CABS book of the month – June

This item from Special Collections is from the archive collection of Stella Mary Newton and is not a book at all. It is an invoice dated 15 May 1934 when Stella was still Stella Mary Pearce and had her own fashion label. The invoice recipient was the author Dodie Smith (1896-1990), best known for her book The hundred and one dalmations. Smith noted on the invoice that the silver evening dress had been “a great success”.

Smith had been an actress, which may be how she came into contact with Pearce, who often designed costumes for the theatre. In 1934, Smith published the play Touch Wood, which, according to her Oxford DNB entry, was the first to be written under her own name instead of the pseudonym C. L. Anthony.* Her day job was at Heal’s, running the store’s gallery and working as a toy buyer. Her future husband Alec Beesley, the Advertising Manager at Heal’s, gave her as a birthday present, Pongo, a Dalmatian. And so the story began …

Dodie Smith’s journals, correspondence and manuscripts are held in the archives at Boston University.

*Valerie Grove. “Dodie Smith”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. URL: Accessed 10 May 2010.

Erica Foden-Lenahan
Special Collections Librarian

Current awareness, Artists files revealed

What is it?

It is a web-based directory of institutional holdings of artists files compiled by the Art Libraries Society of North America. Researchers can browse the collection statements of various institutions and find links to further institutional resources.

What are “artists files”?

They are anything that is related to a single artist. These could vary from small books and exhibition catalogues to cards, newspaper clippings, press releases, diaries, posters, etc. They provide critical documentation about well established artists, as well as lesser known ones that are not well documented in the literature. Researchers rely on such files to establish chronologies, find out about exhibition dates, review stylistic developments and assess the critical reception of artists over time. Libraries do not always catalogue artists files and therefore these are not found by browsing their online catalogues. Also such collections have regional strengths and therefore are very important repositories for charting communities and exhibiting bodies.

Which libraries participate in the Artists Files Revealed?

At the moment mostly American institutions have collection statements such as the Frick, Guggenheim, Houston, etc.; the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Centre of Architecture are also there as well as the National Portrait Gallery in London. The directory is open to all so I am sure that the list of participators will increase.

Is it easy to use?

The software is basic and very user friendly. At the moment the directory won’t allow you to do advanced searches but they say that an upgrade is on its way.

OK, is it really for me?

It is good for researchers who are willing to go a step further and travel to visit other libraries. It will save you from browsing the online catalogues of each library for stuff that may not even be on their online catalogues. And it gives contact details so you can verify if a library has what you are looking for. Some of them offer interlibrary loan service where we could be of some help to you.

How can I access it?

Click here.

Vicky Kontou
Systems & Services

Image: Poster for the “Nameless” exhibition at Grosvenor Gallery, 1921-1922. Held in our Special Collections – CABS Z5055 LON GRO