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COLLECTION Identifier: HC 7

Papers of Daniel Robbins and Seymour Slive, 1959-2003

These papers of Fogg Museum directors Daniel Robbins and Seymour Slive document their administration of the museum and related professional activities. Most of Robbins' papers were created during his administration of the museum, from 1971 to 1974; most of Slive's papers are from his tenure as acting director and then director, from 1974 to 1982. The papers consist primarily of correspondence and also include photographs and printed material.


  • 1959-2003
  • Majority of material found within 1971-1982

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.

Copyright: The President and Fellows of Harvard College hold any copyright in Daniel Robbins' and Seymour Slive'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 Harvard Art Museums before publishing quotations from any material in the collection.

Conditions on Use:

Copying: Papers may be copied in accordance with the Harvard Art Museums Archives' usual procedures.


10 linear feet (20 file boxes, oversize materials)

The papers in this collection document Daniel Robbins and Seymour Slive's directorships of the Fogg Museum. The bulk of the collection dates from 1971 to 1982; Robbins was director from 1971 to 1974 and Slive was acting director and then director from 1974 to 1982. There is also correspondence from Sydney Freedberg's tenure as acting director, from July 1978 to July 1979, while Slive was on sabbatical. The collection consists primarily of sent and received correspondence, covering a range of topics related to the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Sackler Museums, the Harvard Fine Arts Department, and other related matters. In many instances Robbins' and Slive's correspondence has been interfiled.

The collection includes correspondence about museum publications, exhibitions, staffing, fund raising, conservation and preservation of objects, loans to and from the Fogg and Busch-Reisinger Museums, and other museum-related projects. Correspondents include curators and directors at other museums, private collectors, Harvard Fine Arts professors and other scholars, students, and several artists (of note is Robbins' correspondence with artists Cleve Gray and Hans Richter). The collection also includes correspondence with individual collectors and dealers interested in selling or giving objects to the museums. There is also information about the Print Rental Program initiated by Robbins, which allowed Harvard students to rent original prints on a yearly basis.

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.

Researchers should 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. Some folders also 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 separately; separation sheets indicate their removal. These oversize materials may be consulted upon request. Some of the collection suffered water damage in a flood of the archives in 1998; as a result, some of the materials are wrinkled, some ink has run, and some are stuck together and in need of treatment by conservators.

Biography: Daniel Robbins

Daniel J. Robbins was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1932. He attended the University of Chicago as an undergraduate, receiving an A.B. in 1951 at age 19. Robbins then attended Yale University, where he received an M.A. in Art History in 1955. He taught at Indiana University for one academic year (1955-1956), then began doctoral work at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. He studied under Robert Goldwater, writing his dissertation on the Cubist painter and theoretician Albert Gleizes. Robbins was a Fulbright scholar in Paris in 1958, and he became research assistant to the chief curator of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1959, a position he held until 1961. He married Eugenia Scandrett in 1959; the couple would have two daughters, Juliette and Miranda.

In 1961, Robbins moved to New York to become a curator at the Guggenheim Museum, and in 1965 he left the Guggenheim to become Director of the Art Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). He was at RISD from 1965 until 1971, when he became director of the Fogg Museum at Harvard. Robbins was at the Fogg from 1971 to 1974, when he resigned from the directorship; he was also a lecturer in Fine Arts at Harvard. In the fall of 1972, he conducted a seminar on the artist Jacques Villon, and in the following years he collaborated with the students from the class to organize the first major Villon retrospective held in the U.S. (at the Fogg Museum from January 17 to February 29, 1976) and to edit and contribute to the exhibition's catalogue. Robbins completed his dissertation, which had been put on hold due to professional demands and responsibilities, in 1975. He held a professorship at Dartmouth College from 1975 to 1980 and was also a guest lecturer at Yale University, Williams College, Hunter College, the University of Iowa, and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. In 1980, Robbins accepted a permanent position at Union College, a position he held until his death from lymphoma in January 1995.
Biography: Semour Slive Seymour Slive was born in Chicago on September 15, 1920. He attended the University of Chicago for all his degrees, receiving an A.B. in 1943 and a Ph.D. in 1952. He wrote his dissertation, Rembrandt and His Critics: 1630-1730, under Ulrich Middeldorf. Slive's studies were interrupted while he served in the Naval Reserve and on active duty in the Pacific Theater from 1942 to 1946. In 1946 he married Zoya Gregorevna Sandomirsky; they would have three children together. Slive was a lecturer in the humanities at the City of Chicago Junior College from 1947 to 1950. He received a Fulbright Fellowship to the Netherlands in 1951-1952, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1956-1957, and a Fulbright Research Scholarship to the University of Utrecht from 1959-1960. He was given an honorary A.M. from Harvard in 1958 and an honorary M.A. from the University of Oxford in 1972.

Before coming to Harvard, Slive taught at Oberlin College (1950-1951) and Pomona College (1952-1954). He joined the Harvard faculty in 1954 and remained for the duration of his academic career. He was Assistant Professor of Fine Arts from 1954 to 1957, Associate Professor from 1957 to 1961, and Professor of Fine Arts from 1961 to 1973. In 1973, he was named Gleason Professor of Fine Arts, a position he held until his retirement in June 1991. Slive also served as Chairman of the Fine Arts Department from 1968 to 1971. In September 1974, upon Daniel Robbins' departure, Slive was named acting director of the Fogg Museum; in March 1975 he was appointed its director. He remained in the position until 1982 and was instrumental in raising funds and planning for the construction of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. He is often referred to as the founding director of the Sackler Museum.

Beyond his teaching and museum work, Slive had long been an internationally renowned Rembrandt scholar and expert on Dutch art of the seventeenth century. He authored dozens of monographs on Dutch art, notably on Rembrandt, Frans Hals (including the 3-volume catalogue raisonné), and Jacob van Ruisdael (including the catalogue raisonné of Ruisdael's landscapes). He was instrumental in the mounting of groundbreaking museum exhibitions of Dutch art and wrote prolifically. Slive died in Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 14, 2014.


The papers of Robbins and Slive are interfiled and arranged alphabetically by title in one series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers were left at the Fogg Museum by former directors Daniel Robbins and Seymour Slive.

Box and Folder Locations

  1. Box 1: Folders 1-19
  2. Box 2: Folders 20-43
  3. Box 3: Folders 44-69
  4. Box 4: Folders 70-98
  5. Box 5: Folders 99-118
  6. Box 6: Folders 119-144
  7. Box 7: Folders 145-160
  8. Box 8: Folders 161-183
  9. Box 9: Folders 184-206
  10. Box 10: Folders 207-228
  11. Box 11: Folders 229-276
  12. Box 12: Folders 277-314
  13. Box 13: Folders 315-358
  14. Box 14: Folders 359-392
  15. Box 15: Folders 393-408
  16. Box 16: Folders 409-429
  17. Box 17: Folders 430-453
  18. Box 18: Folders 454-481
  19. Box 19: Folders 482-508
  20. Box 20: Folders 509-518
  1. Arthur M. Sackler Museum
  2. Busch-Reisinger Museum
  3. Fogg Art Museum
  4. Harvard Art Museum
  5. Robbins, Daniel
  6. Slive, Seymour, 1920-
  1. Art-Collectors and Collecting
  2. Art-Conservation and Restoration
  3. Art-History-Study and Teaching (Higher)-United States
  4. Art Museum Directors
  5. Art Museums-Administration
  6. Art Museums-Massachusetts
  7. Art-Study and Teaching-Massachusetts
  8. Fogg Art Museum-Administration
  9. Fogg Art Museum-History
  10. Harvard University-Fine Arts
  11. Harvard University-Museums
  12. Museum Directors
  13. Museum loans
  1. Art historians
  2. Artists
  3. Museum Directors

Processing Information

Processing Information: The collection was processed from January to February 2010 by Laura Morris.
Link to catalog
Papers of Daniel Robbins and Seymour Slive (HC 7), 1959-2003: A Guide
Harvard Art Museums Archives
These papers were processed with the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Getty Foundation

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.

32 Quincy Street
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA