Ross and Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett papers, circa 1870-1992

A Finding Aid to the Ross and Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett Papers, circa 1870-1992, in the Archives of American Art, by Jill Lundin

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Biographical Information

Ross Moffett (1888-1971) was an important figure in the development of modernism in American Art after World War I. His paintings primarily depict the life and landscapes of the Provincetown, Massachusetts area. Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett is perhaps best known as a printmaker and illustrator of children's books and magazines.

Born in Iowa in 1888, Moffett trained at the Art Institute in Chicago and studied with Charles Hawthorne during the summer of 1913, in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Moffett then studied at the Art Students League and returned to Provincetown in 1915, to establish himself as an artist. He was one of the founders of the Provincetown Art Association and a leading figure in the art colony for many years. In 1920, Moffett married artist Dorothy Lake Gregory in Brooklyn, New York. Dorothy studied at the Pratt Institute and with Robert Henri and George Bellows in New York, and then went to Provincetown to study with Hawthorne as well.

During the 1920's and 1930's, Ross Moffett's success increased steadily and he had his first one-man show at the Frank Rehn Gallery in New York and also at The Art Institute of Chicago in 1928. He served on several exhibition juries around the country during this time. Between 1936 and 1938, Moffett painted four murals in two Massachusetts post offices for the Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA). Moffett received full membership to the National Academy of Design in 1942.

While Moffett's painting slowed somewhat during World War II he continued his involvement in the arts by maintaining the Provincetown Art Association. He taught briefly at the University of Miami in Ohio from 1932 to 1933, and returned to Provincetown to pursue painting full-time. In the 1950's, Moffett became interested in archaeology and even delivered a few lectures on the subject. During this time he continued to paint and his art reflected his preoccupation with the science of archaeology. In 1954, Moffett was one of two artists selected by the National Academy of Design to paint murals depicting President Dwight D. Eisenhower's life for the Eisenhower Memorial Museum in Abilene, Kansas. Moffett was chosen to portray Eisenhower's civilian life.

In 1960, Moffett became active in the movement to establish the 1400 acres known as the Province Lands as part of the Cape Cod National Seashore Park. After the park was established Moffett wrote and published a history of the first thirty-three years of the Provincetown Art Association in a book titled Art in Narrow Streets, 1964. He continued to serve as a juror for the Provincetown Art Association and was artist-in-residence for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center in 1970.

Dorothy Moffett also pursued a successful career in art, and publishers such as Rand McNally used her illustrations for youth magazines and childrens books, such as the classic Green Fairy Book. Her work was exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum, the National Academy, and the Brooklyn Museum, and her Alice in Wonderland series of lithographs was purchased for the permanent collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Though best known as a printmaker, Moffett also worked in oil.

Ross Moffett died of cancer on March 13, 1971.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The Ross and Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett papers measure 7.8 linear feet and date from circa 1870 to 1992. Because Dorothy Moffett's papers were received separately they are filed together in Series 13. Series 1-12 deal primarily with the life and career of Ross Moffett. The collection documents Ross Moffett's participation in the Provincetown community as an artist and resident through correspondence, photographs, sketchbooks and printed material, including published writings, news clippings, press releases, and exhibition catalogs. The papers of Dorothy Moffett include family letters, photographs, a journal and original artwork providing scattered documentation of her life and career as an a printmaker and illustrator.

General correspondence primarily focuses on news and financial affairs of the Moffett family farm in Iowa. Also included are letters from Provincetown artist, Edwin Dickinson, and a small amount of correspondence with other artists, collectors and dealers.

Files documenting specific projects that Ross Moffett was involved with are arranged separately and include correspondence, printed material and photographs. Project files have been established for the following projects: the publication of Art in Narrow Streets, the Eisenhower mural, the Cape Cod National Seashore Park and the renovation of the Center Methodist Church.

The series of printed material, 1918-1992, relates to Ross Moffett's career as an artist and his general interest in art. Photographs primarily focus on scenes of Provincetown and include photographs of works of art by Provincetown artists. Also included are photographs of artwork by Moffett arranged chronologically, Moffett's studio in Provincetown, and installations at the Provincetown Art Association Galleries.

Artwork found in Series 10 and 11 includes drawings by Ross Moffett and 85 annotated sketchbooks, including four by Dorothy Moffett.

The collection also houses research notes and files written by Josephine Couch Del Deo in preparation of a biography of Ross Moffett. These annotations provide useful additional information about Moffett's life.

Papers of Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett include Gregory family letters, Dorothy's correspondence with her father, and letters from other family and friends. Also found are drawings, lithographs and etchings by Dorothy and photographs of her family and friends.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into thirteen series:

Subjects and Names

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

Subjects:

  • Moffett, Ross. Art in narrow streets
  • Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969 -- Portraits
  • Art Students League (New York, N.Y.)
  • Provincetown Art Association
  • Federal Art Project (U.S.)

Subjects-Topical:

  • Art, American
  • Art students -- New York N.Y. -- Photographs
  • Art, Modern -- 20th century -- Massachusetts -- Provincetown
  • Women artists -- Massachusetts -- Provincetown
  • Federal aid to the arts
  • Illustrators
  • Landscape painters -- Massachusetts -- Provincetown
  • Muralists -- Massachusetts -- Provincetown
  • Painters -- Massachusetts -- Provincetown

Subjects-Geographical:

  • Cape Cod National Seashore (Mass.)
  • Provincetown (Mass.)
  • Florida -- Pictorial works

Types of Materials:

  • Photographs
  • Sketchbooks
  • Works of art
  • Sketches
  • Slides (photographs)

Names:

  • Del Deo, Josephine Couch
  • Moffett, Dorothy Lake Gregory, 1893-1975
  • Burchfield, Charles Ephraim, 1893-1967
  • Rehn, Frank Knox Morton, 1848-1914

Provenance

The material microfilmed on Reel D80 was lent for microfilming by Ross Moffett in 1962; originals are in Syracuse University, New York. The remainder of the collection was donated to the Archives of American Art in 1974 by Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett, care of Josephine Couch Del Deo (Ross Moffett's biographer), who turned them over in installments. Archaelogical material and artifacts received with the papers were donated to the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts.

Separated and Related Materials

In addition to the papers donated to the Archives of American Art a loan was received in 1962 and microfilmed on reel D80. The loan includes 150 letters relating to art organizations and museums; letters relating to government art projects; news clippings; records of the Provincetown Art Association and the Emergency Committee for the Protection of Province Lands; and miscellaneous publications.

Related resources in the Archives of American Art include a sound recording of a transcribed interview with Ross Moffett by Dorothy Seckler, August 27, 1962; and a sound recording of an untranscribed interview with Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett by Robert F. Brown, September 22, 1972.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was processed by Jill Lundin in 1994 and J. Tallone in 1996. Funding for the processing and microfilming of material on reels 4924-4929 was provided by a grant from the Ellis L. Phillips Foundation, Boston, Massachusetts.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection is open for research. Patrons must use microfilm copy.

Ownership & Literary Rights

A portion of the Ross and Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett 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.

Available Formats

The collection is available on microfilm reels 4924-4929, 5044, and D80. The microfilm is available for interlibrary loan.

How to Cite this Collection

Ross and Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett papers, circa 1870-1992. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1888-1965
(box 1; 1 folder)

Box Reel
1 4924 Biographical Material, circa 1888-1965

Series 2: Correspondence, 1915-1972
(box 1; 0.6 linear ft.)

General correspondence primarily focuses on news and financial affairs of the family farm in Iowa. Letters are from Moffett's sister, Faye; Clarence Davis, his first cousin and Undersecretary of State in the Eisenhower administration; and his aunt, Fannie Gelvin. Also included are letters and postcards received from Edwin Dickinson, another Provincetown artist and a life-long friend of Moffett's, regarding daily life and Dickinson's travels through Greece. There is a small amount of correspondence with other artists, collectors and dealers, including Charles Burchfield, and Frank Rehn, as well as letters concerning the WPA.

Box Reel
1 4924 Correspondence, 1915-1972
(17 folders)

Series 3: Financial Material, 1933-1971,
(box 1; 2 folders)

Box Reel
1 4925 Account Book, 1953-1971
1 4925 Financial Material, 1933-1969

Series 4: Notebook/Notes, undated
(box 1; 2 folders)

Box Reel
1 4925 Notebook, undated
1 4925 Notes, undated

Series 5: Projects, 1880-1969, undated
(boxes 1-2; 1.2 linear ft.)

This series contains records of several projects on which Ross Moffett worked. Files for Art in Narrow Streets include typescripts, printed material, and photographs. Much of the material is general in nature and does not include information about the conception of the book, but focuses more on publishing and promotion.

The project file regarding the Eisenhower mural completed by Moffett in 1956, includes correspondence and photographs used for research about Eisenhower. Also included are five notebooks with notes, expenses, and measurements for the murals by Moffett. Printed material, photographs and slides document the completion of the mural.

Information relating to the Cape Cod National Seashore includes correspondence, published editorials by Moffett and other local residents, petitions, printed material and legal material used by Moffett and others in his effort to establish the park. The material documents Moffett's committment and love for the Provincetown area and his involvement in a community where he was greatly respected.

One file documents the building of the Chrysler Museum at the site of the Provincetown Center Methodist Church. Moffett and other Provincetown residents fought to have the Chrysler Museum relocated.

Box Reel
1 4925 Art in Narrow Streets, Material, 1964-1965, undated
1 4925 Art in Narrow Streets, Typescripts, circa 1964
(2 folders)
1 4925 Art in Narrow Streets, Printed Material, 1964
1 4925 Art in Narrow Streets, Photographs, circa 1880-1920
(2 folders)
Box Reel
2 4925 Eisehhower Mural, Correspondence, 1954-1957
2 4925 Eisehhower Mural, Notebooks, undated
2 4925 Eisehhower Mural, Printed Material, 1956-1969, undated
(2 folders)
2 4925 Eisehhower Mural, Miscellany, 1936, 1956, undated
2 4925 Eisehhower Mural, Photographs, undated
(2 folders)
2 unfilmed Eisehhower Mural, Slides, undated
(6 folders)
2 4926 Cape Cod National Seashore, Correspondence, 1959-1969
(5 folders)
2 4926 Cape Cod National Seashore, Miscellany, 1959-1962, undated
2 4926 Cape Cod National Seashore, Newspaper Clippings, 1959-1966
(5 folders)
2 4926 Center Methodist Church/Chrysler Museum, 1958

Series 6: Subject File, 1960-1968
(box 2; 1 folder)

This subject file contains documentation relating to the Universalist Church and contains general material, including miscellaneous correspondence and receipts that Moffett collected during his years as a member and as treasurer.

Box Reel
2 4926 Universalist Church, 1960-1968

Series 7: Printed Material, 1916-1992, undated
(boxes 2-4, 7; 1.5 linear ft.)

Included in this series are announcements for competitions, newsletters from the various art organizations to which Moffett belonged, press releases, news clippings regarding Moffett's works of art, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and magazines with references to Moffett.

Box Reel
2 4926 Announcements for Societies and Competitions, 1935-1963
2 4926 Press Releases, 1956, 1976-1977, undated
2 4926 News Clippings, 1916-1975, undated
(3 folders)
2 4926 Exhibition Announcements, 1969-1992, undated
2 4926 Exhibition Catalogs, 1916-1917, undated
Box Reel
3 4926 Exhibition Catalogs, 1918-1965
(14 folders)
Box Reel
4 4926 Exhibition Catalogs, 1968-1978
4 4926 The Arts, 1926-1930
(3 folders)
4 4926 Art Digest, 1930, 1933
4 4926 Magazine Clippings, 1918-1975, undated
(3 folders)
4 4926 Miscellaneous, 1930, 1934, 1956, 1964, 1986, undated
Box Reel
7 (sol) 4926 Calendar with Print of Moffett Painting for January, 1943

Series 8: Photographs, circa 1900-1975, undated
(box 4; 15 folders)

Photographs primarily focus on scenes of Provincetown and include photographs of artwork by Provincetown artists. Also included are photographs of artwork by Moffett arranged chronologically, Moffett's studio in Provincetown, and installations at the Provincetown Art Association Galleries.

Box Reel
4 4926 Photograph Album of Provincetown, circa 1913-1930
4 4926 Ross Moffett, Family and Friends, 1908-1967, undated
4 4926 Provincetown, 1958, undated
(2 folders)
4 4926 Old Provincetown, circa 1900
4 4926 Artwork by Moffett, 1916-1968
(3 folders)
4 4926 Art by Provincetown Artists, circa 1940
4 4926 Boats and the Waterfront, circa 1958, undated
4 4926 Moffett's Studio, 1956, 1964, undated
4 4926 Installations, circa 1917, 1925, 1960, 1975
(2 folders)
4 4926 Iowa Farmland near Clearfield, IA, 1954-1956
4 4926 Miscellaneous, circa 1950, 1964

Series 9: Slides of Art Association, Iowa Farmland and the Chrysler Museum, circa 1960, undated
(box 4; 1 folder)

Box Reel
4 unfilmed Slides, circa 1960, undated

Series 10: Drawings, circa 1929-1934
(box 5; 1 folder)

Drawings consist of thirty-two loose pencil-on-paper sketches.

Box Reel
5 4927 Drawings, circa 1929-1934

Series 11: Sketchbooks, 1913-1969
(boxes 5-8; 2.5 linear ft.)

This series contains eighty-five annotated sketchbooks (43 x 35.1 cm. or smaller), including four by Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett. The sketchbooks primarily contain pencil-on-paper sketches of nautical scenes and landscapes of Provincetown and Florida, figure studies, and studies for paintings and murals.

Box Reel
5 4927-4928 Sketchbooks 1-44, 1913-1942
(34 folders)
Box Reel
6 4928-2929 Sketchbooks, 45-54, 56-58, 63-64, 66-67, 69-70, 74-75, 77, 79, 80, 82, 84-85, 1940-1969
(26 folders)
Box Reel
7 (sol) 4928-4929 Sketchbooks, 55, 59-62, 1946-1953
Box Reel
8 (sol) 4929 Sketchbooks, 65, 68, 71-73, 76, 78, 83, 1954-1969

Series 12: Annotations/Item Descriptions by Josephine Couch Del Deo, undated
(box 6; 2 folders)

Material found here includes a type-written description of many of the documents within the collection and copies of documents from Del Deo's research in other papers and repositories. The files are useful in providing additional information about Moffett's life. Researchers should note that many of the pencil annotations within the collection, such as those found on envelopes, should be attributed to Del Deo.

Box Reel
6 4929 Annotations/Item Descriptions by Josephine Couch Del Deo, undated
(2 folders)

Series 13: Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett Papers, circa 1870-1975, undated
(boxes 9-11; 0.7 linear ft.)

This series contains family letters and Dorothy Moffett's correspondence including letters written by her grandfather, John Milton Gregory (first president of the University of Illinois) to her father, Grant Gregory. There is correspondence with her father which was written from Woodstock, New York (where Dorothy was studying art), New Hope, Pennsylvania, and Provincetown, Massachusetts. The letters discuss her finances, classes, instructors, fellow students, materials, and critiques. Also found are miscellaneous letters from fellow students, letters relating to business affairs, and letters of condolence prior to and upon the death of Ross Moffett.

Also found is original artwork including pencil drawings, lithographs, and etchings, as well as photographs of Dorothy and her family and friends, including one of Robert Henri's Art Students League Class for 1914-1915.

The series contains a file on Moffett's aunt, Julia Gregory, containing correspondence and a will; an illustrated journal on a European trip; material relating to Moffett family history, and information regarding sales and other financial records from 1945-1954.

Box Reel
9 (hol) 5044 Josephine Couch Del Deo Typed Notes, undated
9 (hol) 5044 Gregory Family Letters, circa 1870-1917, 1957
9 (hol) 5044 Letters to Father, Grant Gregory, 1912-1914, 1921-1929
(6 folders)
9 (hol) 5044 Correspondence, 1915-1919, 1925, 1930-1939
(9 folders)
Box Reel
10 (hol) 5044 Family and Business Correspondence, circa 1943-1968
10 (hol) 5044 Letters of Condolence, circa 1970-1971
10 (hol) 5044 Incoming Letters, circa 1972-1974
10 (hol) 5044 Julie Gregory (aunt) Material, 1939, circa 1946-1947, circa 1962-1964
10 (hol) 5044 Journal, "My European Trip," 1910
10 (hol) 5044 Family History/Genealogy, undated
10 (hol) 5044 Account Book, Gregory Building, Inc., circa 1945-1954
10 (hol) 5044 Miscellaneous Items, 1941, 1953, 1969
10 (hol) 5044 News Clippings, 1975
10 (hol) 5044 Photographs, circa 1913-1930, 1950
10 (hol) 5044 Artwork, Pencil Drawings, circa 1926-1930
10 (hol) 5044 Artwork, Etchings, circa 1926-1934
10 (hol) 5044 Artwork, Printed Material, 1907-1908, undated