A Finding Aid to the George Biddle Papers, circa 1910-1970, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.biddgeor
Creators:
Biddle, George, 1885-1973
Dates:
circa 1910-1970
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
0.76 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of New York painter and muralist George Biddle (1885-1973), measure 0.76 linear feet and date from circa 1910-1970. The collection includes a certificate signed by President Harry Truman, transcripts of Biddle's diaries, a manuscript of a memoir about meeting President Franklin Roosevelt, three letters from William Hunt Diederich's daughter, transcripts of letters from Bernard Berenson, sketches and mural studies, and two glass plate negatives.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of New York painter and muralist George Biddle (1885-1973), measure 0.76 linear feet and date from circa 1910-1970. The collection includes a certificate signed by President Harry Truman, transcripts of Biddle's diaries, a manuscript of a memoir about meeting President Franklin Roosevelt, three letters from William Hunt Diederich's daughter, transcripts of letters from Bernard Berenson, sketches and mural studies, and two glass plate negatives.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as one series.
  • Series 1: George Biddle Papers, circa 1910-1970 (0.7 linear feet; Box 1, OVs 2-4, MGP4)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
New York painter and muralist George Biddle (1885-1973) proposed to President Franklin Roosevelt the establishment of a federal relief program for artists during the Depression, and subsequently painted a number of government murals under the auspices of the Federal Art Project, including murals for the Department of Justice in 1935.
Biddle was born to a prominent Philadelphia family and graduated from Harvard College. He studied at the Académie Julian and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and served in the United States Army in World War I, before returning to New York where he had his first series of one-man shows.
In 1933 Biddle wrote to long-time friend President Franklin Roosevelt, to suggest a work relief program that supported mural painters. Although the idea initially met with opposition, Biddle persisted and the resulting art projects of the Works Progress Administration went on to support the production of thousands of paintings in government buildings throughout the country during the Depression.
In 1940 Biddle was invited by the Mexican government to create a mural for the supreme court building in Mexico City. Biddle had visited Mexico in 1928 where he had traveled and sketched with Diego Rivera, and seen firsthand the value of government sponsored art programs.
In addition to his murals, Biddle was also known for his portraits, lithographs, and paintings. His work can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and others. His work has been shown throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, Japan, and India in over a hundred one-man shows and group exhibitions.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies
Portions of the collection and material lent for microfilming are available on 35mm microfilm reels 3621, D127, P17-P18, 899 and 4909 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of material described in the container inventory does not reflect the arrangement of the collection on microfilm.
Separated Materials
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming, including one of Biddle's original diaries, 1933-1935 (reel D127), records from the Federal Art Project, personal correspondence, articles and talks relating to Artists Equity (reels P17-P18), and a photocopy of Biddle's inventory notebook listing artwork and exhibitions (reel 4909). While the inventory notebook was discarded after microfilming, all other loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Processing Information
George Biddle loaned typescripts of his diaries to the Archives of American Art between circa 1966 and 1970, in order for staff to type transcripts of the diaries. The collection was microfilmed on reels 3621 and 899 after the creation of the transcripts. The glass plate negatives were re-housed in 2015 with a grant from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Stephanie Ashley in 2018.
Author
Stephanie Ashley
Sponsor
Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers on reels P12-P18 were loaned for microfilming in 1954 by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, PA. George Biddle lent the material on reel D127 in 1963 and donated the rest of the collection to the Archives of American Art between 1966-1970. In 1972, Michael Biddle, George Biddle's son, gifted a photocopy of an inventory notebook that was discarded after microfilming.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.
Conditions Governing Use
The George Biddle 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
George Biddle papers, circa 1910-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
Originals of the edited diary transcripts in this collection are in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division. The unedited diary has many more entries than the edited version and includes more details about Biddle's daily life and work, versions of articles by Biddle, and lists of his works of art through 1934.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
New Deal, 1933-1939 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Federal aid to the arts Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mural painting and decoration, American Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art and state -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Muralists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States -- Social conditions -- 1933-1945 Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Brooks, Van Wyck, 1886-1963 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kuniyoshi, Yasuo, 1889-1953 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sterne, Maurice, 1878-1957 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pascin, Jules, 1885-1930 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diederich, William Hunt, 1884-1953 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Poor, Henry Varnum, 1887-1970 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Poor, Anne, 1911-2011 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Berenson, Bernard, 1865-1959 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Brewer, Bessie Marsh, d. 1952 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Federal Art Project Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States. Dept. of the Treasury. Section of Fine Arts Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States. Dept. of the Treasury. Section of Painting and Sculpture Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Supreme Court Building (Mexico City, Mexico) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Library Building (Rio de Janerio, Brazil) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Justice Dept. Building (Washington, D.C.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/