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Oral history interview with Jacob Alexander Elshin, 1965 April 21-22

Elshin, Jacob Alexander, 1891-1976

Painter, Illustrator


Collection Information

Size: 41 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound tape reel. Reformatted in 2010 as 3 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 10 min.

Summary: An interview of Jacob Elshin conducted by Dorothy Bestor on 1965 April 21-22 for the Archives of American Art.
Elshin speaks of his background in Russia and China; moving to Seattle in 1923; his work as a free-lance commercial artist and working as a greeting card artist; painting for the Public Works of Art Project; working on murals for the WPA Federal Art Project; political problems with the WPA; the destruction of some of the work that was produced by the project; some of the injustices he suffered during his years with the WPA. He recalls Robert Bruce Inverarity, Edward Rowan and Mark Tobey.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jacob Alexander Elshin (1892-1976) was a painter in Seattle, Washington.


This interview conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.

Language Note

English .

How to Use This Collection

Transcript: 35mm microfilm reel 3419 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Transcript: Patrons must use microfilm copy.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Jacob Alexander Elshin, 1965 April 21-22. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.