Founded in 1900 by financier and philanthropist Spencer Trask and his wife, Katrina Trask, Yaddo began receiving guests in 1926 and was immediately hailed by The New York Times as “a new and unique experiment, which has no exact parallel in the world of fine arts.” Since that inaugural season, Yaddo has navigated the roiled cultural and political life of 20th-century America while hosting thousands of artists and writers, including such luminaries as James Baldwin, Saul Bellow, Flannery O'Connor, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Jacob Lawrence, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Philip Guston and Sylvia Plath.
Richly illustrated with intimate letters, papers, photographs, art objects, and ephemera from the Yaddo Records, now in The New York Public Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division and from Yaddo's own holdings of rare books and artworks, Yaddo provides a window into the workings of this famously private institution and insight into the lives of the artists and writers who lived there. With additional essays by Marcelle Clements, David Gates, Allan Gurganus, Tim Page, Ruth Price, Barry Werth, Karl Emil Willers and Helen Vendler, the book revisits the major moments of modern American culture and history.
Micki McGee is a sociologist and cultural critic on the faculty of Fordham University and the curator for the exhibition about Yaddo held at the Library in 2008. She is also the author of Self-Help, Inc.: Makeover Culture in American Life.