Finding Aid to the Federal Art Project at the Southwest Museum Records MS.252

Finding aid prepared by Holly Rose Larson and Anna Liza Posas
Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
234 Museum Drive
Los Angeles, CA, 90065-5030
323-221-2164
rroom@theautry.org
2012 August 3


Title: Federal Art Project at the Southwest Museum Records
Identifier/Call Number: MS.252
Contributing Institution: Autry National Center, Braun Research Library
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 35.1 Linear feet (22 boxes)
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1936-1937
Date (inclusive): 1936-1939
Abstract: The Works Progress Administration of 1935 created a Federal Art Project to support artists and provide collection and exhibit maintenance and reference material to museums during the Great Depression. The National Parks Service carried out one such Federal Art Project at the Southwest Museum, with some work being completed at the Los Angeles Museum of History, Art, and Science (now the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County) from 1936 to 1937. The records, photographs, and works of art on paper document this Federal Art Project, and include one of two sets of documentary photographs made during this endeavor; the other under the custodianship of the National Parks Service. The main focus of this documentation and collection of reference material was historic and contemporary culture and life in the Southwest, including Native American tribes of the Southwest and California.
creator: Cortez, Galileo
creator: Cox, Gladys
creator: Federal Art Project
creator: Gellert, Emery
creator: Hall, Ansel F. (Ansel Franklin), 1894-1962
creator: Halle, F. J. van
creator: Harrington, M. R. (Mark Raymond), 1882-1971
creator: Harvey, Hazel
creator: Hyde, Marie
creator: Jordan, Helen
creator: Mardis, Faye
creator: Nadeau, Evelyn Hunt
creator: Rader, Albert
creator: Robinson, Helen
creator: United States. National Park Service.
creator: United States. Works Progress Administration.
creator: Wardman, John W.

Access

Collection is open for research. Appointments to view materials are required. To make an appointment please visit http://theautry.org/research/research-rules-and-application or contact library staff at rroom@theautry.org. An item-level inventory is available from library staff.

Use

Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry National Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Autry Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry National Center as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred citation

Federal Art Project at the Southwest Museum Records, 1936-1939, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.252; [folder number] [folder title][date].

Acquisition

Materials in this collection were deposited to the Braun Research Library (previously known as the Southwest Museum Library) by Museum staff and departments, circa 1936-1937. A later donation from Charles Rozaire (linked materials found at the Natural History Museum) was made in 1987.

Historical note

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was a relief measure established in 1935 by executive order. From 1935 until its end in 1943, the WPA employed more than 8.5 million people and established almost 1.5 million projects, including construction of roads, dams, schools and other public facilities, murals in public buildings, written guides to each state, and the Historical Records Survey. Administrative control of these projects was turned over to the states in 1939.
The Federal Art Project, a subdivision of the WPA, was created to support artists while enhancing the arts in America. One of their projects, the Museum Art Project, was sponsored at the Southwest Museum by the National Park Service’s Field Division of Education. The goal of the Museum Art Project was to produce archeological, ethnological, and historical exhibits and reference material of Southwestern culture for the use of the museums of the National Parks and Monuments in constructing their own dioramas and exhibits. The project started April 8, 1936 and concluded 1937 July 10, with the only cost to the Southwest Museum being housing and supervision. Ansel F. Hall of the WPA and Southwest Museum curator M. R. Harrington organized and directed the project, creating a visual cache of information through photographs, line drawings, water colors, and oil paintings. All materials were to be made in duplicate, with one copy going to the Southwest Museum and one copy going to the National Parks Service. A collection of dioramas, miniatures, paintings, sculptures, labels and signs were created for exhibits in the Southwest Museum and the Casa de Adobe, which were opened to the public on 1936 December 1.
In order to assist in reaching the goals of the Project, a Photography Project was also initiated to record the costumes and artifacts in the Southwest Museum and the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art (now the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County), and to create photographic prints of the negatives by Charles Fletcher Lummis of Native Americans in the Southwest. In the effort to capture the styles of dress, patterns of some of the apparel were drawn up and photographed, as well. Two prints were made of each negative created for the project, with one copy staying with the Southwest Museum and the other copy going to the National Parks Service.
Then entire project employed 32 people at its height, including painters, map makers, sculptors, a plaster worker, letterers, a wood carver, a constructor of miniature costumes, a miniature vegetation maker for dioramas, a photographer, and two photographer’s assistants. Besides creating and updating exhibits and exhibit labels, other work accomplished during this project included cataloging of photographic negatives, creation of hand-lettered labels for specimens, diorama cleaning and repair, and the construction of a dark room for the photographic staff.

Scope and contents

This collection consists of administrative records, Photographic Field Notes, photographic files, and works of art on paper created during a Federal Art Project sponsored by the National Park Service at the Southwest Museum and the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art from 1936-1937.
The first series contains administrative records, which include correspondence, instructions, personnel reports, and other notes and records regarding the administration of the Federal Art Project.
The second series of these records includes Photographic Field Notes, Photographic File Notes, and photographs created for this project. Photographic Field Notes document field serial numbers and headquarter serial numbers, and information regarding the object being photographed and the photographer’s technical information. The photographs created for this project are mostly of clothing in the Southwest Museum and the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art and of artifacts at the Southwest Museum. Some photographs are of the line drawings depicting patterns for clothing. Some of the WPA employees are also documented in these photographs. This series contains mounted photos, photos and photo file notes in binders, and folders of additional notes. These files may contain extensive hand-written or typed notes on the collection items.
The third series of this collection consists of works of art on paper, such as chalk drawings, ink drawings, maps, oil paintings, and water colors depicting artifacts and clothing in the Southwest Museum collection as well as historical figures and imagined scenes from historical California as well as contemporary Native American culture in the Southwest. Artists whose work is contained in this collection are Galileo Cortez, Gladys Cox, Faye Mardis, Evelyn Hunt Nadeau, Francis van Halle, and John Wardman.

Processing history

Initial processing by Glenna Schroeder, circa 1977-1981. Finding aid updated by Anna Liza Posas 2012 April 6. Additional processing and finding aid completed by Holly Rose Larson, NHPRC Project Archivist, 2012 August 3 made possible through grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Arrangement

  • Series 1: Administrative Records
  • Series 2: Photographic Field Notes and Files
  • Subseries 2.1: Mounted photographs
  • Subseries 2.2: Photograph Project Binders
  • Subseries 2.3: Photograph Project Files
  • Series 3: Works of Art on Paper

Related Archival Materials

Elizabeth Crozer W. Campbell and William H. Campbell manuscript collection, 1929-1936, Braun Research Library, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.221.
Mark Raymond Harrington Collection, 1930-1961, Braun Research Library, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.214.
Record Group 69: Records of the Work Projects Administration, 1922-1944, National Archives, 398.
Southwest Museum Institutional Archives, 1901-2008, Braun Research Library, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; MS.3

Custodial history

Some materials in this collection were previously associated with manuscript collection numbers MS.573 and MS.654. All materials produced during the Federal Art Project at the Southwest Museum are now united and identified as MS.252. The collection numbers MS.573 and MS.654 have been retired.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Southwest Museum (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Art, American
Chalk drawings
Correspondence
Field notes
Indians of North America
Ink drawings
Manuscripts
Maps
Negatives
Paintings
Photographs
Watercolors

Box 1

Administrative records, 1936-1937

Physical Description: 0.4 Linear feet 1 box

Scope and contents

This series contains papers from 1936-1937 regarding the administration of the Federal Art Project carried out at the Southwest Museum and the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art between 1936 and 1937. Papers include correspondence, instructions, personnel reports, and other notes and records.
Box 1-13

Photographic Field Notes and Files, 1936-1939

Physical Description: 5.45 Linear feet

Scope and contents

This series of the Federal Arts Project records includes Photographic Field Notes, Photographic File Notes, negatives and photographs created for this endeavor. Photographic File notes describe all newly created negatives. Photographic Field Notes document field serial numbers and headquarter serial numbers, subject, ownership, location, local accessories number, source, chronological date, dimensions, exhibit label information, color notes, and miscellaneous data. The field notes form also includes photographic data, such as photographer, date and time of photograph, size, film used, filter, diaphragm stop, exposure, and miscellaneous photographic data. The photographs created for this project are of clothing in the Southwest Museum and the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science, and Art and of artifacts at the Southwest Museum. Some photographs are of the line drawings depicting patterns for clothing. Some of the WPA employees are also documented in these photographs.
Box 2

Mounted photographs, 1936-1939

Physical Description: 0.4 Linear feet

Scope and contents

This collection of photographs has been mounted on colored board and includes captions. The photographs were taken during Federal Art Project contracts, from 1936-1939, and include copies of photographs found in other parts of the collection. These mounted photographs with typed captions feature both Headquarter and Field Serial Numbers.
Boxes 3-6

Photograph project binders, 1936-1937

Physical Description: 1.75 Linear feet

Scope and contents

This subseries consists of eight binders of Photographic Field Notes and Photographs depicting the clothing and accessories documented in the project, as well as employees creating works for the project.
  • Binders S1-S3: Spanish California Costumes
  • Binder S4: Women’s Dresses and Men’s Shirts - Women’s dresses, Native American; Men’s Shirts includes Plains, Southwest and Northwest Coast material
  • Binder S5: Headdresses and Leggings - Headdresses: Contents include hair roaches, Apache Ceremonial Headdress, Pueblo Tableta, Plains War Bonnets, Jemez Mask, Crow Headdress; Leggings: Includes Plains, Pueblo
  • Binder S6: Pipe and Pipe Bags, Cradleboards, Hides - Pipes and Pipe Bags; Cradleboards: Includes Plains, Pueblo; Hides (decorated): Includes Kicking Bear’s “Battle of Little Big Horn”, quilled, painted
  • Binder S7: Pottery and Kachinas
  • Binder S8: Southwest Museum artists who created dioramas and murals
Boxes 1, 7-13

Photograph project files, 1936-1937

Physical Description: 3.3 Linear feet

Scope and contents

This subseries includes Photographic Field Notes, Photographic File Notes, and other photographs and notes not contained in the binders. Files for photographed items sometimes contain typed sheets of information which record Field Serial Numbers and Southwest Museum accession numbers, descriptions of collection items, and job numbers or copies of job cards. [Location of the job cards is currently unknown.] These files may contain extensive hand-written or typed notes on the collection items.
oversize-box PORT.s 12, 13, 21, 30, 49, 52, 76, 84, 106

Works of Art on Paper, 1936-1937

Physical Description: 25.2 Linear feet

Scope and contents

This series contains chalk drawings, ink drawings, maps, oil paintings, and water colors depicting artifacts and clothing in the Southwest Museum collection as well as historical figures and imagined scenes from historical California and contemporary Native American culture in the Southwest. Artists whose work is contained in this collection are Galileo Cortez, Gladys Cox, Emery Gellert, Francis van Halle, Marie Hyde, Helen Jordan, Faye Mardis, Evelyn Hunt Nadeau, Albert Rader, Helen Robinson, and John Wardman.
Faye Mardis and Gladys Cox created ink drawings on linen-backed paper of patterns for apparel items in the Southwest Museum and Los Angeles Museum collections. These patterns were created as instructional tools for other FAP artists to make replicas for miniature figures in the Southwest Museum’s dioramas.
Some of the subjects of the oil painting portraits by van Halle are Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Kit Carson, General John C. Fremont, Pio Pico, and Fray Junipero Serra. Watercolors and other line drawings depict examples of artifacts in the Southwest Museum’s collection, such as pottery and basketry. Other paintings and drawings depict scenes of life to be used as reference or for dioramas.