- Collection ID:
The collection is in English.
- Physical Description:
The papers of New York art historian Francis O'Connor measure 23.4 linear feet and 0.001 GB and date from 1920-2009. Found within the papers are artist and exhibition files, questionnaires, transcripts, writings, project files, and printed and digital material that pertain to O'Connor's research and publications on the New Deal and the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of New York art historian Francis O'Connor measure 23.4 linear feet and date from 1920-2009. Found within the papers are artist and exhibition files, questionnaires, transcripts, writings, project files, and printed and digital material that pertain to O'Connor's research and publications on the New Deal and the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration.
The "NCFA Library" consists of research materials collected, created, and compiled during the course of O'Connor's research project supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities for his books Federal Support for the Visual Arts (1969) and Art for the Millions (1973). Files contain administrative records, artists' files, and questionnaires and essays that document the administration of New Deal art projects. The files were collated by O'Connor into a set that remains intact.
The publications series consists of additional research and administrative materials specifically related to O'Connor's four publications on the WPA/FAP and New Deal artists: Federal Support for the Visual Arts: The New Deal and Now (1969), New Deal Art Projects: An Anthology of Memoirs (1972), Art for the Millions (1973), and Federal Art Patronage Notes (newsletter, 1974-1984).
New Deal research files are more general research materials collected by or sent to O'Connor in the course of his academic career. These include information on New Deal administrators and state specific WPA projects; photocopies of original WPA activity and reports; and New Deal scholarship, academic symposia, and conferences.
New Deal exhibitions include announcement and catalogs of contemporary New Deal art exhibitions in the U.S. from the 1960s to the 1990s. Project files are related to three publically and privately funded New Deal research projects O'Connor directed or participated in. Printed materials consists of press coverage of federal arts patronage in the United States dating from the 1960s to 2008.
The collection is arranged as 6 series. There is some overlap in series reflecting O'Connor's original order.
- Series 1: NCFA Library, 1920-1974 (6.7 linear feet; Boxes 1-7, OV 28)
- Series 2: Publications, 1939-1985 (4.3 linear feet; Boxes 7-11, BV 25-26, OV 27)
- Series 3: New Deal Research Files, 1930-2009 (5.6 linear feet; Boxes 11-16)
- Series 4: New Deal Exhibitions, 1961-1997 (1.4 linear feet; Boxes 17-18)
- Series 5: Project Files, 1935-1999 (2 linear feet; Boxes 18-20, ER01; 0.001 GB)
- Series 6: Printed Material, 1963-2008 (3.4 linear feet; Boxes 20-24)
Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
New York art historian and poet Francis O'Connor (1937- ) is best known for his research and writings on the New Deal art programs of the Depression and the Roosevelt Administration. O'Connor received his Ph. D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1965 and taught contemporary European and American art history at the University of Maryland from 1964 to 1970. While at Maryland, he organized the country's first comprehensive exhibition of New Deal art programs since their ending in 1943. From 1967 to 1968, he also headed a research program for the National Endowment for the Arts to analyze the effectiveness of New Deal art patronage, which eventually led to the publication of Federal Support for the Visual Arts: The New Deal and Now (1969), New Deal Art Projects: An Anthology of Memoirs (1972), Art for the Millions (1973).
In addition to his work on New Deal art patronage, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, O'Connor continued to teach and lecture at universities, consulted on federally and privately funded research projects, and published critical essays for exhibition catalogs, anthologies and academic journals. He is a member of the College Art Association, International Association of Art Critics, and founded the Association of Independent Historians of Art in 1982.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers were donated by Francis O'Connor to the National Collection of Fine Arts, now the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which subsequently transferred the papers, with O'Connor's permission, to the Archives of American Art in 1974. In 2010, O'Connor donated an additional 15.8 linear feet of papers to the Archives.
Bound assemblies of periodicals were transferred to the Smithsonian Art Libraries in 2010, which retained relevant volumes and made final decisions regarding disposition of any remaining items.
Existence and Location of Copies
Portions of the collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels 1084-1091 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the material described in the container inventory does not reflect the arrangement of the collection on microfilm.
Materials originally donated to the NCFA Library were microfilmed onto reels 1084-1091 shortly after receipt. The collection was further processed, the addition integrated, and a finding aid prepared by Judy Ng in 2015 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Born-digital materials were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2020 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.
Using the Collection
Francis V. O'Connor papers, 1920-2009. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
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 and born-digital records in this collection must use access copies. Contact References Services for more information.
The Artists' Questionanaires require permission from each artist before publishing, quoting, or reproducing. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
Items created by Francis V. O'Connor: copyright held by Avis Berman. Artists' questionnaires: Authorization to publish, quote, or reproduce requires written permission from the individual artist. Contact Reference Services for more information.
for additional information.
Other Finding Aids
Other Finding Aids
Microfilm reels 1084-1091: Microfilm inventory available at Archives of American Art offices.
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001