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COLLECTION Identifier: A-138

Papers of Dorothy Adlow, 1923-1969


Scrapbooks, correspondence, photographs, etc., of Dorothy Adlow, art critic and lecturer.


  • 1923-1969


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Dorothy Adlow is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


.42 linear feet (1 file box) plus 2 folders of photographs, 1 phonograph record, 5 reels of microfilm (M-115)

The bulk of this collection consisted of thirty-six scrapbooks; in addition to the microfilm of these scrapbooks, there are correspondence, photographs, clippings, lecture announcements, a phonograph record of a lecture, and a photocopy of the draft of an unpublished book, "Roads to Understanding Modern Art." The papers provide some information about Dorothy Adlow, her friendships and her work, but little about her family. There are no letters by her. The collection is arranged in four sections: personal and biographical, correspondence (arranged alphabetically by writer or organization), papers concerning the unpublished book, and other writings (mainly the scrapbooks).

The correspondence consists of letters to or about Adlow; writers include friends, artists, curators, museum directors, and readers. Most letters are about Adlow's columns and reviews, but 44 from the artist Dodge MacKnight and 23 from the poet Marianne Moore are personal. Dodge MacKnight's letters concern his work, his garden, and Adlow's visits to the MacKnights's home on Cape Cod. Marianne Moore's letters express her admiration for Adlow and describe Moore's efforts to obtain grants for Adlow and Nicolas Slonimsky, the publication of her "fables," and her own schedule.

The 36 scrapbooks, which were microfilmed and discarded, contained mainly clippings. Most were Adlow's Christian Science Monitor articles; there were also some Adlow columns published in other newspapers, some articles about her, and a few about Nicolas Slonimsky. The few non-clipping items were removed from the scrapbooks and integrated into the remainder of the collection. The approximate inclusive dates of each scrapbook are noted in the inventory. Five of the first six volumes span many years, the remainder generally cover only one or two years. The chronological order of items within each volume is irregular.


Dorothy Adlow, art critic and lecturer, was born on June 7, 1901, in Boston, the daughter of Russian immigrants, Nathan and Bessie (Bravman) Adlow. She attended Girls' Latin School and earned both her AB and AM degrees from Radcliffe College (1922/1923). After working briefly at the Boston Evening Transcript, she began a forty-one year career as art critic for the Christian Science Monitor.

Adlow lectured at museums, colleges, churches and libraries, and served as an art juror, throughout the United States. She was the first woman to lecture at the Carnegie International Exhibit Series (Pittsburgh, 1930) and appeared often on television programs produced by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. She traveled widely abroad and was a member of the International Society of Critics. At her 25th class reunion Radcliffe College made her an honorary member of the Iota Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1953 she won the American Federation of Arts Art Critic Award, and in 1957 she received the Art Citation of Merit from Boston University. Dorothy Adlow wrote "Twentieth Century Highlights of American Painting," a catalog for a traveling United States Information Agency exhibit.

She married Nicolas Slonimsky, musicologist, composer, conductor and pianist, in 1931; a daughter, Electra (later Yourke), was born in 1933. Dorothy Adlow died in Boston on January 11, 1964.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 713, 761, 765, 75-67, 77-M9

The papers of Dorothy Adlow were given to the Schlesinger Library in February, March and June 1964 by her husband, Nicolas Slonimsky. Additional papers were given in February 1975 by her sister, Chippe (Adlow) Hoffman and in February 1977 by Dr. Nathan Fink. The scrapbooks and loose clippings were processed and microfilmed in 1987 with the support of the Friends of the Schlesinger Library.


Dates and other information added by the processor are in square brackets.

Scrapbook pages were numbered by the processor to aid the microfilmer, the proofreader, and the researcher.

Many loose clippings were mounted by the processor.

The film was proofread by the processor and corrections made where necessary. These corrections may disrupt the sequence of frame numbers.

The material was difficult to film: some clippings overlapped, much of the newsprint was brittle, many articles were folded, and many of the scrapbook pages were discolored. The film was carefully produced and proofread to insure the greatest possible legibility.

For a list of the contents of A-138, see the inventory that follows. Only #29v-64vo and 65o are available on microfilm. When requesting microfilm, please use the microfilm number and the reel number.

  1. 29v-37v: Reel 1
  2. 38v-45v: Reel 2
  3. 46v-52v: Reel 3
  4. 53v-58v: Reel 4
  5. 59v-65o: Reel 5

Processing Information

Reprocessed: December 1986

By: Bert Hartry and Elizabeth Balcom

Adlow, Dorothy, 1901-1964. Papers of Dorothy Adlow, 1923-1969: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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