Series I. General correspondence and related material

Date:
1908-1955, n.d.

Extent:
18 linear feet

Scope and Content Note

While this series includes Kimball's correspondence with many of the same individuals and institutions represented in the various subject-related series, the bulk of "General correspondence and related material" documents his long-term association with organizations devoted to professional development and scholarship. Kimball's most consistent correspondents include the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Association of Museums (AAM), and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD). The earliest of Kimball's professional affiliations was with the AIA, and correspondence begins with his 1915 application as Junior Member of its Michigan chapter. The publication of his dissertation in the Institute's journal is another subject of his early correspondence. Later correspondence deals with Kimball's work on the Committee on Archives, including his suggestion of compiling a "Who's Who in Architecture" to document AIA members, and his participation in the Virginia and Philadelphia chapters. Kimball's membership in the AAM and AAMD corresponds with his tenure at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA). Documentation of both organizations consists of general correspondence as well as annual meeting agendas and minutes and material relating to the various subgroups of committees and councils. Related material in the Fiske Kimball Records is cross-referenced at the file level. Much of Kimball's early AAM correspondence is with its director, Lawrence Vail Coleman, and pertains to a variety of issues concerning museums generally and to the PMA specifically, such as its progress on construction projects funded by the Works Progress Administration. Much of his correspondence of the 1940s pertains to the Committee on Association Policies. In the AAMD files, lists of exhibitions arranged by member museums and available for travel appear regularly within the correspondence files. The issue of overlapping AAMD and AAM agendas and meeting dates is another topic of regular discussion.

There is also substantial documentation with the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, which was established in 1925 to provide fellowships for advanced professionals in most fields of art. Kimball sat on its Education Advisory Board and was consulted regularly for his opinions and recommendations of fellow nominees. Kimball also corresponded regularly with the College Art Association, another institution devoted to the promotion of the visual arts, and with the Century Association, to which Kimball was elected a resident member in 1924. Located in New York City, the latter organization, also referred to as a club, was incorporated to promote the advancement of art and literature, and maintained a library, reading room and art gallery. The bulk of Kimball's correspondence with the Century relates to member recommendations. His memberships with the Philadelphia Art Alliance and with the prestigious American Philosophical Society are also well documented.

The individuals significantly represented in this series also exemplify the array of art experts Kimball cultivated. These include: New York collector of American art, Thomas B. Clarke; fellow author and staff member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Department of Prints, Edna Donnell; and art historians Walter Cook and R. Meyer Riefstahl. Other organizational correspondents include Harvard University, New York University, the Frick Art Reference Library, and the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, as well as the publications Architectural Record, Art Bulletin and Antiques Magazine.

Also of note is Kimball's twenty-year correspondence with the New York clothier Brooks Brothers. These letters give a personal picture of Kimball, including his stature, preferences in men's fashion, and his implicit expectation of nothing less than perfect customer service.

In addition to the minutes and agendas referenced above, many folders contain other material related to the correspondence, including clippings, ephemera, photographs and publications. Attachments have been retained with the appropriate correspondence as well as any reference material Kimball may have assembled with it, including his notes.

Arrangement

This series consists of papers originally processed as "Records of Kimball's Early Career, 1911-1923" and "Professional Correspondence, 1920-1955." The one exception is the material previously identified as Kimball's teaching records, and originally part of the "Early Career" series. These are now processed as a separate "Teaching positions" series. "General correspondence" is divided into three chronological subseries, in an arrangement that generally reflects the original order, without the overlap of dates. The subseries are 1908-1919, 1920-1942 and 1943-1955. Within each subseries, folders are arranged alphabetically with alphabetical-run folders (containing multiple personal or corporate authors) preceding individual author folders.