Papers of Jeanne L. Wasserman, 1952-2004
Personal papers of Jeanne L. Wasserman, Honorary Curator of 19th and 20th Century Sculpture at the Fogg Museum from 1969-c.1987.
Conditions on Access:
Access: Access to most of the Papers of Jeanne L. Wasserman is unrestricted. Access to Series VI is restricted.
Conditions on Use:
Copyright: The donor has transferred any copyright held in these papers to the President and Fellows of Harvard College. 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 Museum Archives before publishing quotations from any material in the collection.
Copying: Papers may be copied in accordance with the Harvard Art Museums Archives' usual procedures.
Extent19 linear feet (35 file boxes, 1 half file box, 3 5.5x8.5 card boxes, 1 record carton, oversize materials)
Jeanne Wasserman's personal papers contain a broad range of materials. There is curatorial and exhibition material, both from her time at the Fogg, and from exhibitions curated for other venues and institutions, including MIT and Radcliffe. There is also a significant amount of teaching papers from her time at the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement. This teaching material also includes notes from students, and Ms. Wasserman’s critiques of how her own lectures were received. While her writings include material for smaller articles published, the bulk of the series concerns the translation from French to English that she worked on with Mira Jacob of Odilon Redon’s "To Myself."
As Ms. Wasserman was heavily involved with the arts scene in and around the Boston area, there is a large amount of material from the boards and committees on which she served, as well as photographs and slides of her personal art collection, items related to her travels, the redecoration of her home, and a small amount of family vacation slides. The bulk of the material dates from c. 1960-2004.
Items have been placed in acid-free folders. Folder titles that were ascribed by Ms. Wasserman have been kept. If folders had no titles, one was assigned by the archivist, and put in brackets [ ] to denote this distinction. Collections of index cards have been moved from metal boxes to appropriately-sized, acid-free archival boxes. Duplicate materials were removed and discarded. Originally, the collection contained a number of 3-ring binders. Materials were removed from these binders for their continued protection. Slides have been housed in archival viewing sheets, both for ease of access and preservation concerns. A small amount of oversized items have been placed in size-appropriate cabinets.
The papers also consisted of a significant number of newspaper clippings and magazine articles interfiled throughout the collection. These items were handled in the following manner: all clippings were copied and the copies were placed in the original folder. If the clipping was from a major newspaper, the original clipping was then discarded; if the clipping itself had exhibition, publication, or research value, it was moved to a “clippings folder” and closed to research. This approach mitigated any further damage from the acidity of the paper, but retained items that could be of potential value. The folders containing the clippings are filed in Series VI. Entire magazines were not retained. Relevant articles, along with the magazines' cover and index were removed from the magazine and filed in the magazine's orginal location.
Exhibition catalogues were handled similarly. Each catalogue was researched to ascertain how many copies were publicly available. Catalogues that could easily be accessed elswehere had their front covers and tables of contents removed and retained in the Wasserman Collection. The bulk of the catalogue was then discarded. Catalogues that were rare were retained in their entirety.
Jeanne Wasserman (née Leonard) was born March 19, 1915 in New York City, and later moved to New Rochelle, New York. Her family, of German-Jewish descent, immigrated to the United States in the pre-Civil War era. Wasserman's grandfather was a successful businessman, who paid for Jeanne's private high school and later, her college education at Radcliffe College, which culminated in a degree in English literature in 1936.
Ms. Wasserman met her husband, Max Wasserman, on a blind date, shortly before her graduation from Radcliffe. The two married in 1938, once Jeanne was convinced Max could support her. The Wassermans had three children, Peter, Suzanne, and Nancy. Ms. Wasserman began her career doing the advertising for her husband's business, Wasco Flashing. When he sold the business in the 1950's to work in real estate, Ms. Wasserman began working in the art field.
Having taken classes at the Fogg Museum while she was at Radcliffe, Ms. Wasserman was eager to return, and did so in 1962, as a research assistant to then director, John Coolidge. In 1969, she was named the Honorary Curator of 19th- and 20th-Century Sculpture, a position she held for about 2 decades. While at the Fogg, Ms. Wasserman was in charge of a number of renowned exhibitions, including "Daumier Sculpture: A Critical and Comparative Study," for which she also authored a book with the same title. Ms. Wasserman's expertise on Honoré Daumier led to many accolades, including being acknowledged at the Daumier Symposium at the Musée D'Orsay in Paris in 1999. Throughout her life, Ms. Wasserman was a regular on museum boards and committees, often playing an integral role in collections development.
After her husband's death in 1986, Ms. Wasserman began teaching at the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement (HILR) and was honored by the Institute by being named a Distinguished Member in 2000. She also served as a trustee of the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, Brandeis' Rose Art Museum, and on Harvard's Committee to Visit the Fine Arts, and the Cambridge Public Art Commission. In addition to being a scholar of art, Ms. Wasserman was also passionate about women's rights, and was instrumental in leading the fight for women's right to birth control and in helping launch Planned Parenthood in Massachusetts.
Jeanne Wasserman died in Cambridge, Massachusetts on January 21, 2006.
Series and Subseries in the Collection
Ms. Wasserman's personal papers are organized in 6 series based on subject matter. Arrangement is alphabetical using Ms. Wasserman's ascribed folder titles, except for the series titled "Teaching." The items in this series have been arranged chronologically. In the "Boards and Committees" series, items are filed alphabetically by name of institution/committee. Within those groupings, they are filed chronologically, as organized by Ms. Wasserman. Series VI. is closed to research. Photocopies of clippings are available in their original locations.
- Series I. Curatorial
- ___Subseries A: Curatorial Index Files
- ___Subseries B: General Curatorial
- ___Subseries C: Photographs and Slides
- ___Subseries D: Exhibitions
- ___Subseries E: Exhibition Ideas
- Series II. Teaching
- ___Subseries A: Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement (HLIR)
- ___Subseries B: Classes and Lectures - Fogg Museum of Art
- ___Subseries C: Smithsonian Institution
- ___Subseries D: Institute of Contemporary Art
- Series III. Writings
- ___Subseries A: Articles and Resumes
- ___Subseries B: "To Myself" Translation Project
- Series IV. Boards and Committees
- ___Subseries A: Brandeis Rose Art Museum - Board of Overseers
- ___Subseries B: Brandeis Rose Art Museum - Collections Committee
- ___Subseries C: Cardinal Cushing Memorial Park Committee
- ___Subseries D: Institute of Contemporary Art
- ___Subseries E: Institute of Contemporary Art - Exhibitions Committee
- ___Subseries F: Institute of Contemporary Art - Futures Committee
- ___Subseries G: MIT Council for the Arts
- ___Subseries H: MIT Visiting Committee to the School
- ___Subseries I: Radcliffe Bunting Arts Committee
- ___Subseries J: Radcliffe Alumnae Council
- ___Subseries K: Women's Caucus for Art
- ___Subseries L: Other Organizations and Memberships
- Series V. Personal
- ___Subseries A: Art Collection
- ___Subseries B: Research and Notes
- ___Subseries C: House
- ___Subseries D: Travel
- ___Subseries E: Engagement Calendars
- ___Subseries F: Index Files
- Series VI. Original Clippings
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated to the Harvard Art Museums Archives by Jeanne Wasserman's heirs in April 2006.
Box and Folder Locations
- Box 1: Index Files
- Box 2: Index Files
- Box 3: 1-14
- Box 4: 15-33
- Box 5: 34-48
- Box 6: 49-65
- Box 7: 66-82
- Box 8: 83-92
- Box 9: 93-107
- Box 10: 108-123
- Box 11: 124-146
- Box 12: 147-169
- Box 13: 170-183
- Box 14: 184-197
- Box 15: 198-213
- Box 16: 214-232
- Box 17: 233-249
- Box 18: 250-263
- Box 19: 264-281
- Box 20: 282-296
- Box 21: 297-312
- Box 22: 313-330
- Box 23: 331-345
- Box 24: 346-362
- Box 25: 363-377
- Box 26: 378-393
- Box 27: 394-408
- Box 28: 409-421
- Box 29: 422-435
- Box 30: 436-451
- Box 31: 452-465
- Box 32: 466-479
- Box 33: 480-497
- Box 34: 498-516
- Box 35: 517-536
- Box 36: 537-555
- Box 37: 556-565
- Box 38: Engagement Calendars
- Box 39: Engagement Calendars
- Box 40: Index Files
- Box 41: 566-571
- Coolidge, John, 1913-1995
- Daumier, Honoré, 1808-1879
- Falguière, Jean-Alexandre-Joseph, 1831-1900
- Fogg Art Museum
- Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement.
- Harvard University
- Harvard University. Art Museums
- Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, Mass.)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Miró, Joan, 1893-1983
- MIT List Visual Arts Center
- Moore, Henry, 1898-1986
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
- Radcliffe College
- Radcliffe College. Alumnae Association
- Redon, Odilon, 1840-1916
- Robbins, Daniel, 1947-
- Rodin, Auguste, 1840-1917
- Rose Art Museum
- Slive, Seymour, 1920-
- Wasserman, Jeanne L.
- Wellesley College
- Women's Caucus for Art
- Zabriskie Gallery
- Art and architecture
- Art--Private collections.
- Art--Private collections--Massachusetts--Cambridge--Catalogs.
- Art--Private collections--Massachusetts--Cambridge--Exhibitions.
- Art--Private collections--Massachusetts--Wellesley--Exhibitions.
- Art--Study and Teaching--Massachusetts
- Art--Study and Teaching--United States
- Art historians
- Art historians—Massachusetts—Cambridge
- Art in education—Massachusetts—Cambridge
- Art in universities and colleges
- Art museum curators
- Art museum curators—Massachusetts—Cambridge
- Art museums
- Art museums—Collection management
- Art museums—Educational aspects
- Art museums—Employees
- Art museums—Exhibitions
- Art museums—Exhibitions—Massachusetts—Cambridge
- Art museums—Massachusetts—Cambridge—Employees
- Art museums—Massachusetts—Cambridge—History
- Art objects—Collectors and collecting
- Art objects—Criticism and interpretation
- College art museums—Massachusetts—Cambridge
- Contemporary art
- Harvard University — History — 20th century
- Modern art
- Modern artists
- Museum curators
- Museum curators—Massachusetts—Cambridge
- Museum publications
- Museum publications—Massachusetts—Cambridge
- Sculpture--20th century--Exhibitions.
- Sculpture--Conservation and restoration
- Women in art.
- Women in art--Exhibitions.
- Women museum curators-United States
- annual report(s)
- financial record(s)
- galley proof(s)
- lecture notes(s)
The collection was processed from November 2010 to January 2011 by Erin Murphy with assistance from Gabrielle Lang.
- Papers of Jeanne L. Wasserman (SC 11), 1952-2004: A Guide
- Harvard Art Museums Archives
- Language of description
- EAD ID
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 papers of individuals and groups associated with the museums' history, including records of past exhibitions, architectural plans, photographs, scrapbooks, and memorabilia, as well as correspondence with collectors, gallery owners, museum professionals, and artists throughout the twentieth century. Its holdings also document the formation of the museums' collections and its mission as a teaching institution.
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