American Folk Art Museum Archives

Barbara and Lawrence Holdridge Papers Edit

Summary

Identifier
A0016

Dates

  • 1958 – 1996 (Creation)

Extents

  • 3.00 cubic feet (Part)
    (standard document cases)
  • 3 file(s) (Part)
    (oversized files)

Agent Links

Subjects

Notes

  • Abstract

    After purchasing an Ammi Phillips painting in 1958, the Holdridges began their extensive research into the artist’s life and work. Their research identified more than three hundred portraits done by Phillips and proved the theory that A. Phillips, the Border Limner, and the Kent Limner were all one artist, Ammi Phillips. The collection includes correspondence, photographs, and research notes related to the Holdridges' Ammi Phillips research.

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Barbara Holdridge, 2005

  • Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research. Access to sensitive materials may be restricted at the discretion of the American Folk Art Museum.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    The Barbara and Lawrence Holdridge Papers are owned by the American Folk Art Museum. The collection is subject to all copyright laws, and is dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship.

  • Preferred Citation

    [item description], [date], Barbara and Lawrence Holdridge Papers, [box and folder number], American Folk Art Museum Archives, New York

  • Biographical Note

    Barbara and Lawrence Holdridge each had distinct and impressive careers before their “discovery” and research of the nineteenth century American portrait painter Ammi Phillips.

    Barbara Holdridge, née Cohen, was born in New York in 1929 and attended Hunter College, where she was elected Phi Beta Kappa. After graduating, she and a friend founded Caedmon Records, which was the pioneer company to record spoken-word albums, and many consider to have laid the foundation for modern audiobooks. After selling Caedmon in 1970, she founded Stemmer House Publishers in 1975, which was the first general book publisher in Maryland.

    Lawrence Barrett Holdridge was born in New York in 1910. He was a self-taught engineer, who founded a hydraulic equipment company in Maryland called Holdridge Engineering in 1941. Holdridge was a descendant of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman and Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant.

    When Lawrence Holdridge and Barbara Cohen married in 1959, the two became interested in restoring historical homes. Together, they restored and turned the Ashland Chapel in the restored colonial village of Dickeyville, Maryland, into a home. Afterwards, they lived in the historic Stemmer House, which is on the National Historic Register.

    In 1958, after purchasing a portrait of George C. Sunderland, signed by Ammi Phillips, the couple began their extensive research into the artist’s life and work. Their research identified more than three hundred portraits done by Phillips and proved the theory that A. Phillips, the Border Limner, and the Kent Limner were all one artist, Ammi Phillips.

    The Holdridges have two daughters, Eleanor and Diana.

  • Scope and Contents

    The strength in this collection is in the correspondence, which is written with humor and precision by both Holdridges to their wide net of friends, colleagues, and assorted contacts. From the extensive correspondence with Mary Black, Jean Lipman, and Ralph Phillips, to the more tentative notes to possible descendants of Phillips' portrait sitters or painting owners, the correspondence reads like a road map to the many decades of detective work the Holdridges devoted to Ammi Phillips.

    The scrapbooks also contain very detailed notes about the Holdridge’s day-to-day work, including leads and hypotheses.

    The research material contains drafts of articles that the Holdridges wrote for various publications.

Components