Scope and Content Note


The earliest records consist of the correspondence of Museum Committee member Alfred Coxe Prime, and thus predate the Museum's formal establishment of any curatorial office or department of decorative arts. Series 2 through 7 document the work of curatorial staff; namely, Joseph Downs, Henry P. McIlhenny, Joan Prentice (in the absence of McIlhenny), and Calvin Hathaway, who each headed the department, respectively, from 1925 to 1973. Material consists of correspondence, subject files, research and exhibition records. During the time period documented, the Museum redefined the department's curatorial charge several times. "Decorative arts" thus referred to different object groups at different times, which were as follows: (1925-1928) all European and American decorative arts; (1928-1931) European decorative arts dated after 1500 ("Renaissance and Modern") and all American decorative arts; (1931-1967) all European and American decorative arts; (1967-1973) European decorative arts dated after 1700 and all American decorative arts.

Later curatorial records pertaining to decorative arts reside in several departmental record groups, namely: European Decorative Arts before 1700 Department, European Decorative Arts after 1700 Department, Dutch Tiles Records, American Art Department Records, and American Decorative Art Department Records. The Medieval Art Department Records include a small amount of correspondence of David DuBon, who became curator of Medieval and Renaissance Decorative Art at the time Hathaway assumed responsiblitiy for objects dated after 1700. No other records for DuBon have been transferred to the Archives.