Scope and Content Note

Most of the material comprising the Joan Root Collections consists of correspondence she received from Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch, who amassed one of the world's greatest private collections of medieval arms and armor, which he bequeathed to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. During most of the years of their correspondence, from 1969 to 1974, Mrs. Root served as vice chair and chairperson of the Museum Guides. The earliest correspondence pertains to arranging trips for the guides to visit von Kienbusch at his New York City residence and view his collection. Mrs. Root continued to correspond with von Kienbusch until his death in 1976. Von Kienbusch's letters focused on personal interests, such as Root's family and von Kienbusch's other passions--angling and his alma mater Princeton University, as well as occasional discussions of museum and private acquisitions of medieval arms. Although von Kienbusch often made reference to his blindness, which came on him sometime during the mid-1960s, his letters make readily apparent that it did not keep him from collecting, traveling and entertaining. A few of Root's letters to von Kienbusch are included as well as those written by other Museum staff and associates of von Kienbusch. Other related material includes an entire issue of the Museum's Bulletin devoted to his collection as well as newspapers clippings and press releases about PMA's acquisition. There are also photographs of von Kienbusch, several of his obituaries, and a brief essay by Mrs. Root in which she recalls her relationship with him and identifies other individuals whose correspondence is included here.

The second subgroup highlights a completely different interest of Mrs. Root--a small compilation of ephemera pertaining to the City of Philadelphia. Most of the pieces are from the 1876 Centennial, along with a piece from the 1926 Sesqui-centennial and the 1879 dedication of the equestrian Washington Monument, which now stands across the street from the main entrance of the Museum.