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Will Shuster papers, [undated] and 1914-1970

Shuster, Will, 1893-1969

Muralist, Metal-worker, Painter, Author, Printmaker


Collection Information

Size: 12 Reels, ca. 3000 items (on 12 microfilm reels)

Summary: Correspondence with John Sloan and others, writings, poems, original art works, scrapbooks, photographs, and Shuster's own descriptions of his work.
Reel NDA 3: Instructions, releases, speeches, manuscripts notes, photographs of Shuster's PWAP murals in New Mexico; and a typescript of a comedy written by Shuster.
Reels 169-177: 400 letters, 1917-1968, including correspondence with Robert Henri, Edgar Varese, John S. Velie, Walter Karig, and family members. Other materials consist of diaries, 1918, 1928, 1933-1934, 1937-1962, and 1964-1969; photographs of Shuster, family, and friends, and his work; original drawings, watercolors, oils and etchings; sketchbooks; poems, lectures, and stories by Shuster; a record of his works; scrapbooks, 1920-1928, 1923-1935, and 1935-1963; and material relating to John Sloan, who was Shuster's close friend and his teacher in 1920.
Reel 277: Materials relating to John Sloan, including letters from him 1922-1951; notes by Winifield Townley Scott recording conversations with Helen Shuster and Mrs. Sloan after Sloan's death and commenting on Sloan's work, tributes by Oliver LaFarge and others, and clippings. Additional correspondents are John Sheridan, Robert Henri, Warren Wheelock, Willard Nash, and the Veterans Administration, concerning Shuster's medical disability. Also included are poems by Shuster, 1925-1939, and other Santa Fe residents, including Scott; and correspondence and printed material relating to Shuster's participation in various Santa Fe festivals.
Reel 4283: Five letters from Sloan to Shuster. Three letters are illustrated and contain detailed instructions and advice on etching technique. A fourth letter, dated Jan 2, 1922, includes a recipe for gesso preparation and an offer from Sloan to pay Shuster's entry fee to "show in the Independents." Sloan in his two page letter, dated January 3, 1947, comments on the pace of his work; his participation in a "Mr. & Mrs. Exhibition" at the Laurel Gallery; a production of Eugene O'Neill's "The Ice Man Cometh"; and the Whitney Annual.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter, printmaker, and writer active in Santa Fe, N.M.; b. 1893; d. 1969


The material borrowed from Will Shuster in October 1964 (reel NDA 3) was part of a project of AAA to document New Deal art projects throughout the U.S. The bulk of the Will Shuster papers (reels 169-177, 277) were lent by his widow, Selma Dingee Shuster. Five letters from John Sloan (Reel 4283) were lent in 1989 by her estate.

Language Note

English .

Location of Originals

  • Letters from Sloan to Shuster: Originals in the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, De.
  • All materials except John Sloan letters: Originals in the library of the Santa Fe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

How to Use This Collection

Alternative Forms Available

35mm microfilm reels NDA 3, 4283, 169-177, 277 available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.

Restrictions on Access

The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.

How to Cite This Collection

Will Shuster papers, [undated] and 1914-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.