Eleanor Spaak Collection
Scope and Contents
This collection documents the journalistic career of Boston native Eleanor Spaak, who wrote a design and society column for Home Furnishings Daily from 1965-1968 and also published articles in Newsday and Ladies Home Journal. In her column, Spaak reported on the latest trends in fashion, design, art, and architecture. Moreover, she also reported on the lives of actors, artists, members of European royalty, and other well-known personages. In addition, the collection also documents the twelve year run (1980-1992) of Society Rag, a magazine created by Spaak that highlighted philanthropic Bostonians who were active in the city’s art and cultural institutions. Among the subjects covered are fundraising benefits, architecture, cultural and social events and trends in fashion and design.
From 1963-1968, Spaak was based in New York City and covered a gamut of social, cultural, and design events in her column “With Eleanor” for Home Furnishings Daily. For example, she reported on the opening of the Museum of Modern Art’s 20th century furniture wing, explained to her readers what “fusion” meant in the fashion world, and provided glimpses into the homes of such notables Mayor John Lindsey, and interviewed Bette Davis. Gene Moore, Salvatore Dali, and Cecil Beaton were among the many designers, actors, and artists who were featured in her column during this time were. Interviews with museum directors such as Thomas Hoving and Lloyd Goodrich allowed her to report not only on their plans for future exhibits, but also on new trends in the art world. Her columns also carried stories about members of European and Swedish royalty, among them the Duchess of Windsor, Baron de Rothschild, and the Borghese family as well as their palace. In addition to Manhattan’s social scene, events that took place in Newport, Rhode Island and Southampton, New York appeared in Spaak’s columns as well.
In 1980, Spaak returned to Boston where she began her magazine Society Rag. The mission of the magazine was “to promote that which [was] good about the City of Boston, in a light-hearted, but at the same time, meaningful way. Society Rag, focused on Boston’s cultural and artistic institutions, and highlighted members of Beacon Hill society and local celebrities. Fundraising events for Boston Public Library, the Boys and Girls Club, the Guild of Boston Artists, and Ellis Memorial Hospital were among the many chronicled in the magazine. Other regular columns and features included those on design, architecture, theater, and fashion. News of royals such as Princess Chantal of France, Princess Diana, and Princess Yasmin also appeared. In addition, it carried news about Newport, New York and London society. Society Rag ceased publication in 1992.
From 1990-2004, Spaak wrote reviews of gallery shows, dance, music, theater, and film for the Newbury Street and Back Bay Guide. In addition, she revived her “With Eleanor” column for the Guide and covered the social scene throughout Boston. Also during this period, she wrote several columns for Design Times, a magazine that focused exclusively on home and building design. Eleanor Spaak retired in 2004.
- Majority of material found in 1965-2004
- Spaak, Eleanor (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. In most cases, the Boston Public Library does not hold the copyright to the items in our collections. It is the sole responsibility of the user to make their own determination about what types of usage might be permissible under U.S. and international copyright law.
Biographical / Historical
1929 - Born in Boston, Massachusetts.
1965-1968 - Writes society and design column for Home Furnishings Daily. Appears on the Martha Graham Show and United Nations Television. Writes for Newsday newspaper and for Ladies Home Journal. Covers First Lady Pat Nixon at Presidential inauguration. Reports on weddings of Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis.
1973 - Receives Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Columbia University.
1980-1992 - Creates and publishes Society Rag magazine.
1994 - Marries Frank Hicks-Walke, III.
1996-1998 - Contributes to Design magazine.
1990-2004 - Revives 'With Eleanor' column for Newbury Street and Back Bay Guide.
7.00 Cubic Feet
Language of Materials
This collection is arranged in three series:
1. Columns and Publications and Research Material
2. Photographic Images
3. Artwork and Memorabilia.
A portion of this collection is stored off-site and will require additional time to review, retrieve, and make available in the reading room. Archives staff will inform researchers if their requested boxes are off-site.
Method of Acquisition
Donated to the Boston Public Library by Eleanor Spaak in 2008.
Finding aid written by Megan Fleming and Eleanor Spaak, 2008.
This electronic finding aid is transcribed from legacy data. In many cases, transcriptions were not verified against collection materials at the time of transcription. As a result, this finding aid could be incomplete and might only reflect a partial understanding of the material.
Statement on harmful description
Archival description reflects the biases of time periods and cultures in which it was created and may include direct quotations or descriptions that use inappropriate or harmful language. Creator provided descriptions may be maintained in order to preserve the context in which the collection was created and/or used. Legacy description and potentially offensive content may be made available online until a collection can be reprocessed because the access that they provide to primary source materials is uniquely valuable to the research community at large. Our efforts to repair outdated descriptions and to describe our collections more equitably are iterative and ongoing.
- Architecture Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Boston (Mass.) -- Social life and customs -- Sources. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Celebrities -- Press coverage. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Design. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Fashion design. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Fashion writing. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- House furnishings. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Interior decoration. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Society Rag (Boston, Mass. : 1980-1992). Subject Source: Local sources
- Upper class -- United States -- Social life and customs. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Eleanor Spaak Collection
- Meagan Fleming and Eleanor Spaak, April 2008
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- 2010: Finding aid revised by Kimberly Reynolds, 2010.