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COLLECTION Identifier: HC 5

Papers of John Coolidge and Agnes Mongan, 1909-2006

These papers of Fogg Museum directors John Coolidge and Agnes Mongan document their administration of the museum and related professional activities. Most of Coolidge's papers were created during his administration, from 1948 to 1968; most of Mongan's papers are from her tenure as acting director and then director (1968 to 1971). The papers consist primarily of correspondence, including Coolidge's correspondence with art dealers, and also include photographs, memoranda, reports, meeting minutes, blueprints, printed material, letters of recommendation, page proofs, financial documents, sketches, and grant proposals.

Dates

  • 1909-2006

Conditions on Access:

Access to most of the papers is unrestricted. Access to files containing information on personnel matters, student academic records and other materials deemed confidential is restricted. These restrictions are noted at the file level.

Conditions on Use:

Copyright: The President and Fellows of Harvard College hold any copyright in Coolidge and Mongan's papers. Copyright in some papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the Harvard Art Museums Archives before publishing from any material in the collection. Copying: Papers may be copied in accordance with the Harvard Art Museums Archives' usual procedures.

Extent

65 linear feet (152 file boxes, oversize materials)

The papers in this collection document John Coolidge and Agnes Mongan's respective careers at the Fogg Museum and in Harvard's Department of Fine Arts. The bulk of the collection dates from 1948 to 1971; most of Coolidge's papers were created during his administration of the museum, from 1948 to 1968, and most of Mongan's papers are from her tenure as acting director and then director, from 1968 to 1971. The papers consist primarily of sent and received correspondence, including a series of Coolidge's correspondence with art dealers, and also include photographs, memoranda, newspaper clippings, reports, meeting minutes, blueprints, letters of recommendation, printed material, page proofs, invitations, invoices and other financial documents, lists, catering menus, sketches, drafts of published works, membership cards, surveys, fabric samples and grant proposals.

All materials in the collection have been re-housed into archival folders and boxes. Folders and their contents have been kept in their original order, and overstuffed folders have been divided among several folders for the sake of preservation and numbered to indicate that they represent a part of a larger whole (for example: "folder 1 of 2"). The original folder titles have been retained; any added information has been enclosed in square brackets by the processing archivist. The folders are arranged alphabetically by title, and in most instances the items within each folder are filed either in chronological or reverse chronological order. Occasionally the papers in a folder are filed alphabetically instead of chronologically.

Some folders contained notes of unknown origin and documents clearly added after Coolidge's or Mongan's death, including archivists' memoranda. These added materials have been removed from the papers and maintained in separate files in the archives; they may be consulted upon request. The dates of these materials have been preserved in the folder titles, as a cue to researchers that added materials from a given folder can be found in a separate location. Researchers should also note that folder titles are not always entirely accurate or reflective of content. In cases where the folder title and content differ significantly, a note has been added at the folder level of the finding aid. Many folders contain correspondence with individuals not mentioned in the folder title. For this reason, the processing archivist has made notes about various individuals' correspondence in the collection; these notes are held in the archives and may be consulted upon request. While they are not exhaustive, they may be helpful in locating materials.

Acidic documents have been isolated with archival paper and in some cases enclosed in mylar. Fragile materials have been enclosed in mylar. Oversize materials have been filed in an oversize box and cabinet; separation sheets indicate their removal. These oversize materials may be consulted upon request, and their location is indicated in the detailed container list that follows. Some of the collection suffered water damage in a flood of the archives in 1998; as a result, many of the papers are wrinkled, some ink has run, and some are stuck together and in need of treatment by conservators.

Biography: John Coolidge

John Phillips Coolidge was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in December 1913, on either the 15th or 16th; his parents disagreed about the exact date of his birth. His father, Julian Lowell Coolidge, was a professor of mathematics at Harvard and the first master of Lowell House, and his mother, Theresa Reynolds, was a linguist. One of his uncles, Archibald Cary Coolidge, was a history professor at Harvard and also the first director of the Harvard University Library. Coolidge had one brother and four sisters. Following family tradition, he studied at Harvard as an undergraduate and received a B.A. in 1935. He married Mary Elizabeth "Polly" Welch the same year; they would have one child, Mary-Elizabeth "Penny" Coolidge Warren. Following graduation, Coolidge moved to New York to study architecture at Columbia University, but after a year of study decided he did not have the requisite talent to succeed as an architect and instead took up the study of art and architectural history. In 1936 he enrolled in graduate school at New York University, where he studied under German émigré scholars Erwin Panofsky, Karl Lehmann, Richard Krautheimer and Walter Friedlaender. He also taught at Vassar College from 1937 to 1939. Coolidge received an A.M. in 1939 and published a book based on his research for the degree in 1942: Mill and Mansion: A Study of Architecture and Society in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1820-1865. The book is still widely considered a classic social and economic history of American architecture and urbanism. Coolidge was also one of the co-founders in 1940 of the Society of Architectural Historians and served on the society's board of directors and as its first vice-president.

By 1940, Coolidge's academic focus had shifted to Italian Renaissance architecture. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on sixteenth century architect and theorist Jacopo da Vignola. The Second World War interrupted his academic work, however, and he entered the Navy as an ensign in 1943. He was stationed in Washington, D.C. and near London, working in communications until his discharge in 1946. He returned to academic work that year, teaching art history at the University of Pennsylvania for academic year 1946-1947. In the fall of 1947, Coolidge accepted a position at Harvard as assistant professor of architectural history; his dissertation was completed and accepted the same year. In 1948, at age 34, he was named director of the Fogg Museum and associate professor of art history. He was promoted to full professor in 1955 and served as director of the museum for twenty years, until 1968. Coolidge was involved in a range of ambitious endeavors at the Fogg; the museum's collections of Islamic and contemporary art were greatly strengthened during his tenure, and Coolidge encouraged students to organize exhibitions of modern and contemporary art and to write publishable catalogues for those exhibitions. He also continued his predecessors' work training future curators and other museum professionals through a program known as the Museum Course. Coolidge retired in 1968, took a sabbatical year, and returned to teach at Harvard in academic year 1969-1970. He continued teaching until 1984.

In addition to his work at Harvard, Coolidge was active as a trustee of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts from 1948 until 1974; he served as that institution's President from 1973 to 1975. He was also an active member of the Society of New England Antiquities. He was appointed Bingham Professor at the University of Louisville in 1985 and Samuel H. Kress Professor at the National Gallery of Art's Center for Advanced Study in Visual Arts for the academic year 1991-1992. Coolidge published numerous articles on American and Italian architecture and Baroque sculpture while he was at Harvard and published two books in his retirement, Patrons and Architects: Designing Art Museums in the Twentieth Century in 1989 and Gustave Doré's London in 1994. John Coolidge died in Boston, Massachusetts on July 31, 1995.
Biography: Agnes Mongan Agnes Mongan was born in Somerville, Massachusetts on January 21, 1905 to Charles Edward Mongan, a family physician, and Elizabeth Teresa O'Brien Mongan, a former school teacher. She had two brothers, Charles Edward and John Anthony, and a sister, Elizabeth. Mongan attended Somerville High School and the Cambridge School for Girls and went on to study art history and English literature at Bryn Mawr, where she received her B.A. in 1927. She spent the following year abroad studying Italian art in Florence, Paris, and other locations through a Smith College seminar and then returned to Massachusetts in 1928 to complete degree requirements for an A.M. from Smith. She received this degree in 1929, after completing a year of course work at Harvard, rather than Smith; she was designated a special student at Harvard and allowed to study under Edward Forbes, Paul J. Sachs, and Arthur Pope. In 1929 she began work as a research assistant for Sachs, and spent much of the following decade researching and compiling a catalog of the Fogg Museum's collection of drawings. This catalog, Drawings in the Fogg Museum of Art (2 vols.), was co-authored by Mongan and Sachs and first published in 1940. It was the first comprehensive scholarly catalogue of a drawing collection to be published in the United States.

In 1937, Mongan was named Keeper of Drawings, a title she held until 1947 when she became Associate Curator of Drawings; this change in title came about when Harvard altered its policy banning female curators. Mongan was the first female curator at the Fogg and kept the title through her retirement in 1975. From 1960 to 1975 she also held the title of Martin A. Ryerson Lecturer in the Fine Arts at Harvard. Mongan taught courses and seminars on drawings, curated museum exhibitions, and - with a remarkably small acquisitions budget - managed to build an astonishing collection in both quality and quantity during her tenure at the Fogg.

In addition to her teaching and curatorial responsibilities, Mongan also served in a range of administrative capacities at the Fogg Museum. From 1951 to 1964 she was the museum's assistant director, and in 1964 she became associate director. When John Coolidge retired as director in 1968, Mongan became acting director of the museum, and from 1969 until her retirement in 1971 she was its director.

Mongan's career also included stints as acting director of the Timken Art Gallery in San Diego, California, and as visiting professor at several institutions, including the University of Texas at Austin. She wrote and co-authored several books and edited or otherwise contributed to myriad other books and exhibition catalogues. Mongan's final publication, David to Corot: French Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, was published in 1996, the final year of her life. Mongan was the recipient of seven honorary degrees: L.H.D.s from Smith College in 1941, Wheaton College in 1954 and the University of Massachusetts in 1970; and D.F.A.s from LaSalle University and Colby College in 1973, the University of Notre Dame in 1980 and Boston College in 1985. Mongan was named Samuel H. Kress Professor at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1977 and was honored by Harvard in 1994 when the Fogg Museum named a study center in her honor: the Agnes Mongan Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. She remained actively involved with the museum into the last years of her life. Agnes Mongan died in Cambridge, Massachusetts on September 15, 1996.

Arrangement

The papers are arranged in two series:
  1. Series I: General Correspondence
  2. Series II: Dealer Files
Series I, General Correspondence (folders 1-3222), contains correspondence with a wide range of individuals and is arranged alphabetically by folder title. Series II, Dealer Files (folders 3223-3345), consists of correspondence with art dealers, filed alphabetically either by the name of the individual dealer or the organization they represented.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers were left at the Fogg Museum by former director and professor John Coolidge and by former director, curator, and professor Agnes Mongan.

Related Material:

There are additional papers of both John Coolidge and Agnes Mongan in the Harvard Art Museums Archives and Harvard University Archives.

Box and Folder Locations

  1. Box 1: Folders 1-17
  2. Box 2: Folders 18-30
  3. Box 3: Folders 31-43
  4. Box 4: Folders 44-55
  5. Box 5: Folders 56-86
  6. Box 6: Folders 87-116
  7. Box 7: Folders 117-134
  8. Box 8: Folders 135-152
  9. Box 9: Folders 153-177
  10. Box 10: Folders 178-200
  11. Box 11: Folders 201-235
  12. Box 12: Folders 236-272
  13. Box 13: Folders 273-283
  14. Box 14: Folders 284-307
  15. Box 15: Folders 308-326
  16. Box 16: Folders 327-354
  17. Box 17: Folders 355-380
  18. Box 18: Folders 381-398
  19. Box 19: Folders 399-412
  20. Box 20: Folders 413-431
  21. Box 21: Folders 432-450
  22. Box 22: Folders 451-480
  23. Box 23: Folders 481-493
  24. Box 24: Folders 494-521
  25. Box 25: Folders 522-540
  26. Box 26: Folders 541-553
  27. Box 27: Folders 554-567
  28. Box 28: Folders 568-584
  29. Box 29: Folders 585-606
  30. Box 30: Folders 607-627
  31. Box 31: Folders 628-641
  32. Box 32: Folders 642-662
  33. Box 33: Folders 663-677
  34. Box 34: Folders 678-706
  35. Box 35: Folders 707-720
  36. Box 36: Folders 721-735
  37. Box 37: Folders 736-761
  38. Box 38: Folders 762-783
  39. Box 39: Folders 784-806
  40. Box 40: Folders 807-827
  41. Box 41: Folders 828-855
  42. Box 42: Folders 856-874
  43. Box 43: Folders 875-889
  44. Box 44: Folders 890-911
  45. Box 45: Folders 912-928
  46. Box 46: Folders 929-941
  47. Box 47: Folders 942-969
  48. Box 48: Folders 970-988
  49. Box 49: Folders 989-1010
  50. Box 50: Folders 1011-1037
  51. Box 51: Folders 1038-1048
  52. Box 52: Folders 1049-1068
  53. Box 53: Folders 1069-1084
  54. Box 54: Folders 1085-1107
  55. Box 55: Folders 1108-1118
  56. Box 56: Folders 1119-1128
  57. Box 57: Folders 1129-1143
  58. Box 58: Folders 1144-1156
  59. Box 59: Folders 1157-1174
  60. Box 60: Folders 1175-1187
  61. Box 61: Folders 1188-1205
  62. Box 62: Folders 1206-1230
  63. Box 63: Folders 1231-1251
  64. Box 64: Folders 1252-1267
  65. Box 65: Folders 1268-1299
  66. Box 66: Folders 1300-1320
  67. Box 67: Folders 1321-1338
  68. Box 68: Folders 1339-1354
  69. Box 69: Folders 1355-1379
  70. Box 70: Folders 1380-1408
  71. Box 71: Folders 1409-1435
  72. Box 72: Folders 1436-1453
  73. Box 73: Folders 1454-1476
  74. Box 74: Folders 1477-1509
  75. Box 75: Folders 1510-1526
  76. Box 76: Folders 1527-1566
  77. Box 77: Folders 1567-1607
  78. Box 78: Folders 1608-1632
  79. Box 79: Folders 1633-1652
  80. Box 80: Folders 1653-1667
  81. Box 81: Folders 1668-1679
  82. Box 82: Folders 1680-1712
  83. Box 83: Folders 1713-1739
  84. Box 84: Folders 1740-1762
  85. Box 85: Folders 1763-1793
  86. Box 86: Folders 1794-1814
  87. Box 87: Folders 1815-1837
  88. Box 88: Folders 1838-1863
  89. Box 89: Folders 1864-1885
  90. Box 90: Folders 1886-1900
  91. Box 91: Folders 1901-1914
  92. Box 92: Folders 1915-1938
  93. Box 93: Folders 1939-1968
  94. Box 94: Folders 1969-1997
  95. Box 95: Folders 1998-2019
  96. Box 96: Folders 2020-2044
  97. Box 97: Folders 2045-2072
  98. Box 98: Folders 2073-2102
  99. Box 99: Folders 2103-2131
  100. Box 100: Folders 2132-2154
  101. Box 101: Folders 2155-2194
  102. Box 102: Folders 2195-2220
  103. Box 103: Folders 2221-2238
  104. Box 104: Folders 2239-2269
  105. Box 105: Folders 2270-2296
  106. Box 106: Folders 2297-2317
  107. Box 107: Folders 2318-2342
  108. Box 108: Folders 2343-2358
  109. Box 109: Folders 2359-2374
  110. Box 110: Folders 2375-2396
  111. Box 111: Folders 2397-2409
  112. Box 112: Folders 2410-2423
  113. Box 113: Folders 2424-2442
  114. Box 114: Folders 2443-2465
  115. Box 115: Folders 2466-2491
  116. Box 116: Folders 2492-2513
  117. Box 117: Folders 2514-2531
  118. Box 118: Folders 2532-2543
  119. Box 119: Folders 2544-2564
  120. Box 120: Folders 2565-2584
  121. Box 121: Folders 2585-2601
  122. Box 122: Folders 2602-2627
  123. Box 123: Folders 2628-2644
  124. Box 124: Folders 2645-2667
  125. Box 125: Folders 2668-2700
  126. Box 126: Folders 2701-2734
  127. Box 127: Folders 2735-2775
  128. Box 128: Folders 2776-2805
  129. Box 129: Folders 2806-2824
  130. Box 130: Folders 2825-2848
  131. Box 131: Folders 2849-2873
  132. Box 132: Folders 2874-2899
  133. Box 133: Folders 2900-2912
  134. Box 134: Folders 2913-2928
  135. Box 135: Folders 2929-2953
  136. Box 136: Folders 2954-2972
  137. Box 137: Folders 2973-2986
  138. Box 138: Folders 2987-3000
  139. Box 139: Folders 3001-3019
  140. Box 140: Folders 3020-3038
  141. Box 141: Folders 3039-3066
  142. Box 142: Folders 3067-3103
  143. Box 143: Folders 3104-3131
  144. Box 144: Folders 3132-3160
  145. Box 145: Folders 3161-3176
  146. Box 146: Folders 3177-3194
  147. Box 147: Folders 3195-3222
  148. Box 148: Folders 3223-3242
  149. Box 149: Folders 3243-3268
  150. Box 150: Folders 3269-3300
  151. Box 151: Folders 3301-3333
  152. Box 152: Folders 3334-3345
  153. Box 153: Oversize materials
Names
  1. Abrams, Harry N.
  2. Ackerman, James S.
  3. American Association of Museums
  4. American Federation of Arts
  5. Archaeological Exploration of Sardis (Program)
  6. Arensberg, Walter, 1878-1954
  7. Artzybasheff, Boris, 1899-1965
  8. Askew, R. Kirk (Ralph Kirk), 1903-1974
  9. Association of Art Museum Directors
  10. Bannister, Turpin C. (Turpin Chambers), 1904-1982
  11. Barolsky, Paul, 1941-
  12. Barr, Alfred Hamilton, 1902-1981
  13. Barr, Margaret Scolari, 1901-1987
  14. Baskin, Leonard, 1922-2000
  15. Beale, Arthur
  16. Berenson, Bernard, 1865-1959
  17. Berger, Robert W.
  18. Bliss, Mildred, 1879-1969
  19. Bliss, Robert Woods, 1875-1962
  20. Bober, Harry, 1915-
  21. Bothmer, Bernard V., 1912-1993
  22. Brandt, Kathleen Weil-Garris, 1934-
  23. Brown, John Nicholas, 1900-1979
  24. Buck, Richard D.
  25. Bundy, McGeorge
  26. Bush-Brown, Albert
  27. Calder, Alexander, 1898-1976
  28. Carter, David G., 1921-
  29. Cheek, Leslie, 1908-
  30. Chetham, Charles
  31. Clark, Anthony M.
  32. Colin, Ralph F., 1900-1985
  33. Conant, Kenneth John, 1894-
  34. Constable, W. G. (William George), 1887-
  35. Cook, Walter W. S.
  36. Coolidge, John, 1913-1995
  37. Cunningham, Charles Crehore, 1910-1979
  38. Deknatel, Frederick B.
  39. De Leiris, Alain
  40. Dumbarton Oaks
  41. Dunlap, Charles E.
  42. Eastman, Alvan C.
  43. Edgell, George Harold, 1887-1954
  44. Eisler, Colin T.
  45. Eitner, Lorenz
  46. Faison, S. Lane (Samson Lane), 1907-2006
  47. Feininger, T. Lux
  48. Field, Richard S.
  49. Forbes, Edward Waldo, 1873-1969
  50. Ford Foundation
  51. Ford, Franklin L. (Franklin Lewis), 1920-
  52. Freedberg, S. J. (Sydney Joseph), 1914-1997
  53. Freitag, Wolfgang M.
  54. Frick, Helen Clay, 1888-1984
  55. Gettens, Rutherford J. (Rutherford John)
  56. Gilbert, Creighton
  57. Hanfmann, George M. A. (George Maxim Anossov), 1911-1986
  58. Hartt, Frederick
  59. Hauke, Cesar M. de (Cesar Mange), d. 1965
  60. Haverkamp-Begemann, Egbert
  61. Hazen, Joseph H.
  62. Hempel, Eberhard, 1886-
  63. Hibbard, Howard, 1928-1984
  64. Hitchcock, Henry Russell, 1903-1987
  65. Hofer, Philip, 1898-1984
  66. Holderbaum, James
  67. Hoogewerff, G. J. (Godefridus Joannes), b. 1884
  68. Ingersoll, R. Sturgis (Robert Sturgis), b. 1891
  69. Jaffé, Michael, 1923-
  70. Janson, H. W. (Horst Woldemar), 1913-1982
  71. Kitzinger, Ernst, 1912-
  72. Krauss, Rosalind E.
  73. Krautheimer, Richard, 1897-1994
  74. Kraeling, Carl H. (Carl Hermann), 1897-1966
  75. Lankheit, Klaus
  76. Laughlin, Clarence John
  77. Laurent, V. (Vitalien), d. 1973
  78. Lavin, Irving, 1927-
  79. Loehr, Max
  80. Lowry, W. McNeil (Wilson McNeil), 1913-
  81. Marceau, Henri, 1896-1969
  82. Magurn, Ruth Saunders
  83. Malcove, Lillian
  84. Mariano, Nicky
  85. Meeks, Carroll L. V. (Carroll Louis Vanderslice), 1907-1966
  86. Meiss, Millard
  87. Mitten, David Gordon
  88. Mongan, Agnes
  89. Morley,Grace, 1900-
  90. Murdock, Kenneth Ballard, 1895-1975
  91. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  92. Opdycke, Leonard, 1895-1977
  93. Panofsky, Erwin, 1892-1968
  94. Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1902-1983
  95. Pope, Arthur Upham, 1881-1969
  96. Pope-Hennessy, John Wyndham, Sir, 1913-1994
  97. Posner, Donald
  98. Prown, Jules David
  99. Pulitzer, Emily Rauh
  100. Pulitzer, Joseph, 1913-
  101. Rathbone, Perry Townsend, 1911-
  102. Robbins, Daniel
  103. Rosenberg, Jakob, 1893-1980
  104. Rosenfield, John M.
  105. Rosenwald, Lessing J. (Lessing Julius), 1891-1979
  106. Roskill, Mark W., 1933-
  107. Ross, Marvin
  108. Sachs, Paul J. (Paul Joseph), 1878-1965
  109. Sardis (Extinct city)
  110. Sekler, Eduard F. (Eduard Franz)
  111. Seligman, Germain
  112. Sert, José Luis, 1902-1983
  113. Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969
  114. Simonson, Lee, 1888-
  115. Slive, Seymour, 1920-
  116. Strater, Henry, 1896-
  117. Turner, Evan H.
  118. Tyler, William R.
  119. Villa I Tatti (Florence, Italy)
  120. Walker, John, 1906-1995
  121. Warburg, Edward M. M.
  122. Washburn, Gordon B. (Gordon Bailey), 1904-
  123. Wasserman, Jeanne L.
  124. Welch, Stuart Cary
  125. Whittemore, Thomas, 1871-1950
  126. Wick, Peter A.
  127. Wilson, Thomas James, 1902-1969
  128. Wittkower, Rudolf
Subjects
  1. Art-Collectors and Collecting
  2. Art-Conservation and Restoration
  3. Art-Criticism and Interpretation
  4. Art-Exhibitions
  5. Art-History-Study and Teaching (Higher)-United States
  6. Art-History-20th Century
  7. Art Museum Directors
  8. Art Museums-Administration
  9. Art Museums-Educational Aspects
  10. Art Objects-Collectors and Collecting
  11. Art-Scholarhips, Fellowships, etc.
  12. Art-Study and Teaching-United States
  13. Class reunions
  14. Excavations (Archaeology)
  15. Exhibitions
  16. Fogg Art Museum-History
  17. Harvard University-Museums
  18. Museum Directors
  19. Museum Exhibits
  20. Museum Loans
Form/Genre Terms
  1. blueprints (reprographic copies)
  2. condition reports
  3. financial records
  4. letters of recommendation
  5. offprints
  6. page proofs
  7. photographic postcards
  8. posters

Processing Information

Processing Information: The collection was processed from November 2008 to April 2009 by Laura Morris.
Link to catalog
Title
Papers of John Coolidge and Agnes Mongan (HC 5), 1909-2006: A Guide
Author
Harvard Art Museums Archives
Sponsor
These papers were processed with the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Getty Foundation
EAD ID
art00017

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Art Museums Archives Repository

The Harvard Art Museums Archives is the official repository for institutional records and historical documents in all formats relating to the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 1895 to the present. Its collections include significant papers of individuals and groups associated with the museums' history, as well as correspondence with collectors, gallery owners, museum professionals, and notables throughout the twentieth century. Its holdings also document the formation of the museums' collections and its mission as a teaching institution.

Contact:
32 Quincy Street
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
617-495-2384