Prelude: Do not accept what you see without question.
Because I am working in such a small setting, with the librarian passing along collections to me to add Title, Descriptions, ID, Box #s, Dates, Creators, Subject Headings, etc. of 4-30 images. I have a specific task and the librarian had been providing the resources available to find the info.
Then last week, during my project – I was very confused for about a half an hour before I left. I told her something was wrong and to not change any of my files (she would not have anyway). When I came back to the collection, I asked the librarian if there had been an article in the Craft’s Horizon magazine in the 60’s about the North Central American Crafts Council. She had been giving me newsletters and for the first collections – the council or exhibit publications.
In a short while she produced the September 1962 issue with the article – and several of the images – which had crop marking on them – I teach graphic design – and have worked in the printing industry – I know instructions for copy camera operators – to make halftones – when I see ’em. (Enough en dashes for you? oops that is so not APA!).
Here is what I discovered from the new info provided in the two-page spread about the NC-ACC: Inexplicably, those identified by the notes on the back of the photos were being identified as someone else Hmmm….
Now my curiosity is piqued. I examined the notes (which were written on a small piece of paper and taped or glued to the back (the tape had since been removed – the glue had left a residue stain – but appeared to have been removed or neutralized.) So I take a photo with 5 men – the note lists 4 men – and incorrectly. I examine the back carefully. I see it! The little number on the descriptive sheet of paper that was once taped to the back! I also see a number written on the photo. It Does Not Match. I pull another photo from the pile – yep – identification paper and number – no match!
I remove and restore the paper to the correct photograph. Some are missing numbers – but the tape stain matches like a puzzle. Everything falls into place. – I finish the set that day. I had to go back and check the two or three photographs that misidentified people. Fixed!
Act 1: Safe and Sound in New York, 1966
I am working on an interesting exhibition – Bread Art. This show opened in November 1966 at the Museum of American Crafts in New York. Many of the photographs have (l to r) listing of subjects. One particular image caught my eye. A man and a woman dressed to the nines at opening night. They are baking cookies. Obviously guests of the opening ceremony – because I cannot find them associated with crafts. Their names are found in the LOC Name Authority.
Okay – so the man is an award winning playwright and I think the woman was “Mrs. Bartley C. Crum” (Anna Gertrude Bosworth). A little research on her reveals that she was the widow of Crum, a lawyer who represented the ‘Hollywood Ten’ who were subjected to the McCarthy hearings. I need to verify that Anna Bosworth was in New York during the time of the exhibition. They seem a likely pair, a playwright and the wife of a Hollywood defense attorney.
Act 2: Not Safe Across the Globe
It makes me sad. This is the end of 1966. This is the time of the Vietnam War. This is the establishment. These are the types of people my parents hung out with. This is my childhood staring at me. I know about the war – but no one of my social class is sent – or even in danger of being sent to fight. Where is the justice? Let’s eat cake while people are fighting a useless war. They are dying on the other side of the world.
The American Craftsmen’s Council, October 1966 Outlook Newsletter includes this piece about the upcoming show…
Life Magazine October 1966 featured this story about Marines, just South of the Demilitarized Zone…
“Four Marines recover the body of a fifth as their company comes under fire near Hill 484.” Vietnam, October 1966. NOTE: At right is the French-born photojournalist Catherine Leroy (1945 – 2006); she was cropped out of the version of this photo that originally ran in LIFE.
Cookies and Bread: The Baker’s Art The catalog in PDF format http://craftcouncil.org/sites/default/files/CookiesandBreads_exhibitioncatalog.pdf
The collection description (the catalog) http://digital.craftcouncil.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15785coll6/id/1276/rec/41