A Finding Aid to the Frederick Hammersley Papers, circa 1860-2009, bulk 1940s-2009 in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.hammfred
Creators:
Hammersley, Frederick, 1919-2009
Dates:
circa 1860-2009
bulk 1940-2009
Languages:
Multiple languages
English; Swedish
Physical Description:
34.75 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of Los Angeles Abstract Classicist painter and educator Frederick Hammersley measure 34.75 linear feet and date from circa 1860-2009, bulk 1940-2009. The papers contain biographical materials, 32 diaries, family and professional correspondence, personal business and financial records, estate records, writings, graphic design projects, teaching files, printed materials, scrapbooks, photographs, and works of art.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of Los Angeles Abstract Classicist painter and educator Frederick Hammersley measure 34.75 linear feet and date from circa 1860-2009, bulk 1940-2009. The papers contain biographical materials, 32 diaries, family and professional correspondence, personal business and financial records, estate records, writings, graphic design projects, teaching files, printed materials, scrapbooks, photographs, and works of art. 2015 and 2018 additions include a diary possibly written by Hammersley's mother, photograph albums and photographs, sketches and block prints, computer printouts, and hand painted grid color boxes used by Hammersley in teaching color theory.
Biographical materials include resumes and biographies, calendars, military records, family genealogies, school records, high school and college yearbooks, and awards. There are also sound and video recordings of talks, interviews, and television appearances. Scattered materials relating to Hammersley's parents, Anna Westberg Hammersley and Harold Hammersley, are also found in the series.
Correspondence consists of letters from family and close friends as well as business correspondence with collectors and professional art associations. Family correspondents include Hammersley's immediate family and aunts and cousins. Additional noteworthy correspondents include fellow artists Karl Benjamin, William Brice, Robert Chuey, Rico Lebrun, and John McLaughlin, among others.
There are 23 diaries written by Frederick Hammersley dating from 1935-2008, with a gap spanning 1954-1972. Also found are six diaries written by Harold Hammersley dating from 1940-1959 and three by Anna Hammersley from 1909-1965.
Hammersley's writings include college class notes, essays, poetry, lecture notes, grant applications, and proposals. There are also sound recordings of lectures and talks as well as drafts and a final copy of an article published in the journal Leonardo in 1970.
Teaching files consist of class lecture notes, student evaluations, and grade books for classes likely taught at Pomona University and the Chouinard Art Institute.
Graphic design projects contain materials from Hammersley's company Handsome Cards for which he designed greeting and holiday cards. Also included are various freelance designs and draft designs for exhibition catalogs. General financial and business records focus on Hammersley business relationships and transactions with galleries and museums and his efforts to promote his art. Galleries and museums represented in the files include Modernism Gallery (San Francisco), L.A. Louver Gallery (Venice, California), and Hoshour Gallery (Albuquerque). This series also contains tax returns and expense ledgers. Also found are scattered materials from the household of Anna and Harold Hammersley.
Estate records are found for Frederick Hammersley, Susie Hammersley Stone, Anna and Harold Hammersley, Frederick Hammersley Sr., Mrs. E. Hammersley, Maude Eliza Hammersley, Dorothy Hutchinson Hammersley, and Basil Edward Pratt. These files include wills and yearly financial reports.
Printed material consists of newspaper and magazine clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, and printed copies of Hammersley's graphic designs. The series is extensive and contains clippings and exhibition material that represents Hammersley's entire career as an artist. Also found are packets of printed materials created by Hammersley to represent the careers of his friends and colleagues.
Scrapbooks consist of eleven "scrapfiles," postcard albums, and clippings scrapbooks created by Frederick Hammersley and Anna Hammersley. Scrapfiles refers to the original title created by the Hammersleys. Frederick's scrapbooks contain clippings of art, criticisms of his work, and news mentions of his career. Anna's scrapbooks contain one postcard album and 4 scrapbooks and scrapfiles of news clippings relating to subjects of her personal interest.
Photographs include snapshots of Hammersley; images of Hammersley with family and friends; travel photographs, many of them taken in Europe during World War II; photographs of exhibitions; and photographs of Hammersley's artwork. Most of the photographs were labeled and dated by Hammersley. There are six photo albums created by Frederick Hammersley and four albums compiled by his parents Harold and Anna Hammersley.
Artwork consists of Hammersley's sketchbooks, drawings, and paintings from high school and college classes, designs for exhibition catalogs, and cards and printouts for his computer drawings series. Also included are geometric color studies on panel and artwork for a bank mural proposal from 1977. Drawings and design work by Susie Stone, Hammersley's sister are also included, as well as two works by Lu Nowels.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 12 series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1919-2008 (2.5 linear feet; Box 1-3, 31, 33, 37)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1900-2009 (3.1 linear feet; Box 3-6, 37)
  • Series 3: Diaries, 1909-2008 (2.1 linear feet; Box 6-8, 37)
  • Series 4: Writings, Lectures, and Notes, circa 1940-2009 (0.6 linear feet; Box 8-9, 37)
  • Series 5: Teaching Files, circa 1950-1993 (0.2 linear feet; Box 9)
  • Series 6: Graphic Design Projects, circa 1945-1980 (0.4 linear feet; Box 9-10, 31)
  • Series 7: Personal Business and Financial Records, 1897-2008 (3.2 linear feet; Box 10-13, 24, 33, 35, 37)
  • Series 8: Estate Records, 1898-2001 (0.7 linear feet; Box 13, 24, 37)
  • Series 9: Printed Material, 1945, 2011 (3.6 linear feet; Box 13-17, 31, 37, 42, OV45)
  • Series 10: Scrapbooks, circa 1890-1960s (3.3 linear feet; Box 17-18, 25-29)
  • Series 11: Photographs, circa 1860s-2007 (10.7 linear feet; Box 18-23, 29-31, 37-43)
  • Series 12: Artwork and Artifacts, 1934-2009 (3.2 linear feet; Box 22, 31-32, 35, 38, 42, 44, OV46-56)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Painter, graphic designer, and educator Frederick Hammersley (1919-2009) spent most of his career in Los Angeles and New Mexico. He is closely associated with the hard-edge abstraction painting style of the Abstract Classicists of Southern California.
Hammersley was born on January 5, 1919 to Anna Westberg and Harold Hammersley in Salt Lake City, where his father worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior. The family lived in Utah and Idaho before finally settling in San Francisco. Hammersley attended the University of Idaho and later enrolled in the Academy of Advertising Art in San Francisco. In 1940, Hammersley began taking classes at the Chouinard Art Institution in Los Angeles.
Hammersley's studies were interrupted by World War II military service from 1942 to 1946. He was stationed first in Paris as a draftsman in the Signal Corp and was eventually promoted to Army sargeant in the Office of Military Government in Berlin. While in Paris, he visited Picasso's studio several times and also took classes at the √ącole des Beaux Arts at the end of the war. When he returned home in 1946, the GI Bill subsidized his final year of study at Chouinard, now the California Institute of Arts, and three years at the Jepson Art Institute in Los Angeles.
Hammersley made his living as an art professor in California for twenty years, where he taught at the Jepson Art Institute and Pomona College in Claremont. He moved to Albuquerque after accepting a teaching position at the University of New Mexico in 1968. In 1971, Hammersley resigned his teaching position and devoted himself to painting.
Hammersley's reputaton as a painter began in 1948 when one of his small paintings was accepted in an annual exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 1958, several of his works were included in the seminal exhibition Four Abstract Classicists, organized by Jules Langsner and Peter Selz and shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Hammersley, and fellow painters Lorser Feitelson, Karl Benjamin, and John McLaughlin, were dubbed the "hard-edged painters," whose style consisted of flat, colored geometric shapes that were a sharp contrast to the more popular Abstract Expressionism. The label stuck and in the mid 1970s, Hammersley submitted several works of art for a show called L.A. Hard Edge, a show that featured art from the 1950s and 1970s.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, Hammersley exhibited in several one-man shows, including at L.A. Louver in Venice, California, the Hoshour Gallery in Albuquerque, and the Corcoran in Washington, D.C. In 2000, the Laguna Art Museum presented a traveling exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts in Sante Fe, and the Pomona College Museum of Art organized a retrospective in 2007. His work is in museum collections across the country, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Hammersley died in 2009 at the age of 90. He was survived by his sister, Susie Hammersley Stone.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies
The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2013-2014 and is available on the Archives of American Art's website. Materials which have not been scanned include blank pages, duplicates, negatives and slides, blank versos of photographs, and sensitive financial records. Additional papers donated in 2015 and 2018 have not been digitized.
Processing Information
Diana Shenk processed a portion of the papers in 2010 with funding provided by The Getty Foundation. In 2012-2013, a large addition to the papers was integrated, processed, and described by Jayna Josefson and the collection was scanned in its entirety with funding provided by the Frederick Hammersley Foundation. Additions from 2015 and 2018 were processed by Ryan Evans.
Author
Diana Shenk, Jayna M. Josefson, and Ryan Evans
Sponsor
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Getty Foundation and the Frederick Hammersley Foundation.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Frederick Hammersley donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in nine accessions from 1974 to 2008. The Frederick Hammersley Foundation donated additional papers in 2012, 2015, and 2018 via Executive Director Kathleen Shields.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Frederick Hammersley papers, circa 1860-2009, bulk 1940-2009. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Conditions Governing Use
The Frederick Hammersley 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 Materials
The Archives of American Art also holds the Tamara Webster papers relating to Frederick Hammersley.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Europe -- description and travel -- photographs Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Greeting cards Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- New Mexico Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Color in art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- California -- Los Angeles Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lectures Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Prints Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Essays Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lecture notes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art teachers -- California -- Los Angeles Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, Abstract Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Computer Art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art -- Study and teaching Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Designs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Visitors' books Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
World War, 1939-1945 -- Photographs Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Awards Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
L.A. Louver Gallery Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nowells, Lu Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hoshour Gallery Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chuey, Robert Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pomona College (Claremont, Calif.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chouinard Art Institute (Los Angeles, Calif.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Modernism (Gallery) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hammersley, Anna Westberg Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Brice, William, 1921-2008 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
McLaughlin, John, 1898- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lebrun, Rico, 1900-1964 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stone, Susie Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hammersley, Harold Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Benjamin, Karl 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/