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The Special Collections is located on the east side of the Library at the front of the 3rd floor.

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Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-5350
fax (757) 683-5954


The Papers of Bertha Fanning Taylor


Bertha Fanning Taylor was born on July 30, 1883 in New York City. She was the daughter of Spencer A. Fanning and Mary A. Switt. In 1889, she moved to Spotswood, New Jersey after her mother's death. In 1896, she attended Hunter College in New York. Upon graduation, Mrs. Taylor studied under Bryson Burroughs at the Women's Art School of Cooper Union in New York City where she received a certificate in 1903.

In 1908, Bertha Fanning married Norman Taylor who was Assistant Curator at the New York Botanical Gardens. The next year, Bertha Fanning Taylor and her husband went on a trip to the West Indies for botanical studies. In 1924, she went to Montpellier, France with her two daughters and her son, Norman Taylor, Jr. From 1929-1933, Mrs. Taylor studied at L'Ecole du English-speaking groups at the Louvre and became assistant to the Art Editor in Paris for The American Herald. In this period, Mrs. Taylor exhibited many of her own works in major salons in Paris.

In 1933, Mrs. Taylor frequently visited Rome and visited major art centers of Italy. At the outbreak of World War II, she lived for two months in Rome, but returned to the United States and lived in Greenwich Village.

Upon leaving New York in 1945, Mrs. Taylor came to Norfolk as Curator of the Sloane collection at the Heritage Foundation Museum. In 1948, she taught extension courses in art appreciation, art history, painting and drawing for the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary (presently Old Dominion University) until 1951. During this period Mrs. Taylor in 1950 began teaching classes in painting and drawing at the, Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences, as well as classes at the YWCA until 1960. She then opened her own studio.

In 1963, Mrs. Taylor was awarded the medal of the Order of the Palmes Academique by the French government for efforts in the founding of Salon Francais of the Women's Club in Norfolk, In 1966, Mrs. Taylor had a one person show at the Norfolk Museum of Arts of Sciences of graphic work, including drawings, etchings and wood block prints.

Mrs. Taylor published two works. The first was in 1963 entitled Form and Feeling in-Painting and the second in 1968 entitled My Fifteen in France. From 1968 to 1977 Mrs. Taylor was very active in the Norfolk Women's Club and taught students on a personal basis.

In 1977 Mrs. Taylor sustained a fall and stayed in the hospital for many weeks and then lived at the Medi-Center nursing home until her death on July 3, 1980.

A long time friend of Mrs. Taylor, Mr. Benjamin F. Clymer of the Reference Department at Old Dominion University summarized Mrs. Taylor as, "Blue Blood, Blue Stocking, and True Blue with the brilliance of gold and the warmth of red."

Scope and Contents

The Bertha Fanning Taylor Papers span the years from 1915 to 1979 and is a collection of literary productions, printed materials, correspondence, scrapbooks, charts, photographic materials, and memorabilia. A wealth of information in art and art forms is available in the collection. In addition to the artistic significance of the papers, the collection has a significance in the history of Norfolk, especially in the Arts.

Series I is made up of the literary productions produced by Bertha Fanning Taylor, including notes, manuscripts, newspaper clippings, periodical clippings and reminiscences. Because of the nature of the collection, the series is arranged by subject. Of special significance is a manuscript produced by Mrs. Taylor entitled, "Building Anew at Sixty Years in a Southern City; A Book of Memories by Bertha Fanning Taylor from 1939 to 1972." (see Box 1 folders 9 through 15).

Printed Materials make up Series II. This series contains: certificates, newspaper clippings, periodical clippings, programs, publications, circulars and brochures. Alphabetical arrangement according to subject was maintained.

Series III is correspondence. Because of the scarcity of letters, arrangement is chronological.

Series IV is a scrapbook. It contains many news clippings. Of special interest is a letter to Mrs. Taylor from Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson.

Series V is Charts which contains hand-drawn furniture styles.

Series VI contains photographic material. Most of the photographs are of Mrs. Taylor's works in painting and drawing. A chronological arrangement is maintained

The last series is memorabilia - Series VII. It contains invitations, tickets, book marks, postcards and sketches. The series contains two sketches, most likely to be original works by Mrs. Taylor; however neither sketch is signed.


Donated by Norman Taylor, Jr. on July 3, 1981.


Collection is open to researchers without restrictions. Questions on literary property rights should be directed the Special Collections Librarian


3 Hollinger Documents Cases

Collection Number

MG - 44

Container Listing

Box 1

SERIES I - Literary Productions

Subseries A: Notes

Folder 1 Artists
Folder 2 Art Styles
Folder 3 Book Notes
Folder 4 Greek Notes
Folder 5 History - Chronologies
Folder 6 Murals
Folder 7 Religion and Art
Folder 8 Sciences

Subseries B: Manuscripts

Folder 9 "Building Anew at Sixty Years in a Southern City; A Book of Memories by Bertha Fanning Taylor from 1939 to 1972: 12 Chapters - Chapters 1 & 2
Folder 10 Chapters 3, 4 and 5
Folder 11 Chapters 6 and 7
Folder 12 Chapters 8, 9 and 10
Folder 13 Chapters 11 and 12
Folder 14 French Primitive Painting

Subseries C: Newspaper Clippings

Folder 15 Letter to Editor/"Etchings by John Taylor Arms"

Subseries D: Periodical Clippings

Folder 16 "Around the Art Galleries" series of articles by Bertha Fanning Taylor

Subseries E: Reminiscences

Folder 17 "Thoughts on Painting"/Short Autobiography

SERIES II - Printed Materials

Subseries A: Certificates

Folder 18 Woman's School of Art, New York, June 3, 1905

Subseries B: Newspaper Clippings

Folder 19 Clippings - Italian July 1939 - March 1951
Folder 20 Clippings - French
Folder 21 Artists
Folder 22 Glass
Folder 23 Japanese Crown Prince Akihito/Elizabeth Gray Vining

Box 2

Folder 1 Rembrandt
Folder 2 Vandyke
Folder 3 Reviews
Folder 4 Sculpture
Folder 5 Mrs. Taylor
Folder 6 Obituaries
Folder 7 Miscellaneous

Subseries C: Periodical Clippings

Folder 8 Miscellaneous 1942-1966

Subseries D: Programs

Folder 9 Lectures offered by Bertha Fanning Taylor
Folder 10 Exhibit Programs for Bertha Fanning Taylor, 1966-1977
Folder 11 Museum Schedules for France, 1934-1936
Folder 12 U. S. Museums, undated
Folder 13 General

Subseries E: Publications

Folder 14 Color by Clara Dudley
Folder 15 Himself and I by Mary Sinton Leitch
Folder 16 La Divina Commedia by Dante Alighieri

Box 3

Folder 1 The Life of Forms in Art by Henri Focillion
Folder 2 The Life of Michelangelo by Morgan
Folder 3 Rinue by Michelangelo Buonarroti
Folder 4 Song in Their Hearts by Grace Shepherd Ferebee
Folder 5 Twenty Five Poems by Adam Mickiewicz
Folder 6 Circulars - Pantheon Art Publication Prices
F older 7 Brochures - "A Guide to Authors" C&P Telephone

SERIES III - Correspondence

Folder 8 Letters, Post Cards, Christmas Cards 1938-1950

SERIES IV - Scrapbooks

Folder 9 One Green bound - clippings and of special note: a letter to Mrs. Taylor from Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson

SERIES V - Charts

Folder 10 Furniture Styles

Box 4

SERIES VI - Photographic Material

Subseries A: Positive Prints

Folder 1 Paintings by Bertha Fanning Taylor ca. 1930's
Folder 2 Paintings by Bertha Fanning Taylor 1946-1966
Folder 3 Mrs. Taylor and Friends ca. 1960's
Folder 4 Mrs. Taylor and Friends undated

Subseries B: Negative Transparencies

Folder 5 Mexican cities by Early Settlers undated

SERIES VII - Memorabilia

Folder 6 Invitations to Art Premieres and Previews
Folder 7 Tickets from Italy
Folder 8 Hand Painted Book Marks
Folder 9 Post Cards of Paintings
Folder 10 Two untitled sketches

Revised: 7/10/2008