A Finding Aid to the Sherman E. Lee Papers, 1947-1997, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.leeshere
Creators:
Lee, Sherman E.
Dates:
1947-1997
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
10.3 Linear Feet
Repository:
The papers of Cleveland museum director and art historian Sherman E. Lee measure 10.3 linear feet and date from 1947-1997. The records document Lee's extensive career as an art historian, curator and expert on Asian art, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, writer, educator, and consultant. His papers include scattered biographical materials, correspondence, writings, travel files, committees and organizations files, consulting files, teaching files, personal business records, printed material, photographs, and one pencil drawing.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of Cleveland museum director and art historian Sherman E. Lee measure 10.3 linear feet and date from 1947-1997. The records document Lee's extensive career as an art historian, curator and expert on Asian art, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, writer, educator, and consultant. His papers include scattered biographical materials, correspondence, writings, travel files, committees and organizations files, consulting files, teaching files, personal business records, printed material, photographs, and one pencil drawing.
Correspondence is with friends, scholars, editors, collectors, dealers, art societies and organizations, and other museums. Writings consist of articles, lectures, book reviews by Lee and scattered writings by others. Writing project files contain correspondence with publishers, contracts, and printed material relating to the publication of Lee's writings. Travel files document numerous trips to Asian and European countries and include travel diaries, photographs, and lists of works of art viewed. There are files concerning Lee's membership and involvement with various committees, museums, and arts organizations. Consulting files mostly focus on Lee's work advising John D. Rockefeller III on the purchase of art, and with the Permanent Public Areas Advisory Committee of Cleveland, Ohio. Teaching files document classes he taught at Case Western Reserve and Harvard. Personal business records mostly concern Lee's personal art collection. Also found among the papers are general clippings, photographs of Lee and of artwork, and one pencil drawing.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 12 series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1947-circa 1983 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1, 11)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1953-1996 (1.5 linear feet; Box 1-2)
  • Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1962-1983 (1.7 linear feet; Box 2-4)
  • Series 4: Writing Project Files, 1958-1997 (1.0 linear feet; Box 4-5)
  • Series 5: Travel Files, 1959-1994 (1.8 linear feet; Box 5-7)
  • Series 6: Committees and Organization Files, 1971-1997 (1.8 linear feet; Box 7-8)
  • Series 7: Consulting Files, 1960-1993 (1.1 linear feet; Box 8-9)
  • Series 8: Teaching Files, 1963-1977 (0.1 linear feet; Box 9)
  • Series 9: Personal Business Records, 1958-1995 (0.3 linear feet; Box 9)
  • Series 10: Printed Material, 1962-1987 (0.9 linear feet; Box 10-11)
  • Series 11: Photographs, circa 1952-1993 (0.2 linear feet; Box 10-11)
  • Series 12: Artwork, circa 1960s (1 folder; Box 10)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Sherman Emery Lee (1918-2008) was an recognized expert on Asian art and director of the Cleveland Museum of Art from 1958-1983.
Born in Seattle, Washington in 1918, Sherman E. Lee grew up in New York and received degrees from American University and a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Lee began his art career as a curator at the Detroit Institute of Art and Seattle Art Museum. During World War II, he served with the U. S. Navy and was transferred to the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section in Japan. After the war he continued working as a civilian advisor on the preservation of Japanese artworks.
Sherman Lee accepted a position as curator of Oriental art at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1952 and became director in 1958, where he remained until 1983. During his long tenure there, he built one of this country's most remarkable collections of Asian art, transforming the museum from a regional presence to one of national significance. In 1973 Lee was chosen as Chairman of the Art and Archeology Delegation to the People's Republic of China, jointly sponsored by the Committee on Scholarly Communication of the People's Republic of China and the Scientific and Technical Association of the People's Republic of China.
Lee wrote or co-wrote a number of books including A History of Far Eastern Art (1964) and numerous articles for journals, magazines, and newspapers. He was the recipient of many honorary degrees, awards, and honors including the Order of the Sacred Treasure from Japan and Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur. He taught art history courses at the Case Western Reserve University and Harvard and was consultant to John D. Rockefeller III and the Cleveland Permanent Public Advisory Committee. He retired to North Carolina where he taught at the University of North Carolina and was advisor to the University's Ackland Art Museum.
Lee was married to his wife Ruth for sixty-nine years. The two met in college and had three daughters and one son. Lee died July 9, 2008 at Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was minimally processed by Jayna Josefson in 2015 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The Archives of American Art has implemented minimal processing tactics when possible in order to increase information about and access to more of our collections.
Minimal processing included arrangement to the series and folder levels. Generally, items within folders were simply verified with folder titles, but not arranged further. The collection was rehoused in archival containers and folders.
Author
Jayna M. Josefson
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Sherman E. Lee donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in 1997.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Conract Reference Services for more information.
Preferred Citation
Sherman E. Lee papers, 1947-1997. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
The Sherman E. Lee 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.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art, Chinese Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, East Asian Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Asian Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, Chinese Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art, Japanese Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art -- Study and teaching Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art historians -- Ohio -- Cleveland Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art museum curators -- Ohio -- Cleveland Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Travel diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Museum directors -- Ohio -- Cleveland Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Educators -- Ohio -- Cleveland Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Harvard University -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Case Western Reserve University -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rockefeller, John D., 1906- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cleveland Museum of Art 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/