A Finding Aid to the Margaret Casey Gates Papers,
1934-1988
, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.gatemarg
Creators:
Gates, Margaret Casey, 1903-1989
Dates:
1934-1988
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
1 Linear foot
Repository:
The papers of Washington, D.C. painter Margaret Casey Gates date from 1934-1988, and measure 1.0 linear foot. Gates' papers document her work as a painter, her projects for the New Deal federal arts programs, the Phillips Memorial Gallery and its art school, where she attended school and later worked as secretary and where her husband Robert Franklin Gates was a teacher, and the Washington, D.C. arts scene. Found are scattered correspondence, seven sketchbooks by Gates and two sketchbooks of her divorced husband Robert Franklin Gates. Miscellaneous notes and writings, a scrapbook, printed material, and photographs of Gates, her husband, friends, artwork, and views of the Virgin Islands are also included in the papers.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The papers of Washington, D.C. painter Margaret Casey Gates date from 1934-1988, and measure 1.0 linear foot. Gates' papers document her work as a painter, her projects for the New Deal federal arts programs, the Phillips Memorial Gallery and its art school, where she attended school and later worked as secretary and where her husband Robert Franklin Gates was a teacher, and the Washington, D.C. arts scene. Found are scattered correspondence, seven sketchbooks by Gates and two sketchbooks of her divorced husband Robert Franklin Gates. Miscellaneous notes and writings, a scrapbook, printed material, and photographs of Gates, her husband, friends, artwork, and views of the Virgin Islands are also included in the papers.
Twelve folders of scattered correspondence include letters from the Federal Works Agency and one or two letters each from friends and individuals that reflect Gates' wide range of interests and activities. Correspondents include Betty Jean Clark, Arthur G. Dove, D. R. Fitzpatrick, Alice Garrett, John Gernand, Karl Knaths, John L. Lewis, a Brazilian artist named Portinari, Julian Lee Rayford, Alfred Stieglitz, and Prentiss Taylor.
Artwork consists of seven of Margaret Casey Gates' sketchbooks and two of Robert Franklin Gates' sketchbooks of both abstract and figural sketches. Margaret's sketchbooks contain landscapes that illustrate her travels to Colorado, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and the Virgin Islands. Sketchbook #2 contains pencil, ink, and pastel drawings of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and an intimate drawing of Robert Franklin Gates, Mitchell Jamieson, and Prentiss Taylor asleep on a ship. Artwork also includes a fine caricature of Robert Franklin Gates by Karl Knaths.
Notes and writings primarily consist of scattered notes and brief descriptive accounts of Gates's experiences at the Phillips Gallery, and at the Colorado Springs Art Center. Her extensive descriptions of her travels to the Virgin Islands are also illustrated.
A scrapbook primarily contains clippings, but also includes an award certificate, letters concerning various topics including Pepsi-Cola's annual art competition and Federal Works Agency projects, brochures for the Phillips Gallery Art School and for the McLean Art Club, and a photograph of the mural at the Mebane, North Carolina post office.
Printed material consists of clippings including copies of the rare magazines The Washington Spectator and the American University publication Right Angle, announcements and catalogs for exhibitions of Gates's work, and miscellaneous booklets and brochures. There is also printed material concerning the Armory Show including a copy of the booklet The Story of the Armory Show by Walt Kuhn.
Photographs are of Margaret Casey Gates, Robert Franklin Gates, friends including Prentiss Taylor, her home, and her artwork. Photographs of Margaret and Robert Gates and their artist friends during their visits to the Virgin Islands in the 1930s are of primary interest, offering unique glimpses of that culture during the 1930s. These photographs include aerial photographs of St. Thomas and photographs by Prentiss Taylor.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 6 series. Each series is arranged chronologically.
  • Series 1: Correspondence, 1934-1986 (Box 1; 12 folders)
  • Series 2: Artwork, 1935-1965 (Box 1; 12 folders)
  • Series 3: Notes and Writings, 1939-1984 (Box 1; 7 folders)
  • Series 4: Scrapbook, 1938-1961 (Box 1; 3 folders)
  • Series 5: Printed Material, 1935-1988 (Box 1; 20 folders)
  • Series 6: Photographs, 1934-1976 (Box 1; 19 folders)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Margaret Casey was born in 1903 in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. She studied art in the studio of Bertha Perry, and from 1924 to 1926 at the Corcoran Art School. She later studied under Henry Varnum Poor at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
After working as a commercial artist from 1928-1929, Casey began studying at the Phillips Memorial Gallery in 1931 under C. Law Watkins. There, she met her husband, painter Robert Franklin Gates, and married on January 7, 1933. Robert Franklin Gates (1906-1982), who came to Washington, D.C. in 1930, also studied at the Phillips Gallery Art School and worked with Karl Knaths between 1934 and 1947.
Between 1934 and 1941, Robert Gates, with other artists including Mitchell Jamieson and Prentiss Taylor, made several painting trips to the Virgin Islands on a fine arts commission from the U. S. Treasury Department. Margaret Gates accompanied her husband and produced artwork of her own. She also documented their travels. During this same time, Robert taught at the Phillips Gallery Art School and Margaret was employed as the Art School's secretary. In 1937, they purchased a house in McLean, Virginia where Margaret lived until 1980.
In 1939, Margaret Gates won honorable mention in a national mural competition held by the Section of Fine Arts of the U. S. Public Buildings Administration and was subsequently commissioned by the Federal Works Agency to execute a mural for the Post office at Mebane, North Carolina. The mural was completed and installed in 1941.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Margaret Gates wrote articles on art for Washington, D. C. publications including the column "The People vs. Art" for American University's Right Angle, and for the magazine The Washington Spectator.
Margaret and Robert Gates were divorced circa 1955. They had no children.
Margaret Gates exhibited her work in the first exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in 1941, as one of many winners of a national competition sponsored by the Federal Works Agency for artwork to decorate a Marine hospital for lepers in Louisiana. She also exhibited in the "Group Show of Washington Painters" at the Bignou Gallery in New York City, as well as at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Philips Collection, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. A retrospective of her work was exhibited at the Watkins Gallery of American University in 1981. Several of her paintings are in the collection of the Phillips Gallery.
Margaret Casey Gates died on November 4, 1989, in Mitchellville, Maryland.

Administration
Processing Information
The Margaret Casey Gates papers were processed by Jean Fitzgerald in 2007.
Author
Jean Fitzgerald
Provenance
The Margaret Casey Gates papers were a bequest from Gates' estate in 1994, executed by her niece Joyce D. Svedberg.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Margaret Casey Gates papers, 1934-1988. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Margaret Casey Gates 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.

Related Material
Also found in the Archives of American Art are the papers of Gates' divorced husband Robert Franklin Gates dating from 1910-1988.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
New Deal, 1933-1939 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Post office buildings -- North Carolina Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- Washington (D.C.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Writings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art teachers -- Washington (D.C.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- Washington (D.C.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women painters -- Washington (D.C.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rayford, Julian Lee Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stieglitz, Alfred, 1864-1946 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lewis, John L. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Phillips Collection Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Phillips Memorial Gallery. Art School Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Taylor, Prentiss, 1907-1991 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gernand, John, 1913-1990 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gates, Robert Franklin, 1906-1982 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Garrett, Alice Warder Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fitzpatrick, Daniel Robert, 1891-1969 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Federal Works Agency Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Federal Art Project Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dove, Arthur Garfield, 1880-1946 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Knaths, Karl, 1891-1971 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clark, Betty Jean Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Armory Show (1913: New York, N.Y.) 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/