Size: 10.1 Linear feet
Summary: The papers of painter, muralist, and illustrator John Steuart Curry, and Curry family papers, measure 10.1 linear feet and date from 1848 to 1999. Papers document his career and family history through certificates, correspondence, photographs, clippings, contracts, receipts, inventories, writings, notes, and other materials. The papers contain particularly rich documentation of Curry's period as artist-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin, from 1936 to 1946. Mural projects in Kansas, Washington, DC, and Wisconsin are also documented.
Painter, muralist, and illustrator John Steuart Curry is considered one of the three important painters of the American Regionalist movement, along with Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri and Grant Wood of Iowa. Curry was born in north-eastern Kansas in 1897, and grew up on his family's farm. Curry left high school to attend the Kansas City Art Institute briefly, and then studied at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1916 with Edward J. Timmons and John Norton. Curry later spent a year in Paris studying with Basil Schoukhaieff in 1926 and 1927.
John Steuart Curry's widow, Kathleen Curry, lent materials on reels 164-168 for microfilming in 1971. In 1979, she subsequently donated portions of the material lent, along with additional items, some of which were transferred to Spencer Museum of Art. In 1972, Mildred Curry Fike, John Steuart Curry's sister, gave material and R. Eugene Curry, a brother, donated more material in 1975 and 1993. Ellen Schuster, John Steuart Curry's daughter, donated the home movies in 1973 and Daniel Schuster, John Steuart Curry's son-in-law, gave additional papers in 1991 in 1992, 1995, and 1999. In 1992, 1999 and 2000, additions were received from Kathleen Curry that may contain material previously filmed as a loan on reels 164-168.
The Archives of American Art holds an oral history interview with Kathleen Curry regarding John Steuart Curry conducted in 1990 and 1992. The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reels 164-168 and 4574-4576) including 98 sketchbooks, 1919-1942; a ledger, 1938-1946, of expenses with four loose letters to John Steuart Curry in Italian and Spanish; a notebook, 1932-1938, titled "Account and records of works, etc."; a journal, undated, of drafts of poems, and approximately 50 sketches. Loaned materials were returned to the lender some of which were subsequently donated to the Worcester Museum of Art in Worcester, Massachusetts. This material is not described in the collection container inventory.
John Steuart Curry memorabilia received with the Kathleen Curry's donation in 1979 (baby cup, baby dress, overalls, medals, paint box, watercolor box, 2 photographs) were transferred to the Spencer Museum of Art in 1985.
Location of Originals
- Materials loaned by Mrs. Curry in 1971 for microfilming were returned to the donor, who later donated the sketchbooks to the Worcester Museum of Art in 1999.
The papers of John Steuart Curry and the Curry Family in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2007. The bulk of the papers have been scanned and total 10,868 images.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art