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Vassar College Libraries and the Arts

By Ronald D. Patkus
Associate Director for Special Collections

The Vassar College Libraries possess wonderful resources to support the study of music, art and literature. The Archives and Special Collections Library has made several acquisitions in recent years that strengthen our holdings in the arts. We are especially interested to receive materials that reflect the activities of our alumnae and alumni, students, faculty and other members of the college community. Our holdings have grown with special reference to the arts scene in New York.

The exhibition A Life in Art and Letters: Priscilla Morgan, Vassar College 1941 is drawn from the personal papers of Priscilla Morgan. It puts on view a collection of materials that show the activities of one influential alumna who has been working in the arts for many years. Here we see Priscilla’s beginnings in Poughkeepsie, her connection to Vassar, her early career in radio and TV in New York, her development as a theatrical agent, and her work as a festival organizer and a trustee of institutions. Along the way we note many of the personal relationships that have been a part of her life, relationships with people such as the composers Gian Carlo Menotti and Samuel Barber, the director Arthur Penn, the poet Ezra Pound, the artist and writer Roland Penrose, the design scientist R. Buckminster Fuller, the artist Willem de Kooning and, above all, the sculptor Isamu Noguchi.

I am happy to mention that eventually Priscilla Morgan’s papers will be deposited in the Archives and Special Collections Library at Vassar, where they will be catalogued and made available for research. They complement a growing collection relating to the arts, with specific areas of overlap and cross-reference to holdings already in our library and in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. In the meantime, we hope this colorful exhibition will offer the Vassar community a sense of a rich life and a view into the intriguing world of contemporary arts and letters.