A Finding Aid to the George Nakashima Papers, 1950-1991, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.nakageor
Creators:
Nakashima, George, 1905-1990
Dates:
1950-1991
Languages:
Multiple languages
The collection is in English and Japanese.
Physical Description:
1 Linear Feet
Repository:
The papers of architect, craftsman, woodworker, and furniture designer George Nakashima measure 1.0 linear foot and date from 1950 to 1991. The collection is comprised of biographical material, correspondence, writings, subject files, and printed material that mostly relate to Nakashima's work in furniture design.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of architect, craftsman, woodworker, and furniture designer George Nakashima measure 1.0 linear foot and date from 1950 to 1991. The collection is comprised of biographical material, correspondence, writings, subject files, and printed material that mostly relate to Nakashima's work in furniture design.
Biographical materials consist of a curriculum vitae and obituaries. Correspondence is with clients, colleagues, and friends in the United Staes, Japan, and the Sri Aurobindo community. Writings by and about Nakashima include articles, essays, and a speech about his design processes. Subject files are on Alfred Caldwell, flush toilet systems, trademark, and wood and tree services. Printed material includes art reproductions, booklets, catalogs, clippings, and publicity material.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as five series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1990 (Box 1; 1 folder)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1950-1990 (Box 1; 0.7 linear feet)
  • Series 3: Writings, 1953-1989 (Box 1, 2 folders)
  • Series 4: Subject Files, 1957-1980s (Box 1, 4 folders)
  • Series 5: Printed Material, 1954-1991 (Box 1, 0.2 linear feet)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
George Nakashima (1905-1990) was an architect, craftsman, woodworker, and furniture designer in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He was born in Spokane, Washington and received a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Washington in 1929. He also earned a master's degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1930.
After his studies, Nakashima traveled around the world by steamship. He spent time in France, North Africa, and Japan. While in Japan, he began working under architect Antonin Raymond. When Raymond's architecture company was commissioned to build for the Sri Aurobindo ashram in Puducherry, India, Nakashima became the onsite architect as well as a devotee of Sri Aurobindo. When World War II began, Nakashima returned to the U.S. with his wife, Marion, whom he met in Japan. George, Marion, and their infant daughter Mira were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Idaho in 1942. The Nakashimas were able to leave the camp after Raymond sponsored their release in 1943. Nakashima began working on Raymond's farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he eventually built his workshop. Nakashima's son Kevin was born after the family relocated to Pennsylvania.
Nakashima's design work includes furniture lines for the Widdicomb Furniture Company and Knoll Furniture, and 200 pieces of furniture commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller. He also wrote a book titled The Soul of a Tree: A Master Woodworker's Reflections.
Nakashima died in 1990.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Mundy in 2018.
Author
Sarah Mundy
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers were donated by Marion Nakashima, widow of George Nakashima, in 1991.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
George Nakashima papers, 1950-1991. 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.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Architect-designed furniture Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Artisans Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Asian American artists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Asian American architects Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Decorative arts Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Furniture designers--Pennsylvania--New Hope Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Furniture making Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
handicrafts Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Woodworkers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Caldwell, Alfred, 1903-1998 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/