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Charles Green Shaw papers, 1686, 1833-1979, bulk, 1909-1974

Charles Green Shaw papers, 1686, 1833-1979, bulk, 1909-1974

Shaw, Charles Green, 1892-1974

Painter, Author, Illustrator

Collection Information

Size: 45.6 linear feet

Biographical/Historical Note

Charles Green Shaw (1892-1974) was a painter and writer from New York, N.Y.


Charles Green Shaw bequeathed his scrapbooks to the Archives of American Art in 1974. The remaining papers were a gift of his estate in 1975.

Related Materials

Scope and Contents

The collection measures 45.6 linear feet and and documents the life of American abstract artist, writer, poet, and illustrator Charles Green Shaw. The papers date from 1833-1979 with the bulk of the material spanning 1909-1974 and a single item of ephemera dating from 1686. Shaw's personal life and career are well documented through biographical information, correspondence, writings, extensive diaries and sketchbooks, scattered financial records, scrapbooks and other printed materials.

Biographical Information, 1874-1970, includes a number of family documents. Shaw's correspondence, 1909-1973, consists mainly of incoming letters. Correspondents are family, friends, and notable individuals including several writers and artists. In addition, there is a small amount of nineteenth century family correspondence.

Among Shaw's writings in Series 3 are 145 diaries containing daily one-page entries that outline his daily schedule. In addition, there are drafts and final manuscripts of fiction, non-fiction, plays, and poems, as well as quizzes devised for his newspaper column, and short writings for magazines. Notes include travel observations, notes on restaurants and nightclubs, notes for fiction, quotations, and lists of his collections. Writings by other authors on a variety of topics include children's books illustrated by Shaw, a review of Shaw's poetry, and an article about Shaw as a modern painter.

Artwork by Shaw includes collages, drawings, and paintings. Of particular interest are 340 sketchbooks containing sketches and finished drawings in pencil and ink, watercolor and gouache paintings, pastels and collages. Most volumes also contain color notes and many include poems, drafts of letters, and notes on miscellaneous topics. Among the artwork by other artists is a charcoal portrait probably of Shaw by Betty George.

Financial Records, 1933-1971, consist mainly of banking records, tax returns, and royalty statements. Also included is information about art sales and payment for writings; receipts are for art related expenses and document purchases for his collection of tobacco figures.

Series 6: Scrapbooks (37 volumes) documents Shaw's entire career. Five volumes concern his art and exhibitions, 9 volumes preserve his published writings, 20 volumes contain published poems, and an additional 5 volumes are devoted to miscellaneous subjects.

Additional printed matter consists of items by Shaw, by other authors, and miscellaneous material. Items by Shaw include articles, books by and/or illustrated by Shaw, plays, and poems. Printed material by other authors include pieces about or mentioning Shaw, books, exhibition catalogs and related records, and periodicals. Among the miscellaneous printed material are auction and book catalogs, clippings, and ephemera. Also included are a wide assortment of menus, along with theatrical memorabilia, travel brochures and printed souvenirs collected by Shaw.

Miscellaneous Records consist of a variety of artifacts including the Century Association Art Committee Medal awarded Shaw, a letter opener carved with his monogram, and printing plates for color reproductions of a painting by Shaw and of prints in his collection. Other miscellaneous records are two sound recordings, a tape recording of Shaw reading his poetry, and an unidentified phonograph album.

Photographs, 1885-1967, include photos of artwork, people, places and miscellaneous subjects. Artwork depicted here is mainly by Shaw, but there are also photographs of work by other artists, and items in Shaw's collection of tinsel prints and his collection of tobacco figures, as well as views of various exhibition installations.

A few photographs of Shaw's paintings, exhibition catalogs, and his published children's book, "It Looked Like Spilt Milk," are available on microfilm reel 75.

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

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