A Finding Aid to the Adelyn Dohme Breeskin Papers, circa 1934-1986, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.breeadel
Creators:
Breeskin, Adelyn Dohme, 1896-1986
Dates:
circa 1934-1986
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
2.5 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington D.C. art historian and museum curator Adelyn Dohme Breeskin, measure 2.5 linear feet and date from circa 1934-1986. The papers provide scattered documentation of Breeskin's career, focusing on writings and lectures delivered in the United States and abroad, and briefly documenting her work as an art exhibition juror, as a consultant, and as a teacher of a community art course. The collection also includes papers documenting some of Breeskin's research on Loren MacIver, Mary Cassatt, and others, and is comprised of biographical material, personal and professional correspondence with artists, friends, and colleagues, manuscript and lecture notes and drafts, professional files, sound recordings, and a few photographs.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington D.C. art historian and museum curator Adelyn Dohme Breeskin, measure 2.5 linear feet and date from circa 1934-1986. The papers provide scattered documentation of Breeskin's career, focusing on writings and lectures delivered in the United States and abroad, and briefly documenting her work as an art exhibition juror, as a consultant, and as a teacher of a community art course. The collection also includes papers documenting some of Breeskin's research on Loren MacIver, Mary Cassatt, and others, and is comprised of biographical material, personal and professional correspondence with artists, friends, and colleagues, manuscript and lecture notes and drafts, professional files, sound recordings, and a few photographs.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as four series:
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1938-1986 (0.6 linear feet; Box 1, OVs 4-6)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1940-1970 (0.5 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 3: Writings and Lectures, circa 1934-1981 (1 linear foot; Boxes 1-2)
  • Series 4: Professional Files, 1945-1984 (0.4 linear feet; Boxes 2-3)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Adelyn Dohme Breeskin (1896-1986) was an art historian and museum curator in Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. She was the first woman to be named director of a major American museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Adelyn Dohme took her first museum job in the print department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she worked with Kathryn B. Child under the supervision of William Mills Ivins. She left the museum in 1920 to marry violinist Elias Breeskin, and the couple had three children before divorcing in 1930.
Following her divorce, Breeskin returned to her native Baltimore and took a position as a curator with the Baltimore Museum of Art. In 1942 she was appointed director of the museum and remained in that position until 1962. As director she gave Milton Avery and Mary Cassatt's graphics their first museum shows.
Breeskin served as commissioner for the American contingent of the Venice Biennale in 1960 and was director of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art from 1962-1964. She then became a special consultant in twentieth-century art for the Smithsonian's National Collection of Fine Art and served as the museum's curator of contemporary painting and sculpture from 1968 to 1974.
Breeskin authored two catalogue raisonnés of Mary Cassatt's work, and conducted extensive research for a monograph on Loren MacIver, although the monograph was ultimately not published. In 1985 Breeskin received the Smithsonian Institutions highest award, the Gold Medal for Exceptional Service, and at the time of her death in 1986, was senior curatorial adviser.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Stephanie Ashley in 2019.
Existence and Location of Copies
Portions of the collection are available on 35mm microfilm reels 2227 and 2787 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.
The sound recording of the lecture "Artists I Have Known," has been been copied for research access and digital copies are available in the Archives of American Art offices.
Author
Stephanie Ashley
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Portions of the collection were donated to the Archives of American Art in a series of gifts from Adelyn Breeskin, 1979-1985. Material relating to Loren MacIver was donated 1979-1987 by Breeskin and Robert Frash, who had possession of Breeskin's research materials on MacIver for an exhibition on MacIver he curated in California. Letters from Georgia O'Keeffe, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, and Lawrence Calcagno, an exhibition catalog for Calcagno, and the file on Milton Avery, were donated by the National Museum of American Art on January 28, 1981. The birthday book was a gift from Breeskin's daughter, Gloria Breeskin Peck, in 2015. The sound recordings were transferred from the National Museum of American Art, circa 1984.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Researchers interested in accessing audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact References Services for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Preferred Citation
Adelyn Dohme Breeskin papers, circa 1934-1986. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
The Archives of American Art also holds oral history interviews with Adelyn Breeskin conducted by Paul Cummings in 1974, and Julie Haifley in 1979.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art museum curators -- Maryland -- Baltimore Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art museum curators -- Washington (D.C.) Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art historians -- Maryland -- Baltimore Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art historians -- Washington (D.C.) Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women art historians Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women museum curators Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
MacIver, Loren, 1909- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cassatt, Mary, 1844-1926 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Collection of Fine Arts (U.S.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Museum of American Art (U.S.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Avery, Milton, 1885-1965 Personal 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/