The Oral History Project at Dumbarton Oaks was begun in 2008 with the mission of interviewing and recording all people who are or have been significantly associated with Dumbarton Oaks and/or its founders, Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss.
“From the Archives” is a monthly feature of the Dumbarton Oaks newsletter, “The Oaks News.” Each month, the newsletter features an item or collection retained in the Dumbarton Oaks Archives.
On the occasion of Dumbarton Oaks’ seventy-fifth anniversary in 2015–16, staff, interns, and fellows collaborated on special online content. This includes a blog on the institution’s history, a bibliography of works by recipients of scholarly support, and special exhibitions in the museum and gardens.
During the Blisses’ time away from Washington in 1941, a group of Dumbarton Oaks employees, led by Louisa Bellinger, research assistant for the Dumbarton Oaks Census, created a newsletter to keep the Blisses informed about the goings-on of the house and collection. Their newsletter was titled the Underworld Courier, a reference to the nickname the authors gave to the basement area of Dumbarton Oaks where they worked.
Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, the founders of Dumbarton Oaks, and their close friend and art adviser, Royall Tyler, and his wife, Elisina, maintained an active correspondence between 1902 and 1953. Many of these letters document the formation of the Blisses’ art collection. They also discuss contemporary history, literature and poetry, music, politics, and expatriate life.
The Bliss Album of Garden Photographs consists of 188 black-and-white photographs and is presumed to be a set of garden images assembled by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss. It may be their personal album or, possibly, the album that was sent to Mildred Bliss’s mother, Anna Barnes Bliss, in California.