Scope and arrangement
The papers reflect Seligmann's career as a writer and civil rights activist and to a lesser extent his personal life, through letters, documents, writings, and printed and visual material. The General Correspondence covers several subjects including Seligmann's position as publicity director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Other correspondence includes Seligmann's letters to his first wife, Lilias H. MacLane Seligmann, and acknowledgements (1964-1966) regarding three books titled In Memory of Lilias - Collected Poems of Herbert J. Seligmann 1919-1964, A South Carolina Independent of the 1880s: J. Hendrix McLane, and Alfred Stieglitz Talking: Notes on Some of His Conversations, 1925-1931.
The typescripts are comprised of Seligmann's writings, and include "Marsden Hartley," "Georgia O'Keeffe" and his autobiography Voyages. The commonplace books contain four decades of his observations, thoughts and poetry from the 1940s through the 1980s. The travel diaries pertain to trips to Europe, Chicago, New Mexico and elsewhere. Notes and miscellaneous papers complete the typescripts. Seligmann was widely published as evident from the scrapbooks (1920-1946) of clippings of his articles on fine arts, civil rights and World War II. The printed material contains the periodical Manuscripts (1922-1923), miscellaneous articles and other periodicals.
Seligmann's photographic skills are evident in pictures of New York City, Maine and other locales. An album of rare photographs of Haiti (to which Seligmann was sent as a reporter by the Nation during the 1920s) contains pictures of Haitians going about such daily activities as shopping, grinding coffee and attending religious services. There are several pictures of Haitian prisoners photographed during the Caco War. The album also includes images of the Adirondack Mountains and the western United States (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah). Individuals photographed include Lilias MacLane Seligmann, Georgia O'Keeffe, Vincent A. Hartgen and John Marin. Other photographs in the collection include contact sheets of Seligmann's photographs of the Jewish communities of Holland, Poland and Romania taken in 1936 as part of his work for the Joint Distribution Committee, and a portrait of Seligmann taken by Alfred Stieglitz. Assorted prints and Seligmann's diplomas complete the collection. The slides contain chiefly photographs taken on vacation trips.
The collection also contains a small amount of material pertaining to Seligmann's first wife, Lilias H. MacLane Seligmann (1893-1964), including photographs; writings; correspondence; clippings; and letters and poems that Seligmann wrote to her. Included is her essay “Experiment with Dancing in Infantile Paralysis,” in which she outlines her experiences teaching dance to children recovering from polio. The essay is accompanied by still photographs from a motion picture that was created in conjunction with the experiment.
Six series: I. Correspondence; II. Writings; III. Scrapbooks; IV. Printed Material; V. Photographs; VI. Seligmann, Lilias H. MacLane