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Magic of America, c.1937-1949, The

The Magic of America ,

1 of 2
Open Finding Aid

Ryerson and Burnham Archives, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries
The Art Institute of Chicago

Finding Aid Published: 2002

The Magic of America, c.1937-1949

Accession Number: 1949.1

Electronic access to this finding aid was made possible through a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
©Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago. All rights reserved.

MAGIC OF AMERICA, ELECTRONIC EDITION (TEXT AND ILLUSTRATIONS)

VIEW FULLY DIGITIZED COLLECTION (ILLUSTRATIONS ONLY)

COLLECTION SUMMARY:
TITLE:The Magic of America, c.1937-1949
EXTENT:1.5 linear feet (7 boxes) and 3 portfolios
REPOSITORY: Ryerson and Burnham Archives, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries,
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603-6110
(312) 443-7292 phone
rbarchives@artic.edu
http://www.artic.edu/aic/libraries/rbarchives/rbarchives.html
ABSTRACT:Begun in 1937 by Marion Mahony Griffin, the unpublished Magic of America typescript is the biography of her husband, Walter Burley Griffin, and the autobiography of Marion, both of whom were noted American Prairie School architects and colleagues of Frank Lloyd Wright. The annotated typescript is accompanied by an image collection of photographs, articles, and drawings.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:Typescript papers, printed papers, photomechanical prints and black and white photographic prints.
ORIGINATION: Griffin, Marion Lucy Mahony (1871-1961)
ACQUISITION INFORMATION:The collection was a gift from Marion L. Mahony Griffin to the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries in 1949.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH:
Illinois-born Marion Lucy Mahony (1871-1961) was the second woman to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's four-year architectural program, receiving her degree in 1894. That same year, Mahony returned home to Chicago to become the state's first woman licensed to practice architecture. In 1895 she began work under Frank Lloyd Wright in his Oak Park, Illinois, studio. During her fourteen-year tenure with Wright, Mahony became one of his primary designers and renderers, responsible for the many furnishings of his houses including murals, mosaics, leaded glass, and lighting fixtures and for highly detailed and stylized architectural renderings, including significant portions of Wright's noted Ausgeführte Bauten und Entwürfe portfolio (Berlin, 1911). Under her own name, Mahony also designed several residences and public buildings throughout Illinois.

Walter Burley Griffin (1876-1937) was born in Maywood, Illinois, and raised in the Chicago suburbs of Oak Park and Elmhurst. Upon receiving his B.S. in Architecture from the University of Illinois in 1899, he worked as a draftsman for the Chicago architect Dwight Perkins and subsequently joined the Oak Park studio of Frank Lloyd Wright. He practiced under Wright from 1901 until 1905, when Griffin abruptly resigned his position with Wright. Shortly thereafter, in 1906, Griffin established a private practice focusing primarily on residential and landscape commissions. He created more than 130 designs in his Chicago office for buildings and landscapes in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

In June 1911, Mahony and Griffin were married. Two years later, Griffin went to Australia to present the couple's winning plan for the new federal capital, Canberra. It was during this visit that Walter was appointed to the position of Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction. This post necessitated the Griffins' permanent move to Australia in 1914. Although elements of the master plan for Canberra were implemented, none of the building designs were ever realized. By 1925, the Griffins had moved to Sydney to begin the design and development of Castlecrag, a "utopia" of small houses and community buildings established under the supervision of the Greater Sydney Development Association, for which Walter served as Managing Director. During their stay in Australia, the Griffins received a commission to design the University of Lucknow (India) Library. They moved to India in 1935 to oversee the design and construction of that building and subsequently received a number of commissions, including the buildings for the United Provinces Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition in Lucknow. While working in Lucknow in 1937, Walter developed peritonitis and died.

After Walter's death, Marion returned to Sydney to arrange business affairs then continued on to Chicago to live with her niece. Marion probably began to write The Magic of America after Walter's death and had hopes of publishing it in the 1940s. When no publisher expressed interest in the project, she donated two copies of the typescript to The Art Institute of Chicago and one copy to the New York Historical Society. Marion died in Chicago in 1961.

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE:
The Magic of America is both a biography of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion's own autobiography, presented in four sections: "The Empirial [sic] Battle,"   "The Federal Battle,"   "The Municipal Battle," and "The Individual Battle."   "The Empirial Battle" records the period 1935-1937, the years Walter and Marion spent in India. "The Federal Battle" documents the architects work on Canberra. Their work on Castlecrag, a new suburb of Sydney, is the focus of the third section, "The Municipal Battle. " The last section offers more intimate commentary about the Griffins personal and professional relationships. Sources for the non-chronological and unrelated brief essays are numerous and include transcribed letters, Walter's writings and lectures, and other published writings. Among the illustrations are blueprints, original sketches, photographs, newspaper and magazine articles, and brochures. The Art Institute possesses two non-identical copies of the typescript. One copy contains all four sections of the text; the second copy lacks the first section. The typed pages of the two copies have been differently collated, and carry varying manuscript annotations. Neither the typescripts nor the illustrations have been indexed.

ORGANIZATION AND ARRANGEMENT:
SERIES I: MANUSCRIPT. The complete version of the typescript is housed in consecutive portfolios, in original pagination order. The second incomplete version of the typescript follows, in consecutive portfolios, and in original pagination order.

SERIES II: ILLUSTRATIONS. Illustrations are housed in consecutive portfolios.

CONTROLLED ACCESS POINTS:
This collection and other related materials may be found under the following headings in online catalogs:
Griffin, Marion Mahony, 1871-1962
Griffin, Walter Burley, 1876-1937
Architecture, Modern--20th century
Architects--United States

RELATED MATERIALS IN CURATORIAL DEPARTMENTS, THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO:
Architectural drawings by Marion Mahony Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin, as well as a stained glass window designed by Marion, are held in the permanent collection of the Department of Architecture.

SEPARATED MATERIALS:
A closely-related version of the Art Institute's typescript of The Magic of America is located at the New York Historical Society in New York City. The Art Institute's and New York Historical Society's copies differ primarily in the selection and arrangement of illustrations. A microfilm copy of the New York Historical Society's manuscript is available to patrons in the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries (call number 1988.2).

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Pregliasco, Janice. "The Life and Work of Marion Mahony Griffin." Museum Studies 21 no. 2 (1995): 164-181.
Woolever, Mary. "Prairie School Works in the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at The Art Institute of Chicago." Museum Studies 21 no. 2 (1995): 134-151.

PHYSICAL LOCATION:
The collection is housed in the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries' on-site stacks.

ACCESS RESTRICTIONS:
This collection is restricted from patron use due to the fragility of the materials. Patrons are requested to use the microfilm (call number 1988.3) of the Art Institute's complete copy of the text. The collection may be used by qualified readers in the Reading Room of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at The Art Institute of Chicago. Collections maintained on-site are available for patron use without prior arrangement or appointment. Collections maintained in off-site storage will be retrieved with advance notification; please consult the Archivist for the current retrieval schedule. For further information, consult http://www.artic.edu/aic/access/access.html

USER RESTRICTIONS:
The Art Institute of Chicago is providing access to the materials in the Libraries' collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of the Art Institute is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Archivist, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to permission from the Art Institute, permission of the copyright owner (if not the Art Institute) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distribution, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. The Art Institute makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.

PREFERRED CITATION:
The Magic of America, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago.

PROCESSING INFORMATION:
This collection was processed and the finding aid written by Mary Woolever, in 1995. This finding aid was revised and expanded by Annemarie van Roessel in 2003.

CUSTODIAL HISTORY:
This collection was transferred from the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries to the Ryerson and Burnham Archives before 1986.

ALTERNATE FORM AVAILABLE:
Because the original manuscript is restricted, patrons are requested to use the microfilm (call number 1988.3).


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