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Ben Wolf Collection


Held at: Bryn Mawr College [Contact Us]Bryn Mawr College Library, 101 N. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr 19010

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Bryn Mawr College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Ben Wolf was an artist, writer, poet, teacher, and socialite throughout the Philadelphia art world. He taught classes, gave lectures, participated in committees and development work, showed his own work in galleries, reviewed others' work, and authored monographs on other artists. Although it is not represented in this collection, Wolf had a career as a rare book seller, with a shop in Rosemont, PA, near Bryn Mawr. Although he was very prolific, Wolf never became a famous or valuable artist. Despite this, he was extremely well-connected.

Ben Wolf included his wife, Ruth Wolf, in many of his projects. The two lived in Philadelphia for most of their lives. A year spent abroad, in Europe, in 1956 is documented in the collection. In the late 1980s and 1990s, Wolf was active in Philadelphia social clubs, including his retirement home. Wolf died in 1996 in Gladwyn, PA.

This collection came to Bryn Mawr in two parts, one half in 1994 and another in 2016. The earlier accession was organized by Wolf himself, and contains a larger date range of material. The later accession mostly, but not entirely, contains material from Wolf's later retired years in Waverly Heights.

This eclectic collection contains a wide variety of materials, all of which pertain to Ben Wolf's broad interests over his varied career. The collection's strengths are two-fold: On one hand, this is a very thorough account of Wolf's life and creative works, including poetry, fiction, essays, lectures, and artwork. On the other hand, Wolf's research projects and correspondence with other artists and art-related people contains valuable information and material. Of particular note is Wolf's project on Morton Livingston Schamberg, a Philadelphia artist.

Beyond these two poles, this collection also contains a large volume of material on the art-scene in Philadelphia during Wolf's life, including arts clubs, museums, gallery exhibitions, brochures and publications. Not only was Wolf actively involved in these clubs, as the correspondence and hired advertising illustrations in this collection attest, but he also participated in the arts widely and collected material from many institutional sources.

Series 1: Alphabetical Topics contains material from the first accession organized by Wolf himself. Included here are correspondence, brochures, photographs, documents, and other professional materials. Wolf's Morton Livingston Schamberg project is included in this series. Series 2: Written Work contains all of Wolf's personal and professional writing including poetry and fiction in the form of notes, manuscripts, binders, and lectures, as well as related correspondence to these projects. Series 3: Original Art contains Wolf's drawings, prints, reproduction photographs, paintings, and cartoons. Series 4: Sherlockiana contains Wolf's Sherlock Holmes material, including publications, fan fiction, illustrations, letters, and original collected material from the Conan Doyle circle. Series 5: Europe Travel Materials contains a huge variety of material from Wolf's time in the UK in the 1950s, including brochures, travel guides, receipts, etc. Beyond Wolf's life, this series provides a unique window into international travel and tourism in the 1950s. Series 6: Legal Size Material contains material from Series 1 and 2 that did not fit into the letter-file boxes. Series 7: Odd-Sized Material contains some small notebooks, a few cassettes, and some 35mm slides. Series 8: Coast Guard Materials contains a 1940s and 1950s collection of photographs, mostly related to Coast Guard projects, but not entirely. These images might have been used as sample or stock images.

Bryn Mawr College
Finding Aid Author
Elliot Krasnopoler
Finding Aid Date
November 2018
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Archives with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.

Collection Inventory

Scope and Contents

This series contains 4 boxes:

1 - A to J Materials 2 - K to P Materials - this box includes all Philadelphia material listed under "P" 3 - O to Z Materials 4 - Morton Livingston Schamberg Materials - see sub-series for detailed scope note.

In box 8 of this collection ("Readings, Lectures, Misc.") there is a detailed finding guide for the materials in boxes 1-3 of this series. It has not been digitized however.

Morton Livingston Schamberg, (1961-1964).
Scope and Contents

Folder 1 - Notes and typed preliminary essays, dated 1962

Folder 2, "Armory" - Notes, copies, and some letters. Copes from Archives of American Art

Folder 3 - University of Pennsylvania contract for book, 1962

Folder 4 - Editorial letters between Wolf and Thomas Yoseloff of UPenn, 1962

Folder 5 - Correspondence arranged chronologically, 1962 - 1982

Folder 6 - Correspondence between Ruth Wolf and Mrs. Schamberg (not his wife) in preparation for publication. 1962.

Folder 7 - Copy of (2) letters to and from Marcel Duchamp and Ben Wolf, 1962

Folder 8 - Douglas MacAgy material, 1962-64?

Folder 9 - Ruth Wolf and Fanette Meyers Correspondence, 1963, 1 photograph of Schamberg

Folder 10 - Letter between Charles Sheeler and Ben Wolf, 1963

Folder 11 - Letters to and from Jean Loeb Whitehill, 1963

Folder 12 - Virginia Zabriskie (of Zabriskie Gallery in NYC) Correspondence, 1963

Folder 13 - Schamberg Works in Progress - Notes, quotes, Exhibition materials, etc.

Folder 14 - First Draft - typed sheets and fragments

Folder 15 - Some Notes - handwritten sheets and typed manuscript pages with handwritten notes

Folder 16 - Handwritten and typed descriptions of paintings

Folder 17 - Notes, and a list of works, 1963

Folder 18 - Typed dictations from recorded interviews of: Charles Sheeler, Oscar Loeb, Jane Whitehill

Folder 19 - "Checklist" - handwritten and typed notes

Folder 20 - Typed manuscript for book with corrections and photocopy of final version

Folder 21 - Notes and typed sheets relating to "Syllabus for a Monograph of Morton Livingston Schamberg," 1962

Folder 22 - Galleys

Folder 23 - Book Proof

Folder 24 - Several reporters notebooks and index cards with notes

Folder 25 - Black and white photographs (for publication?)

Folder 26 - 1 original portrait of Schamberg (from the teens?), many reproduction black and white photographs of paintings.

Folder 27 - Reproduction photographs of paintings, one original letter dated 1912.

Folder 28 - More reproduction photographs, portraits of Schamberg and family

Folder 29 - More photographs

Folder 30 - NYT Review of Books (entire issue) April 26, 1964

Folder 31 - Newspaper clippings

Folder 32 - Manuscript of a talk given by Wolf at PAFA in 1963

Folder 33 - Orange Kodak box of photographs

Series 2: Written Work.
Scope and Contents

This series contains 4 boxes:

5 - Personal Writing - Contains Wolf's fictional writing from the 1950s and later. This box contains original handwritten stories, as well as re-written and typed collections of stories (collected into a binder titled "A Time Ago"). This box also contains Wolf's autobiographical memior "En Route." FInally, there is a collection of personal introductions from the Franklin Inn in a binder dated 1992

6 - Poetry - Mostly collections of poetry in binders. Mostly handwritten, and some illustrated.

7 - Art Writing - Art lectures given, teaching materials, articles, presentations to social clubs about art, etc. Also containes a typed manuscript on Franklin C. Watkins by Wolf. Contains "Adventures in Art" lecture series.

8 - Readings, Lectures, Misc. - This box contains later lectures and readings given at social clubs. It also has Wolf's collected books and manuscripts on art-related topics (Anders Zorn mostly). It also contains some correspondence about writing, and other miscelleneous materials related to Wolf's writing.

Series 3: Original Art.
Scope and Contents

This Series contains all sorts of Wolf's original art, loosely organized by size but not by medium or era. Mediums include: Reproduction photographs, original photographs, photocopies, drawings, watercolor paintings, sketches, cartoons, etc. Contains 5 boxes of materials:

9 - Bankers box

10 - Bankers box

11 - Small upright box

12 - Small flat file box

13 - Large flat file box

Series 4: Sherlockiana.
Scope and Contents

Contains 5 boxes of materials:

Box 14 - Photographs by Wolf and earlier, letters to and from England and elsewhere, facsimiles, clippings, newspapers. Very well organized in archival folders.

Box 15 - Bibliography of TV and Radio, drawings, Collectable letters and regular correspondence, cards, imprints, zines, etc. Very well organized in archival folders.

Box 16 - Magazines, clippings, letters, brochures. Very well organized in archival folders.

Box 17 - "According to Doyle" papers, letters, drawings, radio program.

Box 18 - Various letters, notes, and articles related to a Sherlock Holmes fan-fiction club.

Series 5: Europe Travel Materials.
Series 6: Legal-size material.
Series 7: Odd-sized material.
Series 8: Coast Guard Photographs.

Print, Suggest