Carl Van Vechten Letters to Saul Mauriber
Scope and Contents
- 1943 - 1965
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Boxes 16-17: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
6.9 Linear Feet (17 boxes)
Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964)
His 1907 marriage to Ann Snyder, a friend since his youth in Cedar Rapids, ended in divorce in 1912. On October 21, 1914 he married Fania Marinoff, an actress who had immigrated to the United States as a child from Russia. They were married for fifty years. A family inheritance received in 1927 provided Van Vechten with the means to support himself and Fania, and freed him to pursue his interests without financial constraints. During the 1920s, Van Vechten was introduced to members of the artistic and cultural movement that would become known as the Harlem Renaissance. He enjoyed frequenting the clubs, restaurants, and salons of Harlem, and he began to develop friendships among members of the Black community. His 1926 novel, Nigger Heaven, was inspired by his visits to Harlem and its residents.
Beginning in the early 1930s Van Vechten devoted much of his time to photography. In his home studio he produced hundreds of photographic portraits of his friends and acquaintances, as well as other world figures whom he photographed by invitation and by recommendations from mutual friends. He and Fania developed a large multicultural network of friends and acquaintances in New York, throughout the United States, and abroad. The Van Vechten apartment became a meeting place for established and developing writers, visual and performing artists, publishers, educators, social activists, and others. Throughout his life Van Vechten developed close friendships with women as well as intimate relationships with men.
As a collector, Van Vechten acquired important collections of books and manuscripts, particularly those relating to African-American arts and literature. In 1941, he established the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro Arts and Letters at Yale University, in honor of the writer and close friend who had died in 1938. In 1947, Van Vechten established the Anna Marble-Pollock Collection of Books about Cats at Yale. He also gave to Yale additional individual books and manuscripts, as well as a large group of his personal papers. He established and/or donated material to collections at other institutions including Fisk University, Howard University, the University of New Mexico, and the New York Public Library (including personal papers dating from 1833 to 1965). Carl Van Vechten died in New York City on December 22, 1964.
Saul Mauriber (1915-2003)
Envelopes not associated with letters were interfiled with chronologically-arranged letters. Postmark dates were assigned to letters (and appear in square brackets) when not dated by Van Vechten. Letters that were received sealed (or resealed) at the time of acquisition were opened by the library May, 2018, and noted as such on paper enclosure.
- Guide to the Carl Van Vechten Letters to Saul Mauriber
- In Progress
- by Susan Brady
- June 2018
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository
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