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National Society of Mural Painters records, 1895-2007

National Society of Mural Painters records, 1895-2007

National Society of Mural Painters (New York, N.Y.)

Collection Information

Size: 13.1 linear feet

Summary: The records of the National Society of Mural Painters measure 13.1 linear feet and date from 1895 to circa 2007. The activities of the society are documented through administrative files, membership files, correspondence, committee files, exhibition and competition files, artist files, financial and legal records, printed material, a scrapbook, and photographic materials.

Biographical/Historical Note

The National Society of Mural Painters (established 1895) is an art society in New York, New York. Originally called Mural Painters, the name changed to National Society of Mural Painters in 1936.

Provenance

The records of the National Society of Mural Painters were donated to the Archives of American Art by the society in 1965-1966. A later group of records was donated by the National Society of Mural Painters via president Jeff Greene in 2009.

Related Materials

Funding

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

A Finding Aid to the National Society of Mural Painters Records, 1895 - circa 2007, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.natimurp
Author
Finding aid prepared by Jayna M. Josefson
Biographical/Historical note
Originally named The Mural Painters, the National Society of Mural Painters (NSMP) was founded in 1895 in New York City by a group of artists, including John W. Alexander, Kenyon Cox, Edwin Blashfield, and John LaFarge, who were concerned with the design and execution of mural art for architecture in the United States. The organization's first president was Frederic Crowninshield. For well over one hundred years members of NSMP have created significant and monumental works of art across the country. Many significant American artists have been members and served as past presidents, such as George Biddle, Hildreth Meiére, Arthur S. Covey, Allyn Cox, Helen Treadwell, and Xavier Gonzales, among many others.
Since its founding, the NSMP has collaborated with the Fine Arts Section of the Treasury Department, the federal WPA Arts Project, and the design boards of several World's Fairs. As a member of Artists for Victory, NSMP coordinated the execution of murals for barracks and camps, as well as many triptych alterpieces.
NSMP organizes exhibitions and conductes competitions. In celebration of its one hundredth anniversary, a centennial exhibition was held in October 1995 at the Art Students League. Society members work with other organizations, actively sponsoring legislation for the development and commission of public works of art. Still active today, the current president is Jeff Greene.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 10 series reflecting the original order of the records.
Series 1: Administrative Files, 1895-circa 2007 (2.2 linear feet; Boxes 1-3)
Series 2: Membership Files, 1915-2001 (1.1 linear feet; Boxes 3-4)
Series 3: Correspondence, 1912-2001 (1.0 linear feet; Boxes 4-5)
Series 4: Committee Files, 1909-1960s (0.3 linear feet; Box 5)
Series 5: Exhibition and Competition Files, 1917-1998 (2.0 linear feet; Boxes 5-7)
Series 6: Artist Files, 1915-1990s (1.3 linear feet; Boxes 7-8, 18)
Series 7: Financial and Legal Records, 1895-1996 (1.5 linear feet; Boxes 8-10)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1915-2000 (0.9 linear feet; Boxes 10-11)
Series 9: Scrapbook, 1923-1935 (0.2 linear feet; Box 11)
Series 10: Photographic Material, circa 1900-1997 (2.5 linear feet; Boxes 12-18)
Scope and Contents note
The records of the National Society of Mural Painters measure 13.1 linear feet and date from 1895 to circa 2007. The activities of the society are documented through administrative files, membership files, correspondence, committee files, exhibition and competition files, artist files, financial and legal records, printed material, a scrapbook, and photographic materials.
Administrative files include meeting minutes and agendas, historical information, and newsletter drafts, and the organization's constitution and by-laws. Membership files contain correspondence with members about their applications and acceptance or denial of membership, member voting ballots, and lists of members. General correspondence is with artists, members, organizations, universities, and federal commissions, and documents a wide varity of NSMP activities; additional correspondence is scattered throughout other series. Correspondence is with Charles Baskerville, Arthur Covey, Allyn Cox, Dean Fausett, Ruth Fortel, Edward Lanning, Everett Molinari, Jack Stewart, and Helen Tredwell, as well as with the American Federation of Arts, the Commission of Fine Arts on War Memorials, Fine Arts Federation, and the U. S. Capitol Historical Society.
Committee files document the work of various NSMP standing and ad hoc committees. Exhibition and competition files include correspondence, photographs, catalogs, itineraries, and printed materials for the NSMP's 1976 U.S. Bicentennial celebration projects, including the "Freedom Murals," "Caravan of Freedom," and "Momentous Events in American History." Additional files document the Red Cross Canteen Project, Federal Art Project, the Municipal Art Society exhibition in 1940, New York City subway murals, and other competitions and public art mural projects.
Artist files primarily date from the 1960s through the 1990s and often include biographies, resumes, correspondence, and photographs of works of art. Financial and legal records include the NSMP treasurer's files, ledgers, and miscellany. Also found in the records are printed materials; a mixed media scrapbook dating from 1923-1935; photographs of meetings, events, exhibitions, and works of art; photo collages of members with examples of their works of art. There are also lantern slides of Francis D. Millet in his studio and with his murals, and of J. Scott Williams with his art work.
Provenance
The records of the National Society of Mural Painters were donated to the Archives of American Art by the society in 1965-1966. A later group of records was donated by the National Society of Mural Painters via president Jeff Greene in 2009.
Separated Materials note
In 1963, the National Society of Mural Painters lent 83 photographs of mural paintings and studies for murals, and 25 exhibition boards showing sculptures, mosaics, or mural paintings which listed the artist, medium, title, and location. These records were microfilmed onto reel NSM1 and it is available at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
Processing Information note
Portions of the collection were microfilmed on reels D248-D250A shortly after donation. Multiple accessions were merged and archivally processed and a finding aid prepared by Jayna Josefson in 2015 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund. The Archives of American Art has implemented accelerated processing when possible to increase information about and access to more of our collections. For this collection, accelerated processing included arrangement to the series, subseries and folder levels, adhering to the creator's original arrangement as much as possible. Generally, folder contents were simply verified with the original folder titles, but items within folders were not arranged further. All materials were rehoused in archival folders and boxes for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

National Society of Mural Painters records, 1895-2007. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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