@ 2010 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Artists' Fund Society Records
1859-1937
 MS 23

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


@ 2010 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Annie Tummino

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on December 06, 2010
Finding Aid is written in English.
using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

 
Title: Artists' Fund Society Records
Dates: 1859-1937
Abstract: The collection documents the history of the Artists' Fund Society, a New York based organization founded in 1859 to assist members and their families in cases of illness, old age and death; and to provide aid to non-member artists in distress. It includes meeting minutes, reports, membership materials, financial records, and correspondence.
Quantity: 5.5 Linear feet (10 boxes and 13 bound volumes)
Call Phrase: MS 23

Return to Top »


Historical Note

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, millions of Americans received life insurance and other social welfare benefits through fraternal and mutual aid societies. The Artists' Fund Society was one such society. It was founded on February 5th, 1859, and incorporated on April 13, 1861. The primary mission of the organization was to provide aid to members experiencing disablement, sickness and distress, and to provide assistance to the widows, children and families of deceased members. In 1862 the Society additionally created a benevolent fund to provide aid to artists who were not members.

The original constitution of 1859 simply stated that members were required to be “artists by profession.” However, by the 1930s amendments stipulated that members must live in New York City or close enough to attend meetings, and that no person over the age of 45 could become a member.

The organization’s leadership consisted of a “Board of Control” comprised of a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and five other members. The Board of Control met monthly, and the Society sponsored an Annual Meeting for all members followed by an Annual Dinner for members and friends.

From 1860 through 1889, members were required to annually contribute a piece of art work to be exhibited and sold at auction. Money from the sales was deposited in a Special Investment Fund. Investments were made on first class bonds and mortgages and stocks of the United States and State of New York. Widows were paid annual interest on a sum of $1500, and then paid a lump sum of $1500 when their youngest child reached age 21. (The sum was raised over the years per amendments to the Constitution.)

In 1890, the system of selling art work was replaced with a system of “assessments." The Society required members to pay an assessment fee of $5 within 30 days of the death of a member; the beneficiary of the member received a percentage of the total amount collected.

Records indicate that in 1936 the Board of Control was considering re-organizing or dissolving the Society due to an increase in the number of members unable to pay their assessments, difficulty finding new young members and “a general lack of interest in the society.” A decade later, in 1946, the Artists’ Fund Society was formally consolidated with the Society of Illustrators, Inc.

Return to Top »


Scope and Content Note

The collection offers insight into the mission and operation of a New York based mutual aid society for artists. The records span from the Society's founding in 1859 through 1937, a decade before it consolidated with the Society of Illustrators.

The records document the organization's structure, decision making, and finances. Meeting minutes, reports, amendments to the constitution, correspondence, resignations, wills, and financial records all demonstrate how the organization operated and changed over time.

Much of the correspondence in the collection describes the conditions of artists in need of help, including struggles with illness, disability, and economic hardship.

Sales ledgers documenting annual art auctions from 1861 to 1889 include artist names, titles of paintings, names of purchasers, and purchase prices.

Series I of the collection consists of the papers of Alexander C. Morgan, a long time member of the Society who served as president from 1910 through 1933. Series II through X are made up of Society records arranged by type. Morgan's papers were acquired by the New-York Historical Society in 1941; the rest of the materials were donated by the Society of Illustrators in 2008.

Arrangement Note

Series I is comprised of the papers of Alexander C. Morgan, a financier and amateur artist who served as president of the Artists' Fund Society from 1910-1932.

Series II through X are comprised of Artists' Fund Society records (1859-1937) arranged by type.

  1. Series I: Alexander C. Morgan Papers
  2. Series II: Constitution and Amendments
  3. Series III: Minutes
  4. Series IV: Reports
  5. Series V: Correspondence
  6. Series VI: Membership
  7. Series VII: Financial
  8. Series VIII: Real Estate
  9. Series IX: Art Exhibitions and Sales
  10. Series X: Other Artists' Funds

Return to Top »


Access Points

Subject Names

  • Dunsmore, John Ward
  • Falconer, John Mackie, 1820-1903
  • Morgan, Alexander C.

Document Type

  • Agreements.
  • Bank statements
  • Bankbooks
  • Checkbooks
  • Checks
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Financial records
  • Minutes
  • Receipts
  • Registers (lists)
  • Reports

Subject Organizations

  • Artists' Fund Society (New York, N.Y.).
  • Fund for Superannuated Artists (New York, N.Y.).

Subject Topics

  • Artists--New York (State)
  • Artists--Pensions--New York (State)
  • Charities--New York (State)--New York
  • Fraternal organizations--New York (State)--New York
  • New York (N.Y.)--Social conditions

Return to Top »


Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote to: Manuscript Curator, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation Note

This collection should be cited as the Artists' Fund Society Records, MS 23, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material

Quadriennial, Biennal and Annual Reports of the Artists' Fund Society can be found in the New-York Historical Society's Library.

The Princeton University Library, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, has a set of Artists' Fund Society sale catalogues, 1860-1889.

Provenance

This collection is made up of two acquisitions:

1. The papers of Alexander C. Morgan, Series I, President of the Artists' Fund Society from 1910-1933, acquired in 1941.

2. Artists' Fund Society records, Series II through X, donated by the Society of Illustrators in 2008.

Return to Top »


Container List

Series I: Alexander C. Morgan Papers, 1881-1936

Scope and Content Note

Series 1 consists of the papers of Alexander C. Morgan, arranged in 6 subseries: a) Correspondence b) Relief Cases c) Membership d) Related Artists' Fund Societies e) Financial and Real Estate and f) Notes and Clippings.

Morgan (1849-1933) was a financier and amateur landscape painter who served as president of the Artists' Fund Society from 1910-1933. A cousin of J. P. Morgan, he entered the stock brokerage business at an early age and founded the firm A.C. Morgan & Co., serving as its head until 1928. He was a founder of the Salmagundi Club, a life member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a fellow in perpetuity of the National Academy of Design. His artwork was exhibited at a number of private showings.

Subseries A: Correspondence

Scope and Content Note

Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Letters consist largely of requests for assistance and thank you letters. Letters requesting assistance describe conditions of poverty, disability, illness, and old age, and are written by the artists themselves, as well as by family members, friends and charitable organizations on their behalf. Correspondents include John Ward Dunsmore, Secretary of the Artists’ Fund Society, and William Merritt Post, Treasurer of the Artists’ Fund Society.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Anderson-Aylward
1923-1933
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Dunsmore-Dutton
1924-1933
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Berneker-Buehler
1929-1933
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Chapman-Dewey
1923-1931
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Finley-French
1926-1933
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Granville-Isador
1925-1932
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Jackson-Loweth
1924-1933
Box: 1 Folder : 8 MacDowell-Nichols
1927-1933
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Nordell-Phelps
1925-1933
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Post
1923-1933
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Potthast-Price
1925-1932
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Raynor-Streatfeild
1925-1933
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Tompkins-Winsor
1929-1933

Subseries B: Relief Cases

Scope and Content Note

This bound volume documents aid to artists provided by the Artists' Fund Society. It includes an alphabetized list of recipients followed by brief descriptions of each artist's circumstances and actions taken by the Society to provide help.

Container 1     Title Date
Volume: 1 Relief Cases, Board of Control
1931-1933

Subseries C: Membership

Scope and Content Note

These records document activities of the membership and legal agreements pertaining to assistance to families of deceased members. The Artists' Fund Society souvenir includes a small landscape painting by Arthur E. Powell.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Annual Dinner Souvenir and Ephemera
1911 and undated
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Meeting Notices
1924-1933
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Wills and Estates
1923-1931

Subseries D: Related Artist Fund Societies

Scope and Content Note

The Fund for Superannuated Artists was established in the early 1900s to assist aged artists in maintaining suitable homes. It was founded by members of the Artists’ Fund Society and the Artists’ Aid Society, and in 1932 it dissolved, dividing its money between the two organizations. Correspondence, meeting minutes, notes and memorandums document this history and the 1932 agreement.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Fund for Superannuated Artists
1923-1932

Subseries E: Financial and Real Estate

Scope and Content Note

The majority of these records document the Society's real estate investments.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Bills and Receipts
1920-1931
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Mortgages, Becker-Kertyczak
1923-1934
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Mortgages, Marx-Villosio
1924-1934
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Real Estate Documents
1924-1933

Subseries F: Notes and Clippings

Scope and Content Note

This subseries consists largely of Morgan's hand written notes. A small quantity of newspaper clippings document Artists’ Fund Society activities and external developments impacting the Society.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Newspaper Clippings
1881-1933
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Notes (Hand Written)
1926-1933

Return to Top »


Series II: Constitution and Amendments

Scope and Content Note

This series consists of multiple versions of the constitution (printed and hand written), as well as proposals to amend the constitution over the years.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Constitution (Hand Written)
1859
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Constitution (Printed)
1859
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Constitution (Printed)
Circa 1860
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Amendments and Resolutions
1860 June 6-1936 March 12

Return to Top »


Series III: Minutes

Scope and Content Note

Meeting minutes are hand written and arranged chronologically in bound volumes. They are continuous from February 5, 1859 through April 1, 1873 and from February 8, 1876 through March 12, 1922. They include annual and quarterly (or later, “semi-annual”) meetings of the membership, as well as monthly meetings of the Board of Control. Business discussed includes nomination and election of general and board members, financial investments, aid to members and non-members, planning of annual exhibits and dinners, and proposals to amend the constitution. Officers and names of those present are listed for each meeting.

Container 1     Title Date
Volume: 2 Minutes
1859 February 5-1873 April 1
Volume: 3 Minutes
1876 February 8-1885 May 5
Volume: 4 Minutes
1885 May 12-1897 April 13
Volume: 5 Minutes
1897 April 20-1922 March 12

Return to Top »


Series IV: Reports

Scope and Content Note

Reports are grouped by type. With the exception of Biennial Reports (which were formally published), most of these reports are hand written or typed drafts with hand written corrections and notations. The presidential and secretarial reports appear to be speeches that were read at the annual meeting or dinner. These reports discuss the overall health and activities of the organization, note deaths of members, and welcome new members.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Biennial Reports
1916
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Leaflets
Circa 1888
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Nominations Committee Reports
1896-1930
Box: 3 Folder : 10 President's Reports
1895-1900 and undated
Box: 3 Folder : 11 Secretary's Reports
1917-1931
Box: 3 Folder : 12 Special Committee Reports
1883-1916
Box: 3 Folder : 13 Treasurer and Auditor Reports
1916-1923
Box: 3 Folder : 14 Treasurer and Auditor Reports
1924-1937

Return to Top »


Series V: Correspondence

Scope and Content Note

This series consists of letters received by Artists' Fund Society officers and board members arranged alphabetically by recipient. Additionally, correspondence associated with particular committees and positions is grouped at the end. Letters address a range of activities and issues, including assistance to artists in need, updates on the health of those receiving aid, notifications of deaths of members, payment of assessment fees, honorary memberships, thank you letters, resignations, nominations for membership or service on the Board of Control, and other Society business.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 1 de Forest, Lockwood
1894-1905
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Department of Health
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Dunsmore, John Ward
1925-1930
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Dunsmore, John Ward
1931-1936
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Dustin, Silas
1908-1909
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Falconer, John M.
1878
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Hicks, Thomas
1876
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Hunt, Leigh
1907-1909
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Post, William Merritt
1910-1935
Box: 4 Folder : 10 Shurtleff, R. M.
1893 and undated
Box: 4 Folder : 11 Sindelar, T. A.
1914
Box: 4 Folder : 12 Williams, John Alonzo
1935-1937
Box: 4 Folder : 13 Yewell, George H.
1892-1899
Box: 4 Folder : 14 Yewell, George H.
1900-1909
Box: 4 Folder : 15 Artists' Fund Society, General
1888-1919
Box: 4 Folder : 16 Special Committee
1885
Volume: 6 Board Members and Officers
1860-1880
Volume: 7 Treasurer
1897-1906

Return to Top »


Series VI: Membership

Scope and Content Note

Lists, nominations, honorary memberships, notifications of member deaths, and resignations all track the composition and structure of Artists' Fund Society membership over time. Additionally, death of members and fees lists, designation of benefits forms, will and estate documents, and receipts documenting benefit payments all demonstrate how assistance was administered to widows, children and families of deceased members.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 17 Annual Meeting and Dinner Notices
1920-1924
Box: 4 Folder : 18 Death of Members and Fees List
1903-1908
Box: 4 Folder : 19 Death of Members Notices
1867-1905
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Death of Members Since 1925 List
Circa 1935
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Death of Members, Unpaid Assessments
1935
Box: 5 Folder : 3 Designation of Benefits, Adams-Ennis
1896-1932
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Designation of Benefits, Fassett-Loomis
1896-1932
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Designation of Benefits, Macy-Ryder
1896-1931
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Designation of Benefits, Sandor-Wood
1896-1932
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Honorary Memberships
1892
Box: 5 Folder : 8 Membership List
Circa 1883-1934
Box: 5 Folder : 9 Membership List
Circa 1935
Box: 5 Folder : 10 Newspaper Clippings
1927 and undated
Box: 5 Folder : 11 Nominations for Membership
1897-1921
Box: 5 Folder : 12 Receipt of Payment Upon Resignations and Deaths
1885-1887
Box: 5 Folder : 13 Receipt of Payment Upon Deaths
1914-1919
Box: 5 Folder : 14 Receipt of Payment Upon Deaths
1932-1935
Box: 6 Folder : 1 Resignation Documents
1885
Box: 6 Folder : 2 Resignation Documents
1885
Box: 6 Folder : 3 Resignation Documents
1886
Box: 6 Folder : 4 Resignation Documents
1887
Box: 6 Folder : 5 Resignation Documents
1888-1889
Box: 6 Folder : 6 Will and Estate Documents
1881
Box: 6 Folder : 7 Will and Estate Documents
1885-1887
Box: 6 Folder : 8 Will and Estate Documents
1888
Box: 6 Folder : 9 Will and Estate Documents
1889-1890
Box: 6 Folder : 10 Will and Estate Documents
1904-1907
Volume: 8 Death of Members and Fees List
1909-1933

Return to Top »


Series VII: Financial

Scope and Content Note

This series is divided into two subseries.

Subseries A, Financial Records, includes correspondence with banks, bank statements, bankbooks, canceled checks, and bills and receipts. There are five bound volumes, including a cash transaction book and four volumes of check stubs of the Second National Bank.

Subseries B, John Mackie Falconer Papers, documents the investigation of J.M. Falconer, who served as Treasurer of the Artists' Fund Society from its inception until February 1883. Auditors determined that Falconer used deceptive record keeping practices to misappropriate $8,713.72. The final report on the affair said it was "the most painful and important" episode in the organization's history. These materials were bundled together by the Artists' Fund Society and are arranged in their own subseries to preserve this context.

Subject Names

  • Dunsmore, John Ward
  • Falconer, John Mackie, 1820-1903
  • Morgan, Alexander C.

Subject Organizations

  • Artists' Fund Society (New York, N.Y.).
  • Fund for Superannuated Artists (New York, N.Y.).

Subseries A: Financial Records

Scope and Content Note

Financial Records include correspondence with banks, bank statements, bankbooks, canceled checks, and bills and receipts. There are five bound volumes, including a cash transaction book and four volumes of check stubs of the Second National Bank.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 7 Folder : 1 Bank Correspondence
1935-1936
Box: 7 Folder : 2 Bank Statements
1929-1935
Box: 7 Folder : 3 Bankbooks, Manhattan Company
1871-1881
Box: 7 Folder : 4 Bankbooks, National City Bank of New York
1930-1934
Box: 7 Folder : 5 Bankbooks, Second National Bank
1883-1922
Box: 7 Folder : 6 Bankbooks, Union Square Savings Bank
1911-1936
Box: 7 Folder : 7 Bills and Receipts
1879-1887
Box: 7 Folder : 8 Bills and Receipts
1903-1910
Box: 7 Folder : 9 Bills and Receipts
1911-1920
Box: 7 Folder : 10 Bills and Receipts
1921-1929
Box: 8 Folder : 1 Bills and Receipts
1930-1937
Box
8
Folder
2
 

Bills and Receipts (Blank Forms)

Box: 8 Folder : 3 Canceled Checks
1879-1886
Box: 8 Folder : 4 Canceled Checks
1908-1910
Box: 8 Folder : 5 Canceled Checks
1922-1930
Box: 8 Folder : 6 Canceled Checks
1931-1925
Box: 8 Folder : 7 Credits to Bank Accounts
1906
Box: 8 Folder : 8 Credits to Bank Accounts
1932-1937
Box: 8 Folder : 9 Dividend Payment Receipts
1885-1886
Box: 8 Folder : 10 Notes (Hand Written)
1933-1934 and undated
Box: 8 Folder : 11 Safe Deposit Box Documents
1931
Volume: 9 Cash Book
1859-1891
Volume: 10 Checks, Second National Bank, 1-300
1883-1885
Volume: 11 Checks, Second National Bank, 301-900
1885-1890
Volume: 12 Checks, Second National Bank, 1501-2000
1912 April 10-1922 February 23
Volume: 13 Checks, Second National Bank, 1252-1500
1900-1912

Subseries B: John Mackie Falconer Papers

Scope and Content Note

This subseries documents the investgation of John Mackie Falconer, who served as Treasurer of the Artists' Fund Society from its inception until February 1883, when he was found guilty of misappropriating $8,713.72. These materials were bundled together by the Artists' Fund Society and are arranged in their own subseries to preserve this context.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 8 Folder : 12 Auditor Reports
1882 November 14 - 1883 February 7
Box: 8 Folder : 13 Correspondence and Notes
1882
Box: 8 Folder : 14 Legal Agreement
1882 December 19
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Report on Falconer's Property
1882 December 12
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Resignation Letters
1883
Box: 9 Folder : 3 Treasury Reports by Falconer
1861-1862
Box: 9 Folder : 4 Treasury Reports by Falconer
1874-1881

Return to Top »


Series VIII: Real Estate

Scope and Content Note

This series consists of correspondence, legal agreements, reports and other records documenting the Society's real estate investments.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 9 Folder : 5 Correspondence
1924-1936
Box: 9 Folder : 6 Legal Agreements
1897-1903
Box: 9 Folder : 7 Legal Agreements
1912-1927
Box: 9 Folder : 8 Legal Agreements
1930-1933
Box: 9 Folder : 9 Lists of Mortgages Held by the Artists' Fund Society
1889-1934
Box: 9 Folder : 10 Memorandums
1934
Box: 9 Folder : 11 Newspaper Clippings
1934
Box: 9 Folder : 12 Notes (Hand Written)
undated
Box: 9 Folder : 13 Reports on Mortgage Company Reform
1933

Return to Top »


Series IX: Art Exhibitions and Sales

Scope and Content Note

From 1860 through 1889, members were required to annually contribute a piece of art work to be exhibited and sold at auction. Money from the sales was deposited in a Special Investment Fund used for life insurance benefits. This series contains ledgers documenting auction sales, including artist names, titles of paintings, names of purchasers, and purchase prices. It also contains notices to members regarding the logistics of the exhibitions, and an exhibit catalog from 1876.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 9 Folder : 14 Catalogs
1876
Box: 9 Folder : 15 Notices to Members
1868-1889
Box: 10 Folder : 1 Sales Ledgers
1861-1867
Box: 10 Folder : 2 Sales Ledgers
1871-1881
Box: 10 Folder : 3 Sales Ledgers
1882-1889

Return to Top »


Series X: Other Artists' Funds

Scope and Content Note

This series contains materials by and about other Artists' Funds in the United States, the United Kindgdom and Germany, including reports, pamphlets, invitations, newspaper clippings and correspondence.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 10 Folder : 4 Artists' Aid Society
1910
Box: 10 Folder : 5 Artists' General Benevolent Institution
1862-1904
Box: 10 Folder : 6 Fund for Superannuated Artists

Scope and Content Note

See Series I: Alexander C. Morgan, Subseries D, for more documents related to the Fund for Superannuated Artists. (link back to that section).

1904 and undated
Box: 10 Folder : 7 German Language Materials
1863

Return to Top »


Return to Top »