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HC 23

Wasserman, Jeanne L., 1915-2006. Papers of Jeanne L. Wasserman, Fogg Museum Honorary Curator of Sculpture, 1960-1987: A Guide

Harvard Art Museum Archives, Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University
The President and Fellows of Harvard College

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HC 23
Repository: Harvard Art Museum Archives, Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University
Title: Papers of Jeanne L. Wasserman, Fogg Museum Honorary Curator of Sculpture, 1960-1987: A Guide
Date(s): 1960-1987
Quantity: 6 linear feet (15 file boxes and 1 half file box)
Abstract: Exhibition-related papers of Jeanne L. Wasserman, the Honorary Curator of 19th- and 20th-Century Sculpture at the Fogg Museum from 1969-c. 1987.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The collection was transferred to the Harvard Art Museums Archives by Jeanne L. Wasserman in December 2004.

Processing Information:

The collection was processed in November, 2010 by Erin M. Murphy.

Conditions on Access:

Copyright: The President and Fellows of Harvard College hold any copyright in Jeanne L. Wasserman's papers. Copyright in some papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the Harvard Art Museums Archives before publishing quotations from any material in the collection.

Conditions on Use:

Copying: Papers may be copied in accordance with the Harvard Art Museums Archives' usual procedures.
Access: unrestricted

Related Material:

An oral history with Jeanne L. Wasserman is held at the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution. The Harvard Art Museums Archives also holds a collection of Ms. Wasserman's personal papers, donated to the archives by her heirs upon her death, and files in the exhibition records that contain further material about Ms. Wasserman's exhibitions.


Jeanne Wasserman (nee Leonard) was born March 19, 1915 in New York City, later moving to New Rochelle, New York. Ms. Wasserman's family, of German-Jewish descent, immigrated to the United States in the pre-Civil War era. Wasserman's grandfather was a successful businessman, who paid for her private high school and later, her college education at Radcliffe College, which culminated in a degree in English literature in 1936.
Ms. Wasserman met her husband, Max Wasserman, on a blind date, shortly before her graduation from Radcliffe. The two married in 1938, after she was convinced Max could support her. Ms. Wasserman began her career doing the advertising for her husband's business, Wasco Flashing. When he sold the business in the 1950's to work in real estate, Ms. Wasserman began working in the art field.
Having taken classes at the Fogg Museum while she was at Radcliffe, Ms. Wasserman was eager to return, and did so in 1962, as a research assistant to then director, John Coolidge. In 1969, she was named the Honorary Curator of 19th- and 20th-Century Sculpture, a position she held for about 2 decades. While at the Fogg, Ms. Wasserman was in charge of a number of renowned exhibitions, including "Daumier Sculpture: A Critical and Comparative Study," for which she also authored a book with the same title. Ms. Wasserman's expertise on Honoré Daumier led to many accolades, including being acknowledged at the Daumier Symposium at the Musée D'Orsay in Paris in 1999.
After her husband's death in 1986, Ms. Wasserman began teaching at the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement and was honored by the Institute by being named as a Distinguished Member in 2000. She also served as a trustee of the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, and on Harvard's Committee to Visit the Fine Arts, and the Cambridge Public Art Commission.
The Wassermans had three children, Peter, Suzanne, and Nancy. In addition to being a scholar of art, Ms. Wasserman was also passionate about women's rights, and was instrumental in leading the fight for women's right to birth control and in helping launch Planned Parenthood in Massachusetts.

Series in the Collection

The bulk of the collection is in one large series: exhibitions, arranged chronologically. The remainder is broken into two small series: general correspondence, arranged by correspondent, and non-exhibition related materials, consisting mainly of brochures from the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, Mass.).

Scope and Content:

Jeanne L. Wasserman's Honorary Curator of Sculpture files contain information about exhibitions held in her tenure, taking place at the Fogg Museum and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These files include general information about the exhibition, catalogue work, correspondence, financials, loan forms, publicity materials, research notes, and photographs. Each exhibition is organized and foldered within these categories. The collection also contains a very small amount of other material that is not related to exhibitions. All materials date from 1960-1987.
All items are housed in acid-free folders. A small amount of these items been sleeved in acid-free paper to prevent further deterioration to themselves and the surrounding items. Duplicate items have been removed. Folder titles were ascribed by a former student, not by Ms. Wasserman, and therefore some have been edited to describe more closely the contents within.

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