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Collection of Material by Arthur Wesley Dow and Students of the UCLA Dow Association, ca. 1886-1937
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Processing Note
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Collection of Material by Arthur Wesley Dow and Students of the UCLA Dow Association
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1886-1937
    Collection number: 557
    Creator: Dow, Arthur W. (Arthur Wesley), 1857-1922 University of California, Los Angeles. Arthur Wesley Dow Association.
    Extent: 3 boxes (1.5 linear ft.) 2 oversize boxes.
    Abstract: Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922) was a artist and author. He taught at the Pratt Institute (1895-1904), the Art Students' League in New York (1897-1903), and Teachers College, Columbia University (1904- ). The collection consists of prints done by Arthur Wesley Dow and work of students at UCLA.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    University Archives backlog transfer, ca.1997, 2001.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Collection of Material by Arthur Wesley Dow and Students of the UCLA Dow Association (Collection 557). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 4232951 


    The Arthur Wesley Dow Association was founded at UCLA in 1922 to promote the ideas and teachings of artist and educator Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922). Dow, a native of Ipswich, Mass., studied painting at the Acade'mie Julien in Paris and Brittany. He returned to the United States to paint and teach, establishing the Ipswich Summer School which offered classes in arts and crafts. His exposure to a book of prints by the Japanese woodblock artist Hokusai profoundly influenced his ideas on art and aesthetics. He rejected many of the traditions he had been taught and immersed himself in the study of world cultures. In his textbook, Composition (1899) he outlined the principles of teaching art synthesized from his studies--namely line, "notan" and color. He described "notan" as "... a Japanese word meaning 'dark,light' ... the quantity of light reflected, or the massing of tones of different values". The ideas expressed in Composition influenced many generations of young artists and expanded the traditional views of art education and expression. Many of Dow's students taught in colleges and universities throughout the country and a number of them held positions of prominence in California. Upon his death in 1922, the Arthur Wesley Dow Association was formed at UCLA "... to unite for more effective service, those who wish to preserve and advance the underlying philosophy of Mr. Dow's teaching. We believe with Mr. Dow that 'The true purpose of art teaching is the education of the whole people for appreciation'."


    1922 Association founding - Founded 1922, George W. Cox? "Originally founded at the University of Los Angeles at Los Angeles, ten years ago, it has been, during the past six years, a national society with over 150 members." From: Los Angeles Museum Art News, June 1932 Exhibits, 557/box2/f.46)
    [1923 May?] Arthur Wesley Dow Memorial Library - Miss Gere "suggested the founding of a [sic] Arthur Wesley Daw [sic] Memorial Library, to be in the hands of the alumni, and located at the University." (557/box2/f. 51)
    1923 November 22 Name change - Recommendation "That the name of this organization shall be changed from 'Art Alumni Association of the University of California, Southern Branch,' to the [sic] "The Dow Art Club of California," or any other suggested by the association's members." (557/box 2/f. 51)
    1924 November 24 Name change - "After much discussion on Article I, the Name, 'The Arthur Wesley Dow associated [sic] of the University of Calif.' was adopted because it expresses the character of the organization: The world 'Alumni' was not used because it would have meant the supervision of the funds by the University of California." {557/box 2/f. 51)
    1925 October 24 Name change - "It was unanimously carried to change the name of the organization to The Arthur West[sicl]ly Dow Association." (557/box 2/f. 51)
    1925 November 21 Dow Asso. Bookplate - "Moved and carried to use Mr. Dow's design the 'Four Seasons' as the Association's book plate." (557/box 2/f. 51)
    1925 December 12 Dow Asso. Bookplate - "Miss Gere told us of receiving a letter from Mrs. Dow in which she says to use the Book Plate design by all means." (557/box 2/f. 51)
    1927 September 24 Prints from Mr. Dow's blocks - "Mrs. Smith made an announcement concerning the print from Mr. Dow's blocks and promised that it would be ready in the very near future." (557/box2/f. 53)
    no date Gift of nine paintings from Mrs. Dow - "At this time the announcement was made that Mrs. Dow had tendered a gift to the Arthur Wesley Dow Ass'n; consisting of nine of Mr. Dow's paintings. These have been selected by Miss Gere and Miss Chandler." (557/box 2/f. 53)
    1930 October 7 Dark and Light name change - "There was a discussion relative to changing the name of the Dark-and-Light. This name, it was suggested, did not portray to persons outside the Association, the contents of the magazine. Miss Jessie Sherwood Smith suggested that the name be changed to 'Art and Education'. It was moved, seconded and unanimously voted that the name of the official organ be 'Art and Education' instead of Dark-and-Light. It was decided to publish on the title page of the magazine each month for ayear, the new name and the words 'formerly Dark-and-Light'." (557/box2/f. 53)
    1931 May 16 Death of Mrs. Dow - "Mrs. Wyckoff again told of the death of Mrs. Dow ... " (557/box/f. 53)
    [1932] Name change - Mimeographed letter with "'Four Seasons" logo. "By majority vote at the last business meeting of the ARTHUR WESLEY DOW ASSOCIATION the name of the organization was changed to the ART ASSOCIATION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT LOS ANGELES. This was done because it seemed wise to identify this group more definitely with the Art Department which has fostered it for so long. / The purpose has not been changed nor have its ideals been modified from their statement in the creed as given in Article II of our constitution .../ signed Berly Kirk Smith, President ... " (557/box2/f. 53)

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of files of the Arthur Wesley Dow Association, including minutes of meetings, membership lists, various activities of the association, issues of the organization's publication, Light and dark, as well as samples of student work. There are also fine examples of Dow's woodblock prints and his experimentation with color, which were given to the Association by Mrs. Dow.

    Organization and Arrangement

    The collection was unarranged when received from University Archives. It has subsequently been organized into the following series:
    1. Arthur Wesley Dow Association files
    2. Arthur Wesley Dow Association [student work]
    3. Prints by Arthur Wesley Dow.

    Processing Note

    Illustration portfolios published by the Arthur Wesley Dow Association (now in box 4) processed by Dan Luckenbill and Jaime Lara, June 1998. The bulk of material was processed by Lilace Hatayama, October 2002.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Dow, Arthur W. (Arthur Wesley), 1857-1922--Archives.
    University of California, Los Angeles. Arthur Wesley Dow Association--Archives.
    Art teachers--United States--Archival resources.
    Artists--United States--Archival resources.

    Genres and Forms of Material


    Other Index Terms Related to this Collection

    Dow, Arthur W. (Arthur Wesley), 1857-1922.