Mary Hambidge papers

Mary Hambidge papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Creator: Hambidge, Mary, 1885-1973
Title: Mary Hambidge papers
Dates: circa 1910-2001
Quantity: 17.8 Linear feet (26 document boxes, 4 oversized boxes, 1 carton)
Abstract:The collection contains the personal and business papers of Mary Hambidge. These range from her personal correspondence between friends and colleagues to business correspondence directly relating to her work. Much of the collection concerns the Rabun Studios and other financials that Hambidge encountered in her career. There are a significant number of sketches and drawings, both identified and unidentified. Some are from the work "Dynamic Symmetry." There is a also a collection of items such as yarn, jewelry, textiles, books, and photographs in this collection.
Coll. Number: ms3265.TEMP

Biographical/Historical Note

"Mary Crovatt Hambidge was born in Brunswick in 1885,the daughter of Judge Alfred Crovatt. She was educated in the classics at a finishing school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and moved to New York in her early twenties. She had acting aspirations and was a professional whistler on Broadway at a time when artists of all kinds were featured on the stage. She married Canadian-born Jay Hambidge, an artist, illustrator, and scholar who pioneered the concept of "dynamic symmetry," the linking of nature's symmetry with that of human art objects.

While on a trip to Greece with her husband, Mary Hambidge became intrigued with the village weavers who sheared sheep, spun wool thread, and wove wool garments on a daily basis. She became imbued with the idea of learning to weave, and the craft became her passion. After her husband's sudden death in 1924, Hambidge went to Rabun County, Georgia to weave in a friend's summer home. She wrote that she made contact with women in the mountains whose "looms had been relegated to the attics or the woodpile" but who still "kept their craft knowledge and their native integrity."

Through her benefactor, Eleanor Steele Reese, Hambidge was able to buy nearly 800 acres surrounding a proposed hunting lodge. In 1934 the Jay Hambidge Art Foundation was formally created; it was incorporated ten years later as a nonprofit organization for educational and scientific purposes. Hambidge fostered a group of women, known as the Weavers of Rabun, who grew and sheared sheep, carded and spun wool thread, and created fine woven goods. Hambidge lived in an old dogtrot-style cabin, and the Rock House, a fieldstone-base lodge, served as the weaving house until the Weave Shed, now used as the Hambidge Gallery, was built for the women.

"'The Weavers of Rabun' gained international recognition for the quality and beauty of their fabrics, and a Madison Avenue shop in New York was established as an outlet," where wealthy buyers could purchase these handwoven fabrics, the former center director Mary Nikas Beery wrote in an unpublished history of the center, "The Hambidge Center in the Betty's Creek Community." They were commissioned to outfit U.S. president Harry S. Truman's yacht with their woven fabrics; in 1958 the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., mounted an exhibition of their work. Under Hambidge's leadership "these mountain weavers contributed significantly to the renaissance of handcrafts in America," Beery wrote.

With the industrialization of the 1950s and the availability of steady mill jobs, the weavers slowly disbanded. Hambidge broadened the scope of the center and invited creative artists and friends to come for extended stays there. An original caretaker's house became an artist's home, a studio was added, and other cabins gradually were built, all in secluded spots that allowed for maximum privacy along the mountainsides that line the Betty's Creek valley.

Among the visitors was Eliot Wigginton's father, a landscape architect at the University of Georgia, who often brought his son along with him. Those childhood visits to the Hambidge Center led Wigginton to return to the area as a teacher in 1966. Discussions with other Hambidge guests inspired him to develop the Foxfire program, in which students explored their local and regional heritage for the magazine that they created under Wigginton's guidance.

Before her death on August 29, 1973, Mary Hambidge provided for the board of trustees to take over the center, thus ensuring the continuation of her mission. Through three subsequent artist-directors, the center developed as a community resource for nature and art programs and formally began a residency program, which now has an international reputation." - Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences - (http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2579)


Arrangement

The collection is unprocessed but has been roughly sorted by record type. The contents are listed at container level to facilitate access.


Index Terms

Weaving--Georgia--Rabun County
Women artists--Georgia.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation note

Mary Hambidge papers. MS 3265. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Libraries, the University of Georgia Libraries.


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 

Assorted Correspondence

Box
1Correspondence, 1914-1938
Box
2Correspondence, 1940-1971
 

Named Sets of Correspondence

Box
3Correspondence, C-F, 1972-1990s
Box
4Correspondence, H-R, 1972-1990s
Box
5Correspondence, S, 1972-1990s
Box
6R-T and Other Correspondence, 1972-1990s
Exhibits, 1970s-1990s
Box
7Weaving Correspondence, 1972-1990s
Cloth samples, 1970s-1990s
Box
8Diaries and calendars, 1960s-1990s
 
Financials
Box
9Foundation and land plans, 1960s-1990s
Box
10Rabun Studios information
Box
11Checks, receipts, and royalty accounts, 1930s-1990s
Box
12Rabun Studios Financial Records, 1940s
Box
13Rabun Studios Financial Records, 1940s-1950s
Box
14Rabun Studios Financial Records, 1940s-1960s
Box
15Financial Records, 1960s
 

Drawings

BoxBox
1617Sketches
BoxBox
1918Dynamic Symmtery
OS Box
20Drawings, pictures, and texts about Greek architecture, temples, pottery, statues, etc.
OS Box
21Hambridge sketches, book, photo
 
OS BoxItem
221Examples of Greek and Pompeian Decorative Work by James Cromar Watt
 
2Photos of Greek statues
 
3La Ceramique Japonaise by G. A. Audsley and James L. Bowes
 
OS Box
23La Ceramique Japonaise by G. A. Audsley and James L. Tome 2
 
Carton
24Hambridge Library books
 
Box
25Yarn
 
BoxItem
261Jewelry
 
2Photos and negatives
 
BoxFolder
271-3Undated correspondence
 
4Jay Hambridge personal info
 
5Jay Hambridge papers
 
6Greek items
 
7McWhinnie, H. J. writings
 
8Millie Mather
 
9Frank Coleman
 
BoxFolder
281-2Mary C. Hambridge writings
 
3Mary C. Hambridge poetry
 
4Miscellaneous writings
 
5"Living", February-December 1938
 
6Mary- adult Bible class
 
7Newspapers
 
8-11Miscellaneous articles and notes
 
BoxFolder
291News clips, 1920s
 
2News clips, 1930s
 
3News clips, 1940s
 
4News clips, 1950s
 
5News clips, 1960s
 
6News clips, 1970s
 
7News clips, 1980s
 
8News clips, 1990s
 
9News clips, no date
 
10News clips- Greece
 
11Photos
 
12Miscellaneous
 
13A. B. Maygard typescript, 1963
 
14Latimer Lodge stories
 
BoxFolder
301Mary Hambridge school writings, circa 1900
 
2-3Mary Hambridge memorial, 1973
 
4Mary's estate
 
5Mary- personal
 
6About Mary
 
7Elizabeth Walter thesis on Jay Hambridge, 1978
 
BoxItem
311Textiles
 
2Keys
 
3Yarn
 
BoxItem
321Calendar, 1959
 
2University composition book
 
3Mary's planner, 1910
 
4Mary's address book
 
5-6Cassette tapes
 
1-2Miscellaneous
 
3-4Weaving
 
5Miscellaneous
 
Carton
33Yarns dyes (4 colors)
 
Misc. photographs