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Hidden Treasures from the Norman Rockwell Museum

Norman Rockwell Museum

Monday, November 7, 2011

Back from hiatus - busy as ever!

It's been a while since the last post, but that doesn't mean that we haven't been working hard here in the archives.  We're now in the second year of our NHPRC basic processing grant, and that means.... finding aids!  We're in the process of researching and writing collection descriptions - no small task, to be sure - but we're making our way through it.

We're also well into our NEH grant funded project of digitizing our magnetic tape collection.  The first batch of files and dvd's has been received from the vendor, and all looks good so far.  We expect the second batch in a few weeks.  Now if I could just find some space on the shelves to put all of this stuff...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Norman Rockwell Museum Receives Archival Support from the National Endowment for Humanities

This just in!

Norman Rockwell Museum has been awarded archival support through a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The $85,000 grant will be used to reformat and process the Museum’s collection of magnetic videotapes, which contain hundreds of hours of important oral history and documentation related to Norman Rockwell and the art of illustration. The reformatting of the tapes will be handled by George Blood Safe Sound Archive in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with plans to make select films freely accessible to the public through the Museum’s website. Most of these tapes have not been viewed by the public before. They include unique interviews with Rockwell, his three sons, friends, colleagues, models, studio assistants and photographers, and other artists including Jan and Stan Berenstain, David Macaulay, New Yorker illustrators, and many more.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Model Citizen

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) "At last - settled in
the new home and ready to welcome new neighbors
and old friends!
," 1961. Charcoal on paper.
Norman Rockwell Museum Collection.
©NRLC, Niles, IL.

Norman Rockwell spent the last 25 years of his life in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The small town is now home to our Museum, which the artist personally helped to found. As a citizen of Stockbridge, Rockwell used local people to pose for his illustrations, many of whom still reside here. These familiar faces can be seen today at the local post office, the library, and other businesses along Main Street. A typical workday at the Museum might include a visit from a former Rockwell model, as they occasionally drop in to share their memories with us.

Recently, Elizabeth 'Betty' White stopped by the Archives. A longtime resident of Stockbridge, Betty and her family were invited to pose for many of Rockwell's illustrations. As Betty told her story, we looked through photographs and other documents in the Archives to search for additional details regarding her modeling session. A check register from 1959 revealed that Betty was paid $22 in October of that year to pose for one of Rockwell's illustrations for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Corporation (left). She was delighted to see images of her younger self, and of her children, who also posed for Rockwell. As we found out, the Massachusetts Mutual drawing which features Betty is a part of our collection here at the Museum. Before she left, the drawing was retrieved from storage so that Betty could view it for the first time.

We feel fortunate to be able to connect with these members of our community. Their insights into Rockwell's personality and process is invaluable, and as with all of our visitors and researchers, it is a delight to share our collections with them.
A check register from 1959 reveals Norman Rockwell's $22 payment to
Betty White for her modeling session.
Norman Rockwell Museum Archives.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Caring for Your Collections

Saturday, March 5th, at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Curator Corry Kanzenberg and Archivist Jessika Drmacich discuss and answer questions regarding the care of home collections!

Discover how factors one might easily dismiss can wreak havoc on treasured photographs, letters, and home videos. These include direct sunlight, mold infestations, and incorrect temperature and humidity.

Listen to guidelines on basic storage, preservation techniques for sentimental letters from one's grandparents or old family photographs.

One can greatly extend the life of personal archives with the adoption of these basic storing and handling practices.

Come join us!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What Price Glory?

Unidentified Man, J.C. Leyendecker, Unidentified Woman, and Norman Rockwell, April, 1925. Detail of photo by White Studio, New York, New York.

In September of 1924, a new play written by Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings opened on Broadway at the Plymouth Theater in Manhattan. The show was titled, What Price Glory?, and featured American marines in France during the first World War. Over the course of one year, it was performed over four hundred times. The theatrical production has since been remade into several feature-length films, including a version directed by John Ford in 1952, which starred James Cagney.

In the spring of 1925, with the help of local businesses, the play's management and cast organized a fundraising event, the proceeds from which went towards various veterans' charities. In addition to three days of benefit dances, a What Price Glory? poster contest was organized that featured illustrations made by men who served in the armed forces. Winners of the competition were awarded prizes by Arthur Hopkins, the play's producer. A photograph within our Archives identifies the judges, which included Norman Rockwell, and J.C. Leyendecker. Well-known for his advertising images commissioned by Arrow Shirt Collars, and House of Kuppenheimer, Leyendecker was Rockwell's friend and a fellow illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post. This photo is one of the few known images of the artist. Celebrities of their time, turn-of-the-century American illustrators were often invited to judge contests concerning art and beauty. On several occasions, Rockwell served as a juror for the Miss America Pageant while in the company of artists Dean Cornwell, and Howard Chandler Christy.

This photo was taken by White Studio, a commercial photographic firm with strong ties to New York's theater industry. Luther White, the studio's founder, has been credited with the development of flash-pan artificial lighting (NYPL, 2011). The New York Public Library is home to over 175,000 photoprints taken by White Studio between 1903 and 1936, a collection considered to be the most comprehensive documentation of the American stage from that period.


"Poster show to help soldiers: Programs at Plymouth Theatre for benefit of the wounded veterans." (1925, April 19). The New York Times (1923-Current file), X8. Retrieved January 27, 2011, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times (1851 - 2007). (Document ID: 98822612).

Posters exhibited for war charities: Marie Dressler in barmaid regalia at back-stage tea at the Plymouth Theatre. (1925, April 21). The New York Times (1923-Current file), p. 18.  Retrieved January 27, 2011, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times (1851 - 2007). (Document ID: 101657530).

New York Public Library. (2011). "White studio theatrical photographs." Retrieved from