American Folk Art Museum Archives

Julia Weissman Papers Edit


Finding Aid Author
Mimi Lester
Finding Aid Date
March 2015
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of Description


  • 1953 – 1998 (Creation)


  • 4.00 cubic feet (Whole)
    (standard document cases)

Agent Links



  • Abstract

    The Julia Weissman Papers are the files that Julia Weissman kept during the process of writing the book Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists with Herbert Waide Hemphill, published by Dutton in 1974, as well as files on artists that they did not include in the book. Included are some organizational and research files, including drafts of the publication. The majority of the material is artist files, and includes a large amount of correspondence with artists and/or their executors, as well as photographs of both the artwork and artists.

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Julia Weissman, 1998

  • 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 Julia Weissman 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], Julia Weissman Papers, [box and folder number], American Folk Art Museum Archives, New York

  • Related Materials

    The Archives of American Art collection, Herbert Waide Hemphill papers, 1776-1998, bulk 1876-1998, contains material related to the publication of Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists. The finding aid to this collection may be found at

  • Processing Information

    When the collection was given in 1998 and accessioned into the library reference material, it was grouped into several categories: (a) general materials relating to the preparation and publication of Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists, (b) materials relating to individual artists included in the book, (c) material on artists not included, and (d) photographs and negatives. At this time, the two groups of artist files were alphabetized into one group, and the above categories were reduced to the three categories (or series) in this collection.

  • Biographical Note

    Julia Weissman (née Zlabovsky) was born in El Paso, Texas, in approximately 1917. As one of six children, she attended college there and then worked as a self-taught commercial artist and copywriter in a department store. After living in San Francisco briefly, Weissman moved to New York, where she regularly attended exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum. In 1970, she felt quite moved by the exhibition Twentieth-Century Folk Art, curated by Herbert Hemphill, and approached the American Folk Art Museum about writing a book. Hemphill hired her to write the text for the 1972 exhibition The Fabric of the State, and they began their collaboration on Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists soon after that.

    Weissman’s work experience was diverse. It included art editing, book and magazine editing, freelance writing and editing, working as a nongovernmental organization representative at the United Nations, and teaching American regional and traditional cooking to Japanese women. She also spent time lecturing on American folk art at Hunter College, The New School for Social Research, and New York University.

    Julia was married to Norman Weissman. They lived in Plainview, New York, and had two children. In 1991, they moved to Springfield, Virginia, to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Weissman passed away on October 15, 2015 after a brief illness.

    Weissman wrote a history of how Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists came to be written and published in her 1998 remembrance of Herbert Hemphill, published in Folk Art. It may be read at:

  • Scope and Contents

    The Julia Weissman Papers are related to the publication of Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists (Dutton, 1974), which Weissman coauthored with Herbert Hemphill. The papers include some subject files relating to the publication, such as correspondence with publishers and others involved in the book, drafts of the manuscript, research material, and publicity. This content makes up approximately one linear foot of the collection. The rest of the material is artist files for the artists included in the book, which were created and compiled by Weissman. They include a large amount of photographs of both artists and the artwork, various licensing agreements related to the images for the book, correspondence with the artists and their executors, and publicity materials related to the artists.

  • Arrangement

    Some of the original order was lost when the collection was donated to the American Folk Art Museum. Folder headings are almost identical to Weissman’s original ones, although some are edited for clarity. Series 1: Material Related to Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists is filed alphabetically and reflects original order. The following files were originally simply “artist files,” which included correspondence, clippings, press materials, and photographic materials. The photography was separated from the artist files because of preservation concerns, but an asterisk (*) is included in the container list for the folders where photography was removed.