Collection ID: Mss. C64-2

Collection context


Goodyear, A. Conger (Anson Conger), 1877-1964
Collection of Anson Conger Goodyear, a buffalo local business man, major general, and patron of the fine arts and collector; includes family correspondence, diary and scrap books, his speeches and writings, business papers, and military related correspondence.
14.5 linear feet , 24 boxes, and 6 volumes
Collection material in English .


Scope and Content:

Papers documenting family and personal history, military service in both World Wars, and Goodyear's business and cultural interests as vice- president of the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad, vice-president of the Great Southern Lumber Company, a director, 1911, of the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo, and a founder and president, 1929-1939, of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Includes annual reports of various railroad companies and other businesses; correspondence, unpublished articles, memoirs, speeches, diaries, scrapbooks and photo albums, and materials concerning Mr. and Mrs. Grover Cleveland, including articles, notes and letters. Correspondents include William J. Donovan, Ham Andrews, James W. Wadsworth and Herbert Hoover.

Biographical / Historical:
A. Conger Goodyear

Anson Conger Goodyear, businessman, military officer, postwar European relief executive and humanitarian, author, founder of the Museum of Modern Art, and collector of modern paintings, rare books and historical manuscripts, was born in Buffalo to Charles W. Goodyear (1846-1911) and Ella Conger Goodyear (1853-1940). The Goodyear family in America is traced back to Stephen Goodyear, a founder of New Haven, Conn. and deputy governor of Connecticut from 1643 to 1658.


His father, Charles W. Goodyear, studied law in Buffalo, was admitted to the bar in 1871, and joined the law firm of Cleveland, Bissel and Sicard (later, Bissell, Sicard and Goodyear after Cleveland was elected mayor of Buffalo). He was a lifelong friend of Grover Cleveland, and the Goodyear family made many visits to the White House during Cleveland's two presidential terms. At the height of his success in the legal profession, Charles W. Goodyear quit to enter the lumber and railroading business with his brother Frank H. Goodyear. They made vast gains from their business operations', which had gotten their start in Pouter County, Pennsylvania Over the years their interests expanded to include the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad, Great Southern Lumber Company, Buffalo Susquehanna Coal and Coke Company, Powhattan Coal Company, and other concerns. Ella Conger Goodyear had an abiding interest and talent in music. She was graduated from the Buffalo Female Academy and later studied music in Brooklyn. She traveled extensively with the quartet of St. Paul's. After a serious illness, religion became an important part of her life: in 1907 she founded a bible class, which she continued until 1934, and in 1913 she published a book, The Journey of Jesus.

Early Life

A. Conger Goodyear was educated locally at the Misses Hoffman School on Virginia Street, the School of Practice (graduating in 1892), and the new Nichols School. In 1895 he enrolled at Yale, where he was a reporter for the Yale Daily News and a member of The Wolf's Head during his senior year.

After receiving his degree, Goodyear traveled abroad for a time before returning to the United States to begin work in the family's lumber and railroading business. On June 29, 1904 he was married to Mary Forman. With the death of his uncle Frank Goodyear in 1907, he became the first vice-president of the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad as well as second vice-president of the Great Southern Lumber Company. In 1911 he succeeded his father as a director of the Albright Art Gallery (the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy).

World War I

As the United States inched closer to joining the Allies in World War I, Goodyear joined in the preparedness effort by attending one of the first military training camps held at Plattsburgh, N.Y. under General Leonard Wood "in the summer of 1915. For the next two years he participated in more military training exercises, marching as Grand Marshall in the Buffalo Preparedness Parade in the summer of 1916.and becoming involved in the efforts of Theodore Roosevelt and William J. Donovan to organize a Buffalo regiment. Just as the United States declared war, Goodyear was assigned to the 307th Field Artillery as a Captain. Soon, however, he was sent to the School of Fire at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he was retained as an instructor. From there he went on the Field Artillery Central officers Training School at Camp Zachary Taylor near Louisville, Kentucky, and then was assigned to the 81st Field Artillery Regiment. At last, Goodyear sailed to Europe, hoping to engage in battle -- but he landed at Brest on November 9, 1918, only two days before the Armistice was declared.

Goodyear stayed in Europe as an inspector of American railroad troops. In 1919 President Hoover appointed him as president of the Coal Commission of the Supreme Economic Council for territories that included the former empire of Austria, Hungary and Poland. In August of the same year he was assigned to Upper Silesia as a Commissioner of Investigation and a Chairman of the Coal Committee.


In the 1920's Goodyear returned to business. As vice president of the Great Southern Lumber Company he became concerned about the depletion of forest lands, and the company began to explore methods of reforestation. Goodyear's company was one of the first to experiment in these methods on a large scale. When the Bogalusa, Ala. mill shut down, it was feared that the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad would go bankrupt; therefore A.C. Goodyear bought stock in the Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad and a merger took place. Goodyear also served as a director of numerous other corporations, including the Gaylord Container Corporation and Paramount Pictures.

Art Collecting

During the 1920's Goodyear became increasingly more interested in the world of art, and in collecting in particular. He made several trips to Europe to visit galleries and artists and to acquire paintings and sculpture. In 1928 he moved to New York City, where he established the Museum of Modern Art, which he directed as President during its crucial early years until 1939, when it moved into its famous modern home on West 53rd Street. Around 1939 his reputation as the foremost patron of the modern style was enhanced further when he commissioned Edward A. Stone to build him a house on a hilltop at Old Westbury, Long Island, which was the epitome of modern design (and, for a while, the object of contempt among his wealthy traditional neighbors).

World War II

When World War II broke out, Goodyear once again answered the call to arms. In 1940 he received a commission as Colonel in the New York National Guard and was assigned to organize and command the 17th Regiment. In 1943 he was promoted to Brigadier General. In 1944 and 1945 he served as a representative of the American Red Cross in the Pacific Theater (an experience which Goodyear describes in his memoir One Wide Expanse). After that assignment Goodyear was promoted to Major General in command of the New York Guard's 1st Division. In January of 1947, Secretary of War Patterson requested his services to tour occupied Germany and evaluate the morale of American troops there. Goodyear's military activities continued even past his formal retirement when he served on the board of trustees of Norwich University, a military academy in Northfield, Vermont, throughout the 1950's.

Goodyear's first marriage ended in divorce. Children from that marriage were sons George F. and Stephen G. Goodyear, and a daughter, Mrs. Theodore Kenefick. In 1950 Goodyear was married to Zaidee Bliss.

Many of A. Conger Goodyear's writings were privately printed for distribution to friends and family members. Most of them can be found either in this collection or in the BECHS library; they include the following titles: The Museum of Modern Art, the First Ten Years (1943); John George Milburn Jr.: A Memoir (1938); [Goodyear] Family History, By a Descendant (194-?); One Wide Expanse (1946); The Loq of the Yakima (1903?); and Sidelights (1960). The Spring 1961 issue of Niagara Frontier also features a sketch of his mother.

A. Conger Goodyear died on April 23, 1964.

Notes prepared by Peter Nelson.

Acquisition information:
Please see librarian for acquisition information.

This collection is arranged in twelve series:

  • I. Early Goodyear Family History
  • II. Writings
  • III. Correspondence
  • IV. Military Career
  • V. Business Interests
  • VI. Fine Arts Activities
  • VII. Manuscript and Autograph Collecting
  • VIII. Norwich University
  • IX. Degrees and Other Honors
  • X. Miscellaneous
  • XI. Grover Cleveland Papers and Notes
  • XII. Albums and Scrapbooks.

III arranged alphabetically by correspondent; other series arranged chronologically.

Rules or conventions:
Finding aid prepared using local best practices.


1 Museum Court
Bufalo, NY 14216, United States
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