Held at: James A. Michener Art Museum Archives [Contact Us]138 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA, 18901
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the James A. Michener Art Museum Archives. 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
Herman Silverman (born in 1920) is the founder of Sylvan Pools, the Bucks County, Pennsylvania Artmobile, and advocate for the James A. Michener Art Museum. Silverman was a longtime friend of author James Michener and the two enjoyed lengthy discussions on varied topics.
Born in 1920 in Camden, New Jersey, Herman Silverman graduated in 1940 with a degree in landscape management from the National Farm School, now Delaware Valley University. The Silverman brothers, Herman and Ira, established a small landscaping business in 1946, which grew to be one of the nation's biggest pool companies, Sylvan Pools. Oscar Hammerstein II was their first big customer. Silverman is renowned for his efforts as a philanthropist and supporter of the arts. In the 1970s, he founded the Bucks County Artmobile, a traveling museum project that enabled Bucks County, Pennsylvania artists to show work at schools and civic organizations. Together with his wife, Ann, and four daughters, Silverman was the driving force behind the establishment of the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown (Bucks County), helping to turn a former jail into a thriving art museum. He has continued to be an ardent supporter of the museum for nearly 40 years, having served as chairman of its board of trustees. Silverman was a key founder of the Doylestown Hospital Heart Institute and the Ann Silverman Free Health Clinic; he is also past president of his alma mater, Delaware Valley University, and board member of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
Silverman had a 50-year friendship with bestselling author James Michener (1907-1997), which he chronicled in his 1999 memoir Michener and Me. They met in 1947 at a group for liberal World War II veterans. They had many things in common: each grew up in Pennsylvania, poor, without knowing his father, and both were practical men who made their own way in the world. Michener was a secretive man in contrast to the gregarious Silverman, and the two often disagreed, but they shared a sense of humor and a love of good conversation. The two friends discussed everything from censorship to politics, but not much on a personal level.
Herman Silverman correspondence, press clippings, and photographs, 1949-1998, is comprised of copies of 538 letters dating from 1949 to 1997. The majority of the letters are to or from Herman Silverman or James A. Michener, including letters about Silverman's philanthropic efforts. In addition, there is an extensive collection of press clippings pertaining to both Silverman and Michener, photographs, and a 1998 Crystal Quill award presented to Michener by the Philadelphia Writers' Conference.
A more detailed finding aid, biographical note, or inventory for this collection may be available on-site.
Gift of Herman Silverman, 2015
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact James A. Michener Art Museum Archives directly for more information.
- James A. Michener Art Museum Archives
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories using information provided by the James A. Michener Art Museum Archives
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Access Restrictions
Contact James A. Michener Art Museum Archives for information about accessing this collection.