Taylor, Prentiss, 1907-1991
Dates:
1885-1991
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
20.4 linear feet
Repository:
Archives of American Art
The collection measures 20.4 linear feet, dates from 1885 to 1991 (bulk dates 1908-1986) and documents the career of Harlem Renaissance lithographer, teacher, and painter Prentiss Taylor. The collection consists primarily of subject/correspondence files (circa 16 ft.), reflecting Prentiss' career as a lithographer and painter, his association with figures prominent in the Harlem Renaissance, notably Carl Van Vechten and Langston Hughes, his activities as president of the Society of Washington Printmakers and other art organizations, his work in art therapy treating mental illness, and his teaching position at American University. The subject files contain mostly correspondence, but many include photographs and printed material. Also included are biographical, financial, legal and printed material; several hundred photographs; notes and writings; sketchbooks, drawings and a few prints by Taylor; and scrapbooks dating from 1885-1956.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The collection measures 20.4 linear feet, dates from 1885 to 1991 (bulk dates 1908-1986) and documents the career of Harlem Renaissance lithographer, teacher, and painter Prentiss Taylor. The collection consists primarily of subject/correspondence files (circa 16 ft.), reflecting Prentiss' career as a lithographer and painter, his association with figures prominent in the Harlem Renaissance, notably Carl Van Vechten and Langston Hughes, his activities as president of the Society of Washington Printmakers and other art organizations, his work in art therapy treating mental illness, and his teaching position at American University. The subject files contain mostly correspondence, but many include photographs and printed material. Also included are biographical, financial, legal and printed material; several hundred photographs; notes and writings; sketchbooks, drawings and a few prints by Taylor; and scrapbooks dating from 1885-1956.
The Langston Hughes files contain photocopies of letters from Hughes, greeting cards, ten original photographs of Hughes, and an autographed card printed with Hughes' poem, The Negro Speaks of Rivers. In addition, there is a contract between Hughes and Taylor, witnessed by Carl Van Vechten, forming the Golden Stair Press, through which many of Hughes' poems were printed with illustrations by Taylor. A rare edition of their first publication, The Negro Mother, is found here. Also found in this file is a 1932 final copy of Scottsboro Limited, another collaborative effort between Taylor and Hughes that focused on a case where nine black youths were falsely accused of raping two white women. The collection contains extensive correspondence about Taylor's lithograph of the same title and the printing of the publication. Other rare Harlem Renaissance publications found within Taylor's papers include Golden Stair Broadsides, Opportunity Journal of Negro Life, The Rebel Poet, and Eight Who Lie in the Death House, several of which were also illustrated by Taylor.
Prentiss Taylor's long association with Langston Hughes and other figures of the Harlem Renaissance stemmed from his early friendship with Carl Van Vechten. Taylor's papers contain correspondence with Van Vechten, autographed copies of Van Vechten's booklets, and numerous photographs of notable Harlem Renaissance figures, many taken by Van Vechten, including Zora Neale Hurston, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Eugene O'Neill, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Paul Robeson, and many others. Also found are period photographs of Charleston, South Carolina and Harlem street scenes.
95 letters from Rachel Field, 75 letters from Langston Hughes, 3 letters from Armin Landeck, 46 letters from Josephine Pinckney, 1 letter from Gertrude Stein, 7 letters from Alice B. Toklas, 1 postcard from Mark Van Doren, and 25 letters from Carl Van Vechten are photocopies. Originals of the Hughes and Toklas letters are located at the Yale University Library. Location of the remaining original letters are unknown.
The Prentiss Taylor papers offer researchers insight into the rich cultural documentation of the Harlem Renaissance and the development of twentieth-century printmaking as an American fine art.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into ten series. The largest series housing Subject Files is arranged alphabetically, primarily by name of correspondent, maintaining Taylor's original arrangement. The remaining series are arranged in chronological order. Oversized material from various series has been housed in Box 21 (Sol) and OV 22 and is noted in the Series Description/Container Listing Section at the appropriate folder title with see also/see references.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1918-1985, undated (Box 1; 6 folders)
Series 2: Miscellaneous Receipts, 1929-1986, undated (Box 1; 11 folders)
Series 3: Insurance Records, 1960-1976 (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 4: Notes, 1921-1984, undated (Box 1; 18 folders)
Series 5: Writings, 1924-1971, undated (Box 1-2; 51 folders)
Series 6: Art Work, 1916-1975, undated (Box 2; 14 folders)
Series 7: Scrapbooks, 1885-1956 (Box 2, 21; 10 folders)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1914-1990, undated (Box 2-3, 21; 29 folders)
Series 9: Photographs, 1908-1984, undated (Box 3, 21; 0.7 linear feet)
Series 10: Subject Files, 1885-1991, undated (Box 3-21, OV 22; 18.0 linear feet)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Prentiss Taylor was born in 1907 at the Washington, D. C. residence of his maternal grandmother, his birth assisted by his grandmother's cook, affectionately known as Cookie Belle.
In the 1920s, Taylor studied painting with Charles W. Hawthorne in Provincetown, but turned to lithography in the late 1920s to early 1930s during his enrollment at the Art Students League in New York City. He received further training in that medium at the George C. Miller workshop in New York. During this period, he also designed costumes for the American-Oriental Revue. Taylor worked primarily in the printmaking medium for the rest of his life, experimenting with various techniques and compositions and ultimately achieving a status as one this country's great lithographers. Taylor depicted mostly realistic and narrative scenes of subjects and themes that reflected his personal interests in music, architecture, religion and social justice.
During his time in New York, Taylor developed close friendships with poet Langston Hughes and writer Carl Van Vechten. He collaborated with Hughes in the formation of the Golden Stair Press to produce publications reflecting the ideas of the Harlem Renaissance. Taylor created a number of prints and illustration for the press and its publications.
After returning to Washington, D.C., Taylor's work was included in exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. He was represented by the Franz Bader Gallery in Washington, D.C., and by the Bethesda Art Gallery in Maryland. In 1942, Taylor was elected President of the Society of Washington Printmakers, a position he held for thirty-four years. He also worked as an art therapist for more than thirty years and taught oil painting at American University from 1955-1975.
Prentiss Taylor died October 7, 1991 in Washington, D.C.

Administration
Existence/Location of Originals
95 letters from Rachel Field, 75 letters from Langston Hughes, 3 letters from Armin Landeck, 46 letters from Josephine Pinckney, 1 letter from Gertrude Stein, 7 letters from Alice B. Toklas, 1 postcard from Mark Van Doren, and 25 letters from Carl Van Vechten are photocopies. Originals of the Hughes and Toklas letters are located at the Yale University Library. Location of the remaining original letters are unknown.
Separated Material
Three notebooks detailing Taylor's lithographs; a gift and sale notebook; a guestbook; exhibition announcements; and a brochure were loaned to the Archives of American Art by Taylor in 1978 for microfilming on reel 1392. These materials are not described in this finding aid.
Alternative Forms Available
The papers of Prentiss Taylor in the Archives of American Art were digitized from 25 reels of microfilm in
2008
, and total
33253
images.
Researchers should note that the legibility of some materials is poor due to the microfilm quality; researchers may wish to request reels 5911-5935 through interlibrary loan.
Processing Information
The papers were processed in May 2005 by Jean Fitzgerald, and microfilmed in 2005 with funding provided by the Judith Rothschild Foundation. The collection was digitized from the microfilm in 2008 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation of American Art.
Author
Finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald
Sponsor
Funding for the digitization of the microfilm of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Provenance
The Prentiss Taylor papers were donated in 1978 and 1984 by Taylor, and in 1992 and 2004 by his companion, Roderick S. Quiroz, for the estate of Prentiss Taylor. The material lent by Taylor for microfilming in 1978 on reel 1392 was not included as a later gift, and is not described in this finding aid. The collection contains photocopies of letters from Langston Hughes and Alice B. Toklas that Lawrence donated to Yale University Library.

Using the Collection
Restrictions on Access
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Prentiss Taylor 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
Prentiss Taylor papers, 1885-1991. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Material
Prentiss Taylor papers are also located at the Yale University Library.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
American University (Washington, D.C.) Fine Arts Dept. -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Field, Rachel, 1894-1942 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Golden Stair Press Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hurston, Zora Neale Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kahlo, Frida Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Landeck, Armin, 1905- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pinckney, Josephine, 1895-1957 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Robinson, Bill, 1878-1949 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Society of Washington Printmakers (Washington, D.C.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Toklas, Alice B. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Van Doren, Mark, 1894-1972 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art teachers--Washington (D.C.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art therapy Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Harlem Renaissance Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lithographers--Washington (D.C.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lithography--20th century--Washington (D.C.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters--Washington (D.C.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Printmakers--Washington (D.C.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Prints Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Writings Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C., 20001
Phone: 202-633-7950
http://www.aaa.si.edu/askus