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COLLECTION Identifier: SC 11

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.


  • Creation: 1952-2004

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.


19 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.

  1. Series I. Curatorial
  2. ___Subseries A: Curatorial Index Files
  3. ___Subseries B: General Curatorial
  4. ___Subseries C: Photographs and Slides
  5. ___Subseries D: Exhibitions
  6. ___Subseries E: Exhibition Ideas
  7. Series II. Teaching
  8. ___Subseries A: Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement (HLIR)
  9. ___Subseries B: Classes and Lectures - Fogg Museum of Art
  10. ___Subseries C: Smithsonian Institution
  11. ___Subseries D: Institute of Contemporary Art
  12. Series III. Writings
  13. ___Subseries A: Articles and Resumes
  14. ___Subseries B: "To Myself" Translation Project
  15. Series IV. Boards and Committees
  16. ___Subseries A: Brandeis Rose Art Museum - Board of Overseers
  17. ___Subseries B: Brandeis Rose Art Museum - Collections Committee
  18. ___Subseries C: Cardinal Cushing Memorial Park Committee
  19. ___Subseries D: Institute of Contemporary Art
  20. ___Subseries E: Institute of Contemporary Art - Exhibitions Committee
  21. ___Subseries F: Institute of Contemporary Art - Futures Committee
  22. ___Subseries G: MIT Council for the Arts
  23. ___Subseries H: MIT Visiting Committee to the School
  24. ___Subseries I: Radcliffe Bunting Arts Committee
  25. ___Subseries J: Radcliffe Alumnae Council
  26. ___Subseries K: Women's Caucus for Art
  27. ___Subseries L: Other Organizations and Memberships
  28. Series V. Personal
  29. ___Subseries A: Art Collection
  30. ___Subseries B: Research and Notes
  31. ___Subseries C: House
  32. ___Subseries D: Travel
  33. ___Subseries E: Engagement Calendars
  34. ___Subseries F: Index Files
  35. 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.

Related Material

The Harvard Art Museums Archives holds a collection of Ms. Wasserman's curatorial papers, created during her tenure at the Fogg Museum; files in the Art Museums' exhibition records contain further material about Ms. Wasserman's exhibitions. An oral history with Ms. Wasserman and the Jeanne and Max Wasserman papers, [ca. 1960-1975], dedicated to their 180 Beacon collection are held at the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution.

Box and Folder Locations

  1. Box 1: Index Files
  2. Box 2: Index Files
  3. Box 3: 1-14
  4. Box 4: 15-33
  5. Box 5: 34-48
  6. Box 6: 49-65
  7. Box 7: 66-82
  8. Box 8: 83-92
  9. Box 9: 93-107
  10. Box 10: 108-123
  11. Box 11: 124-146
  12. Box 12: 147-169
  13. Box 13: 170-183
  14. Box 14: 184-197
  15. Box 15: 198-213
  16. Box 16: 214-232
  17. Box 17: 233-249
  18. Box 18: 250-263
  19. Box 19: 264-281
  20. Box 20: 282-296
  21. Box 21: 297-312
  22. Box 22: 313-330
  23. Box 23: 331-345
  24. Box 24: 346-362
  25. Box 25: 363-377
  26. Box 26: 378-393
  27. Box 27: 394-408
  28. Box 28: 409-421
  29. Box 29: 422-435
  30. Box 30: 436-451
  31. Box 31: 452-465
  32. Box 32: 466-479
  33. Box 33: 480-497
  34. Box 34: 498-516
  35. Box 35: 517-536
  36. Box 36: 537-555
  37. Box 37: 556-565
  38. Box 38: Engagement Calendars
  39. Box 39: Engagement Calendars
  40. Box 40: Index Files
  41. Box 41: 566-571

General note

  1. Coolidge, John, 1913-1995
  2. Daumier, Honoré, 1808-1879
  3. Falguière, Jean-Alexandre-Joseph, 1831-1900
  4. Fogg Art Museum
  5. Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement.
  6. Harvard University
  7. Harvard University. Art Museums
  8. Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, Mass.)
  9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  10. Miró, Joan, 1893-1983
  11. MIT List Visual Arts Center
  12. Moore, Henry, 1898-1986
  13. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  14. Radcliffe College
  15. Radcliffe College. Alumnae Association
  16. Redon, Odilon, 1840-1916
  17. Robbins, Daniel, 1947-
  18. Rodin, Auguste, 1840-1917
  19. Rose Art Museum
  20. Slive, Seymour, 1920-
  21. Wasserman, Jeanne L.
  22. Wellesley College
  23. Women's Caucus for Art
  24. Zabriskie Gallery

General note

  1. Art and architecture
  2. Art—Exhibitions
  3. Art—Exhibitions—Catalogs
  4. Art—Exhibitions—Planning
  5. Art--Private collections.
  6. Art--Private collections--Massachusetts--Cambridge--Catalogs.
  7. Art--Private collections--Massachusetts--Cambridge--Exhibitions.
  8. Art--Private collections--Massachusetts--Wellesley--Exhibitions.
  9. Art--Study and Teaching--Massachusetts
  10. Art--Study and Teaching--United States
  11. Art historians
  12. Art historians—Massachusetts—Cambridge
  13. Art in education—Massachusetts—Cambridge
  14. Art in universities and colleges
  15. Art museum curators
  16. Art museum curators—Massachusetts—Cambridge
  17. Art museums
  18. Art museums—Collection management
  19. Art museums—Educational aspects
  20. Art museums—Employees
  21. Art museums—Exhibitions
  22. Art museums—Exhibitions—Massachusetts—Cambridge
  23. Art museums—Massachusetts—Cambridge—Employees
  24. Art museums—Massachusetts—Cambridge—History
  25. Art objects—Collectors and collecting
  26. Art objects—Criticism and interpretation
  27. College art museums—Massachusetts—Cambridge
  28. Contemporary art
  29. Guatemala
  30. Harvard University — History — 20th century
  31. Modern art
  32. Modern artists
  33. Museum curators
  34. Museum curators—Massachusetts—Cambridge
  35. Museum publications
  36. Museum publications—Massachusetts—Cambridge
  37. Museums—Acquisitions
  38. Museums—Massachusetts—Boston
  39. Museums—Massachusetts—Cambridge
  40. Sculpture
  41. Sculpture--20th century--Exhibitions.
  42. Sculpture--Attribution
  43. Sculpture--Conservation and restoration
  44. Travel.
  45. Women in art.
  46. Women in art--Exhibitions.
  47. Women museum curators-United States

General note

Form/Genre Terms
  1. annual report(s)
  2. clipping(s)
  3. correspondence
  4. financial record(s)
  5. galley proof(s)
  6. lecture notes(s)
  7. lecture(s)
  8. minutes
  9. negative(s)
  10. postcard(s)
  11. photograph(s)
  12. slide(s)

Remediation Note

The finding aid was revised in 2023 to include the full names of individuals previously only identified by their husband’s name. Those revisions took place in folder titles. Archivist-supplied names are indicated in brackets. For questions about revisions, please contact the Harvard Art Museums Archives at

Processing Information:

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

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 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.

32 Quincy Street
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA