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Myron Bement Smith Collection

Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Names:
Aga-Oglu, Mehmet, 1896-1949  Search this
Ettinghausen, Richard  Search this
Field, Henry  Search this
Herzfeld, Ernst, 1879-1948  Search this
Kuban, Dogan  Search this
Moe, Henry Allen  Search this
Pope, Arthur Upham, 1881-1969  Search this
Former owner:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Extent:
192 Linear feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Date:
circa 1910-1970
Summary:
The Myron Bement Smith collection consists of two parts, the papers of Myron Bement Smith and his wife Katharine and the Islamic Archives. It contains substantial material about his field research in Italy in the 1920s and his years working on Islamic architecture in Iran in the 1930s. Letters describe the milieu in which he operated in Rochester NY and New York City in the 1920s and early 1930s; the Smiths' life in Iran from 1933 to 1937; and the extensive network of academic and social contacts that Myron and Katharine developed and maintained over his lifetime. The Islamic Archives was a project to which Smith devoted most of his professional life. It includes both original materials, such as his photographs and notes, and items acquired by him from other scholars or experts on Islamic art and architecture. Smith intended the Archives to serve as a resource for scholars interested in the architecture and art of the entire Islamic world although he also included some materials about non-Islamic architecture.
Scope and Contents:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection consists of two parts, the papers of Myron Bement Smith and his wife Katharine and the Islamic Archives. The papers include some biographic material about Myron but little about his wife. Information on his academic and professional experience is sketchy and his diaries and appointment books often contain only sporadic entries. The papers contain substantial material about his field research in Italy in the 1920s and his years working on Islamic architecture in Iran in the 1930s. Correspondence comprises the largest and most potentially useful part of the papers. Letters describe the milieu in which he operated in Rochester, NY and New York City in the 1920s and early 1930s; the Smiths' life in Iran from 1933 to 1937; and the extensive network of academic and social contacts that Myron and Katharine developed and maintained over his lifetime.

The Islamic Archives, formally entitled The Archive for Islamic Culture and Art, was a project to which Smith devoted most of his professional life. It includes both original materials, such as his photographs and notes, and items acquired by him from other scholars or experts on Islamic art and architecture. Most of the latter consists of photographs and slides. Smith intended the Archives to serve as a resource for scholars interested in the architecture and art of the entire Islamic world although he also included some materials about non-Islamic architecture. The core collection of the Archives consists of Smith's original photographs and architectural sketches of Iranian Islamic monuments made during his field research in the 1930s. He meticulously photographed the interior and exterior of monuments, including their decorative detail. Some of the photographic materials subsequently loaned, purchased, or donated to the Archives may enable scholars to document sites over time but in many cases the materials are poorly preserved or reproduced. A notable exception to this is the glassplate negatives and prints of 19th century Iranian photographer Antoin Sevruguin.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 2 major series with further subseries. A third series inventories the outsized and miscellaneous materials.

Series 1: Papers

Subseries 1.1: Biographic Materials

Subseries 1.2: Professional Experience

Subseries 1.3: Notebooks, Journals and Appointment Books

Subseries 1.4: Correspondence

Subseries 1.5: Published and Unpublished Materials

Subseries 1.6: Italy Research 1925, 1927-1928

Subseries 1.7: Iran Research 1933-1937

Subseries 1.8: Katharine Dennis Smith Papers and Correspondence

Series 2: The Islamic Archives

Subseries 2.1: Islamic Archives History, Collection Information

Subseries 2.2: Resource Materials Iran

Subseries 2.3: Resource Materials Other Islamic World and General

Subseries 2.4: Myron Bement Smith Architectural Sketches, Plans and Notes, Iran, 1933-1937

Subseries 2.5: Myron Bement Smith Iran Photographs, Notebooks and Negative Registers

Subseries 2.6: Country Photograph File

Subseries 2.7: Lantern Slide Collection

Subseries 2.8: Myron Bement Smith 35 mm Color Slides

Subseries 2.9: Country 35 mm Color Slide File

Subseries 2.10: Myron Bement Smith Negatives

Subseries 2.11: Country Photograph Negatives

Subseries 2.12: Antoin Sevruguin Photographs

Series 3: Outsize and Miscellaneous Items

Subseries 3.1: Map Case Drawers

Subseries 3.2: Rolled Items

Subseries 3.3 Items in Freezer

Subseries 3.4 Smithsonian Copy Negatives
Biographical Note:
Myron Bement Smith was born in Newark Valley, New York in 1897 and grew up in Rochester, New York. He died in Washington D.C. in 1970. He showed an early interest in drawing, and after graduation from high school, he worked as a draftsman for a Rochester architect. He served in the US Army Medical Corps in France during World War I and on return again worked as an architectural draftsman. He studied at Yale University from 1922 to 1926, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. During summer vacations, he worked as draftsman or designer for architectural firms in New York City. After graduation, he received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation grant and spent two years in Italy doing research on northern Italian brick and stone work. He used photography as an tool for his research and published several well-illustrated articles. On return he joined an architectural firm in Philadelphia and in 1931 became a registered architect in New York. He enrolled in Harvard University graduate school in 1929 pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree.

In April 1930, Smith was appointed Secretary of the newly created American Institute for Persian Art and Archaeology founded by Arthur Upham Pope and located in New York City. He had no prior academic or work experience in Islamic art or architecture, and his job entailed designing publications, arranging lectures, organizing exhibitions and fund raising. That summer he arranged an independent study course at Harvard University on Persian art and subsequently studied Persian language at Columbia University and attended graduate courses at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. His work and academic credentials enabled him to compete successfully for a research fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies in 1933 to study Iranian Islamic architecture.

Accompanied by his new bride Katharine Dennis, Smith left for Iran in 1933. They suffered a horrendous motor vehicle accident in Iraq en route and required a lengthy recuperation in Lebanon and Cyprus. The Smiths eventually arrived in Isfahan, Iran, where they established their "Expedition House," as Smith called it, in a rented faculty house at Stuart College. Smith's research consisted of meticulous photographic documentation of Islamic monuments and architectural sketches and drawings of many of them. He concentrated on the Isfahan area but also documented monuments elsewhere in Iran. Smith outfitted his station wagon as a combination camper and research vehicle in which he and his staff traveled widely. Katharine sometimes traveled with him but generally she remained in Isfahan managing the household and logistics for the "expedition." The Smiths left Iran in 1937.

Smith published several articles about Iran's Islamic monuments based on his field research and in 1947 completed his PhD thesis for The Johns Hopkins University on the vault in Persian architecture. His professional career from 1938 until his death in 1970 consisted of a series of temporary academic positions, contract work and government or academic sponsored lecture tours and photographic exhibits. He had a long lasting relationship with the Library of Congress where he served as an Honorary Consultant from 1938 to 1940 and again from 1948 to 1970; from 1943 to 1944 he was Chief of the Iranian Section at the Library. Despite his lack of published material, Smith was well-known among academic, government and private citizens who worked, traveled or were otherwise interested Iran and the Islamic world.

Smith developed an extensive network of professional and social contacts that dated from his early student days and increased markedly during his time at the Persian Institute and later in Iran. He kept in touch with them and they touted him to others who were interested in Iran or Islamic art and architecture. This network served him well in realizing his ambition of creating a resource for scholars that relied on photographs to document Islamic architecture. The Islamic Archives began with his own collection of photographs from his Iran research and grew to include all manner of photographic and other materials not only on the Islamic world but also other areas. Creating and managing the Archives became the main focus of Smith's professional life and career. In 1967 he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to revise his PhD thesis as a publishable manuscript but died before he could complete it.
Related Materials:
The Antoin Sevruguin Photgraphs

Ernst Herzfeld Papers

Lionel B. Bier Drawings

Lionel D. Bier and Carol Bier Photographs
Provenance:
Gift of Myron Bement Smith
Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Topic:
Islamic architecture  Search this
Islamic Architecture-Turkey  Search this
Iran-description and travel  Search this
Iran-History 20th Century  Search this
Islamic Architecture-Middle East  Search this
Iran-social life and customs  Search this
United States-Social life and customs  Search this
Mosques  Search this
Architecture -- Iran  Search this
Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-fsa-a-04
Additional Online Media:

Antoin Sevruguin Photographs

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents:
Antoin Sevruguin operated a successful commercial photography studio in Tehran and was a court photographer to Nasr ed-Din Shah and succeeding Qajar rulers. Sevruguin's daughter and heir donated his glass negatives to the American Presbyterian Mission in Tehran. The Committee for Islamic Culture, which administered the Islamic Archives, purchased 695 negatives from the Presbyterian Mission in 1951. The collection also includes 164 silver gelatin prints, 98 acquired by Myron Bement Smith(MBS) in 1934 and 66 donated by Joseph Upton in 1953. The glass negatives are numbered but without apparent organization. MBS organized his photoprints into subject categories. Upton's photoprints are numbered according to a handwritten caption list. [Located Bay 7] For specific information on items in the collection search Sevruguin on the Smithsonian Collections Search Center web site http://collections.si.edu .
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 2.12
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref9047

Glass Plate Negatives

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents:
695 glass negatives were included into the "Islamic Archives," which was administered jontly by the committee for Islamic Culture and the committee for Arabic and Islamic Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies. According to the official minutes, the committee for Islamic Culture reported purchasing the 696 glass plates during their fiscal years 1951-1952 from the American Presbyterian Mission in Tehran. Antoin Sevruguin's daughter gave these plates to the mission with instruction that they be sold for the benefit of the mission. The glass negatives are numbered but without apparent organization.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 2.12.01
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref9221

Sevruguin Smith Prints

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents:
98 gelatin silver photoprints were collected by Myron Bement Smith after he viewed a portion of Sevruguin's negatives in 1934 ( these include recent finds in the Myron Bement Smith collection).
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 2.12.02
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref9222

Sevruguin Upton Prints

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents:
66 black-and-white gelatin silver photoprints, unmounted, were a gift from Joseph Upton, received by the committee for Islamic Culture, as reported in their official minutes of October 24, 1953. The 66 photoprints were initially purchased by Joseph Upton in 1928 from Antoin Sevruguin in Tehran.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 2.12.03
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref9223

Papers

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Myron Bement Smith (MBS) contain some materials about his family, military service and early employment as an architect, but better document his subsequent scholarly career as an expert on Iran and Islamic architecture [Subseries 1.1 and 1.2]. MBS kept notebooks, journals and personal diaries irregularly from his youth until his death in 1970 [Subseries 1.3]. He corresponded extensively with friends, colleagues and many others whom he met in the course of his professional and private life. The early correspondence comprises mainly letters he received, but in the 1930s and especially while in Iran he kept copies of his outgoing letters as well [Subseries 1.4]. MBS published several articles on Italian and Islamic architecture based on his field research in Italy in the 1920s and Iran in the 1930s but little else [Subseries 1.5]. Most of his scholarship resulted in lectures and photographic exhibits. MBS planned to revise his doctoral dissertation on the vault in Persian architecture for publication but had not completed it when he died in 1970. The collection includes some materials from his undergraduate research project in Italy [Subseries 1.6] and more extrensive information on logistics, staffing issues and daily life during his fieldwork in Isfahan, Iran, in the 1930s [Subseries 1.7]. The papers of Katharine Dennis Smith, consisting mostly of her correspondence from the 1930s and later, are included with those of her husband [Subseries 1.8].
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Series 1
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref6171

Biographic Materials

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents note:
These materials include an eclectic mix of Myron Bement Smith's (MBS) personal and family materials. Curricum vitae, biographic sketches, newspaper clippings and documents provide information on his professional career, military service and medical history. There are some academic records and notes, and a limited amount of geneological information on MBS' family. Condolence letters to his widow offer insight into his circle of acquaintances at his death. Information on the disposition of his estate, his library and those research materials not part of the Islamic Archives is included in this sub-series. Photographs of Myron and Katharine Smith taken in Iran in the 1930s give a glimpse of expatriate life in Isfahan. A collection of drawings and sketches made by MBS as a young man in France and Rochester, N.Y. attest to his early interest in architecture. His university architectural exercises and miscellaneous designs and blueprints document his continued development.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 1.1
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref6173

Professional Experience

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents note:
Myron Bement Smith's (MBS) papers contain only limited information on his career as an architect before and after his time at Yale. His activities as Executive Secretary of the newly created American Institute for Persian Art and Archaeology (1930-1933) are documented to some extent as is his period as chief of the Iranian section at the Library of Congress (1943-1944). Before and after he was employed by the Library of Congress, he served there as an Honorary Consultant for Islamic art and archaeology. In the 1960s he had a contract with the Office of Education that resulted in a published study on the value of photodocumentation in teaching and research, the philosphy that underlay development of the Islamic Archives.[For published report see Subseries 1.5] The paperwork and administrative oversight procedures by the Pratt Institute are well documented. In the late 1960s MBS received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to fund revising his Ph. D. thesis on the vault in Iranian architecture for publication. Documents and correspondence with NEH and potential sponsoring institutions cover MBS' effort to produce a manuscript and Katharine's (KDS) attempt to complete the project after his death.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 1.2
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref6261

Notebooks, Journals and Appointment Books

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents note:
Myron Bement Smith (MBS) kept a journal sporadically as a young man. As an adult he bought some type of journal or diary each year but entries are episodic and for some years only a few days have any notations. His early journals, 1909 to 1918, include sketches, lists and daily thoughts. During his student years his occasional entries include expenses, appointments, addresses and miscellaneous notes. The journals covering his Iran field research, 1933 to 1937, contain more entries and include purchases, expenses, sketches, travel itineraries and photography notes. They also include notes about people he worked with or met during his time in Iran. Upon return to the United States, his journals once again become episodic, generally recording appointments and the occasional note.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 1.3
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref6319

Correspondence

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents note:
Myron Bement Smith (MBS) had an extensive list of friends and colleagues with whom he corresponded over the years. Correspondence from the 1920s provides a view into the cultural and social world of a "young man about town" in Rochester, N.Y., New Haven, Conn. and New York City. The voluminous correspondence from his mother, Ida Sargeant Capella, provides its own unique perspective on Rochester during the 1920s and 1930s. After 1930, when he joined the American Institute for Persian Art and Archaeology, MBS acquired many new friends and contacts within the world of Islamic and Near Eastern studies and among those associated with academic foundations and funding organizations. Extensive correspondence by both MBS and his wife Katharine Dennis Smith during their stay in Iran from 1933 to 1937 describes life in the expatriate community in Isfahan; contacts with foreign scholars and travellers; and interactions with Iranians. The earliest correspondence includes only letters written to MBS, but beginning in the 1930s, he and his wife kept copies of their outgoing letters as well. MBS' correspondence with his wife during their times apart contains more information about what he is doing and life around him than is included in his letters to others. Letters become fewer in the 1940s as MBS and his wife begin conducting more business and social interchange by telephone. The correspondence of Katharine Dennis Smith [Subseries 1.8] complements that of MBS. They corresponded with many of the same people and she often answered letters written to him. She frequently handled secretarial duties for the Islamic Archives and sometimes discusses its activities in her letters. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent and years for which letters exist is noted. Both business and personal letters are included.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 1.4
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref6376

Published and Unpublished Materials

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents note:
Myron Bement Smith (MBS) published very little material based on his 1920s field research on Italian stone and brick work or his 1930s field research on Islamic architecture in Iran. His Italian research, undertaken as a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellow before and after graduation from Yale University, resulted in several journal articles. The results of his Iran research, while a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), appeared as a series of journal articles from 1935 to 1940. At the time of his death, MBS was reworking his 1947 Ph. D. thesis on the vault in Iranian architecture in anticipation of publishing it as a book. During his field research in Iran, MBS photographed and made architectural sketches of many Islamic buildings and monuments. Much of his subsequent scholarly work resulted in photographic exhibits and illustrated lectures. He lectured at academic venues in the United States and abroad, the latter hosted by the United States Information Service (USIS).
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 1.5
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref6980

Italy Research

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1925
1927-1928
Scope and Contents note:
Myron Bement Smith (MBS) received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship to study Italian brickwork and stone work. He travelled extensively in northern Italy and along the Dalmatian Coast photographing architectural features of local buildings. Information about his fellowship, the logistics of his field work, his photograph albums and architectural sketches were retained with his other papers after his death. The negatives from his Italian photographs were donated to the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 1.6
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref7052

Iran Research

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1933-1937
Scope and Contents note:
Myron Bement Smith (MBS) received a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies to study Islamic architecture in Iran. His wife Katharine accompanied him and managed their household, which included both servants and research staff. Papers and documents include information about equipment taken or bought subsequently and dealing with Iranian customs regulations and travel requirements. Some information on MBS' proposed research methodology is included. Information on housekeeping requirements for what MBS referred to variously as the Expedition House or Staff House, a faculty residence rented from Stuart College in Isfahan, is included both here and in the correspondence of Katharine Dennis Smith [Subseries 1.8]. Several folders deal with the serious motor accident the Smiths suffered en route to Iran in 1933 and Katharine's lengthy rehabilitation from a broken back. Information about MBS' research assistants in Isfahan varies in detail; there is a lot of information about the suicide of Karl Bergner, who came to work for MBS in 1936 after working for Ernst Herzfeld at Persepolis. Also of interest are the occasional newsletters describing life in Iran witten by Katharine and circulated widely to friends back home.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 1.7
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref7075

Katharine Dennis Smith Papers and Correspondence

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents note:
The papers of Katharine Dennis Smith include some biographic and personal material, but most of the material consists of her correspondence after her marriage [Boxes 56 to 58]. Of particular interest are her letters about life in Iran, especially those to her long time friend Amy Schroeder and to E. Vail Stebbins, friend and handler of affairs on behalf of the Smiths while they were in Iran. She was an active participant in her husband's academic and Islamic Archives projects [Series 2]. She corresponded with many of the same people, sometimes answering letters written to her husband. Her letters complement his. Her correspondence is arranged alphabetically.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 1.8
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref7155

The Islamic Archives

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents:
The Islamic Archives, known formally as The Archive for Islamic Culture and Art, was an outgrowth of Myron Bement Smith's (MBS) belief that photography is an important research tool for the study of architecture. He relied on photography for his research in Italy in the 1920s and again in Iran in the 1930s. He called his personal collection of photographs, architectural sketches and materials on Iran and other Islamic countries his Islamic archives. He wanted to expand it by soliciting written and photographic material from other scholars, travellers and photographers. In 1941 the Committee on Arabic and Islamic Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) adopted Smith's idea as an official activity. It was formally titled The Archive for Islamic Culture and Art, but generally referred to by MBS and others as the Islamic Archives. It remained largely a personal activity of MBS and was housed at the Library of Congress where he served as a consultant. In 1949 he drafted formal articles of association creating the Committee for Islamic Culture to plan and operate the Islamic Archives and to administer a $9,000 gift that Dr. James R. Jewett of Harvard University had given to the ACLS to fund its development. Although the Committee met occasionally, MBS remained the driving force for the Islamic Archives. It was a personal passion and the focus of his professional life; he continued adding materials until his death in 1970.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Series 2
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref7426

Islamic Archives History, Collection Information

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents note:
This subseries includes information on the history, administration and correspondence related to creation and development of the Islamic Archives and the materials it contains. Myron Bement Smith (MBS) gave each accession to the Archives an alphanumeric identifier. The Plain Number Series was apparently assigned to the initial acquisitions. It consists of a number followed by a letter indicating whether the material was a deposit (D), a temporary deposit (TD), a gift (G), a purchase (P) or a copy (C). These designators were used for both photographic and written materials. A second, possibly later, system was applied to photographic materials, especially the growing slide collection. This alphanumeric scheme consists of letters followed by numbers: the L series (MBS photographs from Iran); the M series (MBS photographic copies of published materieals); the K series (MBS original color slides); the KC series (MBS copies of color slides loaned to him); the KG series (color slides given to MBS); the KP and P series (color slides purchased by MBS); the IR series (slides of Iraq); the NG series (a set of negatives of Iran). Some collections have no accessions designator but are labeled with the contributor's name. The information about the various collections that comprise the Archives varies in completeness and accuracy. Some photographic collections have complete lists provided by the contributor or created by MBS and some have only the information written on the photograph or slide mount. Some identify the contributor but not the sites, and some groups of photographs have no information at all. For the information available, see Boxes 60-64. MBS' correspondence and Islamic Archives documents also may provide information about individual contributors and collections. MBS compiled the Islamic Archives between the1930s and 1960s, and he used various systems to transliterate Iranian locations and monument names from Persian into English. In the present document these have been updated, where possible, to reflect current transliteration conventions.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 2.1
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref7428

Resource Materials Iran

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents note:
The focus of the Islamic Archives is photodocumentation, but Myron Bement Smith (MBS) also collected written material and maps. The Iran material includes books and maps that MBS collected during his field research in the 1930s as well as books and articles published in Europe and the United States. Some materials were also donated to the Archives by friends and colleagues. In addition to these materials, MBS donated his own voluminous research notes on Islamic architecture and monuments in Iran. His Persia Geographic File consists of 18 notecard boxes organized alphabetically by province and containing source citations, photographs, notes and comments by MBS. He also created a Persian Monuments File that is arranged chronologically by period and contains bibliography and notes on Iranian sites. For MBS published materials, lectures and manuscripts on Iran see Subseries 1.5.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 2.2
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref7798

Resource Materials Other Islamic World and General

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents note:
Myron Bement Smith (MBS) envisioned the Islamic Archives as serving scholars interested not only in the Islamic world and its culture but also aspects of non-Islamic art and architecture. The materials in this subseries include not only articles, maps and bibliographies on Islamic countries and cultures but also items on non-Islamic Asia and Europe. Most of this latter material reflects his interest in architecture and buildings. MBS' own architectural research notes are organized in his Architecture File, consisting of notecards, photographs and plans arranged by architectural element. For the non-Iran material, he created a Geographic File, similar to but less complete than the Persia Geographic File [Subseries 2.2], containing notecards, bibliographies and photographs arranged alphabetically by country. He also created a chronological monuments file for each country similar to his Persian Monuments File.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 2.3
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref7859

Myron Bement Smith Architectural Sketches, Plans and Notes Iran

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1933-1937
Scope and Contents note:
Myron Bement Smith (MBS) made many sketches and drawings and some detailed plans of Islamic monuments in Iran during his field research there from 1933 to 1937. The Masjid-i Jomeh in Isfahan became the focus of his interest but he did sketches and detailed drawings of many other monuments in Isfahan and elsewhere. He also recorded inscriptions and acquired some pounced tracings of inscriptions. The amount of information recorded on individual items varies greatly; some include detailed notes, with measurements and individual architectural features, while others have nothing.
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 2.4
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref7960

Myron Bement Smith Iran Photographs, Notebooks and Negative Registers

Collection Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Collection Source:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Scope and Contents note:
Myron Bement Smith (MBS) focused his research and photographic interest on the Islamic architecture of the Isfahan area and in particular the Masjid-i Jomeh. He also visited and documented many other Iranian Islamic monuments as well as contemporary building techniques, villages and landscapes. MBS' architectural photography is meticulous and records not just interiors and exteriors of buildings and their settings but also important architectural features and details. In keeping with his interest in photodocumentation as an important research tool, he took many photographs of each monument and returned to a monument many times during his time in Iran. MBS kept notebooks that included information on camera settings, film and ambient conditions. He used a 35 mm Leica and a large format film camera. Photographs taken with the Leica are designated with an alphanumeric beginning with L and large format film photographs with a plain number. His negative registers for Iran consist of large ledgers with a contact print and information about site, feature and date photographed. Not all entries are complete. MBS also created a Persian Monuments Large Photo File arranged by province that includes enlargments of some of his Iranian photographs; criteria for inclusion is unclear. Also available is a card file containing 4" by 6" prints from many of MBS' Iran negatives arranged in numerical order. Reprints of some of MBS' non-Iranian negatives and slides are included separately. [For more information on MBS' photograph coding system see Subseries 2.1]
Collection Restrictions:
Access is by appointment only, Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please contact the Archives to make an appointment: AVRreference@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Collection Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04, Subseries 2.5
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-fsa-a-04-ref8044

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