THE JOHN W. GEIGER COLLECTION
FOR THE STUDY OF
Organizations and associations
The Organizations and Associations record group is arranged into five series. The bulk of the materials pertains to the three main organizations related most directly to the historical continuity of Taliesin: the Taliesin Fellowship, the Taliesin Fellows, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. A fourth series represents interest in the preservation of Wright buildings by the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy. The fifth series of Other Groups contains a collection of newsletters and other materials from the Frank Lloyd Wright Association. During the whole of his adult life John Geiger maintained an involvement, if later at a distance, with groups of people who shared his interest in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Geiger retained documents, photographs, publications, and other records from the time he first visited the Taliesin Fellowship before World War 2 until his death in 2011, and acquired additional materials from numerous other Wright-related sources.
Series 1: TALIESIN FELLOWSHIP
The Taliesin Fellowship formed a creative residential community around Frank Lloyd Wright during the last three decades of his life. Known as Apprentices, individuals contributed their skills and talents to both architectural projects in the Wright studio as well as living together communally. Beyond architectural production, the members of the Taliesin Fellowship participated in projects to promulgate public awareness of the Wright design philosophy as an expression of social attitude. Many of the rare printings, mailings, and other ephemera contained in this series were produced by Fellowship participants at Taliesin or Taliesin West as explorations by Wright of presenting the message of organic design principles.
Documentation in the Taliesin Fellowship Series is arranged in three subseries:
Subseries 1: Publications and Printed Materials (1940s-1999) contains a variety of rare Taliesin Fellowship documents. Geiger kept his original Prospectus, essentially an informational application form intended for those wanting to join the Taliesin Fellowship. Several pamphlet-like tracts edited by Frank Lloyd Wright and published in the name of the Fellowship were acquired while Geiger attended college at the University of Minnesota in the early 1940s. Among these, Taliesin Tract: Number One is autographed by Wright. Other early Fellowship materials include a nearly complete set of the Taliesin T-Square Papers published from 1940 to 1951. These large square format mailings were produced by members of the Fellowship on a printing press at Taliesin to disseminate writings by Wright about design, political conditions, and social responsibility. Other publications by Wright under the auspices of the Fellowship are also represented, as well as a catalog from the exhibition related to his award of Fellowship in the American Institute of Architects (1953). Present as a photocopy, the Dodgeville [Wisconsin] Chronicle (October 23, 1953) offers numerous attestations of positive experience by Apprentices in the Fellowship seeking support from local authorities for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The files also hold a selection of Fellowship designed Christmas cards (1986-1991), stationery samples from both Taliesin and Taliesin West, some Fellowship newsletters (1988, 1999), information on a Fellowship reunion (1992), and the prospectus for a Fellowship-sponsored "Frank Lloyd Wright Society" (1993).
Subseries 2: Correspondence (1941-1956) contains documents related to John Geiger as a member of the Taliesin Fellowship, including his application for membership and later letters to him from Frank Lloyd Wright.
Subseries 3: Photographs (circa 1940s) contains images of John Geiger during his time at Taliesin taken by photographer Pedro Guerrero.
Series 2: TALIESIN FELLOWS
The Taliesin Fellows as a term refers to men and women, generally former members of the Taliesin Fellowship, who retained a sense of association with one another through their common experience at Taliesin and shared commitment to furthering organic architecture. Several groups existed, essentially on a geographical basis, before being formed into a national framework during the 1980s. John Geiger was one of the original founding members of the organization, serving as first president and also publisher of a related periodical, Journal of the Taliesin Fellows.
The Taliesin Fellows series contains five subseries:
Subseries 1: Membership and Events (1982-2001) includes event materials, correspondence, a directory of members, and a special printing of advice by Wright to young architects; documents organizational and fundraising activities by the Fellows, and preserves a copy of the Directory of Members, 1932-1982 (1982), and Supplement compiled by Elizabeth Kassler as the first formal endeavor to gather biographical information about the Taliesin community.
SubSeries 2: Taliesin Fellows Research Files (1980s-2005) holds biographical information related to 35 members of the Taliesin Fellows. These materials were accumulated over time by John Geiger, and most folders variously contain a few items of correspondence, manuscripts, ephemera, publications, newsclippings, and/or photographs.
Subseries 3: Biographical Questionnaires (1988, 1992, 1994) documents three distinct efforts to collect information about those who participated in the Taliesin Fellowship. The first was a brief survey form requesting personal details and donations of archival materials conducted by the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives in 1988 through correspondence from Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer and Indira Berndtson. There are 45 respondents represented in the files, and folders may variously contain biographical sheets, letters, manuscript notes, clippings, or ephemera. A second survey made in conjunction with the Taliesin Fellowship Reunion in 1992 consisted of a more detailed questionnaire sent by the Taliesin Fellows to the Taliesin community seeking personal and family details, authorship of work related to Frank Lloyd Wright commissions, and views on organic design philosophy. Materials supplied by 27 respondents may include attached resumes and biographical notes. A third survey conducted through the Journal of the Taliesin Fellows with an introductory request by John Geiger consisted of a questionnaire that comprised the Winter, 1994 issue (#16). The files reflect 77 respondents, and folders may include a variety of personal and professional documents supplemental to the questionnaire.
Subseries 4: Journal of the Taliesin Fellows (1990-2011) preserves a complete run of the periodical published by the Taliesin Fellows from Spring, 1990 (Issue #1) through Summer, 2011 (Issue #37). The publication was dormant between Summer, 2000 (Issue #26) and Autumn, 2006 (Issue #27). The Journal is a significant source of documentation for architectural work by Frank Lloyd Wright and members of the Taliesin Fellows, commentary on organic design principles and relationships to the work of other architects, historical recollections of life in the Taliesin Fellowship, biographical information on individuals, book reviews, Taliesin Fellows activities, and related subjects. Supplemental materials include an index to the publication prepared in 1993 by Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture librarian Elizabeth Dawsari, and a small amount of administrative correspondence (1993-1994).
Subseries 5:Taliesin Fellows Newsletters (1999-2006) contains two distinct newsletters directed toward the Taliesin Fellows membership, largely reflecting views and activities of groups in southern and northern California. The files contain an incomplete run of 11 issues of the Taliesin Fellows Newsletter edited by Bill Patrick that appeared between 2000 and 2006. Three issues of an earlier, separately published Taliesin Fellows Newsletter, Northern California (1999-2000) are also present.
Series 3: FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT FOUNDATION
Documentation consists of publications, correspondence, manuscripts reports, studies, mailings, oral history transcripts, newsletters, catalogs, and ephemera. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation was founded by Wright in 1940 as a umbrella legal basis for all his activities and a support for the development of the Taliesin Fellowship. Over time, legitimized as a non-profit corporation, the Foundation established a variety of outreach, educational, preservation, and historical documentation programs. These include publications such as the Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly, the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, oral history interviews, and a range of licensing activities. The Foundation also became involved with the longterm conservation of the Taliesin Estate in Spring Green, Wisconsin through coordination with the Taliesin Preservation Commission (now known as Taliesin Preservation, Inc.). John Geiger accumulated these materials as part of his research studies, deliberate communication with the Foundation, and being an incidental receipient through his activities as a Taliesin Fellow.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation series is arranged into five subseries:
Subseries 1: Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly (1990-2011) consists of a nearly complete run of an important general audience publication by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Appearing every three months with articles and other content about the life and work of Wright, issues are often illustrated with drawings from the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives that John Geiger entered into his database. The contents of the Quarterly are sometimes referenced in writings by Geiger, particularly in notes collected in various places within his database.
Subseries 2: Correspondence, Reports, and Mailings (1990s-2007) consists of a variety of records concerning the management of the Foundation, particularly regarding the preservation of the Taliesin Estate in Spring Green, Wisconsin, through the auspices of the Taliesin Preservation Commission. The files also hold a small amount of correspondence concerning possible donations by Geiger to the Foundation, annual reports, fundraising materials, a contract related to Taliesin Architects, and a mailing list shared by the Foundation with the Taliesin Fellows to solicit subscriptions to the Journal of the Taliesin Fellows.
Subseries 3: Frank Lloyd Wright school of architecture, (1990-2005) contains an assortment of documentation concerning educational programming, management, and accreditation issues at the school. These records consist of reports and memoranda, printings of Internet news articles, and an unsigned manuscript, likely authored by a Taliesin Fellow, reflecting on changes to the school experience that resulted from pursuing the academic accreditation for a degree needed to obtain professional architect licensure in most American states.
Subseries 4: Frank Lloyd Wright Archives (1992-2002) contains transcripts of an extensive oral history conducted with John Geiger by Indira Berndtson and Greg Williams for the oral history program at the Archives. A file of correspondence includes an inventory of the oral history collection at the Archives and a list of drawings for Wright-designed Zimmerman house whose construction was supervised by Geiger.
Subseries 5: Other Materials (1986-1994) contains a newsletter published the "Friends of Taliesin" to support preservation and events at the Wright estate in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and catalogs of Wright reproduction products.
Series 4: FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT BUILDING CONSERVANCY
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy was founded in 1989 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of surviving Wright-designed structures. Their programs include education, publishing, and technical services in support of building conservation. John Geiger was a member of the Conservancy for more than 15 years, collecting publications and attending conferences sponsored by the organization.
The Frank Lloyd Wright building conservancy series is arranged in three subseries:
Subseries 2: conferences (1990-1992, 1995), contains programs and registration materials for various annual meetings.
Subseries 3: Tours, Reports, and Mailings, includes annual reports, information on tours, and membership solicitations.
Series 5: Other groups
Documentation exists for two other groups focused on the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright. The Frank Lloyd Wright Association of Oak Park, Illinois, published an important newsletter to which John Geiger subscribed for four years (1978-1981). Each issue of this quarterly report (usually 12 or 20 pages in length) of Wright-related information featured work, writings, illustrations, and reminiscences by members of the Taliesin Fellowship and Taliesin Fellows, who also designed the graphic layouts. Geiger also retained program information from a Wright conference he atttended in 1990 that was sponsored by the San Diego Architectural Foundation.
The Other Groups series is arranged into two subseries:
Subseries 1: Frank Lloyd Wright Association (1978-1981, 2004) consists of correspondence and a publication concerning the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust; and 17 issues of the Frank Lloyd Wright Newsletter (1978-1981), whose significant graphic enrichments were designed by a succession of Taliesin Fellows.
Subseries 2: san diego architecturaL foundation (1990) consists of a small amount of material related to a conference on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright held in San Diego, California.