Skip to main content

Eleanor Spaak Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Call Number: MS 5039

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.

Dates

  • 1965-2011
  • Majority of material found in 1965-2004

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. The Boston Public Library does not hold copyright on the material in this collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright.

When reproducing material from this collection please include the credit line "Courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/ Rare Books."

Biographical or Historical Information

Chronology:

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.

Extent

7.00 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

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 columns, Ms. Spaak documented 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 Ms. 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. Material includes magazines, research notes, photographs, slides, correspondence, and newspaper clippings.

Arrangement Note

This collection is arranged in three series:

1. Columns and Publications and Research Material

2. Photographic Images

3. Artwork and Memorabilia.

Method of Acquisition

Donated to the Boston Public Library by Eleanor Spaak in 2008.

Processing Information

Finding aid written by Megan Fleming and Eleanor Spaak, 2008.
Title
Eleanor Spaak Collection
Author
Meagan Fleming and Eleanor Spaak, April 2008
Date
10/21/2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2010: Finding aid revised by Kimberly Reynolds, 2010.

About this library

Part of the Boston Public Library Archives & Special Collections Repository

Contact:
700 Boylston Street
Boston MA 02116 United States