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Edward Bruce papers, 1902-1960, bulk, 1932-1942

Bruce, Edward, 1879-1943

Businessperson, Painter, Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 8.9 linear feet

Summary: The collection documents Bruce's work as an artist, art collector, exhibition juror, and federal government art administrator, particularly his tenure as Director of the U. S. Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts. Well over one-half of the collection consists of extensive correspondence with many notable artists and government officials. Also found is scattered biographical material, office diaries and speeches, personal financial material, printed material, four scrapbooks, and photographs.
A small amount of biographical material includes birth records and many awards and certificates. Bruce's correspondence files comprise over half of this collection, containing correspondence with family, friends, artists, art organizations, political figures, museums, art galleries, and government agencies. Found within the files is extensive correspondence with friend and art critic Leo Stein and artist friend Maurice Sterne. Additional artists Bruce corresponded with include George Biddle, Adrian Dornbush, and Olin Dows. Also included is correspondence documenting his career as Chief of the Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts with government colleagues and officials, much of it concerning his role on various federal arts committees, including the Commission of Fine Arts. There is also extensive correspondence with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt concerning federal and public art projects.
Writings include office diaries and notebooks containing notes, addresses, lists of Section of Fine Arts projects, and dated work entries. There are copies of numerous written speeches given by Bruce on the importance of art, public art projects, and political issues. Financial material consists of a small number of items documenting Bruce's financial activity such as tax and insurance records, bills, a cash book, and house leases. Printed material documents Edward Bruce's career as an artist and federal arts projects and programs. Found are news clippings and magazine articles, exhibition catalogs, brochures, bulletins from the Section of Fine Arts, published speeches, and miscellaneous publications. Four scrapbooks contain news clippings, letters, photographs, and other printed material highlighting Bruce's career.
Extensive photographs include photographs of Bruce's artwork, portraits of Bruce, the Bruces with family and with friends and at many special events, including an NBC radio broadcast and at an exhibition with Eleanor Roosevelt. There are also photographs taken by Bruce during his travels and while living in Anticoli Carrado, Italy.
A book, "Art in Federal Buildings," by Forbes Watson and Edward Bruce was donated to AAA with Bruce's papers and microfilmed with the rest of collection on Microfilm Reel D91-D92, and then transferred to the Smithsonian American Art Museum Library.

Biographical/Historical Note

Edward Bruce (1879-1943) was a painter, lawyer, businessman, and art director in Washington, D.C. Practiced law in N.Y. and Manila, Philippines; president of Pacific Development Corporation of California; lived and painted in Anticoli Carrado, Italy; director of the Treasury Dept.'s Section of Fine Arts.


Papers on reels D82-D92 and 1817 donted by Mrs. Edward Bruce in 1962. Unmicrofilmed materials donated 1979 by Maria Ealand, the Bruce's niece. The photograph on reel 1817 was received with the papers but microfilmed in 1980 as part of AAA's Photographs of Artists-Collection II.

Related Materials


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.