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North Carolina Museum of Art, Black Mountain College Research Project


The Black Mountain College Research Project (BMCRP) was conducted by the North Carolina Museum of Art from May 1, 1970 - February 14, 1973 and funded primarily by two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The purpose of the project was to gather information and materials for an exhibit on Black Mountain College and its contributions to the arts in the United States.The resulting collection includes the administrative files of the project, photocopies of research materials, questionnaires, tapes and transcripts of interviews with people connected with Black Mountain College, donated manuscript materials, original copies of college publications, books, and visual materia ... (more below)

Title

North Carolina Museum of Art, Black Mountain College Research Project

Date(s)

1933 - 1973

Language

English

Physical Description
Cubic feet
ca. 58.6
Physical Description
Cubic feet
58.60
Boxes
127.00
Volumes
15.00
Abstract

The Black Mountain College Research Project (BMCRP) was conducted by the North Carolina Museum of Art from May 1, 1970 - February 14, 1973 and funded primarily by two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The purpose of the project was to gather information and materials for an exhibit on Black Mountain College and its contributions to the arts in the United States.

The resulting collection includes the administrative files of the project, photocopies of research materials, questionnaires, tapes and transcripts of interviews with people connected with Black Mountain College, donated manuscript materials, original copies of college publications, books, and visual materials. Although the exhibit on Black Mountain College did not take place as planned, the primary researcher for the project, Mary Emma Harris, continued to work on the subject and eventually wrote a book entitled  The Arts at Black Mountain College

Physical Location

For current information on the location ofthese materials, please consult the Western Regional Archives.

Creator

North Carolina Museum of Art

Repository

Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina


Organized into eight subseries by type of material. The subseries are arranged as follows:

  1. Administrative Files Research Files Questionnaires Interviews Donated Materials College Publications Books Visual Materials

Available for research with some restrictions.


Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.


Processed by Ashley Yandle, April 10, 2002

Encoded by Ashley Yandle, April 24, 2002

This collection was processed with the support of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Mary Emma Harris served as a consultant during the period of the grant.

Revised by Ashley Yandle, September, 2004


The Black Mountain College Research Project (BMCRP) was conducted by the North Carolina Museum of Art from May 1, 1970 - February 14, 1973 and funded primarily by two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The purpose of the project was to gather information and materials for an exhibit on Black Mountain College (BMC). The initial scope of the exhibit was to cover the contributions of Black Mountain College to the visual arts in the United States. After the first year of research, the scope of the project was broadened to include related areas of study such as dance, drama, literature and music. During the course of the project, the primary researcherMary Emma Harris and other project staff members conducted approximately 200 taped interviews with former BMC students, faculty and related individuals. Project members took slides and photographs of objects created by BMC artists. In addition, many originals or copies of student notes, photographs, correspondence, college publications and other materials were donated to the project. Although the exhibit on Black Mountain College did not take place as planned, Mary Emma Harris, continued to work on the subject and eventually wrote a book entitled  The Arts at Black Mountain College, published in 1987.

Black Mountain College was an experimental school located in Black Mountain, N.C. Established in 1933 by John A. Rice and others, the purpose of the college was to educate the whole person, with an emphasis on the role of the arts and creative thinking. Despite the fact that Black Mountain College could rarely offer faculty more than room and board, a number of important teachers and artists were drawn to the school as part of the regular faculty or to participate in the school's Summer Institutes. Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Max Dehn, Joseph Fiore, Buckminister Fuller, Edward Lowinsky, Robert Motherwell, Charles Olson, M.C. Richards, and Xanti Schawinsky were only a few of those who taught at Black Mountain College. In addition, the success of several of the college's students (such as Ruth Asawa, Edward Dorn, Kenneth Noland, and Robert Rauschenberg) helped to further the college's reputation in the area of the arts and the avant garde.

The character and focus of Black Mountain College shifted over time, according to the make-up of the faculty and students. Personal and ideological conflicts were common and sometimes lead to major changes in the college community. Lack of funds added to the stress of the situation, as did the school's physical isolation and its sometimes strained relations with the local population. Eventually, the student enrollment and available funds dwindled until the college was forced to close in 1956.

Dining Hall and lodges, Lake Eden Campus. Photographer: Unknown. Collection: BMC Research Project; Visual Materials; North Carolina Division of Archives and History; Architecture; Lake Eden campus.


The Black Mountain College Research Project (BMCRP) was conducted by the North Carolina Museum of Art from May 1, 1970 - February 14, 1973 and funded primarily by two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The purpose of the project was to gather information and materials for an exhibit on Black Mountain College (BMC). The initial scope of the exhibit was to cover the contributions of Black Mountain College to the visual arts in the United States. After the first year of research, the scope of the project was broadened to include related areas of study such as dance, drama, literature and music. During the course of the project, the primary researcherMary Emma Harris and other project staff members conducted approximately 200 taped interviews with former BMC students, faculty and related individuals. Project members took slides and photographs of objects created by BMC artists. In addition, many originals or copies of student notes, photographs, correspondence, college publications and other materials were donated to the project. Although the exhibit on Black Mountain College did not take place as planned, Mary Emma Harris, continued to work on the subject and eventually wrote a book entitled  The Arts at Black Mountain College, published in 1987.

Black Mountain College was an experimental school located in Black Mountain, N.C. Established in 1933 by John A. Rice and others, the purpose of the college was to educate the whole person, with an emphasis on the role of the arts and creative thinking. Despite the fact that Black Mountain College could rarely offer faculty more than room and board, a number of important teachers and artists were drawn to the school as part of the regular faculty or to participate in the school's Summer Institutes. Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Max Dehn, Joseph Fiore, Buckminister Fuller, Edward Lowinsky, Robert Motherwell, Charles Olson, M.C. Richards, and Xanti Schawinsky were only a few of those who taught at Black Mountain College. In addition, the success of several of the college's students (such as Ruth Asawa, Edward Dorn, Kenneth Noland, and Robert Rauschenberg) helped to further the college's reputation in the area of the arts and the avant garde.

The character and focus of Black Mountain College shifted over time, according to the make-up of the faculty and students. Personal and ideological conflicts were common and sometimes lead to major changes in the college community. Lack of funds added to the stress of the situation, as did the school's physical isolation and its sometimes strained relations with the local population. Eventually, the student enrollment and available funds dwindled until the college was forced to close in 1956.

Dining Hall and lodges, Lake Eden Campus. Photographer: Unknown. Collection: BMC Research Project; Visual Materials; North Carolina Division of Archives and History; Architecture; Lake Eden campus.


The Black Mountain College Research Project has been housed at the State Archives of North Carolina since 1976.


[Identification of item], 61.12, North Carolina Museum of Art, Black Mountain College Research Project, State Archives of North Carolina, Western Regional Archives, Asheville, NC, USA.


The collection was officially transferred from the North Carolina Museum of Art to the State Archives of North Carolina on January 10, 1997. The collection was accessioned on February 23, 2000. During March-April, 2012, these records were moved from the State Archives building in Raleigh to the Western Regional Archives, Asheville, N.C.


Additional information on topics found in this collection may be found in the Manuscript and Archives Reference System (MARS)  http://www.ncarchives.dcr.state.nc.us.

  1. Black Mountain College Records, 1933-1956  PC.1678, Martin Duberman Collection, 1933-1980 Materials relating to  Black Mountain College at the State Archives of North Carolina

The materials in this collection fall into four basic categories: research materials gathered by project staff, interviews conducted with former BMC students and faculty, original items donated to the project for use in the proposed exhibit, and materials generated by the project itself.

The members of the research project staff decided that female students and teachers would be listed under the family name that they used while at Black Mountain College. In the cases of women married while at the college, married names were used. Married or professional names not used while at BMC were included in parenthesis at the end of the names. The current finding aid reflects this policy.

Some individuals, particularly students, were referred to by BMC nicknames in official college publications or in the interviews gathered by the BMCRP. Most of these nicknames have not been retained in the finding aid, with the exception of those that were used so frequently that their inclusion was needed to avoid confusion. In those cases, the BMC nickname has been placed in quotes after the given name of the individual.

Organized into eight subseries by type of material. The subseries are arranged as follows:

  1. Administrative Files Research Files Questionnaires Interviews Donated Materials College Publications Books Visual Materials

The materials in this collection fall into four basic categories: research materials gathered by project staff, interviews conducted with former BMC students and faculty, original items donated to the project for use in the proposed exhibit, and materials generated by the project itself.

The members of the research project staff decided that female students and teachers would be listed under the family name that they used while at Black Mountain College. In the cases of women married while at the college, married names were used. Married or professional names not used while at BMC were included in parenthesis at the end of the names. The current finding aid reflects this policy.

Some individuals, particularly students, were referred to by BMC nicknames in official college publications or in the interviews gathered by the BMCRP. Most of these nicknames have not been retained in the finding aid, with the exception of those that were used so frequently that their inclusion was needed to avoid confusion. In those cases, the BMC nickname has been placed in quotes after the given name of the individual.


The members of the research project staff decided that female students and teachers would be listed under the family name that they used while at Black Mountain College. In the cases of women married while at the college, married names were used. Married or professional names not used while at BMC were included in parenthesis at the end of the names. The current finding aid reflects this policy.

Some individuals, particularly students, were referred to by BMC nicknames in official college publications or in the interviews gathered by the BMCRP. Most of these nicknames have not been retained in the finding aid, with the exception of those that were used so frequently that their inclusion was needed to avoid confusion. In those cases, the BMC nickname has been placed in quotes after the given name of the individual.


  • Black Mountain College (Black Mountain, N.C.)
  • Art--Study and teaching--North Carolina--History--20th century.
  • Arts--Experimental methods.
  • College students--North Carolina--Social life and customs--20th century.
  • College teachers--North Carolina--Social life and customs--20th century.
  • Dance--Study and teaching--North Carolina--History--20th century.
  • Drama--Study and teaching--North Carolina--History--20th century.
  • Education, Humanistic.
  • Music--Instruction and study--North Carolina--History--20th century.
  • Universities and colleges--North Carolina--Curricula.

Physical Description
9 boxes

The Administrative Files (Subseries 1) contain materials that were generated by the project in the course of its operation. Included are photocopies and original mimeographs of correspondence, internal memos, reports to the National Endowment for the Humanities, lists of people and materials, contact information, forms, proposals, notes, transcript headings, release forms for documents and interviews, and a card file of addresses and sources of information. All of these materials are unrestricted and available for research.

27591
General Files

27592
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Files

27593
Project Correspondence

27594
Card File of Addresses and Bibliography

Physical Description
17 boxes

The Research Files (Subseries 2) were created by project staff for their own use in preparing for the exhibit. Most of the materials in these files are photocopies of items located in the Black Mountain College Records. Once photocopies were made they were rearranged by project staff into subject categories, which are in many cases different from those found in the college records. However, since the focus of the project was only on the arts at BMC, the research files as gathered by the BMCRP do not reflect the total scope of information that is available in the Black Mountain College Records. The types of photocopied materials found in the research files include correspondence, excerpts from minutes of faculty meetings, newspaper and magazine articles, programs, bulletins, brochures, newsletters, community lists, publicity flyers, examiners' reports, class schedules, etc. These materials are organized into general information about the college, summer sessions, departmental files, and files about people connected to the college. The files on individuals sometimes include original items, usually related to their work at the time of the research project. All of these materials are unrestricted and available for research.

27595
General College files

27596
Summer Sessions and Institutes

27597
Departmental Files

27598
Files About Individuals

Physical Description
1 box

Questionnaires (Subseries 3) were sent to former Black Mountain College students and faculty as a preliminary step before interviews were done. Resumes were requested and many are attached. In some cases, correspondence and personal reminiscences were sent back with the questionnaire. All of these materials are unrestricted and available for research.

Physical Description
39 boxes

Interviews (Subseries 4) contains audio recordings and transcripts of interviews conducted by the Black Mountain College Research Project with former BMC students, faculty and related individuals. Some of these materials were not released before the project ended and are currently not available for research.

27599
Released Interviews Transcripts

27600
Unreleased Interviews

27601
Tapes to be Transcribed [Not Released]

27602
Listening Copies of Taped Interviews [Released]

Physical Description
8 boxes

Donated Materials (Subseries 5) contains information for use in the planned exhibit and materials that were given to the project. Included are photocopies or originals of class papers, student notes, exams, diaries, personal reminiscences, correspondence, architectural drawings, newspaper and journal articles, programs, bulletins, newsletters, brochures, community lists, publicity flyers, sheet music, poetry and creative writings. Project staff obtained written releases for both the use of these materials by the project and later deposit with a research institution. Some materials were not formally released, and are therefore unavailable for research until a written release can be obtained.

27603
Student Notes

27604
Miscellaneous Documents

27605
Articles about BMC and Related Subjects

27606
Oversized Materials

27607
Architectural Drawings

Physical Description
2 boxes

College Publications (Subseries 6) contains original materials that were published for or by Black Mountain College and were later purchased by or donated to the research project. These materials include announcements, bulletins, newsletters, community bulletins, forms, literary publications, postcards, programs, publicity flyers and brochures. All of these materials are unrestricted and available for research.

27608
Bulletins

27609
Literary Publications

27610
Postcards

27611
Programs

27612
Publicity Flyers and Brochures

Physical Description
9 boxes

Books (Subseries 7) includes books, pamphlets and other published materials that were bought by or donated to the research project. This subseries includes reference works relating to the modern arts, materials written by or about people connected with Black Mountain College, poetry and essays, and exhibition catalogues. All of these materials are unrestricted and available for research.

Physical Description
42 boxes, 15 volumes
Physical Description
Boxes
42.00
Volumes
15.00

Visual materials (Subseries 8) includes photographs, negatives, and slides that were donated to the project or were taken by project staff. These images document objects created by BMC artists, drama and music performances, college life, classes, students and faculty, summer sessions, architecture, and the work program. Some of these materials are currently unreleased and not available for research. This series also includes object cards which were created by the research project in order to keep track of objects created by artists before, during or after their time at Black Mountain College. The cards include the name of the artist (if known), title or subject, date, medium, dimensions, location, owner and other information.

27613
Photographs and prints

27614
Negatives

27615
Object Card Files

27616
Slide Files