James Fitzgerald papers, 1905-1992

Fitzgerald, James, b. 1899 d. 1971
Active in Mass.

Collection size: 4.6 linear ft.

Collection Summary: Biographical material, correspondence, notebook and notes, drawings and sketchbooks, photographs, financial and legal records, printed material, and audio/visual material.

Biographical material, 1918-1971, includes copies of Fitzgerald's birth certificate, honorary discharge papers from the Marines, 1918, a social security card, and 2 passports, 1964 and 1971. Correspondence (ca. 1.2 ft.), 1934-1987, is with collectors and friends, including Anne and Edgar Hubert. Notable are fifty-one letters from Rockwell Kent, 1953-1970, primarily discussing Fitzgerald's and Kent's interests and property in Monhegan, Maine.

Financial records, 1951-1971, include bank statements, cancelled checks, income tax and insurance records, receipts, some for gilding work and art supplies, and estate records. A subject file on Monhegan Associates, Inc., a group devoted to preservation of Monhegan Island, Me., contains by-laws, minutes of meetings, and newsletters.

Notes and writings include Fitzgerald's notebook, 1955, his notes on gilding and various topics, an essay about the ship, "The Elizabeth Howard," an essay by an unidentified author about Fitzgerald's and Rockwell Kent's friendship, 1988, and writings on Fitzgerald. Also in the series are ca. 1 ft. of index cards containing notes for a catalog of an exhibition, "James Fitzgerald," by Calvin Henning (1984, William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum).

Art work consists of 14 drawings, 1921-1922, and 21 sketchbooks, 1946-1969. A scrapbook, 1928-1948, contains one letter each from John C. Ferguson, E. F. Ricketts, and Madeleine Van Dyke, clippings, and exhibition catalogs. Printed material includes clippings, 1930-1989, exhibition announcements and catalogs, 1940-1989, yearbook ARTGUM, 1923, reproductions of art work, programs, 1930-1967, art supply catalogs, 1929-1949, picture postcards, a brochure and geological survey maps of Mt. Katahdin, and miscellaneous printed material.

Photographs, 1905-1991, are of Fitzgerald, his parents and siblings, his wife Pegs, his friends including actor Richard Boone, Dan Burne Jones, E. F. Ricketts, and John Steinbeck, his studios including the Kent-Fitzgerald cottage, travel sights, the hotel in which Fitzgerald died, and objects owned and designed by Fitzgerald. Photographs and slides of art work include portraits of servicemen drawn in 1947. Four audio tapes, 1980-1987, and transcripts relate friends' recollections of Fitzgerald. A 5 minute VHS videotape "James Fitzgerald: Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of Anne and Edgar Hubert," 1985, is narrated by Anne Hubert and produced by Eric Shambroom.

Biographical/Historical Note: James Fitzgerald (1899-1971) was a painter in California and Maine. Born in Milton, Massachusetts, Fitzgerald studied from 1919 to 1923 at the Massachusetts School of Art and from 1923 to 1924 at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School with Philip Hale, Leslie P. Thompson, and Edmund C. Tarbell. Between 1923 and 1928, he sailed on fishing ships and freighters, eventually settling in Monterey, California, in 1928, where he established a studio and became associated with a group including John Cage, Martha Graham, E. F. Ricketts, and John Steinbeck. From 1936 to 1942, Fitzgerald taught painting in California, then sold his studio the following year to move to Monhegan, Maine, which he had first visited in 1923. From 1944 to 1971, he worked mostly at Monhegan and made annual trips to Mt. Katahdin. During this time, he befriended Rockwell Kent, who owned a cottage on Monhegan. Fitzgerald died suddenly on the island of Arranmore, Co. Donegal, Ireland, where he had gone to paint.

Donated 1991 by Anne and Edgar Hubert, collectors of Fitzgerald's work and executors of his estate who inherited Fitzgerald's Monhegan Island house and studio and all the contents. Two additional sketchbooks, #4 and #6, were donated 2014 by Robert L. Stahl, James Fitzgerald Legacy.

How to Use this Collection

  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
  • For more information on using the Archives’ resources, see the FAQ or Ask Us.