Reading Archives

With this blog, I am planning to offer, as regularly as possible, critical observations on the scholarly and popular literature analyzing the nature of archives or contributing to our understanding of archives in society. I hope this blog will be of assistance to anyone, especially faculty and graduate students, interested in understanding archives and their importance to society.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Wright Stuff

Anyone wanting to consider how to issue an effective publication promoting the nature of archives might want to examine Margo Stipe, Frank Lloyd Wright: The Interactive Portfolio; Rare Removable Treasures, Hand-Drawn Sketches, Original Letters, and More from the Official Archives (Philadelphia: Running Press, 2004), ISBN 0-7624-1935-0. Organized around Wright’s life and some of his most important buildings (such as the Larkin Building, Fallingwater, and the Guggenheim Museum), this handsome and reasonably priced publication ($40) includes reproductions of printed ephemera, photographs, lecture notes, architectural drawings, magazine articles, sketches, and letters that can be removed and spread out for examination. Anyone who has not been in an archives gets something of the experience of visiting one and using archival sources. The publication also includes a CD of interviews with Wright in his last years (1952-1957). The materials all come from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona.

It helps, of course, to have the records of someone as interesting as Wright, but this is a good example of how to package the archival experience in a publication. This can double as a good teaching tool for introducing individuals to the nature of archives. I only wish there was something more of a discussion about how Wright preserved his papers and how this archives can to be formed. Clearly, the goal of the Foundation was to produce something for Wright fans, and as I am one, I am more than happy with the effort.