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Olive Rush papers, 1879-1967

Rush, Olive, 1873-1966

Muralist, Painter, Portrait painter, Illustrator

The papers of Olive Rush in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2004. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 9,064 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 6.3 linear ft.

Summary: The records of Olive Rush measure 6.3 linear feet and date from 1879 to 1967. They contain correspondence, artwork, photographs, writings, and other personal papers documenting Rush's education and career as an illustrator, portraitist, muralist, painter, teacher, and promoter of Native American art.
Biographical materials include several narratives written by Rush and others, as well as a few items related to Delaware artist Ethel Pennewill Brown Leach, Rush's close friend and colleague. Correspondence spans Rush's education and career, and documents her early career in illustration, purchases and exhibitions of her work, her efforts to secure exhibitions for Native American artists, and her dealings with administrators of Federal Art Projects of the 1930s.
Writings include diaries from Rush's early years, including an especially detailed diary from her Santa Fe Indian School mural project in 1932. Also found are lectures, talks, essays, notebooks with technical experiments and aesthetic ideas, and loose notes for her FAP project at the New Mexico College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts.
Records of Rush's artwork include two record books, receipts for supplies and shipments, price lists, inventories, records of submissions, and a small number of similar records of artwork by Native American artists. Sketchbooks, loose sketches, and drawings by Rush span her entire career and include many studies and proposed designs for murals and frescoes.
Printed Materials consist of exhibition catalogs, clippings, and reproductions of artwork, especially illustration work from Rush's early career. Photographs include a class photograph from the Corcoran School of Art circa 1890 and many of Rush and her fellow artists in Wilmington, Del. from around 1904 to 1910. Photographs of works of art document Rush's murals and frescoes in private homes, businesses, and public buildings.

Biographical/Historical Note

Olive Rush (1873-1966) was a painter, illustrator, and muralist from Sante Fe, N.M. Studied at the Art Students League with Twatchman and Mowbray and the Howard Pyle School. Muralist for the La Fonda Hotel and Public Library, Sante Fe; WPA murals: United States Post Office, Florence, Colo. and Pawhuska, Okla. Illustrator for Collier's, & Scribners. Specialities: women, children, American Indians, frescos.


Diaries and some sketches donated by an anonymous donor, 1970. Other materials donated by Olive Rush, 1964 and 1970. Material on reel SW 4 lent for microfilming by the Olive Rush Memorial Studio, 1970.

Related Materials

The Archives of American Art holds a brief oral history interview with Olive Rush concerning her involvement with Federal Art Projects.


Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Location of Originals

  • Reel SW 4: Originals in the Olive Rush Memorial Studio, Sante Fe, New Mexico.