Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design, Corcoran Gallery of Art Women's Committee records
Scope and Contents
The records of the Women's Committee cover all aspects of the Committee's activities and include: minutes, annual reports, ball reports, art tour reports, bylaws, treasurers' books, correspondence, subscription lists, lecture possibilities, and sample tickets.
- circa 1905-2001
- Majority of material found within Circa 1955 - 2001
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This collection is open to research.
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The first section of this history, covering events through 1981, was prepared by Corcoran Archivist Katherine M. Kovocs for publication in 1985 with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
For several years prior to the forming of the Women's Committee, the Director and staff of the Corcoran had noted the success of volunteer help in other museums and with hopes of obtaining the same kind of substantive help, the Women's Committee was formed October 1953 to assist the Director and to provoke public interest.
In the early years, the Women's Committee was concerned chiefly with the entertainment of artists, performing musicians or lecturers at the Gallery, and in helping promote interest in membership. As the various needs of the Gallery grew, fundraising and public relations were added to the sphere of the Committee's influence.
The Women's Committee inaugurated its first ball held February 24, 1956 at the Corcoran, a major fundraising benefit for the Gallery.
In October 1956 the Wednesday morning lecture series was initiated for subscribers. The series was enormously successful and also raised funds for the Gallery.
A docents program was formed in 1958 but was disbanded because the Gallery did not have a curator of education. Both the Gallery and the Women's Committee believed that a successful docent program required professional direction, staff support for scheduling and a formal training program for the docents themselves to reflect the scholarly tradition of the Gallery. In 1963 the docent program was reactivated with funds provided by the Women's Committee. This covered salaries for a Curator of Education, his assistant and monies for a supporting program. The docents, now numbering 50, conduct thousands of children and adults through the Gallery each year.
Another fundraising and public relations activity was the annual tour of private art collections, which were successfully continued for 7 seasons and raised substantial sums for the Gallery.
Some of the gifts to the Gallery include: a kitchen (costing $6,000); the renovation of the Auditorium (costing $28,000 - under the direction of Mrs. James O. Denby); financing the reframing and restoration of 55 paintings in the Corcoran Collection which made up an exhibition entitled "Masterpieces of the Corcoran Gallery of Art" held at the Wildenstein Gallery, New York, as a benefit for the Corcoran, profiting $4,500; furnishing a student's lounge in the Art School (gift of Mrs. Robert Van Roijen); furnishing a library for the Art School (Mrs. Atherton Macondray gave the furniture in memory of her children's grandfather, E.F. Andrews, first Principal of the Art School); furnishing and renovation of an area for a children's gallery (gift of Mrs. John Logan); contribution of $3,500 for "The Night of Stars" Ball by Woodward and Lothrop (through Mrs. Tompkins Parker’s efforts); also the planting of camellias and azaleas at the entrance to the Gallery by the Camellia Society (by Mrs. Tompkins Parker); helping to raise the sum of $50,000 at the 100th anniversary year during the Gallery Membership Campaign -- Mrs. Heath C. Moorman, chairman, with a group from the Women's Committee, assisted Mr. William J. Flather, Jr.; $67,000 was appropriated for installing the new Museum Shop at the Gallery in 1970.
The By-Laws of the Corcoran Women's Committee state the "purpose shall be to cooperate with the Board of Trustees and the Director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in extending the activities and usefulness of the Gallery as a cultural and educational institution." The Women's Committee has certainly fulfilled and continues to fulfill the great needs of the Gallery in "activities and usefulness".
The following section of this history was prepared in 2019 by George Washington University SCRC staff with the support of the Luce Foundation.
By 1998 the mission statement for the Women’s Committee had expanded to include the Art School: “The purpose of the Women’s Committee shall be to support the activities and events of the Gallery and to promote the Gallery as a cultural and educational institution in cooperation with the Board of Trustees, the Director of the Gallery and the Dean of the Art School.”
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Women’s Committee continued to act as an important organizer and funder of projects, programs, and art acquisition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The Annual Corcoran Ball was the most prominent event managed by the Women’s Committee, with proceeds going to the Committee’s funds, and from there distributed at the Committee’s discretion to the Corcoran Gallery itself, or towards operation and acquisition cost for the Women’s Committee. Funds raised by the Ball routinely surpassed $300,000 and often factored into the yearly budget of the Gallery itself. The Corcoran Ball was last held in 2015.
In April of 1984 the Women’s Committee established the Argentina Copello Dudley Memorial Lecture series, and annual educational lecture program managed by the Women’s Committee and conducted at the Corcoran Gallery or art. Management of the lecture series was taken over by the Corcoran Gallery in 1998.
Other educational opportunities provided by the Women’s Committee to its members included behind-the-scenes tours, overseas tours to museums, and joint education programs with the Friends of the Corcoran, a donor organization which Women’s Committee members were encouraged to join as part of the Committee’s membership requirements.
In 1998, the women’s committee created a tier of membership called Diplomatic Associate Member in order to include individuals in the diplomatic community whose responsibilities and residence might have otherwise prevented them from joining or taking leadership roles in the Women’s Committee.
The Corcoran Women’s Committee exists as an independent volunteer organization, and continues past the Corcoran Gallery’s dissolution and the sale of the art school to George Washington University.
The Corcoran Women’s Committee has become an arts study and philanthropy group, establishing a Grant Program in order to encourage individual visual artists, the fine arts, and arts education in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. In May of 2018, the Corcoran Women’s Committee selected CulturalDC and its Mobile Art Gallery as the first recipient of the new Grant Program.
33 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
For several years prior to the forming of the Women's Committee, the Director and staff of the Corcoran had noted the success of volunteer help in other museums and with hopes of obtaining the same kind of substantive help, the Women's Committee was formed October 1953 to assist the Director and to provoke public interest. The records of the Women's Committee cover all aspects of the Committee's activities and include: minutes, annual reports, ball reports, art tour reports, bylaws, treasurers' books, correspondence, subscription lists, lecture possibilities, and sample tickets. The materials in this record group date from approximately 1905-2001 with the bulk falling between approximately 1955-2001.
Organized into 12 series: Administration; Activities; Treasurer's records; Ephemera; Women's Committee files; Minutes, meeting files, and reports; Lectures and tours; Balls files; Trips; Scrapbooks; Janet Lundgren and Carolyn Amiot subject files; and Jeannette Petite and Maud Brown subject files.
[Please note: the first 4 series were part of a processing project undertaken in the 1980s and series 5-12 were part of a processing project undertaken in 2016]
Materials stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.
The processed portions of the Women's Committee records were transferred to the Archives in 1981.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Corcoran Institution Board of Trustees donated these records to The George Washington University in 2016.
The following records were discarded: duplicates, extra stationary, handwritten notes and outdated 3x5 cards showing ticket payments for previous balls.
During processing the following records were removed to another location:
News clippings -- New Location: Artist clipping files or history clipping files Press releases -- New Location: Public relations press release series
- Guide to the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design, Corcoran Gallery of art Womens Committee records, circa 1960-2001
- University Archives, Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English