The “O’Connor File” and the WPA

- This post was contributed by Kelsey Clark, intern at the Smithsonian AA/PG Library summer 2013. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created during the Great Depression as the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of people to carry out public works. This included artists, such as William Gropper, Marsden Hartley, Henry Varnum Poor, or Ben Shahn, who painted murals across the nation, from inside Coit Tower in San Francisco to the Harlem Hospital in New York City. The Smithsonian Libraries collection has books and archival material on the WPA projects, including a file on one man intimately connected to the government project: Dr. Francis V. O’Connor. During my internship, I was given the “O’Connor File” as a research project – a box filled with files containing published articles and books he had written, archival notes, and letter correspondence between the former Librarians at the National Portrait Gallery and various patrons concerning the rights to read some mysterious “questionnaires” that were somehow connected to O’Connor and the WPA. What were more »

Open House for Smithsonian American Art Resource Centers

Attending the American Library Association conference in June? Come join us on Monday, June 28, from 2-4 PM for an informal open house of the Smithsonian’s resources for American art research— just two blocks away from the Washington, D.C. Convention Center in the Victor Building (750 9th Street NW).  Please RSVP via email Christine Hennessey at artref[at] by Friday, June 25.   Four units for research will be opening their doors:   The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG) The AA/PG Library is one of twenty within the Smithsonian Libraries. The largest of five Smithsonian art libraries, the AA/PG Library houses over 180,000 books, exhibition catalogs, catalogues raisonnés, serials and dissertations. Its collection is concentrated in the area of American art, history, and biography with supportive materials on European art. The AA/PG Library also contains artists’ books, auction catalogs, scrapbooks, and microforms and also includes over 500 vertical files drawers of ephemeral materials on art, artists, art institutions, collectors, and special subjects.     Research and Scholars Center, Smithsonian more »

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