Lorado Taft papers, 1889-1939.


Descriptive Inventory for the Collection at Chicago History Museum, Research Center

Revised 2013.


Please address questions to:

Chicago History Museum, Research Center

1601 North Clark Street

Chicago, IL 60614-6038

Web-site: http://www.chicagohistory.org/research


Copyright 2013, Chicago Historical Society



Title: Lorado Taft papers, [manuscript], 1889-1939.

Main entry: Taft, Lorado, 1860-1936.

Inclusive dates: 1889-1939.


200 items (3 folders)


Access: This collection is open for research use.

Terms governing use: Copyright may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law, unless otherwise note.

Please cite this collection as: Lorado Taft papers (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.


This descriptive inventory contains the following sections:

Biographical note,

Summary description of the collection

Description of some material related to the collection,

List of online catalog headings about the collection,

Arrangement of the collection,

List of selected items in the collection.


Biographical note:

Lorado Taft, the American sculptor, was born at Elmwood, Illinois, in 1860. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1879, he studied sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, 1880-1883. Returning to America, he settled in Chicago, and in 1888 became an instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago. In this capacity he exercised a marked influence upon the development of sculpture in the Middle West. He lectured extensively upon art subjects, not only to students in the Art Institute and in the University of Chicago, but also to art workers and to the public throughout the country.


Besides extensive portraiture, Taft's sculptural works include "Sleep of the Flowers" and "Awakening of the Flowers" at the World's Columbian Exposition; "Mountains" and "Prairie," at the Saint Louis Exposition; 'The Blind," inspired by Maeterlinck's drama; "The Solitude of the Soul," a marble group at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; the Washington Monument in Seattle; the Columbus Memorial Fountain in Washington, D.C.; Thatcher memorial fountain in Denver; and the "Black Hawk" heroic statue at Oregon, Illinois.


Taft also undertook an extensive plan of sculptural decoration for Chicago that was made possible by the Ferguson bequest of 1905. "The Spirit of the Great Lakes" was completed in 1912, and the colossal "Fountain of Time" was finished in 1920. He published the History of American Sculpture and Recent Tendencies in Sculpture. In 1920 he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in 1936.


One of Taft's correspondents, Henry Blake Fuller (1857-1929), was a well-known author of novels and non-fiction works. Fuller was born in Chicago, educated in the city schools, and made his permanent home in Chicago although he traveled extensively. After a brief business experience, he spent a year in Europe, and in later years made European sojourns, usually of six months each, in 1885, 1886, 1892, 1894, and 1896.


Fuller was always closely associated with the literary activities of Chicago. From the establishment of Poetry magazine in 1912 until his death, he was a member of its advisory committee, reading copy, writing reviews, and frequently helping in routine work of issuing numbers. He also helped to shape the book review section of the Chicago Evening Post, 1901-1902, and retained a connection with his Chicago Record Herald as editorial writer, 1911-1913.


In the eleven year period beginning with 1890, Fuller published eight volumes, but his later published works were mostly shorter: book reviews, short stories, and essays. In 1919, Fuller wrote the novel Bertram Cope's Year. In the 1920s, he resided in the neighborhood of the University of Chicago. The last six months of his life were marked by a return to longer works. In 1929, he wrote 50,000 words of Gardens of This World, a travel romance, but he was stricken with a fatal illness before its announced publication and died before he had the opportunity to see the first proofs of Not on the Screen, about the movie industry, which was published after his death.


Summary description of the collection:

Primarily letters to Chicago sculptor Lorado Taft from family and from aspiring sculptors, noted authors, committees seeking Lorado Taft's services as a lecturer, guests whom he had entertained, personal friends, and faculty colleagues. Includes many letters, 1909-1929, by Chicago novelist and essayist Henry Blake Fuller.


Description of some material related to the collection:

Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include a box of items by and about Taft in the Senator Paul H. Douglas papers. Douglas was married to Taft's daughter Emily. Portrait photographs of Taft are cataloged separately.


A small collection of Taft's papers is at the Art Institute of Chicago, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries. A large collection of Taft's papers is at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


List of online catalog headings about the collection:

Taft, Lorado, 1860-1936--Archives.

Fuller, Henry Blake, 1857-1929--Archives.

Sculptors--Illinois--Chicago--19th century.

Sculptors--Illinois--Chicago--20th century.

Authors, American--Illinois--Chicago--20th century.

Authors, American--Illinois--Chicago--19th century.

Chicago (Ill.)--Intellectual life--19th century.

Chicago (Ill.)--Intellectual life--20th century.


Fuller, Henry Blake, 1857-1929.


Arrangement of the collection:

Folder 1, 1889-1920; folder 2, 1921-1930; folder 3; 1931-1939; undated items.


List of selected items in the collection:

Date / Correspondent / Topic:

French, W. M. R. to Taft - then a teacher at the Art Institute. 1889

1890 Willard, Frances E. - re medallion of "Susan" [Anthony?]; also letter in 1892.

1892 Burnham, Daniel H. - 2 letters re presentation of medals, Architects, Artists and Designers of World's Columbian Exposition. 1911 - 2 letters re Billings medallion.

1897 and 1891 - Harper, William R., re bust of Professor.

1897 Marlowe, Julia

1900 Herrick, Robert - thanks Taft for permitting students from the Univ. of Chicago to attend lectures at Art Institute

1906 Bailey, Henry Turner, re panel for group. Letters in 1926, 1931.

Letter in 1922 offers Taft $500 for week to model with class at Cleveland School of Art and discuss with them his method of work and his hopes and fears for sculpture in the U.S.

1907 Weir, John F. letter asking if Taft would accept a professorship at Yale School of Fine Arts, salary $2000 a year.

1910 Addams, Jane - accepting invitation to lecture at Polytechnic only on condition that there "is no fee." Letter dated 1921 re lecture at Hull House.

1911 Harrison, Carter H. appointment of Taft as member of Municipal Art Committee.

1911-1912 Young, Stark - Poem to a Sculptor, and two letters.

Gunsaulus, Frank; 4 letters re quotation "Passing of time" also letter in 1914.

1913 Mowrer, Paul Scott, re "Fountain of Time."

1913 Merriam, Charles E. - thanks for help given during campaign; meeting held in studio; unusual to have a man of artistic ideals interested in aldermanic election.

1913 Lindsay, Nicholas Vachel; letter written concerning poem after Black Hawk was "set up;" other letters in 1918 and 1921, 1925.

1915 Taft, Lorado letter to Dr. James offering to give course of lectures at Illinois for "students who come from cornfields and towns of our state." Letters in 1918 concerning preparation of article on "Women Sculptors in America;" re Elmwood and his father.

1916 Taft, William Howard - two letters addressed to "you as a member of general committee of the League to enforce peace." - rather have you present than have your contribution.

1918 Gale, Zona - re Pioneers Memorial on top of Lookout Mountain; letter dated 1924 and one with no date.

1919 University of Illinois; Taft's appointment as non-resident professor of Art, without salary ("without salary, your suggestion") - from David Kenly acting Pres. Letter dated 1921.

1922 Letters from Maxim Hudson, Augustus Thomas and Newton D. Baker, Hermann Hagedorn, William Lyons Phelps, Taft Hatfield, Ernest Dimnet

1927 Ernest H. Wilkins and Charles Clayton Morrison.

1928 Finley, John - re group in bronze; memorial to pioneers presented by Taft to the town of Elmwood, Illinois, his birthplace.

Beard, Augustus, re article published in Christian Century -"Life and I"

St. Gaudens, Home - James Hamilton Lewis.

1929 Coolidge, Calvin - letter of appreciation of Taft's services as the sculptor member of the Commission of Fine Arts.

1930 Cather, Willa - letter of appreciation

1931 Taft, Lorado - letters regarding Taft's dream museum (1931-1934)

1932-1938 Letters from Frank Vanderlip, r. N. Johnson, Bacheler and Cordell Hull, and James Breasted.

1909-1929: Fuller, Henry B.: Amusing and entertaining letters from Henry B. Fuller to Lorado Taft; give a very clear picture of Taft's activities, interests, etc.; his trips abroad, his generosity to his friends, and Fuller's appreciation of Taft's genius.