Lillian Gish Collection – Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth TX (Laura Gilpin and Nell Dorr)

Lillian Gish Collection – Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth TX

Laura Gilpin

Catalog of the exhibition draws upon photographs, letters and other written material, thus, Laura Gilpin collection held at the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth TX represents a chronicle of Laura Gilpin’s life and career. Below, Laura Gilpin (1891-1979); [Gish, Lillian] [Chappell Garden, Denver, Colorado]; 1932; Platinum print; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Ft Worth, Texas, Bequest of the Artist.

Camille Cast with R.E. Jones and Lillian Gish in Chappel Garden by Laura Gilpin Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas 1932
Camille Cast with R.E. Jones and Lillian Gish in Chappel Garden by Laura Gilpin Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas 1932

Nell Dorr

 Amon Carter Museum Of American Art Archives Collection Guide

Collection Summary Title: Nell Dorr Papers
Date: 1934–1988, bulk 1940s–1960s
Creator(s): Dorr, Nell (1893–1988)
Extent: 4 linear feet
Code: NDP
Repository: Amon Carter Museum of American Art Archives
Abstract: The Nell Dorr Papers contain correspondence, photographs, clippings, poems written by Nell Dorr, handwritten and typed drafts of her books, and ephemera.

 

More than 5,000 prints and 6,000 negatives by Dorr in the Photography Collection.

Contact the museum archivist at archivist@cartermuseum.org or 817.989.5077 for additional information.

Administrative Information

Acquisition and Custody Information

Gift of the Nell Dorr Estate, 1990

Processed By Georgia A. Carey

Biographical Note

Nell Dorr (18931–1988) was born Virginia Nell Becker in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Minnie and John Jacob Becker, a photographer. In 1900, the family moved to Massillon, Ohio, where Becker had a studio. Dorr learned the techniques of developing processes working as his assistant. In 1910 she married Thomas Koons, her childhood sweetheart; they had three daughters, Virginia (Win), Elizabeth (Betty or Bets), and Barbara (Barby).

Before World War I, the family moved to Miami, Florida. Dorr’s father helped her to open a studio. Photography became a way for her to escape the frenzy of real estate speculation in which her husband was involved. The Koonses lost everything except their home and the photography studio in the crash of 1926, and she began supporting the family by taking photographs of important visitors to Miami for Gondolier magazine. In 1931, she divorced Tom Koons.

In 1932, Dorr moved to New York City where she began exhibiting and continued publishing her work. That year, she had a one–person exhibition of photomurals at the Merle Sterner Gallery in New York. Mangroves, a softbound portfolio of her photographs, was published in limited edition in 1933. The Grand Central Art Gallery was the site of another one–person show, “Photographic Etudes,” in 1934. She also exhibited photographs from her Famous Men Series at the Delphic Gallery that year. One of the men she photographed was scientist John Van Nostrand Dorr, whom she married in 1935.

Dorr’s first book In a Blue Moon, a collection of photographs taken in the Florida Keys during the 1920s, was published in 1939. In 1940 she began working on a 16–mm sound film about the Kurt Graff Ballet, The Singing Earth; she completed in 1947. In 1949 she made another 16–mm sound film, Through the Dorr Way, which documented the work of the Dorr–Oliver Company.

Scope and Content Note

The Nell Dorr Papers contain correspondence, photographs, clippings, poems written by Nell Dorr, handwritten and typed drafts of her books, and ephemera. Series include Correspondence, Writings by Nell Dorr, Ephemera, Photographs, and Published Material. Correspondence is the largest series.

A more detailed series description appears at the start of each series in this finding aid.

Of particular interest to researchers looking for biographical information are two brief autobiographies. One was published under the title “A Letter from Nell Dorr” in the Town Crier, New Brunswick, New Jersey, December 4, 1954. The facts given contradict dates in a chronology of Dorr’s life prepared by Margaretta Mitchell. Dorr’s typed stories of her life are filed under the heading “Autobiography” in box 7, along with two copies of her article published in Town Crier. Mitchell’s chronology is filed in under her name in “Business Correspondence.”

Several volumes, including Dorr’s notebook containing handwritten notes about the papers and chemicals she used to print her photographs, are listed at the end of this finding aid.

Lillian Gish by Nell Dorr

Dorothy Gish by Nell Dorr

Lillian Gish by Nell Dorr

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