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Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation records

Call Number: YCAL MSS 342

Scope and Contents

The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation Records consist of correspondence and administrative papers, board of directors' minutes, and financial records of the organization. They document the actions of the foundation's board of directors and the day-to-day activities of the administrative staff as they built relationships with museums, collectors, publishers, and the interested public over two decades. The papers date from the death of the artist in 1986 through the foundation's termination in 2006, with one exception as noted in the folder list (box 42) below. Among the activities covered are the formation of the foundation's plans and principles, the management and dispersal of O'Keeffe's artworks and financial assets, the administration and protection of her intellectual property rights, the organization and implementation of the O'Keeffe catalogue raisonné, and the supervision of tours of O'Keeffe's home and studio in Abiquiu. Documenting the founding and lifespan of one of the country's earliest "artist's foundations," the records will be of interest to anyone researching the history of that branch of philanthropy, or of Georgia O'Keeffe and her legacy.

The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation Records does not contain original artwork, original correspondence to or by O'Keeffe, exhibition catalogues or the O'Keeffe catalogue raisonné, oral history interview recordings or transcripts, or HABS drawings of the Abiquiu property. Series I holds photocopies of letters to O'Keeffe (in the folders for Mangus Harding, Ruth Carter Johnson, Caroline Keck, and "O'Keeffe letters" in the Abiquiu Office Files subseries; see notes in the folder list below) and a photocopy of an Alfred Stieglitz letter (in the folder "Peter Bunnell" in the Santa Fe Office Files subseries). Most of the records pertaining to the settlement of the artist's estate are held in the Alfred Stieglitz/Georgia O'Keeffe Archive Addition (YCAL MSS 345).


  • circa 1950-2006
  • Majority of material found within 1986 - 2006


Conditions Governing Access

Series I, Correspondence Files, is open for research.

Series II, Board of Directors Files, is restricted until March 4, 2019.

Series III, Financial Files, is restricted until March 4, 2029.

Conditions Governing Use

The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation Records 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 the Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation, 2009.


Organized into three series: I. Correspondence Files, circa 1950-2006. Series II. Board of Directors Files, 1989-2006. III. Financial Files, 1969-2006.

Associated Materials

Most of the material related to the estate of Georgia O'Keeffe is held in Alfred Stieglitz/Georgia O'Keeffe Archive Addition (YCAL MSS 345).


109 Linear Feet (87 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation Records document the activities of the foundation during its nearly two-decade existence, including the administration and distribution of Georgia O'Keeffe's physical and financial assets, the management of her intellectual property rights, and the publication of a catalogue raisonné of her work, among other accomplishments. The records cover the foundation's relationships with a variety of museums, galleries, collectors, publishers, and exhibition organizers, as well as with art historians, artists, authors, biographers, conservators, photographers, and the general public, and with its own financial and legal advisors.
Also included in Series I are photocopied sets of letters to O'Keeffe from her friends Mangus (Mike) Harding, Ruth Carter Johnson, and Caroline Keck.

Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation

The Georgia O‘Keeffe Foundation, a self-limiting nonprofit organization, was established in May 1989 with the purpose of expanding and perpetuating the artistic legacy of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) for the public benefit. The foundation's defined term limit was twenty years from the receipt of O'Keeffe's assets, or 2006. Its mission included the documentation of O'Keeffe's work, the distribution of her assets, including more than one thousand paintings, drawings, and photographs, and the transition of her home and studio in Abiquiu, New Mexico, from a private residence to an historic house museum.

The foundation's Board of Directors consisted of five members, three of whom, as co-representatives of the artist's estate, were permanent appointments: O'Keeffe's grand-nephew Raymond R. Krueger, her niece June O'Keeffe Sebring, and her assistant Juan Hamilton. The first two elected directors were the art historians Richard R. Brettell and Charles C. Eldredge, who served from 1989-1995. Other pairs of directors elected over time were Vincent A. Carrozza and Bill Katz (1996-1998) and Anne d'Harnoncourt and Earl A. Powell III (1999-2006). The foundation's first (provisional) president was Santa Fe attorney Robert P. Worcester (1989-1990), followed by Elizabeth Glassman (1990-1998); Worcester was reappointed as president of the foundation in 1999. Agapita ("Pita") Judy Lopez was a director of the foundation from 1999-2006; she had worked for O'Keeffe during the last ten years of the artist's life, and was afterward employed by her estate. Lopez served as secretary/treasurer of the foundation from 1989-1996, and as assistant director from 1996-1999. The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation was headquartered in Abiquiu, and maintained a second office in Santa Fe from 1991-2002.

Distribution of the art in O'Keeffe's estate began with fifty-four works placed with eight museums with which she had had long-standing relationships: the Art Institute of Chicago; Brooklyn Museum; Cleveland Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art; National Gallery of Art; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 1992 the foundation expanded the program to include gifts to a wider range of museums, galleries, and historical societies around the country and the world, as well as to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (founded in Santa Fe in 1995). O'Keeffe's collection of Alfred Stieglitz photographs and photogravures was distributed to museums as well.

Expanding and perpetuating O'Keeffe's artistic legacy also took the form of promoting the exhibition of her work. The foundation oversaw the completion of the centennial show Georgia O'Keeffe, 1887-1986 (1987-1989; traveled from the National Gallery to three American museums, accompanied by the publication Georgia O'Keeffe, Art and Letters), and was instrumental in the organization of two important exhibits: the artist's first international retrospective, Georgia O'Keeffe: American and Modern (1993-1994; administered by InterCultura and the United States Information Agency) and The Book Room: Georgia O'Keeffe's Library in Abiquiu (1997; organized with the Grolier Club, New York, and also shown in Santa Fe). Foundation staff members were closely involved in three major traveling exhibitions organized by museums, O'Keeffe on Paper (2000), O'Keeffe's O'Keeffes: the Artist's Collection (2001-2002), and Georgia O'Keeffe: Color and Conservation (2006), and regularly sent loans from the foundation's collection to various American and international projects. The foundation's most substantial effort regarding the artist's legacy, however, was the two-volume Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, which it published in 1999 with the National Gallery of Art and Yale University Press.

Other initiatives focused on the commemoration of Georgia O'Keeffe's life. Since 1989 the foundation had undertaken measures to preserve and maintain the home she had purchased in Abiquiu in 1945, as well as its contents and gardens, while offering limited public tours of the property. In 1996 the foundation implemented a Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), then oversaw the O'Keeffe Home and Studio's designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1998 and its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. An oral history project was begun in 1999, with the goal of recording and transcribing interviews with O'Keeffe's surviving relatives, colleagues, friends, and employees. And in 1995 the foundation worked closely with the United States Postal Service to create the Georgia O'Keeffe commemorative postage stamp issued in Santa Fe on May 23, 1996.

A great part of the foundation's work was stewardship over the copyright of all of O'Keeffe's paintings, drawings, sculptures, and writings, and staff members were vigilant in granting, denying, and policing all public and private attempts to reproduce O'Keeffe images in any format, regardless of who owned the artwork or literary papers. The foundation worked with the Artists Rights Society (ARS) to help monitor and coordinate intellectual property rights and to collect reproduction fees, which produced a significant income stream. In addition to all of the above projects, the foundation donated funds to a number of community organizations and charities, mostly local schools, churches, and groups to which O'Keeffe had made contributions during her lifetime.

The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation transferred its residual assets, including the remainder of O'Keeffe's artwork, her book collection, some research papers and archival materials, and the Abiquiu home and studio, to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in 2006. The foundation transferred its records and Georgia O'Keeffe's financial, legal, and medical papers to the Beinecke Library in 2009; the latter group of material comprises the Alfred Stieglitz/Georgia O'Keeffe Archive Addition (YCAL MSS 345).

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

This collection received a basic level of processing, including some rehousing and reorganization. Descriptive information is drawn in large part from information supplied with the collection by foundation staff, and from a survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the foundation. Titles and dates have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Some folder titles were supplied by library staff during processing.

Guide to the Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation Records
by Beinecke Staff
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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Access Information

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