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Records of the Department of Art

Identifier: 11/3/3/1

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The records of the Department of Art, comprising four boxes, are arranged in five subseries: correspondence, personnel files, departmental administrative files, student records and departmental financial records.

The general correspondence (incoming, and copies of outgoing), which spans the period 1956 through 1971, comprises two boxes or over fifty percent of the records. The bulk of the correspondence falls in the years 1961 and 1966. With few exceptions the letters are addressed to J. Carson Webster, who served as chairman from 1960/1961 through 1963/1964, and acting chairman in 1970/1971; and James D. Breckenridge, who was chairman from 1964/1965 until 1971/1972. The correspondence also includes inter-office memos, circulars, notes, an occasional newspaper clipping, resumes and telegrams. The bulk of the incoming letters are inquiries concerning graduate programs, course offerings and employment opportunities. Outgoing letters, in the main, are composed of student and faculty recommendations and responses to queries on courses, application procedures for graduate programs and inter-office communications concerning matters such as library holdings and privileges, and requests for equipment and facilities. Letters between the two chairmen and various professional colleagues comprise a second substantial portion of the correspondence. This correspondence, which is heaviest in the years 1960/1961 and 1968?1969, is largely concerned with architectural topics. Letters of June 7 and June 20, 1960, between J. Carson Webster and Walter Creese, Professor of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana, for example, discuss a definition of the term "skyscraper." There is also correspondence during this period between Professor Webster and prominent architectural historians such as Henry Russell Hitchcock (letters of 23 and 26 April 1961), Professor Frank Seiberling of the University of Iowa (26 December 1961) and Winston Weisman, head of the Department of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania and authority on twentieth century commercial architecture (12 May 1961). The bulk of the correspondence for 1968/1969 is between James D. Breckenridge and Professor Weisman. This correspondence, mainly concerned with arrangements for Professor Weisman's stay at Northwestern as Concora Lecturer, and with a symposium on the Chicago School of Architecture in the Spring of 1969, discusses personalities, topics and problems relating to American architecture. There are also letters related to this symposium between Professor Breckenridge and Sir John Summerson and Henry Russell Hitchcock. In addition, the folders for fall 1964 and for 1970?1971 contain records important to the history of the Department of Art. A letter written by J. Carson Webster on October 29, 1964 gives a brief history of the department, and another from Professor Breckenridge to the Dean of Arts and Sciences, dated June 12, 1970 proposes dividing the department into the departments of art and art history. A copy of a typescript written by Professor Breckenridge September 1, 1971 discusses the evolution of the discipline of art history.

Personnel files comprising approximately one-half box contain correspondence, biographical material and vita relating to guest lecturers and visiting artists, as well as faculty members of the department. The correspondence is largely concerned with arrangements for visiting lecturers. Folders on faculty members contain biographical information and letters of recommendation.

The administrative files also comprise approximately one-half box. They include correspondence, lecture and symposium notices and programs, university requisition forms, guest lists, newspaper clip-pings and printed articles. They also contain departmental faculty minutes and memos (scattered) from 1956-1972, files pertaining to departmental fellowships, awards-and professional associations. Of special note is correspondence concerning the visit of Andy Warhol, the Pop artist, to the Northwestern campus in January, 1968 (box 4, folder 1), and a biographical sketch of the sculptor, Charles Haag (box 3, folder 24), written by his wife.

Student records take up approximately one-quarter box. They include accepted and rejected Graduate School Applications, admission records, applications for teaching assistantships and correspondence with students. The bulk of these records are for the years, 1969-1971.

The departmental financial records comprise only two small folders, one listing faculty salaries for summer sessions 1959-1961, and the second, special accounts, relating to honoraria expenses for 1961, 1969-1970.

Addition, Boxes 5-6

This addition to the records of the Department of Art is contained in 2 boxes and spans the period 1941-1972, with the bulk of records dating between 1950 and 1972. It is arranged in two subseries: general administrative files and personnel files.

The general administrative files fill one box. They consist largely of correspondence of the department chairs (1950-72), which pertains chiefly to promotions and salary increases for department faculty and other employees. They also include copies of the department's annual reports (1951-70), minutes of department faculty meetings (1951-61), and materials related to the departmental budget (1948-63).

The personnel files fill one box document the professional careers of department faculty members and consist chiefly of curricula vitae and vita supplements. Occasional folders include other documents such as exhibit catalogs and reviews of the faculty member's work.


  • 1956-1974


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.

This series may be used with permission of the chair of the Art Dept.


6.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



The records of Northwestern University's Department of Art, contained in four boxes, are arranged in five subseries: correspondence, personnel files, departmental administrative files, student records and departmental financial records. The original collection covers the years 1956-1971; an addition extends covedrage in some areas back to 1941.


The records of Northwestern University's Department of Art are organized into: correspondence (arranged by date); personnel files (arranged alphabetically by surname, then by date); departmental administrative files (arranged alphabetically by subject), student records (arranged by date); and departmental financial records.

The addition is organized into: general administrative files (arranged alphabetically by folder title); and personnel files (arranged alphabetically by surname).

Method of Acquisition

The records of the Department of Art (Accession #82-29) were transferred to the University Archives by the directive of David Van Zanten, Chairman of the Department of Art History.

Separated Materials

Eleven photographs were removed to the Archives' Photo-graphic Collection. Three linear inches of university publications, university committee reports, and general university memoranda have been separated to the Archives' general reference files. Non-Northwestern University or Department of Art publications were sent to Northwestern University Library Gifts and Exchange Department.

Processing Information

Alice O'Mara Piron; December, 1982.

Addition processed by James G. Carson; July 31, 1985.

Guide to the Records of the Department of Art
Alice O'Mara Piron
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US