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More Information | A Finding Aid to the John Steuart Curry and Curry family papers, 1848-1999 | Digitized Collection

John Steuart Curry and Curry family papers, 1848-1999

More Information

A Finding Aid to the John Steuart Curry and Curry Family Papers, 1848-1999, bulk 1916-1946, in the Archives of American Art
Megan McShea
Scope and Content Note
The papers of painter, muralist, and illustrator John Steuart Curry, and Curry family papers, measure 9.2 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.
Biographical Materials include chronologies, biographical narratives, genealogical notes, certificates and awards, and other ephemera related to Curry and his family. Family Correspondence includes the earliest records created by Curry himself, including letters home from art school and from the East Coast during his early career.
Correspondence and Project files document mural projects, appearances, gallery relationships, and other activities from the early 1930s until his death in 1946 with correspondence, photographs, clippings, contracts, writings, and other miscellany. Subject files include pictorial reference and research files created by Curry for subjects depicted in his murals and paintings. Curry's writings include essays, lectures, interviews, and notes related to his technical and philosophical approach to art, as well as notes from his various travels, and essays by others about Curry. Personal Business Records contain records of artwork, business transactions, and personal finances.
Print Materials include print copies of published artwork by Curry, including magazine illustrations from Curry's early career. Extensive clippings, exhibition catalogs, and a scrapbook created by Curry as a youth are also found. Photographs depict Curry throughout his life in formal portraits, candid snapshots, and publicity photographs, with a significant number of photographs depicting Curry creating and posing with his artwork. The Artwork series contains a few sketches by Curry and seven canvases used for testing art materials. Additional sketches are found in Subject Files and scrapbooks.
Estate Papers contain materials dated after Curry's death in 1946 and mainly document the activities of Kathleen Curry in managing her husband's estate from 1946 until her death in 2001. Estate papers contain writings about Curry, correspondence, inventories of artwork, and alphabetical files documenting sales, exhibitions, and other projects.
Papers were lent for microfilming in 1971 by Curry's widow, Kathleen Curry. In 1979 she subsequently donated portions of the loaned material, along with additional material, which was microfilmed upon receipt. The home movies were donated in 1973 by Ellen Schuster, Curry's daughter. Additional papers were donated in 1972 and 1975 by Mildred Curry Fike, Curry's sister; in 1975 and 1993 by R. Eugene Curry, his brother; in 1991 by Daniel Schuster, his son-in-law; and in 1995, 1999, and 2000 by Kathleen Curry.
Separated Material
A 1992 loan by Kathleen Curry included 98 Sketchbooks of Curry's, dated from 1919-1942; a ledger, 1938-1946, of expenses with four loose letters to Curry in italian and spanish; a notebook, 1932-1938, titled "Account and records of works, etc."; a notebook, undated, of drafts of poems, and approximately 50 sketches. Materials in this loan were microfilmed on reels 4574-4576 and sealed under Mrs. Curry's death in 2001. Originals of loaned material were returned to the donor after microfilming.
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.
Portions of Kathleen Curry's initial 1971 loan were not subsequently donated. The entire loan can be viewed on reels 164-168.
Related Material
The Archives of American Art holds an oral history interview with Kathleen Curry regarding John Steuart Curry conducted in 1990 and 1992.
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.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Processing Information
Portions of the collection received a preliminary level of processing at some point after donation. The collection was typically microfilmed in the order in which it was received on reels 164-168, 2714, 2743, and 2746-2748, except for donations made after 1992, which were not microfilmed. The entire collection was fully processed, arranged, and described by Megan McShea in 2007 and digitized in 2008-2009 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.