A Finding Aid to the Mary Fanton Roberts Papers,
1880-1956
, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.robemary
Creators:
Roberts, Mary Fanton, 1871-1956
Dates:
1880-1956
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
3.8 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of art writer and editor Mary Fanton Roberts measure 3.8 linear feet and are dated 1880 to 1956. The bulk of this collection is Roberts' correspondence with numerous important artists, dancers, actors, writers, and musicians of the day. Also found are scattered biographical materials, family correspondence, writings, printed material, photographs and artwork.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The papers of art writer and editor Mary Fanton Roberts measure 3.8 linear feet and are dated 1880 to 1956. The collection is comprised mainly of correspondence with family members, artists, dancers, actors, writers, musicians, and visual and performing arts organizations. Also found are scattered biographical materials, writings, printed material, photographs and artwork.
The collection contains a small amount of biographical material about Mary Fanton Roberts and her husband, William Carman Roberts, including his journal of a vacation with Ernest Thompson Seton and his wife. Personal Correspondence is with her husband and sister Belle Fanton, and with friends. Business and political correspondence documents her career as a magazine editor and writer, her participation in political organizations and events, her participation in radio talks, and her correspondence regarding war issues.
Art correspondence/subject files include correspondence with and collected materials on artists, photographers, art patrons, critics, and wives of artists, as well as arts organizations, museums, and schools. Correspondence of note is with George Gray Barnard, Gutzon Borglum, Ben Ali Haggin, Leon Kroll, Frederic Remington, W. Goodridge Roberts, Nicholas Roerich, Pierre Troubetzkoy, illustrator Oliver Herford, John Butler Yeats, and Ashcan school artists Robert Henri, John Sloan, and William Glackens, as well as many others. Dance and theatre correspondence/subject files include correspondence with actors, dancers, playwrights, patrons, organizations and theatres. Correspondence of note in this series is with Charles "Orlando" Coburn, Eva Le Gallienne, Angna Enters, and the "Duncan Dancers." Literary and music orrespondence/subject files include correspondence with authors, poets, critics, singers, publishers, and musicians, such as Bliss Carman, Yvette Guilbert, and Lloyd Osbourne. Additional material found in these subject files, other than letters, includes invitations, photographs, calling cards, artwork, news clippings, and printed material.
Writings by Roberts include an autobiographical essay about her youth and early career, guest lists and notes concerning hosted events, and typescripts of poems by her niece Dorothy Gostwick Roberts. Printed material is comprised of art exhibition catalogs, published articles and trade bulletins written by Roberts, and newsclippings. Photographs are of Roberts, her family, friends, and places she lived, and include autographed portraits given to her, primarily from actors and actresses. Also found are photographs taken by Nickolas Muray of art models. Scattered artwork in this collection includes several small drawings by unidentified artists, as well as a pencil portrait of Roberts by John Butler Yeats.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 11 series:
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1906, 1912-1941, undated (Box 1; 2 folders)
  • Series 2: Personal Correspondence, 1902-1951, undated (Box 1; 7 folders)
  • Series 3: Business and Political Correspondence, 1903-1959, undated (Box 1; 6 folders)
  • Series 4: Art Correspondence/Subject Files, 1898-1956, undated (Box 1-2; 0.8 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Dance and Theatre Correspondence/Subject Files, 1902-1953, undated (Box 2-3; 0.8 linear feet)
  • Series 6: Literary and Music Correspondence/Subject Files, 1900-1952, undated (Box 3; 0.6 linear feet)
  • Series 7: General Correspondence, 1898-1946, undated (Box 3-4; 0.4 linear feet)
  • Series 8: Writings, 1915-1926, 1952, undated (Box 4; 3 folders)
  • Series 9: Printed Material, 1899, 1909-1947, undated (Box 4-5; 0.3 linear feet)
  • Series 10: Photographs, 1880-circa 1943, undated (Box 5; 0.2 linear feet)
  • Series 11: Artwork, 1906, undated (Box 5; 3 folders)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Mary Fanton Roberts was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1864. When she was a young girl her family moved to Deadwood, in the Montana territory, where her father had mining prospects. When she was old enough, she and her sister were sent back to New York to attend the Albany Female Academy. After finishing school, Roberts pursued journalism and became a staff writer for four years for the Herald Tribune, the Journal, and the Sun in New York. During her long career she was editor of Demorest Magazine, editor-in-chief of New Idea Woman's Magazine, managing editor of The Craftsman, and creator and editor of The Touchstone Magazine and Decorative Arts magazine. Her longest period at one publication was seventeen years as editor of Arts and Decoration. She often wrote articles on the topic of decorative arts and home decorating, and published two books, Inside 100 Homes, and 101 Ideas for Successful Interiors.
In 1906 she married William Carman Roberts, writer and editor of Literary Digest for thirty years. They lived in Manhattan and Waterford, Connecticut.
Roberts was very involved in the artistic, theatrical, and literary circles in New York City, and met and became friends with many young avant garde American artists, including Robert Henri and John Sloan. Through her husband she met many writers and poets, including Theodore Dreiser and Bliss Carman. Roberts was active in organizations such as the Women's City Club, Pen and Brush, and the MacDowell Society and also attended countless art openings, theater performances, and other social events. As an avid supporter of modern dance, she became friends with many performers, including Isadora Duncan and Angna Enters. After her husband's death in 1941, Roberts moved to the Chelsea Hotel, where she lived for the rest of her life. She maintained lifelong relationships with a wide circle of friends and continued to correspond with them and attend social events until her death in 1956 at the age of 92.

Administration
Alternative Forms Available
The collection was digitized in 2017 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website.
Processing Information
The collection was arranged upon accessioning and microfilmed on reels D161-D164. A finding aid to the microfilm was prepared by Erin Corley in 2006 and the collection was digitized in 2017 as part of the Terra Foundation for American Art Grant.
Author
Erin Corley
Sponsor
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Provenance
The collection was donated in 1957 by Phoebe DuBois and Violet Organ.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Mary Fanton Roberts papers, 1880-1956. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on 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.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Mary Fanton Roberts 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
Authors -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art critics -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ashcan school of art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Works of art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Editors -- New York (State) -- New York Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Yeats, John Butler, 1839-1922 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Troubetzkoy, Pierre, 1864-1936 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Seton, Ernest Thompson, 1860-1946 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Roberts, Dorothy, 1906- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rerikh, Nikolai Konstantinovich, 1874-1947 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Remington, Frederic, 1861-1909 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Osbourne, Lloyd, 1868-1947 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Roberts, William C. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Roberts, Goodridge, 1904- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Haggin, Ben Ali, 1882-1951 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Henri, Robert, 1865-1929 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Glackens, William J., 1870-1938 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Guilbert, Yvette, 1865-1944 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Le Gallienne, Eva, 1899- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Borglum, Gutzon, 1867-1941 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Herford, Oliver, 1863-1935 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kroll, Leon, 1884-1974 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Barnard, George Grey, 1863-1938 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Muray, Nickolas, 1892-1965 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Enters, Angna, 1907- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fanton, Belle Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Carman, Bliss, 1861-1929 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sloan, John, 1871-1951 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Coburn, Charles Douville 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/