Scope and arrangement
The Yaddo Records (1870-1980) comprise the personal papers of Spencer and Katrina Trask, George Foster Peabody, Allena Pardee, and Elizabeth Ames, in addition to the Yaddo Corporation's records. Correspondence, diaries, journals, notebooks, writings, scrapbooks, financial and legal documents, guest files, admission files, administrative files, ephemera, sound recordings, and photographs document the Trasks life together, the business and philanthropic activities of Spencer Trask and Peabody, Katrina Trask's career as a creative writer, the purchase, renovation, and life at Yaddo during the Trasks' lifetimes, Yaddo's transformation into an artist community, and the administration and operation of the Yaddo Corporation from 1926-1990. The records provide insight into the history of American arts in the 20th century, as well biographical and historical perspectives on many important American artists, writers, and composers.
The Yaddo records are arranged in nine series:
- 1871 - 1983146 boxes
The Trask family papers include correspondence, financial materials, legal documents, scrapbooks, newsclippings, photographs, and photo albums. The series also contains manuscript and typescript drafts of Katrina Trask's creative work, as well as relevant photographs and correspondence.
There is extensive correspondence between husband and wife. Katrina Trask's papers include her correspondence with Spencer, Peabody, Allena Pardee, more extended family members, and close associates. There is also a limited collection of correspondence between Katrina and her children, the most extensive of which is with her daughter Christina.
The scrapbooks contain newsclippings, as well as miscellaneous printed material relating to the Trasks, their associates, philanthropic activities, as well as announcements concerning Katrina's creative works.
- 1887, 1895 - 1938, n.d.42 boxes
This series includes correspondence, financial materials, legal documents, news clippings, and photographs. The correspondence is arranged topically. The correspondence in this series is general in nature; specific correspondence relates to Peabody's property in Abenia, New York and Peabody's philanthropic interests in The Walker Baptist Institute, Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, The Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, and the Southern Education Board.
- 1894 - 19428 boxes
This series includes correspondence by and relating to Allena Pardee that document her administrative duties performed on behalf of the Trasks, as well as personal and family correspondence. Diaries and notebooks contain her personal writings as well as her personal financial records.
- 1892 - 19388 boxes
This series contains correspondence, legal documents, and records of land sales that provided for the foundation of the Yaddo Corporation. Significant documents include various revisions of the Last Will and Testament of Spencer and Katrina Trask, and the Last Will and Testament of George Foster Peabody. Correspondence and related material document the establishment of Pine Garde in 1900. This series also includes a significant number of land deeds that document the growth and development of the Yaddo estate.
- 1926 - 1980183 boxes
This series contains material relating to the admissions process, including letters of recommendation and correspondence regarding the evaluation of prospective guests; individual guest files; general administrative files; and the personal papers of Elizabeth Ames.
Guest files include correspondence relating to the admissions process, including letters of inquiry and requests for applications, as well as correspondence relating to the coordination of guests' arrival and accommodations. Personal correspondence is occasionally included in particular guests' files. Guest files do not contain manuscripts or typescripts of work composed at Yaddo; nor do these files relate or provide significant insight into creative activities engaged in at Yaddo. A guest file does not imply residence. Many individuals with guest files were never in residence: certain prospective guests refused offers of admissions; others with guest files were asked to provide recommendations or information on an applicant. Notable names that appear in the guest files but were never in residence include W.H. Auden, Thomas H. Benton, Willa Cather, H.L. Mencken, Arthur Miller, Marianne Moore, Carl Sandburg, Thomas Wolfe, and Richard Wright.
The Administrative files include materials relating to staff hiring, food supplies, general expenditures, construction, and development. This series also includes files relating to the annual Festival of Contemporary American Music that document the administration of each festival and include correspondence relating to the evaluation and selection of prospective performers, musical compositions to be performed, and guests.
Because of her centrality to the administration of Yaddo and close involvement with the admissions process, Elizabeth Ames's personal papers are included in this series. These papers contain correspondence, financial records, date books, and files relating to Ames's death and memorial service. A sound recording of a memorial service dedicated to Elizabeth Ames at Yaddo on May, 14, 1977 includes a commemorative reading by Curtis Harnack (Ames' successor as Executive Director), a poetic tribute read by Theodore Roethke, and a eulogy read by John Cheever. Materials relating to the "Lowell affair," including a typescript of the proceedings, are included among Ames personal materials.
The sound recording consist mostly of wax cylinders from the late 19th or early 20th century. Sound recordings are unavailable for use until preservation masters and service copies have been made.
The artwork and artifacts in this series were found among the Trask material but with little or no identifying notation.