The papers of still life artist John Frederick Peto and his family date from circa 1850 to 1983 and measure 2.1 linear feet. Within the papers are scattered biographical materials, a few letters to and from Peto, and his daughter Helen Peto Smiley's correspondence with galleries, scholars, and others concerning Peto's artwork. Also found are news clippings, exhibition catalogs, and other printed material, photographs and glass plate negatives of Peto, his family, and his artwork, and one small oil sketch fragment. Much of the collection documents the mid-twentieth century renewed interest in Peto's artwork.
The papers of art critic and historian Alfred Victor Frankenstein measure 19.1 linear feet and date from 1875 to 1985. The bulk of the collection consists of Frankenstein's research and writing files on American painting, particularly artists working in the nineteenth-century. There are extensive files on artists John Haberle, William Michael Harnett, and William Sidney Mount. The collection also includes biographical material, correspondence, general writings and notes, professional activities files, personal business records, printed materials, photographs, and unidentified sound recordings.
The records of the Downtown Gallery date from 1824 to 1974 (bulk 1926-1969) and measure 109.56 linear feet. The records present a comprehensive portrait of a significant commercial gallery that operated as a successful business for more than forty years, representing major contemporary American artists and engendering appreciation for early American folk art. There is an unprocessed addition to this collection dating circa 1970 of a single financial/legal document.