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Guide to the George F. Kunz Papers
1862-1932
 MS 358

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


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Alison Barr and Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on March 29, 2019
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily includes over 2400 letters to George Frederick Kunz. The letters range across hundreds of correspondents, many of whom are represented by only one item. There are many letters from the 1880s-1890s, but most date from the early 1900s and into the 1920s, with a few from the last years of Kunz's life. The collection also holds some carbon copies of Kunz's outgoing letters. Kunz's intended replies or other disposition are noted in his hand on some of the letters; many of the letters also have shorthand notation on them, whether by Kunz or, perhaps more likely, a Tiffany secretary.

The subject matter ranges across Kunz's professional and personal interests. A sizable amount is fairly mundane, and includes acknowledgements of books received from Kunz, acceptances/regrets of invitations, courtesies, pleasantries, and letters of introduction or requests for them. Correspondence with publishers and editors comprise much of the correspondence, and this includes acceptances or rejections of proposed articles, editorial arrangements for publications, and the like. Requests of Kunz for information about gems and precious stones or providing him requested information is common. One of the most interesting documents in this regard was from the Burmese archaeologist Taw Sein Ko, who provided his paper on Burmese necromancy, with hand-drawn figures.

Much of the collection documents Kunz's involvement with an array of organizations. Letters request his financial support (including one from Helen Keller for the American Foundation for the Blind); for nomination to the Grolier, Century, or other club Kunz was affiliated with; and for invitations to events. More personal appeals to Kunz as mentor and patron are also documented here. These include women such as Laura Ivins, who in 1908 describes her work as a newspaper reporter in seeking Kunz's help in finding a position in the field in New York; and Isabelle Stone, who describes her struggles in 1906 to advance as a professor of physics. Along these lines, there is exceptional, extensive correspondence ranging from 1896 to 1924 with writer and editor Gardner C. Teall (1876-1956). In his letters, Teall describes his financial, health, and career struggles and his employment in various publishing houses (with Phelps Publishing, Robert Grier Cooke, House & Garden, and American Homes & Garden, among others); Kunz provides financial support, encouragement, job leads, and recommendations over the years.

The container list below provides a list of almost all correspondents in the collection. (Some are illegible or a few could not be fully discerned and so are in alphabetical "miscellaneous" folders.) To the extent that an individual correspondent was perceived by the processing archivist to be writing on behalf of an organization or was affiliated with an organization in some meaningful way in relation to the letter's content, an attempt was made during processing to identify that and include the organization's name in the container list as well. It is likely, however, that many such organizational references, particularly for routine invitations and the like, are not recorded in the container list.

Arrangement

The collection is organized alphabetically by correspondent, meaning the individual signing the letter, not, in the case of organizations, the name on the letterhead. It is unlikely that the arrangement precisely reflects Kunz's original order. At the close of the collection are a few dinner menus, receipts, and other printed formats.