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George Roberts Papers


Held at: Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives [Contact Us]Philadelphia Museum of Art, PO Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646

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

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Born near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, George Brooke Roberts (1900-1974) made his career in that city as an architect and writer as well as an active supporter of fine arts institutions and social reform organizations. After attending schools in New England, which included earning an undergraduate degree with honors from Harvard University in 1922, Roberts studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his second baccalaureate degree in 1929. His early arrchitectural career included working as a draftsman in the office of Paul Cret, and by 1935 he was practicing independently. While most of Roberts' projects were residential, he also served on the Buildings and Grounds Committee of Christ Church Hospital, which oversaw renovations as well as the construction of an infirmary. His civic activities included serving on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and chairing the architectural committee of the Art Alliance. He was also President of the Pennsylvania Society to Protect Children from Cruelty and was a director of the Agnes Irwin School. Both Roberts and his wife Mary were members of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and personal friends of Fiske Kimball, one of the Museum's most significant directors, who served from 1925 to 1955. Their relationships with both the institution and the man no doubt served as impetus for the Roberts' collaboration in writing "Triumph on Fairmount: Fiske Kimball and the Philadelphia Museum of Art," which was published in 1959, four years after Kimball's death.

Mary Roberts (nee Howland) was born in Washington, D.C. in 1902. Her family moved to Philadelphia in 1911 when her father took an editorial position with a local newspaper. Mary attended the Agnes Irwin School and married George in 1927. They had two children.

    Works Consulted
  1. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. Includes biographical sketch of George and Mary Roberts. George Roberts Papers.
  2. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1959). Roberts, George, 1900- and Mary Roberts Triumph on Fairmount: Fiske Kimball and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  3. Architects, s.v. Roberts, George Brooke (1900-1974). Philadelphia Architects and Buildings.

These papers pertain primarily to Roberts' work as a writer and speaker, and most particularly to his 1959 book, "Triumph on Fairmount: Fiske Kimball and the Philadelphia Museum of Art," which he co-authored with his wife, Mary. Many of the correspondents are Kimball's PMA colleagues and other professional associates, offering Roberts' their criticisms of his writing before and after publication. An annotated typescript of the book is included, as well as the original artwork done by the author and reproduced in the book's front and back inside covers. The black and white watercolor depicts the Museum atops its hill, surrounded by the Schuylkill River, the 19th-century waterworks and the distant cityscape.

The publication of "Triumph on Fairmount" apparently made Roberts a popular speaker with various local organizations. Correspondence, notes, drawings, and writing drafts document several talks he gave most frequently about the colonial houses in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park and Kimball's involvement in promoting the Park houses. Other drafts pertain to Roberts' thoughts on collaborating with his spouse and his reflections as a writer.

These materials were arranged and described by Bertha Adams. Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Bertha Adams
Finding Aid Date
Funded by a grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

The George Roberts Papers are the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated.

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