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Helen McKearin Papers

Identifier: MS-0100

Scope and Contents

The Helen McKearin Papers include a wide range of materials from her many research and writing projects as an American glass expert and scholar, time spent working for the WPA, consulting work, and lecturer. The papers consist of five series:

(1) Biographical Information, 1921-1988

(2) Correspondence, 1927-1988

(3) Index of American Design, Federal Art Project, WPA, 1936-1939

(4) Research and Writing, Circa 1930-1986

(5) Clippings and Miscellaneous Materials, Circa 1807-1983


  • 1807-1988
  • Majority of material found within Circa 1930-1988


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for public research. Researchers must make an appointment to view the collection.

Conditions Governing Use

The Copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. The user agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rakow Research Library against all claims, demands, costs and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of Library materials.

Biographical / Historical

Born in 1898, Helen McKearin graduated from Wellesley College in 1921; she learned a great deal about glass from her father, American glass collector and antiques shop owner George S. McKearin. Helen McKearin researched and wrote several books on American glass, specifically bottles and flasks, that became quite popular with collectors and scholars alike. She coauthored two of her three most well-known books with her father: _American Glass_ (1941) and _Two Hundred Years of American Blown Glass_ (1950). In 1970, Helen McKearin wrote _Bottles, Flasks, and Dr. Dyott_ and in 1978 she cowrote _American Bottles & Flasks and their Ancestry_ with Kenneth M. Wilson.

In addition to writing, Helen McKearin supervised the glass and ceramics division of the Index of American Design in New York City, which was part of the WPA's Federal Art Project (1936-1939). She also developed a cataloging system for the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) while working on its initial collection of antique glass (1950-1951). McKearin lectured widely on American glass and worked as a consultant for various organizations throughout her lifetime.

Helen McKearin died in 1988.


13.0 Linear Feet (12 Hollinger boxes, 2 half Hollinger boxes, 2 flat boxes, 6 card file boxes)

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Audio recordings in Box 21 require a cassette player. Special care should be used when handling the cassettes.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The majority of the collection was received from Helen McKearin in 1984. Additional materials were received between 1980 and 2003.

Processing Information

Processed by Joe Schill in 2020.

Helen McKearin Papers, 1807-1988
A Guide to the Collection
In Progress
Joe Schill
August 26, 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Rakow Research Library Manuscript Collection Repository

The Rakow Research Library
The Corning Museum of Glass
Five Museum Way
Corning NY 14830 USA