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J. Paul Getty family collected papers, 1880s-1989undated

To access physical materials at the Getty, go to the library catalog record for this collection and click "Request an Item." Click here for general library access policy. See the Administrative Information section of this finding aid for access restrictions specific to the records described below. Please note, some of the records may be stored off site; advanced notice is required for access to these materials.
Getty (J. Paul) family collected papers, circa 1880s-1989, undated

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection comprises materials gathered from a variety of sources that relate to art collector and oil tycoon J. Paul Getty and his parents, George F. Getty I and Sarah C. Getty. The collection includes correspondence, art and furniture inventories, financial records, legal documents, publications, ephemera, and photographs, dating from approximately 1880 to 1989 and undated.

The collected papers on J. Paul Getty include some of his personal and business correspondence and other documents, providing insight into his art collecting activities, his business ventures, and his personal and family relationships. The financial records primarily describe the affairs of Getty family businesses as well as Getty's estate at the time of his death. The legal documents describe legal and financial relationships within the Getty family through correspondence, wills, prenuptial agreements, divorce decrees, financial settlements, child and spousal support agreements, and other supporting documents. The little material relating to his marriages is mostly represented among his legal files. Materials related to Mr. Getty's publications contain correspondence with co-authors and publishers, typescripts and drafts of his books, and copies of his published books and articles. The collected papers also contain documents postdating Mr. Getty's death (1977, 1980-1989) that concern the management of his estate and eulogize his life and accomplishments.

The collected George F. Getty I and Sarah C. Getty papers include letters, telegrams, hand-drawn maps, cancelled stock certificates, contracts, promissory notes, travel documents, receipts, and various forms of ephemera. The family correspondence includes letters written by J. Paul Getty to his parents that provide insight into the personal and early business relationships between George, Sarah, and Paul. While the family correspondence hints at the atmosphere of the Getty household, George's papers shed light on his early oil operations, including scouting potential drilling sites, day-to-day management of drilling activities, and his political efforts to protect his interests/land in the Osage Nation (part of the Indian Territory that was annexed by the United States government that later became the state of Oklahoma). Sarah's mostly peripheral involvement in the family business is evidenced by her correspondence with George and several notarized documents.

The photographs consist primarily of black-and-white photographs and negatives, dating from approximately the 1880s to the 1970s, of J. Paul Getty, family, friends, properties, and city and landscape views. The photographs also include several images of the J. Paul Getty Museum and galleries during its early years. The images are of various sizes, and are largely undated and unidentified. The majority of these photographs once belonged to J. Paul Getty, while a smaller number of them seem to have belonged to his father, George F. Getty I. The photographs come from several different sources, including Ralph Hewins, Getty's biographer.


These records are organized into three series:

Series I. J. Paul Getty papers, 1909-1977, 1982-1984, 1989, undated (bulk 1912-1976);

Series II. George F. Getty I and Sarah C. Getty papers, 1890, 1904-1921, 1928, 1931-1934, 1939, undated (bulk 1911-1912);

Series III. Photographs, 1880s-1970s, undated.

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