Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives
Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives

Titus C. Geesey Papers Edit

Summary

Identifier
GEE

Dates

  • 1945-1969, undated (Creation)

Extents

  • 0.25 linear foot (Whole)

Agent Links

Notes

  • Abstract

    Titus C. Geesey (d. 1969) was an avid collector of American folk art, particularly Pennsylvania German objects, which were popularly referred to as "Pennsylvania Dutch." This manuscript collection consists of his correspondence primarily with curators and directors of museums and historical societies in the Mid-Atlantic area, written from 1945 to 1969, regarding loans and gifts from his collection. Geesey's offerings in 1953 to the Philadelphia Museum of Art significantly strengthened its rural Pennsylvania collection. Lists of objects accompanying several of the letters suggest the extent of Geesey's holdings, which included walnut and decorated furniture, pottery, porcelain, paintings, silver, glass, frakturs, textiles, wrought iron, toleware, children's books and toys, maps, engravings, lithographs, firearms, tools and cooking utensils.

  • Processing Information

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

  • Access Restrictions

    The collection is open for research.

  • Use Restrictions

    The Titus C. Geesey 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.

  • Preferred Citation

    [Item identification and date], [Series info.], Titus C. Geesey Papers, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives.

  • Acquisition and Custody Information

    This collection came to the Archives through American Decorative Arts Department in 2004.

  • Historical Note

    Titus C. Geesey was such an enthusiast of American folk art that in the late 1930s he built his home as a showcase for the extensive collection he and his wife acquired. The result was "Longago," a large stone house situated just outside Wilmington, Delaware, that was reminiscent of the area's early 18th century architecture. Geesey began collecting in 1926, and by the 1940s he had built an important holding of Pennsylvania German (also known as Pennsylvania Dutch) furniture, pottery, metalware, textiles, and other types of decorative and graphic arts.

    Geesey lent and gifted many of his objects to museums and historical societies in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia and often supplied magazines such as Antiques and other decorative art publications with photographs. In 1953 the Philadelphia Museum of Art received one of his most generous offerings, which significantly strengthened the institution's rural Pennsylvania collection. In addition to his role as donor, Geesey was a member of the Museum's Board of Governors from 1955 to 1964, a Trustee from 1964 to 1966, and an Honorary Trustee beginning in 1966. He died on December 8, 1969.

  • Scope and Content Note

    This collection consists of Titus C. Geesey's correspondence with curators, directors and other individuals written from 1945 to 1969, primarily regarding loans and gifts from his collection of American folk art, and in particular, Pennsylvania German objects. A few exhibition checklists are also included. As this correspondence makes evident, such objects were more popularly referred to as "Pennsylvania Dutch." The institutions to which Geesey agreed to lend ranged from the Wilmington (Delaware) Society of Fine Arts and the Historical Society of Delaware to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of American Folk Art, also in New York City, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Collection in Williamsburg, Virginia. Geesey's loans to a few of the exhibitions of the Philadelphia Museum of Art are also documented, including the shows on Philadelphia silver and Tucker china held respectively in 1956 and 1957. While correspondence pertaining to some of his gifts to the Museum are included here, his major 1953 offering is more fully documented in the eponymous folder included in the Fiske Kimball Records, in the "1953-1954" subseries of the "General correspondence and related material" series. Other gift recipients included the University of Delaware and the Historical Society of York County (Pennsylvania). Lists of objects accompanying several of the letters suggest the extent of Geesey's holdings, which included walnut and decorated furniture, pottery, porcelain, paintings, silver, glass, frakturs, textiles, wrought iron, toleware, children's books and toys, maps, engravings, lithographs, firearms, tools and cooking utensils. There is also correspondence with a few writers and editors requesting to feature Geesey's collection, occasionally photographing it in situ in "Longago," Geesey's18th century-styled residence in Wilmington, Delaware.

  • Arrangement

    Chronological.

Components