A Finding Aid to the Olin Dows Letters,
1938-1949
, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.dowsolin
Creators:
Dows, Olin, 1904-1981
Dates:
1938-1949
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
0.2 Linear feet
Repository:
This small collection of letters to and from painter and arts administrator Olin Dows measures 0.2 linear feet and dates from 1938 to 1949. The letters primarily document his work as director of the Treasury Relief Art Project, as an admistrator for the American Federation of Arts, and his work as a war artist. Much of the correspondence is with arts administrators Edward Bruce and Forbes Watson.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
This small collection of letters to and from painter and arts administrator Olin Dows measures 0.2 linear feet and dates from 1938 to 1949. The letters primarily document his work as director of the Treasury Relief Art Project, as an admistrator for the American Federation of Arts, and his work as a war artist. Much of the correspondence is with arts administrators Edward Bruce and Forbes Watson.
Much of the correspondence is from 1941. Also of note is correspondence relating to the controversy over one of Maurice Sterne's murals for the Justice Department in 1940 and efforts to form a "Corps of Pictorial War Correspondents" in 1942. Some letters include attached documents including exhibition lists, announcements, news clippings, and reports.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 1 series:
  • Series 1: Olin Dows Letters, 1938-1949 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Olin Dows (1904-1981) was a painter and arts administrator; he primarily lived and worked in Rhinebeck, New York. Dows was born in Irvington-on-Hudson, NY. He graduated from Harvard University in 1926 and also studied at the Yale School of Fine Arts. In 1935 he was appointed director of the Treasury Relief Art Project, funded by the Works Progress Administration. In 1938 he painted a series of murals for the post office in Rhinebeck, NY, and in 1941 painted murals for the post office in Hyde Park, NY. From 1938 to 1941 Dows was on the Board of Directors of the American Federation of Arts. In 1942 he enlisted in the Army Engineers Corps and was commissioned as a war artist, covering the European Theater of Operations. An exhibit of works produced by this project was held in 1944, entitled "The Army at War." Dows was discharged from the army in 1945. A book of his watercolors, Franklin Roosevelt at Hyde Park, was published in 1949.

Administration
Alternative Forms Available
The collection is available on 35 mm microfilm reels NDA 14 and 2803 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the material described in the container inventory does not reflect the arrangement of the collection on microfilm.
Processing Information
The collection was microfilmed upon receipt on reel NDA 14. One additional letter was microfilmed on reel 2803. The collection was processed in 2011 by Erin Kinhart.
Author
Erin Kinhart
Provenance
Letters were donated in 1962 by Olin Dows; the provenance of one letter (on microfilm reel 2803) is unknown.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Olin Dows letters, 1938-1949. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Restrictions on Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Olin Dows letters 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.

Related Material
Also at the Archives of American Art is an interview of Olin Dows conducted on October 31, 1963, by Harlan Phillips.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Federal aid to the arts Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art and state Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mural painting and decoration, American -- Washington (D.C.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arts administrators Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
American Federation of Arts Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bruce, Edward, 1879-1943 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sterne, Maurice, 1878-1957 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Treasury Relief Art Project Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States. Department of the Treasury Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Watson, Forbes, 1880-1960 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/