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Allen Tupper True and True family papers, 1841-1987

True, Allen Tupper, 1881-1955

Muralist, Painter, Illustrator

Collection Information

Size: 8.2 linear feet

Summary: Biographical material, subject files, correspondence, business records, notes, writings, art work, project files, photographs, a scrapbook, printed material, and artifacts document True's career as an illustrator and mural painter, as well as the interaction between True and members of his family.
Biographical materials include family genealogies, school papers, 1895-1899, passports, and copies of True's will.
Files on True family members include True's mother Margaret Tupper True, 1873-1926, containing teaching certificates, legal documents, 1908-1926, 2 diaries, 1881-1926, documenting the infancies of True and his youngest sister, Katherine, and a journal written by True's grandmother Ellen Smith Tupper; on True's father, Henry A. True, containing legal documents, writings, and printed material; and on True's uncles and aunts Ira G. True, James P. True, Mary Josephine True, and Eliza Tupper Wilkes, and True's brother James B. True containing various receipts, certificates and other documents. Related files are on the True family business, the American Smelting & Refining Co., and organizations to which True and True family members belonged, including the Cactus Club and the Central City Opera House Association.
Correspondence, 1841-1955, is between various family members, discussing his father's work in land development, and describing True's studies at the Corcoran School, Howard Pyle's class, his work with Frank Brangwyn, and his travels and projects; and with business associates, colleagues, and friends, 1902-1956, among them Gutzon Borglum, Frank Brangwyn, Grace Naismith, Howard Pyle, and N.C. Wyeth.
Business records consist of stocks and deed for Colorado real estate, 1903-1942; receipts, 1904-1946; insurance policies, 1933-1949; and a studio lease and inventory, 1951.
Notes and writings include an address book; 7 notebooks, 1902-1920, containing school notes and notes on travel to England, work with Frank Brangwyn, and a record of murals and notes on techniques; lists of art works; and essays and poems by True, 1896-1926.
Photographs, 1880-1950, are of True, his studios, exhibitions, his works of art, and works by others, family members, residences and places of business. Others are of Howard Pyle's studio and students, circa 1902, including George Harding, Gordon M. McCouch, Thornton Oakley, True, and N.C. Wyeth; Frank Brangwyn with William Merritt Chase, 1914, and Brangwyn's studio; 5 of the Panama-Pacific Exposition, 1915; 2 photograph albums of True, his family and friends, including N.C. Wyeth in his studio, a fox hunt at Chadd's Ford, and various Western scenes; and travel photographs of Europe, England, and the Mexican border, including 2 photographs of Pancho Villa and his men.
Reference photographs, undated and 1909, show Native Americans engaged in various ceremonies and activities, Pueblo architecture, frontier towns, settlers, cattlemen, miners, lumbermen, prospectors, rodeos, stage coaches, wagon trains, and Western landscapes.
Art work consists of illustrated letters, sketchbooks, linecuts, mural designs, illustrations, cartoons and drawings, 2 paintings on cardboard, designs based on Native American pottery and artifacts, art work for Christmas cards, and art work by others.
Project files, 1912-1987, contain letters, legal documents, printed material, and photographs concerning mural decoration of the state capitol buildings of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wyoming, and consultation work for the Bureau of Reclamation on Boulder Dam, and Grand Coulee Dam, among others.
Printed material includes a scrapbook, 1934, containing clippings of a newspaper serial of Charles Dickens' "The Life of Our Lord"; clippings, 1879-1981; exhibition announcements and catalogs, 1908-1980; reproductions of art works; programs; brochures; and booklets.
Artifacts include 5 Civil War bullets, a pocket knife, 2 pocket compasses, and a metal badge from the Columbian Exposition.

Biographical/Historical Note

Allen Tupper True (1881-1955) was a mural painter and illustrator in Denver, Colorado. Studied at the University of Denver, the Corcoran School of Art, 1901-1902, and with Howard Pyle, 1902-1908. From approximately 1913-1915, True worked with Frank Brangwyn, assisting him in the execution of murals at the Panama-Pacific Exposition. True specialized in Western themes, and his most notable murals decorate the state capitol buildings of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wyoming. From 1934-1945, True acted as consultant for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, in charge of and designing all decoration and color schemes for the Boulder Dam power plant, Grand Coulee Dam, and the Shasta Dam, among others.


Donated 1988 by Jane True Mueller, and Frank True, True's daughter and son.