Scope and Content Note


The Fiske Kimball Papers document the myriad interests and tireless professional pursuits of architect, scholar and museum director Fiske Kimball. The papers include professional and personal correspondence; architectural drawings; manuscript, typescript, and printed versions of articles, books, and reviews; photographs, including some personal snapshots and portraits of Kimball and his family; and research and reference material, particularly notes and clippings. Note that the majority of material pertaining to Kimball's thirty year tenure as director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art are located in the Fiske Kimball Records, and the two collections should be consulted in tandem.

The "General correspondence and related material" series primarily documents Kimball's long-term association with organizations devoted to professional development and scholarship, such as the American Institute of Architects, the American Association of Museums, and the Association of Art Museum Directors. In addition, the series includes a significant amount of letters with journal editors. As documented by this and additional correspondence found in the "Writings and research" series, Kimball had long-standing relationships with many of these editors, as he frequently offered solicited and unsolicited contributions to a variety of art and literary magazines.

The "Personal papers and records" series documents the more personal aspects of Kimball's busy life, and includes correspondence with members of his family, including his wife Marie, his parents, his sister, and some of his in-laws and distant relatives. The series also includes Kimball's letterbooks and journals; snapshots and portraits; material regarding Kimball's estate and that of his parents; records of his European travels; financial, genealogical, and insurance information; documentation of Kimball's various residences; and his high school, college and graduate school records.

The next five series relate to specific aspects of Kimball's professional life. The "Architectural projects" series documents Kimball's various design/build, consulting and restoration projects, and includes correspondence with clients; architectural floor plans, elevations and renderings; ephemera; wallpaper and fabric samples; and research material. Of particular note is the material documenting Kimball's long-term involvement with the restoration of Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg. The "Historic preservation projects" series documents Kimball's role in a government and two private agencies focused on the identification, study, maintenance and preservation of America's historic buildings and monuments. Kimball's role as an advisor on a variety of art historical and historical projects is recorded in the "Art historical and historical projects" series. These projects range from planning festivities around the 200th aniversary celebration of Thomas Jefferson's birth to selecting an artistic program for the Rockefeller Center, and from planning a Festschrift in honor of an art historian friend to facilitating the publication of two important art historical reference works.

The "Teaching position" series includes correspondence, course assignments, exam questions, lecture notes, student records and other material related to Kimball's professorships at the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia, and New York University. Material about Kimball's temporary lecture posts at the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley is also included. The "Writings and research" series documents Kimball's extensive published contributions to art historical scholarship, as well as some of the areas of interest on which he lectured, researched, or intended to publish. The series includes manuscript, typescript, and printed versions of his writings; correspondence with his editors, publishers, translators, co-authors, and others; photographs and negatives used by Kimball for study purpose and as illustrations; notes; and other associated material.

The final series, "Reference material" is comprised of clippings, photographs, glass and film negatives, lantern slides, post cards, and other material Kimball consulted for reference purposes, specifically in support of his art historical scholarship, and possibly also his work as an architect and architectural consultant. The series also includes his card file in which he kept bibliographic references, addresses, and personal information, including his dental X-rays.