A Finding Aid to the John DeWitt Papers,
1962-1979
, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.dewijohn
Creators:
DeWitt, John, 1910-1984
Dates:
1962-1979
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
1.4 Linear Feet
Repository:
The scattered papers of federal arts administrator John DeWitt date from 1962-1979, and measure 1.4 linear feet. The collection primarily documents 1970s arts programs sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the Department of the Interior. Found within the papers are correspondence concerning the department's art projects and exhibition files for The American Artist and Water Reclamation, 1972, and America 1976.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The scattered papers of federal arts administrator John DeWitt date from 1962-1979, and measure 1.4 linear feet. The collection primarily documents 1970s arts programs organized by DeWitt while working for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the Department of the Interior. Found within the papers are scattered correspondence concerning the department's art projects, including the Preservation of Endangered Species Art Program and activities of the Hereward Lester Cooke Foundation. There are letters from artists Vija Celmins, Lamar Dodd, and Ethel Magafan.
Files for the two exhibitions organized by DeWitt for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, The American Artist and Water Reclamation and America 1976, include a wide variety of materials. There are correspondence, lists of artwork, printed materials, a scrapbook, financial materials, audio recordings of interviews with DeWitt, audio recordings of a symposium on America 1976, and numerous photographs of exhibited artwork and participating artists. There are also additional photographs of DeWitt and his colleagues and artists Joseph Raffael and Ann Wyeth McCoy.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 3 series; each series is arranged chronologically.
  • Series 1: Correspondence, 1965-1979 (Box 1; 10 folders)
  • Series 2: Exhibition Files, 1962-1978 (Box 1, 2; 1.3 linear feet)
  • Series 3: Photographs, 1970-1974 (Box 2; 1 folder)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
John DeWitt was born in 1910 and was a wood sculptor and federal arts administrator in Washingon, D.C.
DeWitt began his career as a professional writer and was a wood sculptor connected with the Veerhoff Gallery in Washington, D.C. His wife, Miriam Hapgood DeWitt, was a painter. In the late 1960s, DeWitt was the Director of Art Programs for the Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the Department of Interior responsible for water conservation in arid regions of the United States. At this time, the Bureau initiated a program to present its accomplishments to the public through arts commissions and exhibitions. Under the direction of DeWitt and Lloyd Goodrich of the Whitney Museum of American Art, some 40 artists including Ralston Crawford, Peter Hurd, and Norman Rockwell, were invited to depict the scope of reclamation projects in the American West. The artists were given a free hand to depict any scene in any medium as long as the subject matter pertained to the Bureau of Reclamation's program. The resulting artwork was displayed in an exhibition, The American Artist and Water Reclamation, that opened at the National Gallery of Art in April 1972, and then toured the country in a traveling exhibition sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution.
As the Director of the Visual Arts Program for the Department of the Interior, DeWitt celebrated the Bicentennial by organizing the exhibition America 1976, for which he hired over forty realist painters including Vija Celmins, Ralston Crawford, Alex Katz, Philip Pearlstein, and Wayne Thiebaud, to depict a diverse range of Americana. DeWitt was employed by the Department of the Interior until 1977.
John DeWitt died in 1984.

Administration
Provenance
The John DeWitt papers were donated in 1987 by DeWitt's widow, Miriam Hapgood DeWitt.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
John DeWitt papers, 1962-1979. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The John DeWitt papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arts administrators -- Washington (D.C.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dodd, Lamar Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hereward Lester Cooke Foundation Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
American artist and water reclamation (1973: Washington, D.C.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Celmins, Vija, 1938- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
America 1976 (1976-1978: Washington, D.C.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Raffael, Joseph, 1933- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States. Bureau of Reclamation Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Magafan, Ethel, 1915 or 6-1993 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
McCoy, Ann Wyeth Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/