Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Archives Center Home  |  Collections Index



(7.6 cubic feet: 20 (.5) DB, 1 DB; 6 F/O, 14 78 rpm sound recordings)

by: Mimi Minnick, January 1993


Dorothy Shaver, who became President of Lord and Taylor in 1945 and was one of the nations' best-known women executives in the 1950s, was born in 1893 in Arkansas. She was educated first at the University of Arkansas, and later at the University of Chicago. She and her younger sister Elsie began marketing Elsie's handcrafted dolls, the "Little Shavers", in 1922. Due in no small part to the successful marketing effort headed up by Dorothy, the dolls were a commercial success, and drew the attention of executives at Lord and Taylor, a large department store chain based in New York City. Acting as her sister's agent, Dorothy sold some of Elsie's fashion drawings to Lord & Taylor, and thus began what would become a fruitful collaboration. By 1931, Dorothy had been named a Vice President of Lord and Taylor. AT the helm of Lord & Taylor, she helped to inaugurate "The American Look and helped to establish the "Costume Institute" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. She was named President of Lord and Taylor in 1945, the first woman ever to hold that position. Dorothy Shaver died in New York in 1959.

Scope and Content Note

The collection is arranged in seven series as follows.

Series 1: ACTIVITIES,1922-1959 contains news clippings and correspondence relating to Mrs. Shaver's many activities during the years 

Series 2: L&T AMERICAN DESIGN AWARDS LUNCHEON, 1945-1958 contains news clippings, correspondence, speeches and other material documenting Miss Shaver's stewardship of the American Design Awards Luncheon, sponsored by Lord & Taylor.

Series 3: SUBJECT FILES 1928-1959 includes news clippings, correspondence, and other business papers documenting Miss Shavers professional interests, affiliations and activities

Series 4: PHOTOGRAPHS, 1949-1974

Series 5: AWARDS

Series 6: SOUND RECORDINGS, 1946-1956



The collection was donated to the Costume Division, NMAH by Dorothy Shaver's sister, Elsie Shaver, in the 1970s[?]. The collection was transferred from the Costume Division to the Archives Center in March 1998.

Container List

Box Folder
Series 1: ACTIVITIES, 1922-1959
1 1 Activities, 1929 [empty folder]
2 Activities, 1930 [empty folder]
3 Activities, 1931 [empty folder]
4 Activities, 1932 [empty folder]
5 Activities, 1933
6 Activities, 1934
7 Activities, 1935 [empty folder]
8 Activities, 1936 [empty folder]
9 Activities, 1937 [empty folder]
10 Activities, 1938
11 Activities, 1939 [empty folder]
12 Activities, 1940 [empty folder]
13 Activities, 1941 [empty folder]
14 Activities, 1942
15 Activities, 1943 [empty folder]
16 Activities, 1944 [empty folder]
17-18 Activities, 1945
19-20 Activities, 1946
21-22 Activities, 1947
23-24 Activities, 1948 [folder 23 empty]
25-26 Activities, 1949
27-28 Activities, 1950
2 1-2 Activities, 1951
3-4 Activities, 1952
5-6 Activities, 1953
7-8 Activities, 1954
9-10 Activities, 1955 [folder 9 empty]
11 Activities, n.d.
12-13 Activities, 1956
14-15 Activities, 1957
16-17 Activities, 1958
18-19 Activities, 1959
5 1-2 U.S. Armed Forces Uniforms
3-4 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1945
5-6 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1946
7-8 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1947
9-10 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1948
11-12 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1949
13-14 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1950
6 1-2 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1951
3-4 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1952
5-6 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1953
7-8 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1954
9-10 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1955
7 1-2 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1956
3-4 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1957
5-6 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon, 1958
8 1-2 Lord & Taylor Awards Luncheon Speeches, 1945-1958
Series 3: SUBJECT FILES, 1928-1959
3-4 American Designers
5 The American Look
8.5 1 binder: The American Look [incoming correspondence], 1945
9 1-2 Awards, A-I
3-4 Awards, J-Z
10 1-2 Biographical Information
3-4 British Fortnight [folder 3 empty]
5-6 French Decorative Arts Exhibition, 1928
7 The Fashion Group
8 Girls Clubs of America, 1955-1957
10.5 1 Invitations/Regrets, 1946-1954
2 Invitations/Regrets, 1955-1959
3 Invitations/Acceptances, 1946-1959
11 1 Little Shavers
2-3 Links With Education
4 Menninger Foundation
5, 8 Metropolitan Museum of Art
6-7 Metropolitan Museum of Art/The Costume Institute
12 1-2 Miscellaneous
3 Museum of Costume Art
4 Museum of Modern Art
13 1-4 Obituary Notices
5 Origins
14 1-2 Personal Material
3-4 Personal Philosophies
5-6 Public Relations
15 1-2 Radio
3-4 Speeches and Articles on American Design
5 Speeches, A-F, 1949-1958 as follows:
"Your Career in the Retail World", 1949
Address to the American Women's Association, November 28, 1950
Address to the Fashion Group, February 13, 1951
Address to the Fashion Group, November 13, 1952
Address to the Los Angeles Chapter of the Fashion Group, January 6, 1955
Address to the Philadelphia Chapter of the Fashion Group, February 7, 1955
"A Call for Heroes", City of New York Civil Defense, February 1955
Acceptance Remarks, British Leather Goods Export Group Award, June 15,1955
Acceptance Remarks, Art Directors Award, June 1955
Address to the Los Angeles Chapter of the Fashion Group, January 6, 1956
"America's Greatest Resource: The Creative Spirit", Advertising club of Washington, November 12, 1957
Introduction of Mr. Edward Stone, the Fashion Group Annual Home Furnishings Show, October 9, 1958
To the Consul General of the French Republic, n.d.
"Better Design Magazine", n.d.
Speeches, n.d.
16 1 Speech Requests, 1952
2-3 Store Executives Training Class speeches [folder 2 empty]
4-5 Store miscellaneous
17 1-2 Store Philosophies
3 correspondence in re "The Story of New York: An Island Fantasy," 1955
4-5 correspondence in re Trips Abroad
6-7 correspondence in re Trips in the United States [folder 6 empty]
18 1-2 Speeches G-L [folder 1 empty] as follows:
House of Italian Handicrafts, April 10, 1947
Horatio Alger Award Presentation, May 1948
Address at the Trail Blazer Luncheon of the Home Fashion League, October 1, 1952
Ladies's Home Journal Sub-Deb page, March 2, 1954
Address at Annual Dinner of the Greater New York Fund, April 25, 1955
Remarks at the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Home Fashion's League Sixth Annual Citation party, May 10, 1955
Acceptance remarks, Golden Slipper Square Club Salute to Women, February 7, 1956
Statement on Selling to Women for General Foods Management Meeting, October 4, 1956
Remarks for Presentation of the Golden Book of Tribute to Mr. Bernard Gimbel, 1958
The Hall of Fame Award Presented Posthumously to Claire McCardell at the Coty American Fashion Critics Aware, October 1, 1958
Draft Acceptance Remarks for France's Golden Cup of Good Taste, December 3, 1958
3 Speeches, M-N [empty]
4 Speeches, L-N as follows:
Metropolitan Museum of Art Luncheon, January 19, 1946
Opening Remarks at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, July 1946
Museum of Modern Art, November 21, 1950
National Education Association, March 31, 1952
Opening Remarks, National Conference of Christians and Jews, April 1954
Brotherhood Dinner of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, April 13, 1954
"What's Your Secret Ambition "Symposium for McCall's, 1956
Introduction to Textiles USA exhibit, Museum of Modern Art, August 1956
Statement of League of Women Voters Brochure, January 1957
Statement of Liberty Magazine, "I Predict for 1957"
Acceptance Remarks for Award Given at the National Jewish Hospital in Denver, May 14, 1957
5 Speeches, O-W as follows:
news clipping re Russell Sage Foundation Speech, 1951
6 Speeches, P-W as follows:
Graduation Speech at Tobe-Coburn School, 1941
Correspondence, Thomas J. Watson of I.B.M., May 18, 1949
Correspondence from U.S. Office of International Refugee Organization, April 24, 1950
Correspondence, Thomas J. Watson of I.B.M., May 28, 1950
Correspondence from Seraphic Secretaries of America, November 13, 1950 and January 30, 1951
Correspondence, Clara Mellen of Van Deventer & Valentine, February 1951
Commencement Address at Russell Sage College, June 3, 1951
Address to Women of Japan during "Women's Week," March 1953
Correspondence, Edward R. Murrow's "This I Believe" program October 27, 1953
Speech, Edward R. Murrow's "This I Believe" program, March 14, 1955
Correspondence, Andrew Goodman of Bergdorf Goodman, March 16 and March 18, 1955
Remarks to Society of Industrial Designers, April 22, 1955
Draft and Final "Presentation of Certificate to Mrs. Nixon," October 27, 1955
Correspondence, West Side Association of Commerce, October 31, 1955
Correspondence, Harold McGraw, November 1 and November 9, 1955
Luncheon Remarks to J. W. Robinson Co., January 4, 1956
Correspondence and Address to Spanish American Board of Trade, October 11, 1956
Correspondence from publisher of "Town & Country," October 3, 1958
"West Side Association Presentation," undated
"To Mrs. Richard Nixon," undated
"Statement for Women at War Week," undated
"Statement on behalf of the War Action Center," undated
"This I Believe," undated
"Watson", undated
Series 4: PHOTOGRAPHS, 1949-1974
19 1-5 Photographs
20 1 Duplicates
2 Photographs
3 "Fifth Avenue Comes to West Hartford", Hartford News Supplement, February 1953
4 Photographs: Elsie Shaver paintings and sculpture
5 invitations and brochures
6 speeches, n.d.
7 postcards
8 correspondence file, Dorothy Shaver Scholars, 1974
21 honorary doctorate: Bates College, 1949; NYU, 1950: Russell Sage College, 1951; Wheaton College, 1957
Achievement Award, Federation of Jewish Women's Organizations, n.d.
Resolutions of the Fashion Institute of Technology on the death of Dorothy Shaver, July 1959
22 The Story of New York: An Island Fantasy, 1955
Proceedings of the Golden Anniversary Convocation of the School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance, NYU, 1950
Builders of Enterprise, Citations of Candidates for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Commercial Science, School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance, NYU, 1950
program for a Dinner Honoring Dorothy Shaver at The National Conference of Christians and Jews, April 13, 1954
photograph of Dorothy Shaver for the National Cyclopedia of American Biography
Series 6: SOUND RECORDINGS, 1946-1956
29 OD1 631.1

RTC 631.1

Thomas J. Watson and Dorothy Shaver, nos. 3 and 4 (1/19/1946)

Description: 78 rpm audio disc

Participants: Thomas J. Watson, Dorothy Shaver

Speech by Dorothy Shaver. Topics discussed include expansion plans for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, including the possibility of establishing a "costume institute."

OD 631.2-5

RTC 631.2

(2 cassettes)

Lord & Taylor's 10th Annual American Design Awards Luncheon (4/17/1947)

Description: 78 rpm. audio discs

Participants: Dorothy Shaver, Alfred H. Bard, Jr., Frank White (accepting on behalf of Bernard Herman), Louis D'Rochma, Agnes de Mille, Ralph A. Beals

Recording of an awards luncheon designed to honor and encourage creative expression in America. The honorees were recognized for contributions to fine or "pure"arts. Awards presented to: Alfred H. Bard, Jr. , an art professor at Princeton, Wellesley, and Bryn Mawr; Bernard Herrmann, film and radio composer; Louis de Rochemont, producer of documentary films; Agnes de Mille, choreographer; and Ralph A. Beals: director of NYPL.

OD 631.6-9

RTC 631.6

(cassette 1)

Lord & Taylor's American Design Awards (4/23/1948)

Description: 78 rpm audio discs

Participants: Dr. Wilbur Miller, Donald Watt, Dr. Fairfield Osborn

Awards presented to Dr. Wilbur Miller for community action, international relations, atomic energy; Fairfield Osborn author of "Our Plundered Planet" for environmentalism; Experiment in International Living, for an international exchange program; President of the New York Zoological Society; and Nijmegen, Holland and

Mr. Donald Watt, biochemist from Stanford, CT, for organizing the Standard Forum for World Affairs.

OD 631.6-9

RTC 631.6

(cassettes 2 and 3)

Lord & Taylor's American Design Awards (4/23/1948)

Description: 78 rpm audio discs

Participants: Dorothy Shaver

Shaver speaks about the wartime experience of residents of Nijmegen, Holland.

OD 631.10

RTC 631.10

(cassette 1)

(cassette 2)

(cassette 3)

Lord & Taylor's American Design Awards (5/18/1956)

Description: 78 rpm audio discs

Participants: Dorothy Shaver, John Sherman Cooper, Dr. Ralph Bunch, Roger William, Joseph Welsh, David Sarnoff, John de le Guard, Sir Francis Rundel, Whitney North Seymour.

A recording of the awards luncheon; includes discussion of the 19th Lord and Taylor Awards, which acknowledge creative achievements that brought a new dimension to American lives. The specific focus of the 1956 awards was the spiritual heritage of the country. Shaver spoke about freedom and the spirit of liberty. Awards were presented for and to:

1)American liberties: Margaret Chase Smith, Senator from Maine

2)Public Service: John Sherman Cooper, former U.S. Senator and Ambassador to India

3)Tolerance, Understanding and Moderation: Dr. Ralph Bunch, former Secretary of the UN

4)Invisible Barriers of Intolerance: Roger William, author of "Religious Liberty and Democracy"

5)Lawyers: Lawyers fight on the front line of freedom to preserve our individual liberties. Joseph Welsh was well known through television and taught a class on Governmental Law on TV to 12 million citizens.

6) David Sarnoff, president of RCA (NBC)

7)John de le Guard: America has no monopoly on love of liberty.

8)Sir Francis Rundel: He fights for liberty, peace and individual freedom for all men.

9)Whitney North Seymour: A monetary award ($5000) for Freedom House and an intense campaign for increased awareness of civil liberties.

OD 631.11

RTC 631.11

Banghart - News - Welsh and Shaver Interview (5/18/1956)

Description: 78 rpm audio disc

Participants: Dorothy Shaver, John Welsh, David Sarnoff

Content: News story about the 19th Lord & Taylor American Design Awards, given for creative achievements. Shaver speaks with David Sarnoff and John Welsh and a clip of the awards is played.

OD 631.12

RTC631.12 (5cassettes)

(cassette 1)

(cassette 2)

(cassette 3)

(cassette 4)

cassette (5)

Lord & Taylor's American Design Awards (5/4/1953)

Description: 78 rpm audio disc.

Participants: Dorothy Shaver, Participants: Edward R. Murrow, Dr. George S. Stevenson, Professor Theodore Von Caman

Professor Albert Einstein, Professor William Albright

Content: Recording of American Design Awards luncheon. The awards honor individuals who think originally and are intellectual adventurers.

Awards presented to:

1) William Albright, archeology professor, Johns Hopkins University.

2) Edward R. Murrow, CBS News reporter

3)Dr. George S. Stevenson, the Medical Director for the National Association for Mental Health.

4)Professor Theodore Von Caman, Chair of Scientific Advisory Board to the Air Force and a similar panel for NATO.

5)Professor Albert Einstein.

OD 631.13

RTC 631.13

Lord & Taylor Interview (5/21/1956)

Description: 78 rpm audio disc

Participants: Dorothy Shaver, John Welsh, David Sarnoff

Content: Topics discussed include the areas in which awards are given, freedom, and pleasantries between Shaver, Welsh, Sarnoff and the interviewer.

OD 631.14

RTC 631.14

"Great American Women :Dorothy Shaver," (c. 1955)

Description: audio disc

Participants: Basil Rathbone, narrator and Alan Sands, producer

Content: Basil Rathbone recounts Shaver's life story and her attitude about business.

revised: Mimi Minnick 6/24/97


Revised: December 20, 2001