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Inventory of the Mary Louise Lawser Collection, 1941-1957
MS 19  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Collection Description
  • Historical Background

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Mary Louise Lawser Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1941-1957
    Collection number: MS 19
    Creator: Lawser, Mary Louise
    Extent: 3 document boxes
    Repository: California State Railroad Museum Library
    Sacramento, California 95814
    Shelf location: Big Four Building or off-site storage. Please contact the Library in advance of your visit.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Estate of Mary Louise Lawser, 1986

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the California State Railroad Museum. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Senior Curator. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the CSRM as the owner 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

    [Identification of item], Mary Louise Lawser Collection, MS 19, California State Railroad Museum Library, Sacramento, California.

    Collection Description

    The Mary Louise Lawser Collection consists of correspondence, pamphlets and brochures concerning her railroad work, photographs and transparencies of her work, and ephemera. The major portion of the collection, however, consists of preliminary sketches and colored renderings for murals and panels to be installed in cars of the Seaboard Air Line and on the California Zephyr and Denver Zephyr.

    Historical Background

    Mary Louise Lawser (1908-October 30, 1985) began her study of fine art at the Pennsylvania Museum School in Philadelphia. Later she attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and L'École des Beaux Arts, where she studied sculpture. The winner of a number of prizes for painting and sculpture, Mary Lawser worked for architect Paul Cret in the 1940s, and during this period she completed many decorations for streamlined trains of the New York Central, Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, and Seaboard Air Line, as well as for the famed California Zephyr train of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, Denver & Rio Grande Western, and Western Pacific lines. In preparing these decorations, she relied on her skills in painting, sculpture, and linoleum and wood carving. In later years, Mary Lawser produced decorations for the Burlington's Denver Zephyr. In addition, her work appeared in public works projects in New York City and Philadelphia.