SIA RU007471, George Washington Memorial Association, Records, 1890-1922

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Summary

Creator:
George Washington Memorial Association
Title:
Records, 1890-1922
Dates:
1890, 1890-1992, 1890-1922
Notes:
The George Washington Memorial Association (GWMA) was organized in 1898 for the purpose of establishing in Washington, D.C., an educational institution for the promotion of science and literature as described by George Washington in his messages to Congress and in his will. Early attempts to establish a National University were unsuccessful and by early 1904 the GWMA entered into an agreement with Columbian College to build a marble monument to George Washington in the form of an administration building and cultural center for its site at Constitution Avenue at 17th Street, N.W. Plans for a building on the site fell through (although Columbian College did rename itself George Washington University), and the Association then joined with the Smithsonian to build a multi-purpose structure on the Mall that would serve as a memorial to George Washington
In 1914 a competition was held and New York architects Evarts Tracy and Edgerton Swartwout were chosen. By the time the cornerstone was laid in 1921, the building was called the George Washington Victory Memorial Building to honor World War I veterans as well. The structure was to include a military museum and archives. The concrete foundation and stairway were complete by 1924 and a fence was constructed around the site. For more than ten years, the GWMA, with the help of Secretaries Walcott and Abbot, attempted to raise funds to complete the building, but failed. The foundation and monumental stairway were razed in 1937 for the construction of the National Gallery of Art
Summary:
These records document the history and organization of the GWMA and the planning for the George Washington Memorial Building -- first in conjunction with the establishment of a National University in Washington, the construction of an administrative building and cultural center for Columbian College, and finally, allied with the Smithsonian, as a victory memorial for World War I veterans. Included is documentation of the fundraising efforts by Secretaries Langley and Walcott needed to complete the project, including financial records, brochures and descriptive material, correspondence, newspaper articles, drawings by the prize-winning architects, and photographs
Topic:
Science--Study and teaching
Subjects:
Walcott, Charles D (Charles Doolittle) 1850-1927, Langley, S. P (Samuel Pierpont) 1834-1906, Tracy, Evarts 1869-1922, Swartwout, R. E (Robert Egerton), Washington, George 1732-1799, George Washington Memorial Association, Columbian College, George Washington University, National Gallery of Art (U.S.)
Form/Genre:
Architectural drawings, Collection descriptions, Photographs
Local Number:
SIA RU007471
Physical Description:
0.6 linear meter

Finding Aids to Personal Papers and Special Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 7471

George Washington Memorial Association

George Washington Memorial Association, Records, 1890-1922

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at osiaref@si.edu.
Creator: George Washington Memorial Association
Title: George Washington Memorial Association, Records
Dates: 1890-1922
Quantity: 0.6 linear meter.
Collection: Record Unit 7471
Language of Materials: English

Historical Note

The George Washington Memorial Association (GWMA) was organized in 1898 for the purpose of establishing in Washington D.C. an educational institution for the "promotion of science and literature" as described by George Washington in his messages to Congress and in his will. Early attempts to establish a National University were unsuccessful and by early 1904 the GWMA entered into an agreement with Columbian University to build a marble monument to George Washington in the form of an administration building and cultural center for its new site at Constitution Avenue and 17th St., NW (now the site of the Pan American Union). Plans for building on the site fell through (though Columbian did rename itself George Washington University), and the association then joined with the Smithsonian Institution to build a multipurpose structure on the mall that would serve as a memorial to George Washington.

In 1914 a competition was held and New York architects Evarts Tracy and Edgerton Swartwout were chosen. By the time the cornerstone was laid in 1921, the building was called the George Washington Victory Memorial Building to additionally honor World War I veterans. The structure included a military museum and archives. The concrete foundation and stairway were completed by 1924, and a fence was constructed around the site. For more than 10 years the GWMA, with the help of Secretary Charles D. Walcott and then Charles Greeley Abbot, attempted to raise funds to complete the building but failed. The foundation and monumental stairway were razed in 1937 for the construction of the National Gallery of Art.

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Descriptive Entry

These records relate to the history and organization of the GWMA, the planning for a George Washington Memorial Building - first in conjunction with the establishment of a National University in Washington; then as an administration building and cultural center for Columbian University; and finally, allied with the Smithsonian, as a victory memorial to WWI veterans on the Mall - and the fund raising efforts to complete the project. Included are financial records, brochures and descriptive material, correspondence, newspaper articles, floor plans, artifacts, and photos.

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This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.

Name

Subject

Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection

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Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7471, George Washington Memorial Association, George Washington Memorial Association, Records

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Container List

Series 1

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE AND ACCOUNTING RECORDS, 1890, 1898-1920

Box 1

Folder 1 Correspondence, 1901. Incoming and outgoing correspondence files of Charles Walcott relating to the establishment of a National University in Washington, D.C. Correspondents include Alexander Agassiz, Alexander Graham Bell, Nicholas M. Butler, Charles Dabney, Charles Eliot, and A. C. True.

Box 1 of 3

Folder 2 Correspondence, 1899, 1911, 1914. Includes correspondence from contractors and architects offering services for the National University project. Correspondents include Langley, Charles Walcott, and Alexander Graham Bell. Of particular interest is a ca. 1911 Mall site plan attached to a letter to Susan Whitney Dimock from Walcott.

Box 1 of 3

Folder 3 Correspondence and miscellaneous documents, 1900-1903, 1910, 1914. Includes material relating to the founding of the George Washington Memorial Institution and the Washington Academy of Sciences, 1901-1903. Includes text of speech delivered by Walcott to the GWMA in 1900, "Washington's Will in Relation to the Work of the George Washington Memorial Association."

Box 1 of 3

Folder 4 Correspondence, 1900-1904. Includes memoranda dealing with the agreement between Columbian University and the George Washington Memorial Association.

Box 1 of 3

Folder 5 Correspondence and accounting records relating to the solicitation and collection of donations to the George Washington Memorial Building/George Washington Memorial Association Fund, 1919-1920. Includes an accounts ledger listing contributions from the Society of the Sons of the Revolution, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1916, and 1918.

Box 1 of 3

Box 2

Folder 1 Miscellaneous correspondence and documents; finance committee meeting minutes, 1920-1924. Includes letter to Walcott from architects Tracy and Swartwout (November 25, 1921) describing building plans, materials, cost estimates, and architects' fees.

Box 2 of 3

Folder 2 Receipts and accounting documents regarding sale of savings and thrift stamps, 1919-1922.

Box 2 of 3

Folder 3 Ledgers, 1910, 1920-1921.

Box 2 of 3

Series 2

PUBLICATIONS

Box 2

Folder 4 Brochures, programs, speech texts, invitations, and publications (many duplicates). Includes GWMA constitution and by-laws; condensed history of the GWMA, 1897; 1905 publication containing elevation and site plan by George Post & Sons, original architects for the project; Washington Academy of Sciences officers and members list (1900); and 1910 GWMA report.

Box 2 of 3

Box 3

Folders 1A-1B Booklets, pamphlets, brochures, article reprints, and speech texts relating to the founding of Columbian University and its graduate school, government funding for higher education, and the formation of a National University, 1890-1904. Includes 1902 Report of the Senate Committee to Establish the University of the United States; Report of the Special Committee of the Board of Regents on the Proposal Submitted by the American Association of Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations for the Establishment of a Bureau of Graduate Study under the Smithsonian Institution (1900); Relations of the National Government to Higher Education and Research by Charles Walcott (reprint from Science, 1901); and Guide to Washington and its Scientific and Educational Institutions of the United States by George Brown Goode (1890).

Box 3 of 3

Folder 2 Publications, descriptive material, brochures, artifacts, 1914-1919. Includes two commemorative lapel pins emblazoned with the head and signature of George Washington (apparently sent to contributors); Program of Competition for the George Washington Memorial Hall, 1914, containing site plans; floor plans and elevation for George Washington Memorial Hall (see originals in Record Unit 92).

Box 3 of 3

Folder 3 National Victory Memorial Building brochures, ca. 1917; program of cornerstone-laying ceremonies, November 14, 1921; telegram from Pershing to Dimock, 1919; site plan and elevation, ca. 1914 (see originals in Record Unit 92).

Box 3 of 3

Series 3

NEWS CLIPPINGS

Box 3

Folder 4 News clippings, 1901, 1903, 1904, 1922.

Box 3 of 3

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