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Allen Tupper True and True family papers, 1841-1987

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.

Provenance

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

A Finding Aid to the Allen Tupper True and True Family Papers,
1841-1987
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.truealle
Biographical Note
Allen Tupper True (1881-1955) was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1881. He was a student at the University of Denver, and studied at the Corcoran School of Art, Washington, D.C. between 1901 and 1902. In 1902, he was accepted into Howard Pyle's classes in Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania, and studied there until 1908, befriending classmates George Harding, Gordon McCouch, Thornton Oakley, and N.C. Wyeth. Through Pyle, True began his career as a magazine illustrator.
From approximately 1913-1915, True worked with British muralist Frank Brangwyn, assisting Brangwyn in the execution of murals at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, California.
After marrying Emma Goodman Eaton in 1915 (divorced 1934), True launched his career as a mural painter. His most notable works include the mural decorations in the state capitol buildings of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wyoming, as well as murals for the Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company Building and the Civic Center in Denver, Colorado. True specialized in depicting Western and Native American themes.
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.
True was a Unitarian Mason, and a member of the Mural Painters of America, Beta Theta Pi, Cactus Club of Denver, and the Author's Club, London. He died in 1955.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into thirteen series according to material type. The contents of each series have been arranged chronologically. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1895-1964, undated (box 1, 7 folders)
Series 2: Subject Files, 1873-1955 (box 1, 23 folders)
Series 3: Correspondence, 1841-1956 (boxes 1-4, 3.5 linear ft.)
Series 4: Business Records, 1903-1951 (box 4, 4 folders)
Series 5: Notes, 1902-1920 (box 5, 10 folders)
Series 6: Writings, 1896-1926 (box 5, 5 folders)
Series 7: Artwork, 1897-1923 (boxes 5, 10, and OV 11, 0.5 linear ft.)
Series 8: Project Files, 1912-1987 (boxes 5-6 and 10, 0.75 linear ft.)
Series 9: Photographs, 1859-1950 (boxes 6-7, 1.5 linear ft.)
Series 10: Scrapbook, 1934 (box 7, 1 volume)
Series 11: Printed Material, 1875-1981 (box 7, 21 folders)
Series 12: Artifacts, ca. 1863 (boxes 7 and 10, 9 items)
Series 13: Glass Plate Negatives, undated (boxes 8-9, 0.8 linear ft.)
Provenance
Donated 1988 by Jane True Mueller, and Frank True, True's daughter and son.
Processing Information
The collection was processed and the finding aid written by Jean Fitzgerald, February 28, 1994. The finding aid was modified by Stephanie Ashley in 2002 during EAD conversion.

Additional Forms Available

Microfilm reels 4891-4898 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Allen Tupper True and True family papers, 1841-1987. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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