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Olin Dows letters, 1938-1949

Olin Dows letters, 1938-1949

Dows, Olin, 1904-1981

Lithographer, Author, Engraver, Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 0.2 linear feet

Summary: This small collection of letters to and from painter and arts administrator Olin Dows measures 0.2 linear feet and dates from 1938 to 1949. The letters primarily document his work as director of the Treasury Relief Art Project, as an admistrator for the American Federation of Arts, and his work as a war artist. Much of the correspondence is with arts administrators Edward Bruce and Forbes Watson.

Much of the correspondence is from 1941. Also of note is correspondence relating to the controversy over one of Maurice Sterne's murals for the Justice Department in 1940 and efforts to form a "Corps of Pictorial War Correspondents" in 1942. Some letters include attached documents including exhibition lists, announcements, news clippings, and reports.

Biographical/Historical Note

Olin Dows (1904-1981) was a sculptor, painter, printmaker, writer, lecturer, and the director of Treasury Relief Art Project from Rhinebeck, N.Y.


Letters were donated in 1962 by Olin Dows; the provenance of one letter (on microfilm reel 2803) is unknown.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the Olin Dows Letters,
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical Note
Olin Dows (1904-1981) was a painter and arts administrator; he primarily lived and worked in Rhinebeck, New York. Dows was born in Irvington-on-Hudson, NY. He graduated from Harvard University in 1926 and also studied at the Yale School of Fine Arts. In 1935 he was appointed director of the Treasury Relief Art Project, funded by the Works Progress Administration. In 1938 he painted a series of murals for the post office in Rhinebeck, NY, and in 1941 painted murals for the post office in Hyde Park, NY. From 1938 to 1941 Dows was on the Board of Directors of the American Federation of Arts. In 1942 he enlisted in the Army Engineers Corps and was commissioned as a war artist, covering the European Theater of Operations. An exhibit of works produced by this project was held in 1944, entitled "The Army at War." Dows was discharged from the army in 1945. A book of his watercolors,
Franklin Roosevelt at Hyde Park
, was published in 1949.
The collection is arranged as 1 series:
Series 1: Olin Dows Letters, 1938-1949 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Letters were donated in 1962 by Olin Dows; the provenance of one letter (on microfilm reel 2803) is unknown.
Processing Information
The collection was microfilmed upon receipt on reel NDA 14. One additional letter was microfilmed on reel 2803. The collection was processed in 2011 by Erin Kinhart.

Additional Forms Available

The collection is available on 35 mm microfilm reels NDA 14 and 2803 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan.

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

Olin Dows letters, 1938-1949. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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