Size: 10.1 Linear feet
Summary: The papers of wildlife illustrator, painter, and cartoonist Paul Bransom measure 10.1 linear feet and date from 1862 to 1985. Almost half of the collection is comprised of Bransom's correspondence, which is particularly rich in documenting his early career as an illustrator, and his relationships with authors, art editors, and publishers from the 1900s to the 1940s. Correspondence also contains a wealth of cards, many of which bear reproductions or original artwork by his many artist friends. Also found in the papers are biographical essays, certificates and awards, memorabilia, writings and notes, business files, bibliographies, an artwork inventory, exhibition catalogs, clippings, printed illustrations, pamphlets, photographs, scrapbooks, and original artwork.
Wildlife illustrator, painter, and cartoonist Paul Bransom was born in 1885 in Washington, D.C., and grew up sketching animals in his yard and at the National Zoo. He began work as a draftsman for the U.S. Patent Office at age 13, and went on to produce technical drawings for the Southern Railroad Co. and General Electric. He moved to New York City in 1903 and worked for the New York Evening Journal from 1904 to 1907, where he produced the comic "News from Bugville" and other cartoons. During this time, he befriended several New York artists in the cartoon trade, including James Swinnerton, Charles Sarka, T.S. Sullivant, Walt Kuhn, Rudy Dirks, and Gus Mager. He was a member of the Kit Kat Club and joined in their sketch classes and annual skelters. He sketched frequently at the New York Zoological Park, and was eventually invited by the director to use a room in the lion house as his studio. He married Grace Bond, an actress, in 1906.
The material on reel D254 was lent for microfilming in 1966, portions of which were subsequently donated along with additional papers by Bransom between 1972 and 1975, and by his nephew's wife, Althea Bond, in 1980. Mario Cesar Romero, identified by an AAA collector as the "Curator of the Bransom collection" and creator of an inventory of Bransom's artwork, donated additional materials to the Archives in 1983 and 1986, including printed materials, photographs, correspondence, records from the artwork inventory project, and scrapbooks. In 1985, James Zayicek donated 11 sketches and eight greeting cards via Helen Ireland Hays, a writer and a noted friend of Bransom's.
The Archives of American Art holds the Helen Ireland Hays papers related to Paul Bransom, which contains 36 audio cassette recordings of Hays interviewing Bransom, among other materials. The Special Collections Division of the Stewart Library at Weber State College in Ogden, Utah holds the Paul Bransom Collection, a collection containing artwork, books from Bransom's personal library, manuscript material and photographs donated by Bransom in 1972 and 1974. The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of 17 items lent for microfilming (reel D254). Some of this material was later donated to the Archives, portions of which were then transferred to the Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library and are available in their vertical file on Bransom. Loaned material is not described in this finding aid.
The papers of Paul Bransom were digitized in 2007 by the Archives of American Art. The bulk of the papers in the collection have been scanned in their entirety, and total 11,721 images. Types of materials that have not been digitized include duplicates, copies, certain printed materials, personal items of limited research value, and certain items related to others, as noted in the folder lists for each series.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art