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John Milton Ramm papers, 1900-1992

John Milton Ramm papers, 1900-1992

Ramm, John Milton, 1904-1984

Muralist, Painter

Collection Information

Size: 10.8 linear ft.

Summary: The papers of painter and muralist John Milton Ramm measure 10.8 linear feet and date from 1900 to 1992. Found within are biographical materials, family correspondence, personal business records, notes and notebooks, travel journals and other writings by Ramm and his father, John Henry Ramm. Art work consists of sketches, sketchbooks, watercolor sketches, mural designs, and other drawings by John Milton Ramm and John Henry Ramm. Also found are numerous photographs of family, friends, travels and voyages, and San Francisco cityscapes, as well as photographs of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fires taken by John Henry Ramm. The collection reflects the artist's interest in travel and his thorough recording of each voyage through paintings, drawings, photographs, and journals.

The Notes Series (32 folders) consist of notebooks and unbound notes primarily concerning John Milton Ramm's travel and art-related activities.

The Writings Series (1.0 linear feet) consists of travel journals and typescripts based on travel by John Milton Ramm, and scripts and poetry by his father John Henry Ramm. There are also two travel journals written by others.

The Art Works Series (1.3 linear feet) primarily consists of drawings and watercolors by John Milton Ramm depicting scenes from his travels and designs for advertisements and magazine covers. There are also drawings, watercolors, small oil paintings, and prints by his father John Henry Ramm, and bookplates designed by unidentified artists, probably friends of John Milton Ramm.

The Photographs Series (2.4 linear feet) consists of photographs of John Milton Ramm, family members, his house, views of San Francisco, California and other western states, views of his voyages around the world, and of his art work. There are also photographs taken by Ramm's father, John Henry Ramm of San Francisco, most notably views of the 1906 fire and earthquake damage, and photographs of his art work. Miscellaneous photographs by unidentified photographers include views of the Gilbert Islands in 1915.

The Printed Material Series (54 folders) includes clippings, an exhibition announcement for John Milton Ramm, miscellaneous calling cards for individuals and businesses, a school yearbook, published scripts, and miscellaneous booklets and programs.

The Artifacts Series (1 folder) consists of a hand-carved backscratcher and a rubber stamp of a heraldic emblem.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Milton Ramm (1904-1984) was a painter and muralist from San Francisco, Calif. In addition to art training under his father, John Henry Ramm, John Milton Ramm attended classes at the California School of Fine Arts. Between 1923 and 1938, he sailed on merchant ships, recording his world-wide travels in journals, drawings, and photographs. After working as a commercial artist and set painter at movie studios, he painted murals in restaurants and was an art instructor at a WPA Recreation Project Training course and at the San Francisco Boys' Club.


Donated 1994 by Sandra Howard, a family friend who inherited the estate of John Milton Ramm.

A Finding Aid to the John Milton Ramm Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical/Historical note
John Milton Ramm was born in San Francisco, California, on October 27, 1904. His parents were Antoinette Ramm and John Henry Ramm (1879-1948), who was also a painter and photographer, most notably recording the damage of the 1906 earthquake and fire. After graduating from Lowell High School in 1921, John Milton Ramm attended the California School of Fine Arts and later continued his art-related studies under his father. Between 1923 and 1938, he sailed on over a dozen merchant ships, traveling around the world performing various shipboard duties in addition to recording his surroundings in letters, drawings, and photographs. From 1928 to 1929, Ramm worked as a commercial artist and painted sets and backdrops for several motion picture studios including United Artists and Warner Brothers. Between 1932 to 1941, he painted murals and decorated the interiors of various business establishments such as restaurants and stores. In 1937, he was an art instructor at the San Francisco Boys' Club and at a W.P.A. Recreation Project Training course. From 1941 to 1945, Ramm was employed as a shipfitter and engineering draftsman aboard various ships. He was married to Hungarian-born Gabriella Vigh.
John Milton Ramm died February 26, 1984 in Alameda, California.
Arrangement note
The collection has been arranged into nine series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1903-1992 (Box 1; 16 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1909-1981, undated (Boxes 1-6, OV 13; 5.0 linear feet)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1908-1984, undated (Box 6; 3 folders)
Series 4: Notes, 1922-1976, undated (Box 6; 32 folders)
Series 5: Writings, 1910-1951, undated (Box 6, 7; 1.0 linear feet)
Series 6: Art work, 1900-1951, undated (Boxes 7-8, 12, OV 13-15; 1.3 linear feet)
Series 7: Photographs, 1903-1981, undated (Boxes 8-10, 12, OV 15; 2.4 linear feet)
Series 8: Printed material, 1913-1963 (Boxes 10-12; 54 folders)
Series 9: Artifacts, undated (Box 12; 1 folder)
Donated 1994 by Sandra Howard, a family friend who inherited the estate of John Milton Ramm.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed by Jean Fitzgerald in March 2004.

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

John Milton Ramm papers, 1900-1992. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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