Finding Aid for Frick Art Reference Library Staff Records - Katharine McCook Knox, 1922-1977 FARL.1300.040

Summary Information

Repository
The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives10 East 71st Street
New York, NY, 10021
archives@frick.org
 © 2015 The Frick Collection. All rights reserved.
Creator
Frick Art Reference Library.
Title
Frick Art Reference Library Staff Records - Katharine McCook Knox
ID
FARL.1300.040
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1922-1967
Date [inclusive]
1922-1977
Extent
1.25 Linear feet (3 boxes)
Abstract
Katharine McCook Knox (1890-1983), a Washington, D.C.-area art historian and author specializing in early American art, worked for the Frick Art Reference Library as a researcher, consultant, and special staff member for over 50 years. Mrs. Knox's staff records consist of correspondence, 1922-1977, regarding art research, photographing trips, her publications and lectures, and Library acquisitions.

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Historical Note

The Frick Art Reference Library was founded in 1920 by Helen Clay Frick (1888-1984) in honor of her father, industrialist and art collector Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919). Katharine McCook Knox (1890-1983), a Washington, D.C.-area art historian and author specializing in early American art, began her association with the Frick Art Reference Library in 1922. A friend of Helen Clay Frick’s since they were classmates at Miss Spence’s School for Girls in New York City, her involvement with the Frick Art Reference Library as a researcher, consultant, and special staff member spanned over 50 years. Mrs. Knox often worked from her Washington, D.C. home, providing new research on artists and paintings in the Library’s photoarchive, researching entries for The Frick Collection catalog, and acquiring photographs for the Library. She also planned and participated in Library photographing expeditions, which were undertaken by the staff to document works of art held in private collections, historical societies, museums, and other institutions throughout the U.S.

In 1931, Mrs. Knox supervised the photographing of portraits in the White House and compiled the photographs and her research into a binder, which the Frick Art Reference Library presented as a gift to the White House. Her book, The Story of the Frick Art Reference Library: The Early Years (1979), the only published history of the Library, traces its founding and growth, and includes her personal reminiscences. Mrs. Knox was also a lecturer and art collector, and was involved in planning exhibitions for Washington D.C. museums, including the National Collection of Fine Arts of the Smithsonian Institution, the Phillips Gallery, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Her publications include:  The Sharples: Their Portraits of George Washington and His Contemporaries (1931),  The Portraits of the Adams-Clements Collection and Their Painters (1951), and “Healy’s Lincoln No. 1” (1956, 1959), as well as numerous other articles.

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Scope and Content Note

The staff records of Katharine McCook Knox contain correspondence, 1922-1977, including original letters received from Mrs. Knox, and copy letters sent from the Frick Art Reference Library. Letters concern Mrs. Knox's work researching works of art documented in the Library's photoarchive; Library photographing trips; Mrs. Knox’s personal art research, publications and lectures; her acquisitions of photographs for the Library; and billing for services and purchases. The bulk of the correspondence dates from 1922-1967; there is only one letter after 1967.

Of special note is correspondence regarding the compilation of and updates to Paintings in the White House (1931) from 1927 to 1961; typed notes and correspondence regarding an early draft of  The Story of the Frick Art Reference Library: The Early Years (1979), dated 1950 to 1951; and notes on Mrs. Knox’s lecture about the Frick Art Reference Library in 1948.

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Arrangement

Correspondence is arranged chronologically.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

These records are generally open for research by appointment under the conditions of The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives Access Policy, although selected documents that contain personal information are restricted. For all inquiries or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Archives Department at archives@frick.org.

Processing Information

Arranged and described by Susan Chore, 2000. Updated 2015.

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Related Materials

Related Materials

Frick Art Reference Library Staff Research – Katharine McCook Knox Records. The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Frick Art Reference Library--History.
  • White House (Washington, D.C.).

Genre(s)

  • Correspondence.
  • Research notes.

Personal Name(s)

  • Knox, Katharine McCook.

Subject(s)

  • Art, American.
  • Presidents--United States--Portraits.

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Collection Inventory

1 1

Correspondence
 

1922-1923

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1 2

Correspondence
 

Details of photographing private collections in Washington, D. C. area.

1924-1925

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1 3

Correspondence
 

1926

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1 4

Correspondence
 

Knox typescript draft of “Some Huguenots in Miniature.” March 8, 1927 letter from Mrs. Knox discusses photographing White House portraits. March 21, 1927 letter includes lists of paintings to be photographed in Richmond, Va.

1927

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1 5

Correspondence
 

Contains details of her research on the Sharples family and mention of John Hill Morgan’s advice re her Sharples book.

1928

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1 6

Correspondence
 

Contains details of her research on the Sharples family, and mentions her working relationship with Corcoran Gallery director, Mr. C. Powell Minnigerode.

1929

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1 7

Correspondence
 

Contains letters re photographing the White House paintings.

1930

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1 8

Correspondence
 

Letter from the White House November 12, 1931.

1931

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1 9

Correspondence
 

Contains information about the White House portrait book. Letter circa October 1932 from Mrs. Knox notes that Mrs. Hoover would like the name of good copyist for a Benjamin West portrait.

1932

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1 10

Correspondence
 

Contains details of Kentucky photographing trip. Correspondence also includes references to photographing collections in Cleveland and Baltimore.

1933

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1 11

Correspondence
 

1934

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2 1

Correspondence
 

Contains letters re photographing portraits of Secretaries of State at the State Department.

1935

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2 2

Correspondence
 

1936-1937

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2 3

Correspondence
 

1938-1939

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2 4

Correspondence
 

1940-1943

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2 5

Correspondence
 

1943-1946

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2 6

Correspondence
 

March 14, 1947 letter from H.G. Crim, White House usher, re book of White House paintings. April 1947 includes discussion of photographing four portraits at the White House on May 5. Also contains intro to Mrs. Knox’s November 20, 1947 lecture, Romance and Sentiment in Early American Art.

1947

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2 7

Correspondence
 

Contains correspondence re gathering information and anecdotes about the Frick Art Reference Library for a lecture by Mrs. Knox. Responses include details of scholarly research, painting attributions, and work related to the recovery of artworks confiscated by Germany during World War II. Includes Mrs. Knox’s handwritten lecture notes. February 11, 1948 letter mentions gift of R.B. Beckett notes on William Hogarth.

1948

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2 8

Correspondence
 

1949

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2 9

Correspondence
 

Mentions gift of photographs by Samuel Hooker, discussion of the Library’s World War II microfilming project, gifts to the library, staff list, notes on scholars using library, and a list of photographing trips with dates, place, names, days and number of negatives.

1950

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2 10

Correspondence
 

Contains discussion of Mrs. Knox's manuscript on the history of Frick Art Reference Library. Also includes former head librarian Ethelwyn Manning’s account of her years at the Frick Art Reference Library, and “Reading Room Services” (26 pages) for Mrs. Knox’s book. July 1951 letter from Mrs. Knox notes that MacMillan has turned down her manuscript on the history of the Library. Also includes notes on exhibition Privately Owned at Corcoran on which Mrs. Knox is working.

1951

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3 1

Correspondence
 

Additional notes on exhibition Privately Owned at Corcoran on which Mrs. Knox is working.

1952

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3 2

Correspondence
 

Details of updates to White House Paintings, including correspondence with White House usher H.G. Crim.

1953

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3 3

Correspondence
 

1954

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3 4

Correspondence
 

Mention of Mrs. Knox’s appearance on NBC program “Home” with Arlene Francis and Hugh Downs.

1955

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3 5

Correspondence
 

Includes “Catalogue notes on the collection of Madame Cantacuzene by Mrs. McCook Knox” (four pages).

1956

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3 6

Correspondence
 

1957

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3 7

Correspondence
 

1958

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3 8

Correspondence
 

Contains excerpts of reviews of Mrs. Knox’s book, Surprise Personalities in Georgetown, D.C.

1959

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3 9

Correspondence
 

1960

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3 10

Correspondence
 

Summer 1961 reference to inserting photographs of President and Mrs. Eisenhower into the White House Paintings binder. Includes completed questionnaires on paintings, with some typed notes by Dwight Eisenhower on posing for his portrait.

1961

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3 11

Correspondence
 

1962-1963

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3 12

Correspondence
 

1964-1965

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3 13

Correspondence
 

1966-1967

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3 14

Correspondence
 

Folder contains one letter.

1977

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