- Collection ID:
Nickerson, Ruth, 1905-1997
- Physical Description:
The papers of sculptor and WPA artist Ruth Nickerson measure 3 linear feet and date from circa 1924-1997 and 2005, 2009. Included are personal resumes and professional summaries, as well as sculpture awards and honors; letters from artists and art administrators, correspondence with foundries and art organizations, the Treasury Department Section of Painting and Sculpture, and the Section of Fine Arts. Letters from Ruth Nickerson to her mother Kate Mary Nickerson and copies of outgoing letters from Nickerson to other are also includeds; writings, including typescripts of manuscripts and unpublished talks; files regarding Guggenheim Fellowships; Nickerson's cast stone formulas; photographs of works in progress; artwork consisting of watercolor studies for American Oriental Rug Weaving (sculpture panel) for the US Post Office, Leaksville, North Carolina, 1941, and handmade Christmas cards; and printed material including exhibition catalogs and newspaper clippings. Also included is an unpublished memoir The Stone Carver in the House, by Nickerson's daughter Elizabeth R. Knudsen, 2005.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of sculptor and WPA artist Ruth Nickerson measure 3 linear feet and date from circa 1924-1997 and 2005, 2009. Included are biographical material consisting of personal resumes and professional summaries, as well as sculpture awards and honors. Correspondence is with other artists, clients interested in commissioning art, foundries, professional and art organizations, the Treasury Department Section of Painting and Sculpture, and the Section of Fine Arts, and copies of outgoing letters from Nickerson to others. Also included are holiday cards and letters from Ruth Nickerson to her mother Kate Mary Nickerson. Also found are writings, including typescripts of manuscripts and unpublished talks, lists pertaining to exhibition planning, art foundations and sculpture inventories and extensive notes surrounding publicity for the 1995 National Sculpture Society show; Professional and Project files document a Guggenheim Fellowship and her participation in the Federal Art Project (FAP) of the Works Progress Administration (WPA); Other materials include cast stone formula notes; photographs of sculptures in progress and completed; and letters regarding professional organization memberships and committee roles, and as an arts educator. Artwork consists of watercolor studies for American Oriental Rug Weaving (sculpture panel) for the US Post Office, Leaksville, North Carolina, 1941, and miscellaneous sketches of people including one of painter Leon Kroll. Printed materials consist primarily of news clippings, exhibition invitations and publications, and a collection of other artist's exhibition catalogs, including two catalogs from The Grand Central School of Art. Also included is an unpublished memoir The Stone Carver in the House, by Nickerson's daughter Elizabeth R. Knudsen, 2005.
The collection is arranged as 7 series:
- Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1925-1995 (0.1 Linear feet: Box 1)
- Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1929-1996 (0.4 Linear feet: Box 1)
- Series 3: Writings, circa 1925-1996 (0.2 Linear feet: Box 1)
- Series 4: Professional Files, circa 1931-1996 (0.6 Linear feet: Box 1-2)
- Series 5: Project Files, circa 1927-1996, 2009 (0.7 Linear feet: Box 2)
- Series 6: Printed Materials, circa 1924-1998, 2005 (0.4 Linear feet: Box 3-4)
- Series 7: Artwork, circa 1930-1971 (0.1 Linear feet: Box 4)
Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Ruth Nickerson (1905-1997) was a Works Progress Administration (WPA) artist, direct stone sculptor, art educator and teacher in White Plains, New York. Nickerson was married to Edmund Greacen, Jr., son of painter Edmund Greacan. She studied art at the Detroit School of Applied Art, the National Academy school and at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design in New York. She also studied direct carving techniques with Ahron Ben-Shmuel.
Nickerson's major works include a large bust of Abraham Lincoln (1962) which she donated to the Queens Library in New York City, The Dispatch Rider (1937) and American Oriental Rug Weaving (1941) as part of the Federal Public Works of Art Project, a New Deal WPA initiative which employed artists to create work for display in non-federal public buildings. In addition to being selected for the Federal Arts Project, Nickerson was also chosen as a Guggenheim Fellow in 1946 and won numerous awards throughout her career including the Saltus Gold Medal. She also served as member and juror for many professional organizations such as the National Sculpture Society and the National Academy of Design. She taught courses at various institutions including the Grand Central School of Art and the National Academy of Design.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated 2019 and 2021 by Elizabeth R. Knudsen, Ruth Nickerson's daughter.
The collection was processed, and a finding aid prepared by Sabine Lipten in 2022.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.
Ruth Nickerson papers, circa 1924-1997, 2005, 2009. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Also found in the Archives of American Art are the Edmund Greacen papers, 1987-1972, bulk 1905-1949 and the Public Works of Art Project selected administrative and business records, 1933-1936.
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001