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Manuscript Collections



Collection 726

Monmouth Arts Foundation

Records, 1953-2006

Processed by
Jules Friedberg
Ross Krublit

Text by
Carla B. Zimmerman

Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court Street
Freehold, NJ  07728


March 2008

Historical Background

Established in 1951 and incorporated in 1954, the Monmouth Arts Foundation, Incorporated, promoted interest and creativity in the arts, brought professional cultural entertainment to the area, and raised money for scholarships for talented students in the county.  A non-profit organization, the MAF was staffed entirely by volunteers its entire 54 years of operation.

During the MAF’s early years, they had a close relationship with the Monmouth Civic Chorus, which was established around the same time by the same person, William Gordon Pagdin.  For a few years, Pagdin  was chair of both organizations and joint programs were offered to the public.  Later, relations between the two groups became strained, and the two organizations parted ways.

Throughout the 1950s, the MAF was very busy creating a variety of programs to cover different performing art forms.  Concerts, chamber music, and plays were presented by both local and nationally known performers. Such notables as Agnes Moorehead, Louis Armstrong, violinist Isaac Stern, and the Vienna Boys Choir were among those who toured to Monmouth County through the efforts of the MAF.

The Art Advancement Committee was initiated in 1953 and organized annual exhibitions and juried shows for professional and amateur artists and promoted art education with essay contests for high school students and lectures for both students and adults.

Outreach to high school students was provided through lectures, demonstrations, instruction, and donations of art textbooks to high school libraries.  In addition, two or three annual college scholarship awards were given to high school seniors in music and in art.

By 1965 there was a wide variety of activities conducted through the MAF committees of Art Advancement, Concert, Theater, Music Advancement, Chamber Music, and Scholarship.

Funding for the programs of the MAF was gathered through a variety of sources, namely membership dues, subscription drives, tickets sales, bus trips to NYC, and special events. The early 1980s was a financially rough time for the organization.  The rising cost of the shows coupled with a decline in subscriptions and public support for the Theatre Series and, to a lesser extent, the Chamber Music Series, left the Foundation in debt for several years in a row.  The last show in the Theatre Series was January 4, 1983, ending two decades of professional live theater in Monmouth County.

In the early 1990s, grant money to support MAF programming was received from the newly formed Monmouth County Arts Council, an umbrella organization that dispersed funding from state and federal sources.  This financing greatly helped the MAF’s programs, but made the existence of the Foundation as a funding source less necessary.

By 2004, there were three subgroups functioning under the MAF: the Chamber Music Series, Music Association, and the Monmouth Arts Gallery.  These groups did not fold upon the demise of the MAF, but have continued with funding from the MCAC and from self-generated income.  The Chamber Music Committee became the Red Bank Chamber Music Association.  The Monmouth Arts Gallery became the Art Society of Monmouth County.


The Monmouth Arts Foundation, Inc. dissolved December 1, 2005.  The remaining funds of the MAF were divided between the Art Society of Monmouth County and Rutgers University, with a small donation to the Monmouth Conservatory of Music.  The money to Rutgers established the Monmouth Arts Foundation Endowed Scholarship for three awards for the study in music and the arts.

At that time of the inception of the Monmouth Arts Foundation, there was a lack of art and performance organizations in Monmouth County.  The MAF provided the only venue for live cultural performances.  As the decades passed, and Monmouth County’s population grew, additional venues for the arts developed throughout the county competing with the MAF’s offerings.  This competition, coupled with increased expenses relating to financing productions, and low season ticket sales, eventually led to the demise of the organization.  While many of the activities and programs offered by the MAF exist in various forms, there is still a lack of venues in the county for such cultural programs as symphonic productions.

The Monmouth Arts Foundation, Inc. was an organization that grew from a pressing need for a cultural presence in the area.  Almost single-handedly, it brought entertainment and stimulation to the general population and left an indelible imprint on the history of performance and visual arts in Monmouth County.

Sources of Information

Season Events--Correspondence, 1955
Publicity--Website pages, 2006
Board of Directors--Meeting minutes, 2004 Jan 17
Committees--Executive, Meeting minutes, 1982 Nov 30
Comments from ex-Board members, 2008


Scope and Content

This collection consists of correspondence, reports, ledgers, scrapbooks, photographs, and ephemera relating to the operations of the non-profit organization.  True to the nature of volunteer organizations, the amount of documentation varies from year to year and from committee to committee, as some members created more or saved more materials than others.

While some aspects of the organization have limited documentation, there is a complete set of the Board of Directors’ meeting minutes and detailed coverage of events in the scrapbooks.  For some years, the Executive Committee’s meeting minutes contain more information than those of the Board. 

Although the files of the committees are incomplete, their activities are documented in the Board’s minutes, in the annual reports, and in the scrapbooks.   Financial files such as audits are complete from the years 1961 to 2005, the treasurer’s reports are a little less so, although financial information can be found in the meeting minutes of the Board and of the Executive Committee. 

The most comprehensive information on the operations of the organization is for the early years, during the 1950s, and can be found in the Series I. Board of Directors--Correspondence and Series VI. Season Events.  This is mostly correspondence regarding event programming, sponsorship, and subscription drives. 

As the organization fell on financially hard times, activities and board meetings decreased, as does the documentation.  Information on the dissolution of the MAF can be found in Series IV. Legal Documents and in Series I. Board of Directors--Meeting minutes.

Conservation Note:  Acidic loose newspaper clippings and carbon copies of letters were photocopied on to acid-free paper and the originals discarded.  Acidic pages of the scrapbooks are in the process of being photocopied.  The original scrapbooks will be saved, and the photocopies, mostly of newspaper articles, will be files in Series V. Publicity Files--Newspaper Clippings.

Provenance: Accession # 2006.03; gift of officers of the Monmouth Arts Foundation, Inc.

Restrictions: None

Size of collection: 5 linear feet (8 manuscript boxes, 10 volumes)


Series Descriptions and Folder listings

Series I.  Board of Directors Files, 1953-2005
5 inches (6 folders)
This grouping contains the records of the Board of Directors, including reports,  meeting minutes, letters, and ephemera.

Arranged alphabetically by type of material.

Folder Title                                Box      Folder

    Annual Reports                
        1955-1969                           1         1
        1970-1979                           1         2
        1980-1989                           1         3
        1990-1995                           1         4
        1996-2000                           1         5
        2001-2003                           1         6
        1953                                    2         1
        1954                                    2         2
        1955                                    2         3
        1956-1959                           2         4
        1960-1969                           2         5
        1970-1971                           2         6
        1972-1979                           2         7
        1980-2002                           2         8
    List of members
        1955-1974                           2         9
        1976-1996                           3         1
    Meeting minutes
        1953-1959                           3         2
        1960-1966                           3         3
        1967-1972                           3         4
        1973-1976                           3         5
        1977-1979                           3         6
        1980-1985                           3         7
        1989-1999                           3         8
        2000-2005                           3         9

Series II.  Committees Files, 1953-2003
7 linear inches (22 folders)
This grouping contains the records of the committees, including reports,  meeting minutes, letters, and ephemera.

Arranged alphabetically by committee name and within committee by date.

Folder Title                                               Box      Folder

    Art Advancement, 1953-1961, n.d.            3         10

    Chamber Music
        1960-1989                                           3        11
        1992-2004                                           3        12

    Concert, 1960-1962                                  3        13

        Meeting minutes
            1961-1965                                       4        1
            1966-1968                                       4        2
            1969-1971, 1974                              4        3
            1977-1979                                       4        4
            1982-1985                                       4        5
            1986-1997                                       4        6

    Finance Advisory, 1977-1979                     4        7

    Long Range Planning, 1962                       4         8

    Monmouth Arts Gallery, 1991-2002            4         9
    Music Advancement, 1960                         4        10
    Music Association
        1985-1989 Mar                                    4         11
        1989 Oct-1995 May                              4         12
        1995 Oct-2000 May                              4         13
        2000 Oct-2004 May                              4         14

    Nominating, 1955-1998, n.d..                   4         15

    Public Relations Arrangements, 1968         4         16

    Scholarship, 1960-2003, n.d.                    5         1

    Theatre, 1979                                         5          2

Series III.  Financial Files, 1954-2005
10 linear inches (16 folders)
This grouping contains the records of the Treasurer, including reports, ledgers, and letters.

Arranged alphabetically by type of material and within type by date.

Folder Title                                                        Box      Folder   

        1961-1969                                                   5         3
        1971-1979                                                   5         4
        1980-1984                                                   5         5
        1985-1989                                                   5         6
        1990-1996                                                   5         7
        1997-2005                                                   6         1

    Income tax returns
        1953-1973                                                   6         2
        1976-1990                                                   6         3
        1991-1996, 2000                                          6         4
    Insurance, 1954-1989                                       6         5
    Ledgers, 1987 May-1990 Apr                             6         6
    Memorial funds
        Elizabeth Kern
            Endowment, 1992, 1999                             7        1
        Elsie and Henry Luhrs
            Endowment Fund For Art, 1984-1985           7        2
        Julius Katchen Scholarship Fund, 1979, 1983    7        3
        Marion Casper Memorial Fund, 1987, 1989       7        4
        Somerville Scholarship Award, 1969-1970        7        5
    Stock contributions, 1969-1980                           7        6

    Tax exemption, 1955, 2001, 2004, 2005               7        7
    Treasurer’s reports
        1961-1969                                                     7        8
        1970-1979                                                     7        9
        1980-1989                                                     7       10
        1990-1994, 1996-1998, 2001-2005                 7        11
Series IV.  Legal Documents, 1953-2006
1 linear inches (4 folders)

This grouping contains the legal papers of the organization, including agreements and contracts.

Arranged alphabetically by type of material.

Folder Title                                                           Box      Folder

    By laws and ammendments, 1959-1998, n.d.        7        12
    Certificate of incorporation, 1953, 1996                7         13   

    Dissolution papers, 2004-2006                             7        14

    Miscellaneous legal documents, 1953-1996, n.d.    7        15

Series V.  Publicity Files, 1953-2003
30 linear inches (4 folders, 10 volumes)

This grouping contains newspaper clippings and ephemera.

Arranged alphabetically by type of material and within type by date.  Acidic and loose items in the scrapbooks are in the process of being photocopied.  The original albums will be kept, but researchers are asked to use the photocopies of the clippings, located in the “Newspaper clippings” folders, when possible.

Folder Title                                             Box      Folder
    Brochures, 1972, 1979, n.d.                    7       16
    Newspaper clippings, 1953-2003             7       17
        1953-1958 May                                 on shelf
        1958 June-1959 Mar                          on shelf
        1959 May-1960 June                          on shelf
        1960 June-1973 Nov                          on shelf
        1969 Sep-1970 May                           on shelf
        1973 Dec-1980 Mar                            on shelf
        1980 April-1984 Mar                           on shelf
        1984 April-1986 Nov                           on shelf
        1986 Nov-1994 Dec                            on shelf
        1995 Jan-2000 Apr                             on shelf
    Website pages, 2000, 2002                      7       18

Series VI.  Season Events Files, 1953-1997
5 linear inches (16 folders)

This grouping contains the records of the various coordinators of events and includes letters, contracts, photographs, and ephemera.

Arranged alphabetically by type of material and activity and with those by date

Folder Title                                          Box      Folder

        1953-1955                                     8         1
        1956                                              8         2
        1960-1978                                     8         3
        1953 April-1960 April                       8         4
        Monmouth Players, 1953-1955          8         5
        Ernest and Miles Mauney, 1953         8         6
        Agnes Moorehead, 1954                   8         7
        Richard III, 1955-1956                     8         8
        1960 Oct-1969 Oct                           8         9
        Louis Armstrong, 1961                      8       10
        1975 Nov, 1983 Oct                          8       11
        Peter Orth, 1981-1984                      8       12
        1992 Feb-1997 May                          8       13
        1954-1956                                       8       14
    Subscription drives, 1953-1961             8        15
    Ticket sales
        1954-1956                                       8       16

Series VII.  Special Events Files, 1979-1984
0.25 linear inches (3 folders)

This grouping contains includes reports, letters, and ephemera.

Arranged alphabetically by activity.

Folder Title                                     Box      Folder

    Rummage Sale, 1984                    8         17
    Twentieth Anniversary Ball, 19       8         18
    Viennese Ball, 1984                      8         19

Series VIII.  Audio-visual
1 item
    VHS                                             8         20


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This page last updated 7 October 2008.

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