A Finding Aid to the Paul Vanderbilt Papers, 1854-1992, bulk 1945-1992, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.vandpaul
Creators:
Vanderbilt, Paul
Dates:
1854-1992
bulk 1945-1992
Languages:
English
The collection is in English
Physical Description:
25.2 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of librarian, curator, and photographer Paul Vanderbilt (1905-1992) measure 25.2 linear feet and date from 1854 to 1992 with the bulk of the material dating from 1945 to 1992. The papers are comprised of biographical materials, personal and business correspondence, interviews, writings and notes, fourteen diaries and two diary fragments, reference and project files, photographic materials, sound recordings, and professional files.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of librarian, curator, and photographer Paul Vanderbilt (1905-1992) measure 25.2 linear feet and date from 1854 to 1992 with the bulk of the material dating from 1945 to 1992. The papers are comprised of biographical materials, personal and business correspondence, interviews, writings and notes, fourteen diaries and two diary fragments, reference and project files, photographic materials, sound recordings, and professional files.
Biographical materials include seven appointment books, family letters and documents, and an honorary degree from the University of Wisconsin.
Vanderbilt's correspondence is with colleagues, and organizations including Dorothea Lange, Beaumont Newhall, Roy Stryker, and Julia Vanderbilt.
Sound recordings of interviews of Vanderbilt conducted by Mary North Allen, Barbara Crane, Carl Haywood, Jack Holzhueter, and Jane Plunkett. Other recordings are of Vanderbilt discussing his personal and professional life.
Writings by Paul Vanderbilt include drafts of Between the Landscape and its Other, poems, lectures, student papers, and notes on a variety of subjects. Writings by others are found for William Blake, Gregory Conniff, Woody Guthrie, Michael Lesy, Arnold R. Pilling, Jesse H. Shera, and Roy Stryker.
Fourteen of Vanderbilt's personal diaries and two diary fragments date from 1926 to 1990.
Reference files consist of printed materials on art, art historians, book reviews, library and information studies, photography and microphotography techniques, and other themes of interest to Vanderbilt. Project files include material from Vanderbilt's various projects, including a guide to the iconography of Iran, the reclassification of FSA photographs, and the Union Library Catalog of Philadelphia.
Included in professional files are administrative records, correspondence, exhibition files, project files, printed material, and research files created during Vanderbilt's career at the Library of Congress, Graphic History Society, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Farm Security Administration. Also found are materials for Vanderbilt's work as a consultant for several organizations, lecture documents, and art-related workshops.
Photographs are by and of Paul Vanderbilt, the staff of the Library of Congress, and George Talbot. Negatives include images for the Farm Security Administration. Bibliography cards and photographs of artwork from the Library of Congress can be found on microfilm reels within the collection.
Also found are fourteen unidentified sound recordings.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 10 series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1894-1992 (0.5 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1933-1992 (1.5 linear feet; Box 1-2)
  • Series 3: Interviews, 1967-1992 (1.5 linear feet; Box 2-4)
  • Series 4: Writings and Notes, 1887-1992 (4.0 linear feet; Box 4-8)
  • Series 5: Diaries, 1926-1990 (0.5 linear feet; Box 8)
  • Series 6: Reference Files, 1877-1992 (2.5 linear feet; Box 8-10, 26)
  • Series 7: Project Files, 1935-1990 (3.0 linear feet; Box 10-13)
  • Series 8: Professional Files, 1854-1991 (11.7 linear feet; Box 13-24)
  • Series 9: Photographic Materials, 1912-1980s (0.5 linear feet; Box 24)
  • Series 10: Sound Recordings, circa 1980s (0.5 linear feet; Box 24-25)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Paul Vanderbilt (1905-1992) was a librarian, curator, and photographer active in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and Madison, Wisconsin.
Paul Vanderbilt was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and educated in Germany, Switzerland, and Massachusetts. He attended Amherst College from 1923 to 1925 before transferring to Harvard where he graduated with a BA in art history in 1927. After graduation, Vanderbilt traveled to Europe where he studied at the American School of Librarianship in Paris and the Institut de Psychologie Bibliogique in Lausanne. In 1929, he returned to the United States and became a librarian at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and director of the Union Library Catalog project for the Philadelphia area.
In 1941 Vanderbilt began working under Roy Stryker cataloging the extensive photographic survey collection of the Farm Security Administration and U.S. Office of War Information. The collection is a rich resource of images of American life between 1935 and 1944. In 1943, the FSA photograph collection was transferred to the Library of Congress and Vanderbilt went with it as the curator of the newly formed Prints and Photographs Division, eventually becoming the Division chief of fine arts.
During the early 1950s, Vanderbilt also served as the director of the Graphic History Society of America. There he published a quarterly bulletin Eye to Eye and developed a guide to iconography in Iran. In 1954, he became the Curator of Iconographic Collections at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and worked there until he retired in 1972.
Vanderbilt remained active after retirement. He became an artist-in-residence at the Apeiron Workshops, worked as a photographer for the Seagram courthouse project and the George Eastman House, and was a presenter at multiple conferences. Vanderbilt devoted much of his later life to working on his book titled Between the Landscape and its Other which was published posthumously after Vanderbilt's death in 1992.

Administration
Processing Information
This collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Mundy in 2015 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The Archives of American Art has implemented accelerated processing when possible to increase information about and access to more of our collections. For this collection, accelerated processing included arrangement to the series, subseries and folder levels, adhering to the creator's original arrangement as much as possible. Generally, folder contents were simply verified with the original folder titles, but items within folders were not arranged further. All materials were rehoused in archival folders and boxes for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed.
Existence and Location of Copies
Some of the sound recordings in this collection have been copied for research access and digital copies are available in the Archives of American Art offices.
Author
Sarah Mundy
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated in 1981 by Paul Vanderbilt and in 1993 by his estate through John W. Winn, executor.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Paul Vanderbilt papers, 1854-1992, bulk 1945-1992. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Conditions Governing Use
The Paul Vanderbilt 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
Also found at the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with Paul Vanderbilt conducted by Richard Doud on November 10, 1964.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art historians -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Curators -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Documentary photography -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photography Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photomicrography Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Graphic arts -- Historiography Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Graphic arts -- Iran Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Librarians Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Division of Archives and Manuscripts Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Union Library Catalogue of the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States. Farm Security Administration. Historical Section Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Conniff, Gregory, 1944- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Blake, William Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Allen, Mary North Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Talbot, George Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vanderbilt, Julia Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Graphic History Society of America Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Division Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Philadelphia Museum of Art Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lange, Dorothea Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lesy, Michael, 1945- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pilling, Arnold R. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Plunkett, Jane Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Crane, Barbara, d1928- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Guthrie, Woody, 1912-1967 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Haywood, Carl Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Holzhueter, Jack Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Shera, Jesse Hauk, 1903-1982 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Newhall, Beaumont, 1908-1993 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stryker, Roy Emerson, 1893-1975 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/