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Bertha Fanning Taylor Papers

Collection ID: MG 44

Scope and Contents

The collection contains literary productions, printed materials, correspondence, scrapbooks, charts, photographic materials, and memorabilia. 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.


  • circa 1905-1977, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 03/04/1981



1.60 Linear Feet

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to researchers without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Biographical or Historical Information

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. 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 visited her daughter frequently in 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 1959 entitled Form and Feeling in-Painting and the second in 1968 entitled My Fifteen Years 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."

Note written by Norman Taylor, Jr.

Language of Materials



Came to Norfolk in 1945 as Curator of the Sloane Collection at the Heritage Foundation Museum. Taught art courses at the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary until 1951. Includes literary productions, printed materials, correspondence, photographs, memorabilia, scrapbooks, and charts. In addition to the artistic significance of the papers, the collection documents the history of Norfolk, especially in the arts.

Arrangement Note

The collections is organized into seven series: Series I: Literary Productions; Series II: Printed Materials; Series III: Correspondence; Series IV: Scrapbooks; Series V: Charts; Series VI: Photographic Material; and Series VII: Memorabilia.

Source of Acquisition

Norman Taylor, Jr

Method of Acquisition

Gift. Accession #A81-4

Related Materials

Publications by Bertha Fanning Taylor in the Libraries include: My fifteen years in France (Call #: ND237.T39 A3 1968) and Form and Feeling in Painting (Call #: ND1471 .T39 1959).

A Guide to the Bertha Fanning Taylor Papers
William B. Taylor Jr.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the ODU Community Collections Repository

3000 Perry Library
4427 Hampton Blvd.
Norfolk VA 23529 US