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Guide to the Raven Poetry Circle of Greenwich Village Collection
ca. 1933- ca. 1954
  PR 108

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 11, 2011
Description is in English.

Scope and Content Note

The Raven Poetry Circle of Greenwich Village Photograph Collection spans the period from ca. 1933 to ca. 1954 and primarily contains photographs of the group's members and its annual open-air exhibits. The collection is divided into three series: Snapshots, Mounted Photos, and Clippings. Raven Poetry Circle members pictured in this collection include: Vincent Beltrone, Maxwell Bodenheim, John Cabbage, John Rose Gildea, Lincoln Gillespi, Joe Gould, Evelyn Hirschberg, Francis Lambert McCrudden, Anca Vrbovska, and Marie Margaret Winthrop.

Series I. Snapshots is comprised of photographs 5 x 7 inches and smaller; all but one are black and white. The series includes views of the annual Raven Poetry Circle Group Exhibition, held at Washington Square South and Thompson Street. Several of these exhibit photographs are dated, and clearly cover several different years. In a few instances, poems displayed on the wall can be seen in detail. Several individual snapshots of Raven Members are titled in the same hand with the poet's names. Many other snapshots are not inscribed or dated. Other photos, primarily the unidentified portraits, are dated on the verso, one as late as 1954. A group of snapshots of the Raven's exhibit and the Washington Arch were taken by Mae Walker in 1948. Others are inscribed to Francis McCrudden, including two views of a child, inscribed in her own hand. Snapshots are grouped into individual portraits and views of exhibitions. Portraits are organized thereunder by subject, when known.

Fifty nine snapshots were found mounted onto a large, 30 x 40 inch, poster board, as if for an exhibition. These snapshots were unmounted in 2003 by N-YHS conservation staff, and can be found in Box 2, with documentation as to the original layout of the snapshots on the board. There is no distinguishable difference between these photos and the other snapshots in this series. They show the same Raven Poetry Circle members in Washington Square. However, more people are identified in these snapshots.

Series II. Mounted photos are all 8 x 10 black and white prints matted in board. These photographs are all undated, but cover several different years of the exhibit. These seem to be copy prints, and may have been mounted for an exhibition of some kind. Several of the snapshots unmounted from the poster in Box 2 are the original photographs shown enlarged here. Most of these photos show Raven Poetry Circle exhibits as well as two views of members attending a poetry reading. Individual portraits are titled with the subject's name. A few photos of caricatures and drawings, of Ravens Maxwell Bodenheim and Joe Gould, are also included with the portraits. One photo of Jake Spencer, the artist of several drawings, is signed by Reuben Greenspan, the donor of the collection. The series is grouped into individual portraits and group views of exhibitions. Portraits are organized thereunder by subject.

Series III. Clippings include one newspaper photograph of the Circle's exhibit and a page from Esquire magazine with photos relating to Maxwell Bodenheim, several of which are in this collection, including one of Joe Gould. Also included is a flyer for "Winkelberg," Ben Hecht's play about Bodenheim's life. Several line drawings of workers, and a poem, "To A Crimson Lady of Fourteenth Street," by Jack Sellers, are potentially remnants from one of the Poetry Circle's exhibits.


[information on how the described materials have been subdivided into smaller units, e.g., series]

  1. Series I. Snapshots
  2. Series II. Mounted Photographs
  3. Series III. Clippings