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Katherine S. Dreier papers / Société Anonyme archive

Call Number: YCAL MSS 101

Scope and Contents

The Katherine S. Dreier Papers / Société Anonyme Archive documents the life of Katherine S. Dreier and the activities of the Société Anonyme. The collection consists of correspondence; manuscripts and notes for articles, books, fiction, and lectures; clippings; brochures; programs; press releases; advertisements; tax records; photographs and artwork; meeting minutes; and ephemera and printed material. The papers span the years 1818 to 1952, but the bulk of the material is from 1920 to 1951.

The collection is organized into two parts: the Katherine S. Dreier Papers (Series I-VI and XI) and the Société Anonyme Archive (Series VII-X). Series in the Katherine S. Dreier Papers include Correspondence, Writings, Subject Files, Personal Papers, Photographs & Artwork, Dreier Family Papers, and Katherine S. Dreier Papers Addition. The Société Anonyme Archive is organized into Correspondence, Public Programs, Business Records, and Subject Files about Artists. The collection is housed in 158 boxes. The papers are chiefly in English, but there are also some materials in German, French, and Spanish.

Series I, Katherine S. Dreier: Correspondence , contains letters to and from Dreier, as well as third party letters. The series is organized into General Correspondence and Third Party Correspondence. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically.

The first subseries, General Correspondence, contains holograph drafts and carbons of letters from Dreier, as well as typescript and holograph versions of letters to her. Family correspondence, however, is filed in Series VI. Letters from people not listed individually may be found in "letter" general files. Dreier corresponded with a broad spectrum of artists, friends, and art-related organizations, including Constantin Alajalov, Josef Albers, Annot, Alexander Archipenko, the Arts Club of Chicago, the Arts Council of the City of New York, Christian Brinton, the Brooklyn Museum, David Burliuk, Heinrich Campendonk, Werner Drewes, Marcel Duchamp, Suzanne Duchamp, Friedel Dzubas, Naum Gabo, Paul Gaulois, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, Elisabeth du Quesne van Gogh, John Graham, Walter Gropius, Hans Hildebrandt, Wassily Kandinsky, Fernand Léger, El Lissitzky, Jan Matulka, László Moholy-Nagy, Johannes Molzahn, the Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.), Ivo Pannaggi, Kurt Schwitters, Ted Shawn, Joseph Stella, Alfred Stieglitz, John Henry Bradley Storrs, Sturm, and Jacques Villon. Some of her correspondence concerns art purchases and the packaging and shipping of art (e.g., the files of George F. Of, Inc., W. F. Collins & Co., and W. S. Budworth & Son). Correspondence with publishing companies and journals (e.g., Harry N. Abrams, American Art Student, and Wittenborn and Company) concerns Dreier's writing on art-related topics. There are also many letters and receipts from the Bank of New York and Trust Company that document Dreier's patronage of artists (lists have been made of the artists represented). Several Yale University departments (especially the Yale University Art Gallery) are well represented; generally these letters concern the transfer of the Société Anonyme's art collection to Yale. There are also a number of exchanges, mostly about German politics from 1919 to 1939, with Dreier's friend, Katherine Hanfstaengl, who lived in Germany.

The second subseries, Third Party Correspondence, consists of a few exchanges between artists and art-related organizations.

Series II, Katherine S. Dreier: Writings , is organized into six subseries: Articles, Books, Lectures, Notes, Other Writings, and Writings of Others.

The first subseries, Articles, contains typescript, typescript carbon, and printed versions of articles about art, politics (regarding Germany and China), art exhibitions, the history of the Société Anonyme, and artists, including Wassily Kandinsky, Kurt Schwitters, Walter Shirlaw, and Joseph Stella.

The second subseries, Books, contains research notes, outlines, drafts, page proofs, galley proofs, advertisements, and reviews. The most extensive material is that for Shawn the Dancer. For Burliuk, there is a typescript version of Marcel Duchamp's notes on Dreier's draft. For Collection of the Société Anonyme: Museum of Modern Art 1920, there are draft versions of the questionnaires that were sent to each artist represented in the book. The draft versions of the entries on artists (as well as the questionnaires that were filled out and returned by the artists) are filed in Series X, Société Anonyme: Subject Files about Artists, under each artist's name. Other books represented in this series are: 40 Variations; Duchamp's Glass: La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même. An Analytical Reflection (co-authored with Roberto Sebastián Matta Echaurren); "Dynamic Imagination"; Five Months in the Argentine, from a Woman's Point of View, 1918 to 1919; Modern Art; Personal Recollections of Vincent van Gogh by Elisabeth du Quesne van Gogh, translated by Dreier; Three Lectures on Modern Art; and Western Art and the New Era: An Introduction to Modern Art.

The third subseries, Lectures, consists of holograph and typescript drafts and final versions of lectures that Dreier delivered to a variety of audiences, including the Academy of Allied Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, the Long Ridge Women's Club, the New School for Social Research, and the Rand School of Social Science; and on various radio programs. Most of the lectures are about modern art, but in some, Dreier describes her travels in China, Germany, and Spain.

The fourth subseries, Notes, contains notes that Dreier took on lectures by Sum Nung Au-Young, Frances de Villa Ball, Louis M. Eilshemius, Manly Hall, and Ted Shawn, as well as on works by Albert Bernhardt Faust and Franz Kuhn. Other files consist of extensive notes from classes that Dreier attended between 1921 and 1943 with Pedro P. Pequeno, on meditation, breathing, spiritual life, and self-help techniques; Dreier's index to these notes, made in 1944, is also included (Box 51, folder 1460). The Notes subseries also contains remarks and charts derived from discussions with Aso Neith Neypá Cochran about numerology as it related to Dreier and her friends and relatives. There are a few notes on art-related topics, including expressionism, the use of flowers in art, and symbolism in art. There are also notebooks and loose pages of notes from classes that Dreier took on the history of painting (1900) and painting techniques (1903-1904 and 1912).

The fifth subseries, Other Writings, contains a notebook entitled "As It May Have Been," Dreier's autobiographical description of her early life in Brooklyn, New York, which she wrote in 1951. In addition, there are two plays, three short stories, and several poems. Three of the poems were probably written by Dreier, while the others are Dreier's transcriptions of German poems for children.

The sixth subseries, Writings of Others, contains articles by several artists and by friends of Dreier. Artists represented include Josef Albers, Fernand Léger, Johannes Molzahn, and Kurt Schwitters, among others. Although most of this subseries is art-related, there are a number of articles by Ziang-ling Ching about China, a horoscope of Dreier by A. G. Porter, and a draft of a novel, "Barbara Richards," by Dreier's sister, Mary E. Dreier. There are several biographical sketches about Dreier's mentor, Walter Shirlaw, written by various authors, including Dorothea A. Dreier, William Henry Fox, Florence Heywood, and Pierre Loving.

Series III, Katherine S. Dreier: Subject Files , contains clippings, brochures, programs, press releases, and advertisements. The material was grouped topically by Dreier, but the file titles were supplied by the Library, and then arranged alphabetically. The files, which are arranged alphabetically, include assorted manuscript and printed ephemera about art, the Bauhaus, China, dance, music, and American and world politics. A number of files relate to prominent individuals who, because they are not artists, were not represented in Series X, Société Anonyme: Subject Files about Artists. They include Kitty Cheatham, John Dewey, Hans Hildebrandt, Ted Shawn, and Vassily Zavadsky, among others.

These subject files also document organizations with which Dreier was affiliated, such as the Long Ridge Women's Club in West Redding, Connecticut, and the Society of Independent Artists. There is material about Dreier's efforts, from 1935 to 1936, to found (with others) the Carnegie Guild and College of Art, and her attempt in 1941 to turn her house, the Haven, in West Redding, Connecticut, into the Country Museum.

One file contains correspondence and receipts for repairs done by Marcel Duchamp in 1936 to his "Bride stripped bare by her bachelors, even." Other files contain lecture notes, lists of slides, and lists of grades for a course on art appreciation that Dreier taught from 1946 to 1947 at Weylister Secretarial Junior College in Milford, Connecticut. This series also contains a sound recording and a transcript of an interview with Dreier in 1937 on the radio program, "Let's Talk it Over," regarding her withdrawal of artwork from the exhibition, "Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism," at the Museum of Modern Art.

Series IV, Katherine S. Dreier: Personal Papers , is organized into five subseries: Diaries, Exhibition Catalogs Collected by Katherine S. Dreier, Exhibitions of Katherine S. Dreier's Work, Financial Records, and Other.

The first subseries, Diaries, contains three diaries in volume form, covering the years 1897 to 1907, and loose pages of diary entries for the years 1927 and 1928.

The second subseries, Exhibition Catalogs Collected by Katherine S. Dreier, contains volumes dating from 1901 to 1947 that were annotated by Dreier (unannotated exhibition catalogs are cataloged separately, with the provenance traced). Some annotations are comments about the particular artwork in the exhibition, while others are about the artist generally. Some annotations include the price of the artwork shown. Many of the shows represented in this subseries were held in Germany and France.

The third subseries, Exhibitions of Katherine S. Dreier's Work, contains mostly printed ephemera relating to one-artist shows. (Material for exhibitions in which Dreier was one of many artists represented has been filed in Series VIII: Société Anonyme: Public Programs; appropriate cross references have been made.) The files include invitations, flyers, posters, tickets, catalogs, and clippings. The earliest material is for an exhibition at the Doré Galleries in London, England, in 1911; the latest is for a show at the American Woman's Association in 1941.

The fourth subseries, Financial Records, contains correspondence with various law firms regarding Dreier's personal finances, such as her taxes, investments, and property purchases. There are also stock dividends, pages from an account book from 1916, and undated pages of notes regarding expenses.

The fifth subseries, Other, contains mainly ephemeral material, including versions of Dreier's business card; proofs and a printed copy of a brochure about Dreier; an unused piece of stationery and envelope with Dreier's New York City address (88 Central Park West); the pedigree for Dreier's Russian wolfhound; and directions for Dreier's secretary about how to file her correspondence.

In Series V, Katherine S. Dreier: Photographs and Artwork , the Photographs are organized into seven sub-subseries: Katherine S. Dreier, Photographs of Artwork by Katherine S. Dreier, Dreier Family, Artists, Exhibitions, People, and Places. When a folder contains one print, only the folder title is given. When a folder contains more than one print, or any other type of item (such as a proof or slide), this information is given in parentheses after the folder title. In addition to photographic prints, several negatives are in this collection (though stored separately). In the case of negatives for which there was no corresponding print, the Library had one copy print made; this information is specified after the folder title.

The first sub-subseries, Katherine S. Dreier, contains photographs of Dreier (alone and with others), and her houses and apartments. All of the titles have been supplied. Photographs of Dreier range from 1902 to 1950 and include candid shots, as well as studio portraits. In some of the candid photographs, Dreier appears with friends (including Marcel Duchamp and Ted Shawn) and family. The photographs of Dreier's homes (her apartment at 135 Central Park West, in New York City; the Haven, in West Redding, Connecticut; and Laurel Manor, in Milford, Connecticut) often include views of her collection of artwork. In addition, there are two groups of photographs taken by Dreier during her trips abroad. One group, taken during her travels in China, 1921-1922, mainly shows scenes of Chinese landscapes and people, but there are a few scenes of Dreier and some unidentified fellow travelers. The second group of travel photographs, housed in an album, documents Dreier and Marcel Duchamp's trip to Spain in 1929. Most of the photographs are scenes of Málaga, Granada, Seville, Guadalupe, and Toledo, but there are a few shots of Dreier and Duchamp. (Cross-references for the photographs of Duchamp have been made under his name in the Artists sub-subseries.)

The second sub-subseries, Artwork by Katherine S. Dreier, consists of photographs of paintings by Dreier. If the title of the painting was known, it was placed in quotation marks. Representational paintings with unknown titles were given a descriptive title in brackets; abstract paintings with unknown titles were labeled "Unidentified." In this sub-subseries, there are four oversize portfolios that contain matted photographs of Dreier's artwork. In cases where the main files contain regular size versions of photographs also represented in the portfolios, cross-references have been made.

The third sub-subseries, Dreier Family, includes photographs of Dreier's family members, including Dreier's sister, Mary E. Dreier; her great-nephew, Theodore Dreier, Jr.; and relatives in Germany, Kläre Dettmann, Invana Maler, and Willi Maler. Photographs in which Dreier is depicted with family members, however, are filed in the sub-subseries, Katherine S. Dreier.

The fourth sub-subseries, Artists, contains photographs of artists, their artwork, and their families, including Willi Baumeister, Ilya Bolotowsky, David Burliuk, Max Ernst, El Lissitzky, Louis Lozowick, Johannes Molzahn, and Kurt Schwitters. All of these photographs were originally enclosed in letters to Dreier, and cross-references have been made to and from their original locations. Similar photographs (of artists and their artwork) that were not enclosures in letters are located in Series X, Société Anonyme: Subject Files about Artists. The only exception is Marcel Duchamp; all of the photographs of Duchamp and his artwork are located in this sub-subseries, Artists, since it was unclear whether or not these photographs were originally enclosures.

The fifth sub-subseries, Exhibitions, contains photographs of exhibitions, including the Society of Independent Artists' exhibition at Grand Central Palace in 1917; "Fernand Léger" at the Anderson Galleries in 1925; the Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia in 1926; the International Exhibition of Modern Art at the Brooklyn Museum from 1926 to 1927; "4 Painters" at Bennington College in 1936; and the Leon Carroll Memorial Exhibition and "Some New Forms of Beauty," both at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum in 1940.

The final two sub-subseries, People, and Places, contain photographs of people who are not artists, including Elisabeth du Quesne van Gogh, Burton Mumaw, Hilla Rebay, Ted Shawn, and Vassily Zavadsky; and photographs of houses of several of Dreier's friends, as well as of unidentified locations.

The second subseries, Artwork, is arranged alphabetically by artist and includes pencil sketches and drawings, ink drawings, prints, watercolors, and one engraving. The artists represented include Constantin Alajalov, David Burliuk, Suzanne Duchamp, Ivo Pannaggi, and Dreier, herself. There are two artworks by Marcel Duchamp: his "Rotoreliefs" and an imitative rectified ready-made in the form of a postcard sent to Dreier by Duchamp and Wassily Kandinsky in 1933.

Series VI, Katherine S. Dreier: Dreier Family Papers , is organized into: Correspondence; Notebooks and Other Papers; and Skits, Songs, and Poems for Family Members. Within each subseries, the files are arranged alphabetically by name.

The first subseries, Correspondence, contains typescript and holograph letters to Dreier from relatives in the United States and in Germany, as well as her typescript carbon letters to those relatives. Individuals with the greatest number of letters are: Antoinnette Storrs Dreier (Dreier's niece), John Caspar Dreier (Dreier's nephew), Mary E. Dreier (Dreier's sister), Johanne Kellner, and Meta Knoch. There is also a small amount of unidentified correspondence.

The second subseries, Notebooks and Other Papers, contains a typescript, "Palästina," by Renate Sauerländer, and a journal by Dreier's sister, Dorothea A. Dreier, documenting her trip to Europe with Dreier and Mary Quinn from 1902 to 1903. The other notebooks in this subseries are by unidentified authors and are in German. They include a nineteenth-century account book, a deposit book, a nineteenth-century recipe book, a notebook containing a student's notes on philosophy and art history, and two other notebooks, both with German titles ("Erinnerungen ans Neuenkirchen" and "Predigt-Fragmente von Gottfried Menken").

The third subseries, Skits, Songs, and Poems for Family Members, contains compositions created by and for members of the Dreier family. The material is filed under the name of the person for whom it was written. There are pieces for H. Edward Dreier, Hans Dreier, Dreier herself (including an album made for her fifteenth birthday), Mary E. Dreier, and Theodore Dreier, plus one file of material for unidentified family members.

Series VII, Société Anonyme: Correspondence , is arranged alphabetically and contains typescript and holograph letters from Société Anonyme members, people interested in the Société, and organizations who did business with the Société, as well as typescript carbon letters from the Société to these individuals and organizations. However, letters of people who were Société Anonyme members but who also corresponded with Dreier outside of the Société (e.g., Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray) are filed in Series I, Katherine S. Dreier: Correspondence. Cross references have been made from this subseries. In the case of people who agreed to be members, there are also consent forms, on which people signed their names and circled the amount of their pledge. Letters from correspondents not listed individually may be found in "letter" general files. Most files contain only a few letters, but the following individuals or agencies are well represented: Blandy, Mooney & Shipman; Chambers, Clare & Morris; Laurence Gomme; Paul Gross (Treasurer of the Société Anonyme); Isaac McBride (who coordinated the Société Anonyme's participation in the Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia in 1926); and Andrew R. McLaren (Vice-President of the Société Anonyme).

Series VIII, Société Anonyme: Public Programs , is organized into four subseries: Exhibitions, Lectures, Music, and Other.

The first subseries, Exhibitions, contains flyers, announcements, press releases, invitations, catalogs, and clippings for exhibitions that were sponsored by the Société Anonyme. The material is arranged alphabetically by the name of the institution where the exhibition was held. There are also some shows represented in this subseries that were not sponsored by the Société, but to which the Société lent artwork. Exhibitions that included artwork by Dreier have been cross-referenced in Series IV, Katherine S. Dreier: Personal Papers. This subseries also contains undated lists of artwork owned by the Société Anonyme, notes on the Société's exhibition space, a sketch and a blueprint of the Société's exhibition space at 19 East 47th Street in New York City, and a log book that gives details of shows sponsored by the Société from 1920 to 1928 (including dates, artists, works, dimensions, and media).

The second subseries, Lectures, includes announcements for and invitations to lectures sponsored by the Société Anonyme, and an undated list of lectures that the Société organized from 1920 to 1942.

The third subseries, Music, contains clippings, correspondence, invitations, and programs for musical events that the Société Anonyme sponsored.

The fourth subseries, Other, contains annotated copies of Brochure Quarterly (from July 1928), as well as advertisements and clippings regarding the publication; two scrapbooks (1920 to 1924, and 1921 to 1930) that contain clippings, programs, invitations, postcards, and other ephemera; unused stationery and envelopes; and a draft of the Société Anonyme's motto.

Series IX, Société Anonyme: Business Records , is organized into five subseries: Finances, Legal Materials, Membership, Structure/Management of the Society, and Transfer to Yale University.

The first subseries, Finances, contains account statements (from 1920 to 1927), a checkbook for the Société Anonyme's account at the Bank of New York and Trust Company (from 1927 to 1930), a certificate from the city of New York authorizing the collection of sales tax, and an insurance policy from Security Insurance Company of New Haven.

The second subseries, Legal Materials, contains the by-laws, amendments to the by-laws, and drafts of the certificate of incorporation (dated 29 April 1920).

The third subseries, Membership, contains lists of members and potential members, from 1924 to 1928, divided into two categories: general lists of members, and lists of members to whom publications were sent. Also included are drafts and printed versions of an early membership brochure, as well as of the 1948 brochure for reopening the membership after the Société Anonyme's art collection had been transferred to the Yale Art Gallery; blank consent forms to be filled out by members who had agreed to join the Société; blank membership cards; and cards for specific people, including Marcel Duchamp, Wassily Kandinsky, Man Ray, and Joseph Stella.

The fourth subseries, Structure/Management of the Society, contains lists of the committees and officers of the Société Anonyme, directions for the Custodian of the Société, meeting minutes (from 1920 to 1946), mission statements, a list of the Société's publications, material regarding publicity for the Société, a list of the contents of the Reference Library, and a typescript draft of the 1920-21 report.

The fifth subseries, Transfer to Yale University, contains material concerning the transfer of the Société Anonyme's art collection to the Yale University Art Gallery in 1941, and the dissolution of the Société in 1950. Files includes notes, posters, announcements, and clippings, as well as material regarding the catalog that was published about the art collection in 1950, Collection of the Société Anonyme: Museum of Modern Art 1920.

Series X, Société Anonyme: Subject Files about Artists , is arranged alphabetically by last name. These appear to be Dreier's working files for the catalog (on which she collaborated with Marcel Duchamp) to document the art collection that the Société Anonyme gave to the Yale Art Gallery (Collection of the Société Anonyme: Museum of Modern Art 1920, Yale University Art Gallery, 1950). The files contain background material on each artist represented in the catalog (there are also files for some artists who are not represented in the catalog), as well as notes and drafts of the catalog entries, which were written by Dreier, Marcel Duchamp, George Heard Hamilton, and others. Some files also contain questionnaires that were filled out and returned by the artists. The content of the file for each artist is arranged in the following order (where present): questionnaire, notes, manuscripts, catalogs and pamphlets, clippings, photographs of artists, and photographs and postcards of artwork.

Series XI Katherine S. Dreier Papers Addition is arranged chronologically by accession and contains correspondence, photographs, printed material, artwork and other papers by or relating to Katherine Dreier.


  • 1818 - 1952
  • Majority of material found within 1920 - 1951


Language of Materials

Chiefly in English; some material in German, French, and Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Boxes 133-144: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult Access Services.

Conditions Governing Use

The Katherine S. Dreier Papers / Société Anonyme Archive is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Katherine S. Dreier, with additional gifts from Theodore and Barbara Dreier, 2006-2008.


75.4 Linear Feet (158 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Katherine S. Dreier portion of the collection contains correspondence between Dreier and artists and friends (including Constantin Alajalov, David Burli︠u︡k, Marcel Duchamp, Wassily Kandinsky, Man Ray, and Ted Shawn); and art-related organizations (including the Arts Club of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art).
There is some correspondence regarding art purchases and the packaging and shipping of art, such as that with George F. Of, Inc.; W. F. Collins & Co.; and W. S. Budworth & Son. There is a large amount of correspondence between Dreier and various departments at Yale (especially the Yale Art Gallery) regarding the transfer of the Société Anonyme's art collection to Yale. The collection contains manuscripts and notes for Dreier's articles, lectures, and books; her early diaries; and a brief autobiographical account; as well as some writings by others. There are subject files regarding organizations with which Dreier was affiliated, including the Cooperative Mural Workshops, the Long Ridge Women's Club, and the Society of Independent Artists.
The collection contains exhibition catalogs that were annotated by Dreier; exhibition catalogs of one-artist shows of Dreier's artwork; and material regarding Dreier's personal finances. There are many photographs of Dreier's artwork, of Dreier and her friends and family (including scenes in China from a trip that Dreier took, 1921-22), of artists and their artwork, and of exhibitions. There is also some original artwork by various people, including sketches, drawings, prints, and watercolors. The Dreier Family papers contain correspondence, poetry and skits, and writings (including a diary by Dreier's sister, Dorothea).
The Société Anonyme portion of the collection includes correspondence with members, potential members, and businesses; a logbook regarding exhibitions; financial material, including a checkbook; by-laws and amendments, and drafts of the certificate of incorporation; membership lists and cards; lists of officers and committees; meeting minutes; ephemera regarding exhibitions, lectures, and musical events sponsored by the Société; scrapbooks; and files of background material about artists represented in the published catalog of the Société Anonyme's art collection at Yale.


Katherine Sophie Dreier was born on 10 September 1877 in Brooklyn, New York to Dorothea Adelheid and John Caspar Theodor Dreier, both immigrants from Bremen, Germany; she was the youngest of five children. Early on, Dreier manifested her dual interests in social issues and art. She was treasurer of the German Home for Recreation of Women and Children and helped to found the Little Italy Neighborhood Association in Brooklyn, New York. She studied art privately, then at the Brooklyn Art School and at Pratt Institute, and then with Walter Shirlaw (with whom Dreier's sister, Dorothea, also studied). There was a strong identification in the Dreier home with German culture, and the family often traveled to Europe to visit relatives. Between 1907 and 1914, Dreier spent much of her time abroad, traveling, studying art, and exhibiting her work in one-artist shows.

In New York, in 1916, through her work with the Society of Independent Artists, Dreier met Marcel Duchamp. He was to become a close friend and colleague, and an important figure in the history of the Société Anonyme.

In January 1920, Dreier, Duchamp, and Man Ray met in Dreier's apartment in New York City to found the Société Anonyme, a society to promote modern art among the American public. Dreier had wanted to call the society "The Modern Ark," but Man Ray later claimed that he was the one to suggest the French phrase for "incorporated" instead. Dreier added the subtitle "Museum of Modern Art: 1920."

The Société Anonyme sponsored many lectures, concerts, publications, and exhibitions concerning modern art, including the International Exhibition of Modern Art at the Brooklyn Museum in 1926. In spite of a major membership campaign in 1925, the Société's headquarters in New York City closed in 1928, and from this point on, the Société Anonyme existed only through Dreier's efforts. She continued to organize events that were sponsored by the Société, and she accumulated artwork to add to the Société Anonyme's collection.

In 1939, Dreier began developing a plan to open the Country Museum at her house in West Redding, Connecticut (the Haven), which would house the Société Anonyme's collection of artwork, as well as her private collection. After little success with other potential investors, Dreier approached Yale University about funding and maintaining the museum. Yale was hesitant, because of the high costs of renovating the Haven and maintaining it as a fire-proof museum, and instead offered as a compromise to take over the Société Anonyme's collection if it were moved to the Yale Art Gallery. Dreier agreed, and she began sending the collection to Yale in October 1941.

In 1942, Dreier was still adamant about her desire to open the Country Museum and to use her private collection as its basis. She continued her attempts to convince Yale to fund her project, but when Yale gave a final negative answer in April, Dreier decided to sell the Haven.

In April 1946, she moved to a new home, Laurel Manor, in Milford, Connecticut. She continued to add artwork to the Société Anonyme collection at Yale, through purchases and through gifts from artists and friends. In 1947, she attempted to reopen membership to the Société Anonyme and printed a brochure, but Yale blocked distribution of the brochure because of the ambiguous connection between Yale and the membership campaign. In 1948, Dreier and Duchamp decided to limit the activities of the Société to working on a catalog of the collection and to acquiring artwork.

On the thirtieth anniversary of the Société Anonyme's first exhibition, 30 April 1950, Dreier and Duchamp hosted a dinner at the New Haven Lawn Club, where they formally dissolved the Société Anonyme. In June, a catalog of the Société's collection at Yale, Collection of the Société Anonyme: Museum of Modern Art 1920, was published. Dreier died on 29 March 1952.

For further information about the Société Anonyme and about Dreier's life, consult The Société Anonyme and the Dreier Bequest at Yale University: A Catalog Raisonné (Yale University Press, 1984) edited by Robert L. Herbert, Eleanor S. Apter, and Elise K. Kenney; and The Société Anonyme's Brooklyn Exhibition: Katherine Dreier and Modernism in America (UMI Research Press, 1982) by Ruth L. Bohan.

Processing Information

This collection had been partially arranged by the editors of The Société Anonyme and the Dreier Bequest at Yale University: A Catalog Raisonné in preparation for the publication of the catalog. Only two series (Series II, Katherine S. Dreier: Writings, and Series X, Société Anonyme: Subject Files about Artists) appeared to be relatively unchanged from Dreier's original arrangement. Aside from these two series, a new arrangement has been adopted for the collection in an attempt to provide clear access to the two parts of the collection (the Katherine S. Dreier Papers and the Société Anonyme Archive).

The gifts received from 2006 to 2008 were added to the collection in 2013 as Series XI. Katherine S. Dreier Papers Addition.

Guide to the Katherine S. Dreier Papers / Societe Anonyme Archive
by Miriam B. Spectre
April 1997
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

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