Collection consists of correspondence, writings, notes, and legal and financial records of William Ivins, Sr.; correspondence, writings, notes, and diaries of William Ivins, Jr.; correspondence of other family members; family personal miscellany; photographs and graphic materials; and printed matter. Correspondence, 1886-1915, of William Ivins, Sr. concerns his activities in New York and South America, and includes letters related to his unsuccessful 1905 mayoral campaign in New York City, his work for the Brazilian government from 1886 to 1893, and his business ventures abroad. His writings are on subjects such as the history of diplomacy, philosophy and theory of the law, and South American and New York politics. Papers of William Ivins, Jr. mainly contain his articles, lectures, notes, and diaries on the subjects of art, mathematics and museum administration. Other Ivins family correspondence, ca. 1910-1960, is comprised of letters of Emma Yard Ivins, wife of William Ivins, Sr., and Katherine Ivins, their daughter, and concerns the career of William Ivins, Jr. as well as political and suffrage issues. Also, songbooks and lyric sheets, photographs, art work by family members, and printed matter.
Biographical/historical: William Mills Ivins (1851-1915) was a New York City lawyer and municipal reformer. In the nineteenth century he held several city offices, protested inadequate or wasteful municipal services and procedures, and was a founder of the Reform Club. In 1893, he had served as counsel for the Brazilian government in a boundary dispute with Argentina which was arbitrated by the United States. Ivins unsuccessfully ran for Mayor of New York City in 1905 on the Republican ticket. In addition, he frequently wrote about municipal problems and the history and theory of the law.
William Mills Ivins, Jr. was the first Curator of Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from 1917-1946, Associate Director of the museum from 1933-1938, and Acting Director from 1938-1940. Trained as an attorney, Ivins was reared with a strong feeling for the importance of the arts, and developed a keen appreciation for prints as an amateur. Though he possessed no formal training in art history, he became a highly respected curator, authority on prints, print making and the took arts, and author of many articles and books including How Prints Look (1943) and the seminal Prints and Visual Communication (1953). After his retirement from the museum, he continued to write and lecture from his home in Connecticut.
Mrs. Erma Yard Ivins, wife of William Mills Ivins, Sr. (ca. 1857-1940) was active in the women's suffrage movement. Katherine Ivins, daughter of William Mills Ivins, Sr. was a teacher of piano and violin.
Acquisition: April 19, 1982, March 11, 1985, Received from Barbara Ivins