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Richard Brown Baker papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 691

Scope and Contents

The Richard Brown Baker Papers consist of correspondence; art and artist files; professional and personal papers, including papers relating to the Baker family and Baker's childhood; exhibit files; diaries; writings; photographic prints, negatives, and slides; photograph albums; objects; printed material; and an audiocassette interview.


  • 1895 - 2004


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Box 108 contains audiovisual material. Restricted fragile. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Richard Brown Baker Papers 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 Richard Brown Baker to Yale University Art Gallery, 2003 and 2007.


Organized into four groupings: I. September 2003 Acquisition, 1895-1998. II. March 2004 Acquisition, 1959-2004. III. December 2006 Acquisition, 1941-2004. IV. June 2007 Acquisition, 1953-2002.


91.79 Linear Feet (108 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The Richard Brown Baker Papers consist of correspondence; art and artist files; professional and personal papers; exhibit files; diaries; writings; photographic prints, negatives, and slides; photograph albums; objects; printed material; and an audiocassette interview.

Richard Brown Baker (1912-2002)

Richard Brown Baker was born in Providence, RI on November 5, 1912. He attended the Moses Brown School in Providence, RI before attending Yale University, from which he graduated in 1935. Following Yale, he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and received a BA and MA from Oxford University's Honour School of Philosophy, Politics and Economics. After school, Richard's varied career commenced. His first job, in 1939, was as a reporter and editorial assistant for the Providence Journal, a post he occupied only briefly before he accepted the position of private secretary for Ambassador Alexander Weddell and his wife Virginia Weddell in Madrid, Spain in January 1940. He returned to the United States at the end of 1940 and in 1941 was a Social Science Analyst at the Library of Congress. From there he moved to the Office of Strategic Services and worked in Washington, London, and Paris as a Research Analyst. His last employer was the Central Intelligence Agency as a Foreign Affairs Officer. He quit in 1948 to focus on developing his career as a writer.

Baker's writing career was brief but he did publish two works in 1952: a book of poetry entitled Stairways to Another Stage and a book based on the diary he kept while in London during 1944, entitled The Year of the Buzz Bomb. His books were not the success that he hoped for and he decided to focus on modern art, moving to New York City in 1952 to begin painting. He briefly studied with the painters Hans Hoffman and Morris Kantor, but then turned his energy toward collecting art.

Baker's career as an art collector suited him very well. He became a famous art collector, owning over 1,600 works of art before he died. He focused almost exclusively on young emerging artists and was often the first collector to purchase works from artists who became famous, such as Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock. He lent works of art from his collection to museums and galleries throughout the world, enabling many exhibitions of new works. He was an avid traveler and he documented his international trips in his diaries and letters to family. He did on January 22, 2002 in Shelburne, VT.

Custodial History

Transferred from Yale University Art Gallery to Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 2003 and 2007.

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.

The collection received preliminary processing at the time of acquisition. Further organization, rehousing, and description were carried out in 2013.

The collection is comprised of material formerly classed as: Uncat MSS 598, Uncat MSS 642, Uncat MSS 917, and Uncat MSS 955. Various acquisitions associated with the collection have not been merged and organized as a whole. Each acquisition is described separately in the contents list below, according to month and year of acquisition.

Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during basic processing.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Richard Brown Baker Papers
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

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


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New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.