Series VII. Writings and research

1886-1957, n.d.

28 linear feet

Scope and Content Note

In addition to his contributions as a museum director and architect, Kimball was a highly regarded author who published scholarly articles, books, and book reviews throughout his career. This scholarly work provided Kimball with an modest, but important, supplement to the income he earned first as a professor, and later as director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. More importantly, it established Kimball as an authority on the architectural work of Thomas Jefferson, the history of domestic architecture in the United States, and the development of the Rococo style in France, among other topics.

Kimball's first article, "The Arrangement of Photographs and Magazine Plates" appeared in the April 1908 issue of Brickbuilder magazine while Kimball was still a student at Harvard. By the time of his appointment at the University of Illinois, Kimball was publishing regularly. His second article, "Brick Manor Houses of France," which culminated from studies conducted abroad as Harvard's Sheldon Fellow, appeared in November 1912. In the spring of the following year, he was invited to write a book on the history of architecture for Harper's college textbook series. This book, which Kimball wrote with Harold Edgell, did not appear until 1918. During the interm, Kimball began work on Thomas Jefferson, Architect, a privately printed volume on Jefferson's architectural drawings which appeared in 1916. The work, according to one Kimball biographer, "immediately made its author's reputation." Kimball would continue to publish on Jefferson throughout his career.

Kimball published six more books between 1922 and 1948, including a seminal study of early residential architecture in the United States, a well-researched and much delayed book on the architecture of Samuel McIntire, and the Creation of the Rococo, the volume that according to one reviewer, assured Kimball "a rank among those art historians whose contributions become standard works in the field." This volume was also translated into French and published as Le Style Louis XV in 1949. In addition to his own books, Kimball also edited for publication H. Langford Warren's The Foundations of Classic Architecture following the author's death. This series includes manuscripts, typescripts, research material, illustrations, correspondence, and other material for all of Kimball's published books, as well as material related to five unpublished books, including a revised edition of American Architecture.

Several of Kimball's books resulted from studies published first as scholarly articles. Between 1908 and 1955, Kimball published approximately 200 articles in a variety of literary and art magazines and journals, including Art and Archaeology, Architectural Record, Antiques, the Nation, Gazette des Beaux Arts, the Dial, and the New York Times Magazine. Beyond the aforementioned subjects, Kimball wrote on Bemjamin Henry Latrobe, Philadelphia Chippendale furniture and other decorative arts, museum planning, and his own restoration and architectural projects, including Monticello, Gunston Hall, Tryon's Palace, and the amphitheater and gymnasium at the University of Virginia. Kimball also contributed introductions, forewords, essays, and biographical entries to various books on art and architectural topics. The majority of these published works are documented here. The series also contains records of Kimball's numerous book reviews and lectures, two additional media Kimball used for the advancement of his art historical ideas. Research notes and outlines for articles or essays that were never fully developed are filed in the "Research" subseries and "Other writings" subseries, respectively.

Material in the "Memoirs" subseries is noteworthy because it documents nearly every aspect of Kimball's professional life. It includes correspondence with friends, family and professional associates, clippings, ephemera and other material Kimball gathered with the intention of producing some sort of memoir, which he hoped would be published posthumously. There are also manuscript drafts for some chapters.

The "Writings of other individuals" subseries contains printed and draft versions of articles by others, including most significantly his wife and sister. The manuscript version of Marie Kimball's writings make evident the couple's colloborative approach to their scholarly work on Thomas Jefferson and Colonial architecture. In at least two cases, it appears as though Marie borrowed heavily in her articles from passages written by Kimball.

Works Consulted:
  • Gundersheimer, Herman.Review of Fiske Kimball's Creation of the Rococo.
  • Nichols, Frederick Doveton."Introduction."


Two alphabetical groupings, with subseries of individual historical figures preceding those identified by type of writing. Research files last.