Skip to main content

Section of Fine Arts selected administrative records and correspondence, 1934-1943

United States. Public Buildings Administration. Section of Fine Arts


Collection Information

Size: 19 microfilm reels

Summary: Selected textual records from the Public Buildings Administration Section of Fine Arts (1939-1943) and its two predecessor organizations in the Dept. of the Treasury, the Section of Painting and Sculpture (1934-1938) and Section of Fine Arts (1938-1939). The two series filmed include General Records of the Section (8 ft., reels DC38-43), containing correspondence, memoranda, reports, press releases, clippings, and photographs; and Correspondence of Edward Bruce (6 ft., reels DC116-128) concerning the various federal aid art programs. Each series has been described separately.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Section of Fine Arts was initially established in 1934 under the Treasury Department as the Section of Painting and Sculpture, changing its name in 1938. In 1939, it was transferred (retaining its name) from the Treasury Dept. to the Public Buildings Administration of the newly created Federal Works Agency, until it was abolished in 1943. Its function was to decorate new federal buildings, but unlike the other New Deal art agencies, it was not a relief project and it awarded contracts through a juried system of competition. Edward Rowan was head of the Section from its beginning to late 1937 and during most of 1943. Edward Bruce was in charge during the intervening years. Forbes Watson served as editor of the Bulletin of the Section of Painting and Sculpture.


Microfilmed 1966 from National Archives record group 121, records of the Public Buildings Service. Additional records of the Section are preserved at the National Archives. AAA has filmed and described separately, selected related records of the Treasury Relief Art Project (reels DC14-38) and the Public Works of Art Project (DC1-13 and DC112-115). Researchers may also wish to consult Edward Bruce's personal papers and those of Edward Rowan and Forbes Watson. Series which were not filmed include: correspondence and reference file of Forbes Watson, 1935-1941; correspondence with artists, 1939-1942; correspondence of Alexander Abels, 1937; annual reports, 1935-42; miscellaneous reports, 1935-1939; bulletins of the Section, 1935-1941; announcements of competitions, 1935-1941; proposals to expend funds for murals and sculpture, 1935-1941; case files concerning embellishments of federal buildings, 1934-1943; technical questionaires; letters received and other records concerning completed murals and works of sculpture and their artists; biographical data file concerning artists, 1938; records concerning exhibitions, 1939-1942; records concerning the decoration of New York World's Fair buildings, 1937-1941; records concerning the Marian Anderson mural project, 1939-1943; records concerning National Art Week, 1940-1941; records concerning national defense and war art projects, 1941-1942; correspondence with and about artists in the civilian conservation corps camps, 1934-1937; file concerning the allocation of and receipt for works of art produced in civilian conservation corps camps, 1934-1937; location record of art works, 1933-1943; and card record by artist of completed works of art.

Location of Originals

  • Originals in the National Archives; record group 121, entries 122 and 124.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

35mm microfilm reels DC38-DC43 & DC116-DC128 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

Patrons must use microfilm copy.

How to Cite This Collection

Section of Fine Arts selected administrative records and correspondence, 1934-1943. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.