Ruel P. Tolman Collection,
1909-1964

Summary
Collection ID:
Record Unit 7433
Creators:
Tolman, Ruel P, (Ruel Pardee), b. 1878
Dates:
1909-1964
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
0.5 linear meter.
Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Introduction
Introduction
This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee.

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
The Ruel P. Tolman Collection contains official correspondence; biographical information; photocopies of prints, drawings and photographs; and scrapbooks. Included are papers relating to Tolman's work as a graphic artist, his interest in miniature painting, and his participation in arts-related organizations.
Of particular interest are four scrapbooks. One scrapbook documents a tour Tolman took of art galleries, museums and historical societies in the northeastern United States and New England. Three scrapbooks contain photographs taken by Tolman of Smithsonian staff, Smithsonian grounds and buildings, Smithsonian exhibitions, and Washington, D.C. scenes.
Other types of material in this collection include tax returns, personal notes, trip reports, newspaper clippings, exhibit catalogs, invitations and Tolman's personal Christmas cards.
For a complete record of Tolman's association with the Smithsonian, the records of the Division of Graphic Arts, 1882-1962 (Record Unit 206); the Office of the Director, NCFA (Record Unit 311 and Record Unit 312); USNM, 1877-1975, Permanent Administrative Files (Record Unit 192); and the USNM, Curators' Annual Reports (Record Unit 158) should be consulted.

Historical Note
Historical Note
Ruel Pardee Tolman (1878-1954) was born in Brookfield, Vermont. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1902, he moved to Washington and attended the Corcoran School of Art. In 1906 he studied at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York. He taught classes at the Corcoran from 1906 until 1919. His association with the Smithsonian began in 1912 when he joined the Division of Graphic Arts of the U.S. National Museum (USNM) as a preparator. He became an aide in 1913, assistant curator in 1920, and curator in 1932. From 1932-1946 he also occupied the position of acting director of the National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA - known as the National Gallery of Art until 1937). Appointed director in 1946, he spent two years in the position and retired in 1948.
Tolman was a practicing graphic artist, working in lithography, etching, mezzotint, drypoint, oil paint, and watercolor. He was active in the Washington art community and was a nationally recognized painter of miniatures. His work included 26 miniature portraits of U.S. presidents and governors. He was founder and president of the Miniature Painters, Sculpturers and Gravers Society of Washington. In 1909, he obtained a patent for an artist's wet-canvas carrier.
During the period 1923-1946 Tolman organized a series of monthly exhibits at the Smithsonian of work by living artists. He also developed the traveling series "How Prints are Made" which circulated through the United States for two decades.
His publications included journal articles on graphic art, American art and American miniature painters; biographical articles for the Dictionary of American Biography; and catalogs and reports relating to the collections of the Division of Graphic Arts and the NCFA. His major work, The Life and Work of Edward Greene Malbone, Miniature Painter, was published in 1958 by the New York Historical Society.
He died on August 24, 1954. His wife, Nelly Summerel McKenzie Tolman, died in August of 1961. His daughter, Sarah Bruner Tolman Kemper, lives in Arlington.

Chronology
Chronology
March 26, 1878
Born in Brookfield, Vermont
1897
Attended Pomona College Prep School, Claremont, California
1902
Graduated from University of California at Berkeley
1902
Moved to Washington and attended Corcoran Art School
1906
Studied at National Academy of Design and Art Students League (New York)
1906
Taught classes at the Corcoran
1908-1919
Appointed assistant instructor at Corcoran
November 23, 1909
Obtained patent for artist's wet-canvas carrier
1912
Preparator at Division of Graphic Arts, United States National Museum (USNM)
1913
Aide in Division of Graphic Arts, USNM
1914
Married Nelly Summerel McKenzie
1920
Assistant curator in Graphic Arts Division, USNM
1932-1946
Curator, Divison of Graphic Arts, USNM, and Acting Director of the National Collection of Fine Arts, NCFA (known as the National Gallery of Art until 1937)
1934
Trip to New York, Philadelphia, Boston
1939
Trip to Chicago
1940
Elected to Pennsylvania Society of Miniature Painters
1946
Appointed director of NCFA, USNM
1947
Elected to Royal Society of Arts
March 31, 1948
Retired from NCFA
Summer 1948
Exhibition of etchings and dryponts at Smithsonian castle
August 24, 1954
Died at Washington Sanitarium in Takoma Park, Maryland
1958
The Life and Work of Edward Greene Malbone, Miniature Painter, published by New York Historical Society
August 1961
Wife Nelly Tolman died
October 25, 1962
Tolman library and artwork auctioned at Sloan's
January 7-February 3, 1964
Posthumous exhibition of etchings and dryponts held in Smithsonian castle

Notes
Personal Papers

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7433, Tolman, Ruel P, (Ruel Pardee), b. 1878, Ruel P. Tolman Collection
Access Restriction
Use of this record unit requires prior arrangement with the Archives staff.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Malbone, Edward Greene, 1777-1807 Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Collection of Fine Arts (U.S.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States National Museum. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
University of California, Berkeley Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Corcoran School of Art (Washington, D.C.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Academy of Design (U.S.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States National Museum. Division of Graphic Arts. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Collection of Fine Arts (U.S.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
New-York Historical Society Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers Society of Washington, D.C. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Washington, D.C.
Contact us at osiaref@si.edu