The Wolfsonian Library accounts for more than half of the 200,000 works in the museum's collection. It houses 125,000 rare books, periodicals, reference materials, special archives, and ephemeral items including: vintage postcards, advertisements, brochures, calendars, leaflets, labels, sheet music covers, schedules, matchbook covers, and more. The artifacts demonstrate the vital role that art, architecture, and design have played in shaping perceptions of the modern world, and are preserved to reflect the times in which they were created.
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Special Collections + Archives
- The John and Drew Eberson Architectural Records Archive
One of The Wolfsonian's major architectural holdings, this archive documents the work of the firm John and Drew Eberson, Architects from 1909 through 1988. John Eberson is known as the creator of "atmospheric"-style movie palaces, characterized by mimicking an opulent and exotic "outdoors" inside, and credited with designing almost 100 such theaters throughout the country in the 1920s. The firm later transitioned to designing theaters in the art deco style. The archive includes records for more than 420 projects and totals more than 7,600 items. The Wolfsonian's work arranging and processing the archive was supported by major grants from the Getty Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
- Schultze & Weaver Collection
New York City architecture firm Schultze & Weaver was founded in 1921 by Leonard Schultze and S. Fullerton Weaver, who were joined in 1926 by chief designer Lloyd Morgan. The firm is best known for the many luxury hotels it designed during its first decade, such as the Los Angeles Biltmore and the Waldorf-Astoria; it remained active under a succession of names (Leonard Schultze & Associates; Lloyd Morgan and Eugene Meroni; and Lloyd Morgan, Architect) into the 1960s. The Wolfsonian's Schultze & Weaver Collection includes thousands of design drawings, more than 100 renderings, as well as photographs, documents, and other items. This collection has not yet been thoroughly archived, so scholars' access to certain materials may be limited.
- Robert Delson Archive
Robert Delson (1909–1955) served as the head of the Federal Arts Project (FAP) community art center in Jacksonville, Florida in the 1930s. This archive contains government reports and typescripts that document the FAP in Florida, and includes photographs of artwork produced by Delson for inclusion in the Federal Writers' Project book Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State. Photographs also record works by Delson shown at world's fairs in the 1930s, including prize medals, dioramas, and sketches for ceramic tile panels for the Florida pavilion at the New York World's Fair. Delson's son, Sidney, donated these materials to The Wolfsonian.
- The Veeze Collection
This collection of Dutch "Nieuwe Kunst" (Art Nouveau) bookbindings and decorative and ornamental ephemera produced between the 1890s and 1920s contains works by such prominent designers as Jan Toroop, L. W. R. Wenckebach, C. A. Lion-Cachet, Gerrit Willem Disselhof, Theodoor Nieuwenhius, Chris Lebeau, and others. The thousands of decorative bindings show the influence of "orientalist" themes, motifs, and techniques (such as batik), introduced from the Dutch East Indies colonies. Holdings also include calendars, proofs, advertisements, and original sketches, as well as excellent runs of periodicals such as De Architect, De Arbeid, Onze Kunst, In Den Nevel, and Wendingen.
- Herbert Bayer Archive
Herbert Bayer (1900-1985) was a student of the Weimar Bauhaus, and in 1925 served as head of the newly created workshop for print and advertising at the Dessau Bauhaus. In 1928 he moved to Berlin, where he worked as a graphic designer in advertising and as an artistic director of an advertising agency called Studio Dorland. After moving to the United States in 1938, Bayer organized the Bauhaus 1919–1928 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and became an important exponent of the New Bauhaus school in America. This archive includes original black-and-white photographic prints of his exhibitions, advertisement clippings, magazine covers, and other examples of his exhibition and graphic design work in Germany and the United States.
- Frederick T. Rank Archive
Frederic T. Rank was an interior designer active in Miami and Miami Beach in the 1950s and 1960s. Donated by his family, this archive includes clippings, photographs, interior decoration renderings, original design drawings of chairs, coffee tables, television and stereo cabinets, and other materials documenting the work of this important local designer.
- Republic of Salò Collection
This extensive collection comprises propaganda produced under the auspices of the Repubblica sociale italiana (R.S.I.) during the Second World War. Commonly known as the Republic of Salò, this virtual puppet state was established in Northern Italy by Mussolini's German allies in the wake of the Allied liberation of the South. The collection includes hundreds of leaflets, broadsides, handbills, fliers, and other forms of printed propaganda, many of which display vitriolic and hateful anti-Semitic, racist imagery used in attacks against the Allied "invaders."
- The Geo. B. Post & Sons Collection
This collection comprises the working reference library of the George B. Post architectural firm, founded in 1860 by one of the pioneering members of the American Institute of Architects. The firm's landmark achievements include New York City's Equitable Building (the first office building to employ an elevator); the Mills Building (the city's first electricity-generating plant); and the Manufacturers and Liberal Arts Building constructed for the World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, 1893. The collection includes numerous oversized and lavishly illustrated volumes of the most celebrated architects and architectural works of western civilization. Together, these volumes serve as an excellent example of the working library of an architectural firm in the early twentieth century.
- The Vicki Gold Levi Collection
In November 2002 and again in January 2016, Victory (Vicki) Gold Levi donated graphic arts materials and vintage photographs documenting the U.S.-Cuba tourist trade and cultural exchange from the 1920s to the 1950s. The collection includes more than 1,000 rare, ephemeral pieces in a wide variety of formats, including guidebooks, advertisements, clippings, menus, cigar labels, fans, postcards, record jackets, popular periodicals and illustrated magazine covers, display cards, movie posters, and sheet music. In December 2011, Ms. Levi donated nearly 100 "Victory" campaign ephemera produced in the U.S. during the Second World War. The Victory Gold Levi Collection provides an excellent view of the American home front and includes "victory" envelopes, postcards, sheet music, and decorative pins designed to promote patriotism during the war years.
- The Laurence Miller Collection
Comprehensively documenting the activities of the ocean liner and cruise ship industry in the early and mid-twentieth century, this collection includes approximately 26,000 brochures, deck plans, menus, and other printed materials organized by the international steamship companies that produced them. Donated by Dr. Laurence Miller, the retired director of libraries at Florida International University and lifelong ocean liner aficionado, the collection represents more than 50 years of his passionate collecting and complements the library's passenger ship ephemera from the interwar and postwar periods.
- Thomas C. Ragan Collection
The Ragan collection includes hundreds of rare and reference books about the age of steamship travel, naval ships, and maritime accidents and disasters including virtually every book published about the sinking of the Titanic. The collection also includes original brochures, deck plans, and other ephemera from various steamship companies, but most comprehensively about the Moore-McCormack Lines, which operated as the "Good Neighbor Fleet" following President Franklin Roosevelt's proclamation of a Good Neighbor Policy.
- The Robert J. Young Collection
Donated by a lifelong advocate of healthy living, the Robert J. Young Collection contains a significant body of materials related to the physical culture and nudist movements in America. It includes materials by and about bodybuilder and media mogul Bernarr Macfadden, whose popular periodicals fought Victorian prudery and medical quackery, and promoted better living through exercise, diet, and homeopathic remedies.
- The Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection
The Sharf Collection contains thousands of rare books, viewbooks, photograph albums, and original diaries, sketchbooks, journals, and other manuscripts graphically documenting British colonial ventures and military conflicts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The materials provide first-person perspectives on the Boxer Rebellion (1898–1901); the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902); the Spanish-American War of 1898 and the rising naval power of the United States; the Philippine American War (1899–1902); the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905); and various Japanese conflicts in Manchuria, China—most of the latter from the Japanese perspective. The collection also includes primary source materials related to the building of the Panama Canal, British initiatives in India and Burma, and other colonial projects and military conflicts. Materials in other formats, such as large works on paper, are housed in the object collection, and include architectural drawings as well as illustrations of the Spanish-American War. Longtime Wolfsonian supporter and former advisory board member Frederic Sharf, and his wife, Jean, donated these important materials to The Wolfsonian.
- The Christopher DeNoon Collection for the Study of New Deal Culture
The Christopher DeNoon donation includes more than 225 rare books, guides, periodicals, pamphlets, playbills, and other ephemera produced in America during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration (1933–1945). The collection includes important materials related to New Deal programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), National Recovery Administration (NRA), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and Works Progress Administration (WPA), as well as leftist and right-wing critiques of FDR's policies and projects. It is especially strong in works related to Federal One, the Federal Writers' Project (FWP), and the Federal Theatre Project (FTP).
- Joseph K. Albertson Collection
Donated by the Monroe County Public Library in Key West, Florida, the Joseph K. Albertson Collection includes several hundred sheet music covers published immediately before, during, and after the Spanish-American War, 1898. Many of the illustrated covers and lyrics urge the listeners to "Remember the Maine" (the U.S. warship that exploded and sank in Havana Harbor and became the rallying cry of American intervention in Cuba's independence struggle from Spanish dominion); others lionized American naval heroes and soldiers such as Theodore ("Teddy") Roosevelt's "Rough Riders."