The “Topical Subject” files, which form an important part of the “Bishop Files,” are a collection of articles, photocopies of books or parts of books, newspaper clippings and hundreds and hundreds of splendid photographs (8x10 b and w, glossy prints) covering subjects that reflect Dr. Bishop’s many interests in antiques, folk art, printing, sculpture, pottery, furniture and many more aspects of the arts. Datable materials are chiefly from the 1970s, but both earlier and later years are represented.
For some subjects there are simply fine photographs; for others there is pertinent text – journal articles, newspaper clippings, etc. – as well as beautiful photographic illustrations. Many of these are the originals of the plates in Dr. Bishop’s books; most are the holdings of American museums, a high proportion from the Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield, MI. The range of subjects is wide indeed: topics such as agricultural machinery, farm implements, automobiles, American architecture, clocks and watches and famous expositions are among the subjects examined thus far. An enormous amount of information, chiefly pictorial, covering Henry Ford, the Ford family and Ford Industries is included. Another notable section is furniture, with its hundreds of glossy prints covering the whole gamut of English and American styles. Other examples are the folders on lighting which form a pictorial history of the subject; and those on fire engines and fire engine art which constitute an illustrated history of fire fighting in American cities.
Source: American Folk Art Museum librarian Edith Wise, c. 1988
The Bishop and Wise Files have continuously been added to by museum staff and Folk Art Institute students, and collectively these files make up the American Folk Art Museum Subject Files. There is a large subgroup of subject files related to furniture that was created by Robert Bishop, and was originally filed together with the other files. Because of Bishop's expertise in furniture, this group was removed and is considered a separate collection, titled the Bishop Furniture Files.
Files are arranged alphabetically.