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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Repositories >> Repository Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Smithsonian Institution. Archives of American Art

750 9th St. NW, Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, District of Columbia 20001

Phone: 202-633-7950

Repository URL:

Repository code: dsiaaa

Repository description (extant): History

The Archives of American Art was founded in Detroit in 1954 by Edgar P. Richardson, then Director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, and Lawrence A. Fleischman, a Detroit businessman and active young collector.

The Archives' initial goal to serve as microfilm repository of papers already housed in other institutions quickly expanded to collecting and preserving original material from across the country. In 1970 the Archives joined the Smithsonian Institution, sharing the Institution's mandate--the increase and diffusion of knowledge.

The Archives Today

More than 50 years, 16 million items, 5,800 collections, and 2,000 oral histories later, the Archives is the world's largest and most widely used resource on the history of art in America.

The Archives' Research Collections--spanning more than 200 years--include letters, diaries, and scrapbooks of artists, dealers, and collectors; manuscripts of critics and scholars; business and financial records of museums, galleries, and associations; photographs; works of art on paper; and Oral History Interviews. New collections and oral history interviews are added each year, increasing the richness and depth of the Archives' holdings; for a complete list see Collections and Interviews, A-Z.

Once a commitment is made to Donate Papers, the new collection is accessioned, arranged and described, and then stored in a controlled and secure environment, helping to ensure its long-term preservation. Selected collections and documents, often of significant scholarly importance, are then digitized and made available online.

The public can view original documents by appointment at the Archives' Research Centers in Washington, DC or New York, NY, or access microfilm at Affiliated Research Centers nationwide or through Inter-library Loan. A growing number of entire collections are also available on the Archives' Web site as Collections Online; they can be viewed in the exact order and arrangement as the original files, and their descriptions searched by keyword.

In addition to researcher reference services, both in person and through the online Ask Us form, the Archives produces free exhibitions, publishes a magazine, the Archives of American Art Journal, and offers numerous Internship, Volunteer, and Fellowship Opportunities.

With the guidance of the Archives' Board of Trustees, and the ongoing support of our Membership and donors, the Archives of American Art can continue to serve as an essential resource for the appreciation, enjoyment and understanding of art in America.

Repository type: Federal Repository


[African American artists oral histories]


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   September 26, 2018
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