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Subject Files

Identifier: A0004

Scope and Contents

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.


  • Majority of material found within 1970s-1980s


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Subject Files 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.


48 linear feet

Language of Materials



The Subject Files are arranged alphabetically by subject. There are several files that have multiple subcategories, such as Shakers and Quilts.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The files are continuously added to by American Folk Art Museum staff. Many of the files were given to the museum by Director Robert Bishop.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the American Folk Art Museum Archives Repository

47-29 32nd Place
Long Island City New York 11101 United States
(212) 595-9533