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Guide to the MacDowell Club of New York City Records
1905-1942
 MS 2953

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


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Susan Kriete

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on June 01, 2015
Description is in English

Descriptive Summary

 
Title: MacDowell Club of New York City Records
Dates: 1905-1942
Abstract: This collection includes minute books, scrapbooks, and other records of the MacDowell Club of New York City (1906-1945), founded in honor of composer Edward MacDowell to foster appreciation of the fine arts. The club played a significant role in the artistic life of the city in the first half of the 20th century.
Quantity: 13.0 Linear feet (18 boxes, 22 volumes, 3 oversize folders)
Call Phrase: MS 2953

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Biographical/Historical note

The MacDowell Club of New York City was founded in 1905 in honor of composer Edward MacDowell, and became a significant force in the artistic and cultural life of the city until it disbanded in 1942.

Edward MacDowell (1860-1908) was one of the first American composers to achieve international fame. Born in New York City, he studied music abroad and eventually returned to New York to serve as the first professor of music at Columbia University in 1896. He resigned in 1904, as a result of disagreement about the role of the music department. After his much-publicized departure, MacDowell's mental and physical health declined rapidly. A handsom cab accident contributed to his growing dementia, and in 1908 MacDowell died at the age of 48.

Before his death, MacDowell's friends and colleagues formed the MacDowell Club of New York City to support the composer and promote his ideals. The purpose of the club, as set forth in its articles of incorporation, was:

"To discuss and demonstrate the principles of the arts of music, literature, the drama, painting, sculpture, and architecture, and to aid in the extension of knowledge of works especially fitted to exemplify the finer purposes of these arts, including works deserving wider recognition, and to promote a sympathetic understanding of the correlation of these arts, and to contribute to the broadening of their influences; thus carrying forward the life purpose of Edward MacDowell."

To fulfill these objectives, the club showcased the arts with performances, recitals, exhibitions and lectures. Within a few years, the club's membership reached 600. Its earliest meetings were held in a studio at Carnegie Hall; from 1909 to 1911, the Club was housed in the Metropolitan Opera House; in October, 1911, the Club established its own club rooms at 108 West 55th Street, where it remained until 1924; and its last home was at 166 East 73rd Street.

In 1911, under the leadership of its second president, John W. Alexander, the Club made headlines with its revolutionary "open" exhibition policy, a radical departure from the normal juried exhibitions. Under this system, self-organized groups of artists could exhibit self-selected works in the Club's galleries at very little expense. Many gifted artists like Stuart David, Edward Hopper, Yasho Kuniyeshi and scores of others had their first exhibitions at the MacDowell Club.

The club's roster of presidents included distinguished artists, musicians, and men of affairs who were patrons of art and accomplished amateurs: Eugene Heffley, John W. Alexander, Frederick Stokes, Ernest Peixotto, Frederick S. Dellenbaugh, Benjamin Prince, Cecil Smith, Hartwell Cahell. Among its members were many well known writers, artists, musicians, actors and architects, including: Hamlin Garland, Richard Watson Gilder, Edwin Arlington Robinson, James Havery Robinson, John Dewey, Leonora Speyer, Herbert Adams, Robert Aitken, Hobart Nichols, Irving Wiles, Ivan Olinsky, Luis Mora, Robert Henri, George Bellows, Louise Homer, David Bispham, Katherine Bacon, Francis Rogers, Charles and Ivah Willis Coburn, Harriet Rogers Otis Dellenbaugh, Beatrice Cameron (Mrs. Richards Mansfield), Harold Van Buren Magonigle.

Early on the club established a Student Fund Committee, which provided timely aid to a whole generation of promising young artists. For many years, the Club maintained a resident fellowship in Professor George Baker's Drama Workshop at Harvard University, as well as a resident scholarship at the MacDowell Colony at Peterborough, New Hampshire. (Although founded at about the same time, by many of the same people, the MacDowell Club of New York also remained a separate entity from the MacDowell Colony, which still exists today).

Another interesting aspect of the club was the early work of the committee on drama. Committee members attended the first performance of noteworthy plays, and if they judged the work favorably, issued a one-page report commenting on the general idea of the play, its characterization, plot, situations, dialogue, production and acting. These reports were sent to club members, who were encouraged with coupons to attend within the first three weeks so as to support the production during this critical early period. A letter from Parker Fillmore, secretary of the club at the time of its dissolution, suggests that this committee became the nucleus of the national Drama League of America.

In 1909, composer Kurt Schindler formed the MacDowell Chorus, which performed with the New York Philharmonic and later became the Scola Contorum.

The MacDowell Club of New York City was one of a number of local MacDowell Clubs that grew up around the country, each of which operated separately from the others.

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Scope and Contents note

This collection includes minute books, account books, membership lists, annual reports, and scrapbooks and other loose ephemera relating to the MacDowell Club of New York City. Scrapbooks include items relating to both the club's internal governance (meetings, member applications, annual reports, etc.) and to club-sponsored public events, such as exhibits, lectures and performances. The collection includes only a very small amount of correspondence. Materials span the period from the club's formation in 1905 until it was dissolved in 1942.

A more complete description of the materials will be found in the scope and contents notes for the individual series.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers. Portions of the collection that have been microfilmed will be brought to the researcher in that format and can be made available by Interlibrary loan. Researchers on site may print out unlimited copies from microfilm reader-printer machines at per-exposure rates. See guidelines in Reading Room for details. Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.) Items that include presidential signatures will be presented to researchers in duplicate form.

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

Manuscripts Curator
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation note

This collection should be cited as the MacDowell Club of New York City Records, MS 2953, The New-York Historical Society.

Provenance

Gift of MacDowell Club of New York City, 1943

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Container List

Series I: Minutes

Scope and Contents note

This series includes a complete set of the minutes of monthly, annual and special meetings of the directors of the MacDowell Club of New York City from the time of its inception until it was dissolved. Minutes of some meetings of several of the club's special committees (Admissions Committee, House Committee, and Student Fund Committee) are also included.

The minutes, originally stored in binders, have been disbound and rehoused in folders. Loose ephemera and correspondence found in several of the earlier binders will be found in Series IV, Scrapbooks and Ephemera.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 General minutes
1905 October - 1906 January
Box: 1 Folder : 2 General minutes
1906 January - 1907 March
Box: 1 Folder : 3 General minutes
1907 April - 1908 April
Box: 1 Folder : 4 General minutes
1908 April - 1909 September
Box: 1 Folder : 5 General minutes
1909 October - 1910 May
Box: 1 Folder : 6 General minutes
1910 October - 1911 September
Box: 1 Folder : 7 General minutes
1911 September - 1912 May
Box: 3 Folder : 1 General minutes
1918 October - 1919 May
Box: 2 Folder : 1 General minutes
1912 October - 1913 November
Box: 2 Folder : 2 General minutes
1913 December - 1914 April
Box: 2 Folder : 3 General minutes
1914 October - 1915 October
Box: 2 Folder : 4 General minutes
1915 November - 1916 April
Box: 2 Folder : 5 General minutes
1916 October - 1917 May
Box: 2 Folder : 6 General minutes
1917 October - 1918 May
Box: 3 Folder : 2 General minutes
1919 October - 1920 May
Box: 3 Folder : 3 General minutes
1920 October - 1921 May
Box: 3 Folder : 4 General minutes
1921 October - 1922 May
Box: 3 Folder : 5 General minutes
1922 October - 1923 April
Box: 3 Folder : 6 General minutes
1923 October - 1924 June
Box: 4 Folder : 1 General minutes
1924 October - 1925 May
Box: 4 Folder : 2 General minutes
1925 October - 1927 March
Box: 4 Folder : 3 General minutes
1927 April - 1928 May
Box: 4 Folder : 4 General minutes
1928 April - 1929 May
Box: 4 Folder : 5 General minutes
1929 October - 1931 April
Box: 4 Folder : 6 General minutes
1931 April - 1934 January
Box: 5 Folder : 1 General minutes
1934 April - 1937 April
Box: 5 Folder : 2 General minutes
1937 May - 1941 April
Box: 5 Folder : 3 General minutes; Certificate of Dissolution
1941 - 1944; 1945 January 30
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Admissions Committee Minutes
1910-1927
Box: 5 Folder : 5 House Committee Minutes
1908-1922
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Student Fund Committee Minutes
1913-1926

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Series II: Account Books

Scope and Contents note

This series includes an incomplete set of account books detailing some of the financial operations (receipts and disbursements) of the organization in the 1920's and 1930's.

Container 1     Title Date
Volume: 1 Account book
1925 April - 1928 March
Volume: 2 Account book
1925 - 1927
Volume: 3 Executive secretary's cashbook
1929 April - 1932 October
Volume: 4 Treasurer's cash book
1929 April - 1933 April
Volume: 5 Check receipts
1926 March - 1927 December
Volume: 6 Check receipts
1927 December - 1929 April
Volume: 7 Check receipts
1929 April - 1930 December
Volume: 8 Check receipts
1931 January - 1932 November
Volume: 9 Check receipts
1926 November 30 - 1932 July
Volume: 10 Check receipts
1932 July - November
Volume: 11 Check receipts (interest on club bonds)
1924 June - 1925 September
Volume: 12 Check receipts (interest on club bonds)
1926 May - 1928 May
Volume: 13 Check receipts (interest on club bonds)
1928 May - 1929 May

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Series III: Membership lists and annual reports

Scope and Contents note

This series includes both a cumulative ledger of members and proposed members, and annual lists of members from 1911-1934. Also included are annual reports for the years from 1910 to 1924.

Container 1     Title Date
Volume: 14 List of Members, No. 1
1906 - ?
Volume: 15 Proposals for membership
1909 - 1934
Box: 6 List of members
1911-1916, 1918, 1919, 1921-1934
Box: 7 Annual reports
1910, 1911, 1913-1924

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Series IV: Scrapbooks and Ephemera

Scope and Contents note

This series consists primarily of annual scrapbooks containing ephemera relating to the club's events and activities. For conservation purposes, most of the scrapbooks have been disbound and re-housed in folders. Examples of the original binding are included in the series.

The scrapbooks contain items relating to the club's internal activities (meetings, member applications and lists, annual reports, annual dinners, etc.) as well as club-sponsored public events including concerts and recitals, art exhibits, and lectures on drama, literature and other artistic topics. Many examples of the drama committee's reports on plays (described in the Biographical/Historical note of this finding aid) are included. There is also ephemera relating to the club's annual Christmas Festival. Some scrapbooks contain material relating to the Edward MacDowell Memorial Association in New Hampshire, including programs for an elaborate historical pageant performed in his honor.

Materials represented include programs, notices, announcements, bulletins, invitations, coupons, menus, postcards and reviews and other types of clippings. Several scrapbooks that are comprised almost entirely of newspaper clippings were not disbound and were assigned volume numbers.

This series also includes several folders of loose ephemera and a small amount of correspondence found in some of the club's early minutes books.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 8 Folder : 1-3 Scrapbook 1905-1909
1905 December 5 - 1909 June 1
Box: 8 Folder : 4 Loose ephemera from minutes book
1905-1906, 1911-192
Box: 8 Folder : 5-6 Scrapbook 1909-1910
1909 October - 1910 June
Box: 8 Folder : 7-8 Scrapbook 1910-1911
1910 October - 1911 June
Box: 9 Folder : 1-2 Scrapbook 1911-1912
1911 October - 1912 June
Box: 9 Folder : 3-4 Scrapbook 1912-1913
1912 October - 1913 June
Box: 9 Folder : 5-6 Scrapbook 1913-1914
1913 October - 1914 June
Box: 10 Folder : 1-2 Scrapbook 1914-1915
1914 October - 1915 June
Box: 10 Folder : 3-4 Scrapbook 1915-1916
1915 October - 1915 June
Box: 11 Folder : 1-2 Scrapbook 1916-1917
1916 October - 1917 June
Box: 11 Folder : 3-4 Scrapbook 1917-1918
1917 June - 1918 October
Box: 11 Folder : 5-6 Scrapbook 1918-1919
1918 October - 1919 June
Box: 11 Folder : 7 Loose ephemera from minutes book
1918-1919
Box: 12 Folder : Scrapbook 1919-1920
1919 October - 1920 June
Box: 13 Folder : Scrapbook 1922-1926
1922 November - 1926 April
Box: 14 Folder : 1 Loose ephemera and correspondence, Students Fund Committee
1921-1926
Box: 14 Folder : 2-5 Scrapbook 1926-1929
1926 October - 1929 June
Box: 15 Folder : 1-3 Scrapbook 1929-1930
1929 October - 1930 June
Box: 15 Folder : 4-5 Scrapbook 1930-1931
1930 October - 1931 June
Box: 15 Folder : 6-7 Scrapbook 1931-1932
1931 October - 1932 June
Box: 16 Folder : 1-2 Scrapbook 1932-1933
1932 October - 1933 June
Box: 16 Folder : 3-4 Scrapbook 1933-1934
1933 October - 1934 June
Box: 16 Folder : 5-6 Scrapbook 1934-1935
1934 October - 1935 June
Box: 17 Folder : 1-2 Scrapbook 1935-1936
1935 October - 1936 June
Box: 17 Folder : 3-4 Scrapbook 1936-1937
1936 October - 1937 June
Box: 17 Folder : 5-7 Scrapbook 1937-1938
1937 October - 1938 June
Box: 18 Folder : 1-3 Scrapbook 1938-1939
1938 October - 1939 June
Box: 18 Folder : 4-6 Scrapbook 1939-1940
1939 October - 1940 June
Volume: 16 Scrapbook 1940-1941
1940 October - 1941 June
Volume: 17 Scrapbook 1941-1942
1941 October - 1942 June
Oversize: Small Folder : MacDowell OS1 Scrapbook 1941-1942 (removed loose and oversize material)
1941-1942
Volume: 18 Scrapbook (reviews and news clippings)
1908-1911
Volume: 19 Scrapbook (reviews and news clippings)
1911-1912
Volume: 20 Scrapbook (reviews and news clippings)
1912-1914
Volume: 21 Scrapbook (reviews and news clippings)
1914-1915
Oversize: Small Folder : MacDowell OS2 Scrapbook, Reports on Plays
1910-1911
Volume: 22 Scrapbook, Theater and Concert Programs
1910-1911
Oversize: Small Folder : MacDowell OS3 Scrapbook, Drama Committee
1911-1912

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