Ogden M. Pleissner papers, 1928-1976

A Finding Aid to the Ogden M. Pleissner Papers, 1928-1976, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Ogden Minton Pleissner was born on April 29, 1905 in Brooklyn, New York, son of George W. and Christine Minton Pleissner. He began his education at the Brooklyn Friends School. One summer while a teenager, he was sent to Charlie Moore's ranch in Dubois, Wyoming, in order to improve his health. During pack trips, camping, and trout fishing in Yellowstone Park and the Buffalo Forks country, Pleissner became devoted to the outdoor life, developing his skills as a hunter and fisherman. He began drawing images of horses, cowboys, Native Americans, and scenery and realized that his interest in art was strong enough to pursue it in school.

From 1924 to 1927 Pleissner attended the Art Students League in New York, studying under George Bridgman and Frank V. DuMond. Pleissner continued his studies with DuMond in Cape Breton, where he also met Mary Corbett whom he married in 1929. In the following year, Pleissner held his first solo exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery in New York. Although he maintained a studio in New York City, Pleissner and his wife spent many summers in Wyoming, later expanding their travel to Europe.

In 1940 Pleissner was elected a National Academician. Two years later, he was commissioned by the U.S. Office of Emergency Management on the advice of the Section of Fine Arts to visit various war industries to make a group of 10 paintings depicting the work in these plants.

In 1943, Pleissner was commissioned as Captain in the Army Air Forces to work as an artist with the Historical Division, painting a record of the Air Force activities. After training, he was deployed to Anchorage, Alaska, and from there he visited many of the Aleutian Islands. Due to lack of funding, his original mission was changed, and he was put on inactive duty in November 1943, in order to continue his work as a War Art Correspondent for Life magazine. This allowed him to complete his paintings of the Aleutian Islands. In the spring of 1944, he flew to headquarters in London, England, later following the Normandy invasion through northern France, he painted scenes from the critical battle at St. Lo. In the summer of 1945, Life magazine sent him on a tour of Europe to make a series of paintings of the most significant battle sites, including Omaha Beach, Remagen, and Anzio.

During his post-war career, Pleissner participated in many organizations, including his service as vice-president of the National Academy of Design, director of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and trustee at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. He was also a member of the Salmagundi Club, the National Arts Club, and the Brooklyn Society of Artists. His work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum.

In the 1970s Pleissner traveled extensively in Europe and spent summers at his studio in Pawlet, Vermont.

Ogden M. Pleissner died of a heart attack on October 24, 1983 in London, England.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of painter Ogden M. Pleissner measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1928-1976. Found within the papers are biographical material, scattered letters, artwork, eight scrapbooks, printed material, and photographs.

Biographical material includes Pleissner's U. S. Army Certificate of Service, an autobiographical essay, and miscellaneous notes. Scattered letters dating from 1942-1976 primarily concern Pleissner's service in the U. S. Army. There are also letters from colleagues and friends including artists Harrison Cady and Stow Wengenroth.

Nine scrapbooks contain clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and scattered letters from art organizations and colleagues including Juliana Force, Charles Vezin, and Stow Wengenroth. An additional 1.2 linear feet of printed material consists primarily of clippings, and exhibition catalogs and announcements. Also found within the papers is one etching, and photographs of Pleissner, his colleagues, exhibitions and artwork.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into 6 series. All series are arranged chronologically.

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms:


  • Painters -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Art and war

Types of Materials:

  • Scrapbooks
  • Photographs


  • Cady, Harrison, 1877-1970
  • Wengenroth, Stow, 1906-
  • Force, Juliana, 1876-1948
  • Vezin, Charles, 1858-1942


Ogden M. Pleissner donated his papers to the Archives in 1972 and 1976.

How the Collection was Processed

The papers were processed to an intermediate level in January 2007 by Jean Fitzgerald.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Ogden M. Pleissner papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

Ogden M. Pleissner papers, 1928-1976. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1943-1971
(Box 1; 2 folders)

Biographical material consists of a U.S. Army Certificate of Service, an award certificate, and a curriculum vitae. Also included is an autobiographical typescript About the Artist and miscellaneous notes including hunting score cards decorated with reproductions of Pleissner's art work.

Box Folder
1 1 Certificates and Curriculum Vitae, 1943-1971
1 2 Typescript and Miscellaneous Notes, 1949-1950

Series 2: Letters, 1942-1976
(Box 1; 13 folders)

Letters primarily concern Pleissner's service in the U. S. Army. There are also scattered letters from colleagues and friends including artists Harrison Cady and Stow Wengenroth, and Texas Governor John Connally.

Box Folder
1 3 Letters, undated
1 4 Letters, 1942
1 5 Letters, 1943
1 6-7 Letters, 1944
(2 folders)
1 8-10 Letters, 1945
(3 folders)
1 11 Letters, 1946
1 12 Letters, 1947-1949
1 13 Letters, 1950-1959
1 14 Letters, 1965-1969
1 15 Letters, 1970-1976

Series 3: Artwork, undated
(Box 1; 1 folder)

Artwork consists of an etching depicting an ancient European street with overhanging buildings.

Box Folder
1 16 Etching, undated

Series 4: Scrapbooks, 1930-1953
(Boxes 1-2; 29 folders)

This series consists of unbound scrapbook pages containing clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, miscellaneous printed material, and three photographs of artwork. There are also scattered letters from art organizations and colleagues including Juliana Force, Charles Vezin, and Stow Wengenroth. Scrapbook 8 contains an exhibition catalog, The Army at War, illustrated with photographs of artists on the battlefield.

Box Folder
1 17-19 Scrapbook 1, 1930-1932, undated
(3 folders)
1 20-22 Scrapbook 2, 1932-1934
(3 folders)
1 23 Scrapbook 3, 1933-1935
1 24-26 Scrapbook 4, 1935-1936
(3 folders)
1 27-30 Scrapbook 5, 1936-1940
(4 folders)
1 31-33 Scrapbook 6, 1937-1939
(3 folders)
1 34-37 Scrapbook 7, 1939-1944
(4 folders)
1 38 Scrapbook 8, 1941-1945
Box Folder
2 1-4 Scrapbook 8, 1941-1945
(4 folders)
2 5-7 Scrapbook 9, 1946-1953
(3 folders)

Series 5: Printed Material, 1928-1975
(Box 2; 1.2 linear feet)

Printed material includes clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and miscellaneous printed material including a book, Air War Against Hitler's Germany, that contains illustrations by Pleissner.

Box Folder
2 8 Clippings, undated
2 9 Clippings, 1940-1943
2 10 Clippings, 1944-1945
2 11-13 Clippings, 1946
(3 folders)
2 14 Clippings, 1947
2 15-17 Clippings, 1948
(3 folders)
2 18-19 Clippings, 1949
(2 folders)
2 20-21 Clippings, 1950
(2 folders)
2 22-25 Clippings, 1951-1954
(4 folders)
2 26-28 Clippings, 1956
(3 folders)
2 29-30 Clippings, 1958
(2 folders)
2 31-32 Clippings, 1959
(2 folders)
2 33-34 Clippings, 1960
(2 folders)
2 35 Clippings, 1961
2 36-37 Clippings, 1962
(2 folders)
2 38-42 Clippings, 1963-1968
(5 folders)
2 43-44 Clippings, 1969
(2 folders)
2 45 Clippings, 1972-1974
2 46 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, undated
2 47 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1928-1933
2 48 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1944
2 49 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1946
2 50 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1947-1948
2 51 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1949
2 52-56 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1950
(5 folders)
2 57-58 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1951
(2 folders)
2 59 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1952
2 60 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1953
2 61 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1956
2 62 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1957-1958
2 63 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1959
Box Folder
3 1-3 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1962-1963
(3 folders)
3 4 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1964-1966
3 5-8 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1967-1970
(4 folders)
3 9-10 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1972-1973
(2 folders)
3 11 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1975
3 12 Programs, 1956-1967
3 13 Brochure for the Art Students League, 1951
3 14-15 Catalogs for Artwork, 1947-1963, undated
(2 folders)
3 16 Reproductions of Artwork, undated
3 17 Booklet Significant War Scenes by Battlefront Artists, undated
3 18 Booklet Michigan on Canvas, 1947
3 19 Book Air War Against Hitler's Germany, 1964
3 20 Book Directory of Honorary Appointments, Smithsonian Institution, 1967
3 21 Miscellaneous Printed Material, undated

Series 6: Photographs, 1958-1974
(Boxes 3-4; 31 folders)

Photographs are of Pleissner, his colleagues, exhibition installations, and artwork. There are also two unbound albums containing photographs of artwork

Box Folder
3 22 Photographs of Pleissner, 1974, undated
3 23 Photographs of Pleissner with Colleagues, 1958-1964, undated
3 24 Photographs of Exhibition Installations, undated
3 25-29 Photograph Album 1 of artwork, undated
(5 folders)
3 30-35 Photograph Album 2 of artwork, undated
(6 folders)
3 36-42 Miscellaneous Photographs of Artwork, undated
(7 folders)
Box Folder
4 (pam) 1-10 Miscellaneous Photographs of Artwork, undated
(10 folders)