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Brenda Putnam Papers

An inventory of her papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Putnam, Brenda, 1890-1975.
Title: Brenda Putnam Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1915-1965
Quantity: 2 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the American sculptor and medalist. Died 1975.
Abstract: The Brenda Putnam Papers consists of correspondence (1930-1959); drawings; photographs of Brenda Putnam and her work; printed material, including articles, clippings, exhibition catalogs, and reviews; reminiscences, and a sketchbook. Correspondence, predominantly incoming, includes that of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Robert A. Baillie, Paul Philippe Cret, William Adams Delano, Eli Lilly and Company, John Flanagan, the Folger Shakespeare Library, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Lawrence Gilman, Grand Central Art Galleries, Walker Hancock, Anna Hyatt Huntington, Archer Milton Huntington, Gertrude K. Lathrop, the Library of Congress, the Liturgical Arts Society, Edward McCartan, Harold McCracken, the Medallic Art Company, the National Academy of Design, the National Sculpture Society, Ruth Nickerson, R.H. Norton, Joan Smit, Alexander B. Trowbridge, the U.S. Mint, the Work Projects Administration, Sidney Waugh, and Louis B. Wright.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Brenda Putnam was an American sculptor and author (1890-1975). The daughter of Herbert Putnam, a former Librarian of Congress, Brenda Putnam underscored the significance of her collection by providing not only brief annotations for various items, but often detailed reminiscences of her personal and professional life, thus establishing a context in which to view both her Papers as well as her artistic career.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

Arranged chronologically from 1930 through 1959, the Correspondence includes incoming letters with holograph and typescript carbon copies of some of Brenda Putnam's outgoing responses. While illuminating her relationships with fellow artists (Robert A. Baillie, John Flanagan, James Earle Fraser, Gaetano Cecere, Walker Hancock, Anna Hyatt Huntington, Gertrude K. Lathrop, Lee Lawrie, Carl Miles, Ruth Nickerson, Henry J. Peck, Marion Sanford, Joan Smit, Carl Walters, Sidney Waugh), the Correspondence also reveals Brenda Putnam's associations with galleries and museums (Birmingham Museum of Art, Grand Central Art Galleries, New York University's Hall of Fame, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts); patrons and sponsors of sculpture competitions (the Architect of the Capitol, the Folger Shakespeare Library, Archer M. Huntington, Eli Lilly and Company, the Liturgical Arts Society, Inc., the Medallic Art Company, R. H. Norton, the United States Director of the Mint); and professional organizations (American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Academy of Design, the National Sculpture Society); as well as some of the subjects of her work (Harold Bauer, William Adams Delano, Ossip Gabrilowitsch). A selected index to the Correspondence follows the box list.

Artwork encompasses original drawings, reproductions of Brenda Putnam's sculpture, and sketches. In designating her work, the terminology provided by the artist has been used in the arrangement of the collection. Drawings (1918-1950) include a series of mechanical draughting exercises for a class Putnam attended prior to a taking a job with Sperry Gyroscope Company, as well as four bone-shadow drawings executed from 1947 to 1948. Arranged by title, Sculpture includes photographs and printed reproductions of Brenda Putnam's two-and three-dimensional work. Putnam's subjects range from musicians (Harold Bauer, Pablo Casals, Wanda Landowska) to law-givers (Solon, Maimonides), admirals (Ernest J. King) to feminists (Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart). Much of this material is also accompanied by letters, printed material, and/or Brenda Putnam's reminiscences concerning the circumstances surrounding the execution of a particular work. Architectural pencil Sketches document Putnam's sojourn in Europe during the 1920s.

Writings include reminiscences, speeches, and miscellaneous articles, reviews, and the text for a Samuel F. B. Morse exhibition catalog. Written in 1964 and 1965, Putnam's reminiscences provide insight into her early fascination with music and musicians ("TheBeethoven Association," "A Portrait Bust of Ossip Gabrilowitsch," "Sculptor at the Piano"), while highlighting her opinions concerning her work ("Bone Shadow Drawings," "A Competition," "The Lighting of Sculpture"), often with a touch of self-deprecating humor ("The Gorilla," "Dayton, Ohio").

Memorabilia features artwork by Edgar Davies, Paul Manship, and Wheeler Williams, awards, personal photographs, printed material, and the transcript of a 1932 radio broadcast delivered shortly after the installation of Brenda Putnam's "Puck" at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Printed material includes articles and newspaper clippings (1919-1957) about Brenda Putnam, an assortment of her exhibition catalogs and invitations (1931-1947), and publicity for and reviews of her books, A Sculptor's Way and Animal X-Rays.

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Arrangement of the Collection

The Brenda Putnam Papers begins with Correspondence (box 1) and is ordered by date. Artwork (boxes 1-2) follows and is grouped into the categories of drawings, sculpture and sketches. Writings (box 2) consists of reminiscences, speeches, and miscellaneous articles and reviews, all organized by date. Memorabilia starts in box 3 and is arranged alphabetically by category. A final oversized package contains some additional artwork and memorabilia (a scrapbook).

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Subject Headings


Baillie, Robert A. (Robert Alexander), 1880-1961.
Cret, Paul Philippe, 1876-1945.
Delano, William Adams, 1874-1960.
Flanagan, John F., 1865-1952.
Gabrilowitsch, Ossip, 1878-1936.
Gilman, Lawrence, 1878-1939.
Hancock, Walker Kirtland, 1901-1998.
Huntington, Anna Hyatt, 1876-1973.
Huntington, Archer M. (Archer Milton), 1870-1955.
Lathrop, Gertrude Katherine, 1896-
McCartan, Edward, 1878-1947.
McCracken, Harold, 1894-1983.
Nickerson, Ruth.
Norton, R. H.
Putnam, Brenda, 1890-1975.
Smit, Joan.
Trowbridge, Alexander Buell, 1868-1950.
Waugh, Sidney, 1904-1963.
Wright, Louis B. (Louis Booker), 1899-1984.

Corporate Bodies

American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Eli Lilly and Company.
Folger Shakespeare Library.
Grand Central Art Galleries.
Liturgical Arts Society.
Medallic Art Company.
National Academy of Design (U.S.)
National Sculpture Society (U.S.)
New York University. -- Hall of Fame.
United States Mint.
United States. -- Work Projects Administration.


Art, American -- 20th century.
Art, American.
Medalists -- United States.
Sculptors -- United States.
Sculpture, American -- 20th century.
Sculpture, American.
Women artists -- United States.
Women sculptors -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Drawings (visual works)
Exhibition catalogs.
Reviews (documents)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Brenda Putnam Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Brenda Putnam, 1964, 1968.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: KM
Date: 1992-10-21
Revision history: 21 Aug 2007 - converted to EAD (JPK); 16 Jul 2012 - LCNAF updates (MRC); 12 Sep 2016 - updates/corrections (MS)

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Biographical material
Box 1 Miscellaneous
Box 1 General 1930-1959, undated (12 folders)
Box 1 General 1918, 1920 (2 items)
Oversize 1 Mechanical drawing exercises 1942 - preparation for job at Sperry Gyroscope
Box 1 "Bone-shadow drawings" 1947-1948 (4 items)
Box 1 General 1951 (1 item)
"The Man from Skid Row" 1920 (1 item)
Box 1 "Anatomical Figure for Students" 1937
Box 1 Anthony, Susan B. (New York University Hall of Fame)
Box 1 Bauer, Harold 1949
Box 1 "Blind Beggar of Florence"
Box 1 Bowker, Richard R.
Box 1 Brookgreen Gardens: Sculpture by Brenda Putnam 1937
Box 1 Casals, Pablo 1925
Box 1 "Charmides" 1917
Box 1 "The Child in the Vineyard" 1928
Box 1 "Christ, the Light of the World" 1942
Box 1 Cleveland Centennial Great Lakes Exposition Commemorative Half-Dollar 1936
Box 1 "Communion" - mother of Robert A. Baillie
Box 1 Delano, William Adams 1950
Box 1 "Diver"
Earhart, Amelia
Box 1 Head (Syracuse University) 1933
Box 1 Medal 1941
Box 1 Gabrilowitsch, Ossip (Detroit Institute of Arts) 1933
Box 1 Genthe, Arnold 1933
Box 2 Gorilla 1944-1945
Box 2 Great Law-Givers 1949-1950 - U.S. House of Representatives plaques
Box 2 Italian boy 1927-1928 - mask
Box 2 "Joseph and Mary at Bethlehem" 1929
Box 2 King, Ernest Joseph 1945-1946 - medal
Box 2 Kirke-Porter (Henry) memorial 1931-1932
Box 2 Landowska, Wanda 1928
Box 2 Lilly, Eli 1948
Box 2 Manda (W. Albert) memorial (South Orange, NJ) 1935
Box 2 Mapother, John Rubel
Box 2 "Memorial to Anne Simon" (Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, DC) 1915
Box 2 "Memorial to the Women of Virginia (Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, DC) 1942
Box 2 "Midsummer" 1930
Box 2 "Nature Study in Bronze" 1929
Box 2 Noble, M. C. S. 1935
Box 2 O'Hara, Desmond 1925 - nephew of Brenda Putnam
Box 2 O'Hara, Jane - niece of Brenda Putnam
Box 2 Post office lunette (Caldwell, NJ) 1936
Box 2 Post office mural (St. Cloud, MN) 1936
Box 2 "Puck" (Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC) 1931
Box 2 Putnam, Herbert (Library of Congress, Washington, DC) 1922 - Father of Brenda Putnam
Box 2 Sea-horse sundial 1925
Box 2 "The Spear Dance" 1926
Box 2 "Two Kids" sundial (Brookgreen Gardens, SC) 1926
Box 2 "White Mouse with a Flea"
Box 2 Woolsey, Dwight Theodore 1931
Box 2 England, F rance 1922 (17 items)
Box 2 Florence, Italy 1927 (14 items)
Oversize 1 France, Italy 1927 (2 items)
Box 2 Sketchbook I 1927-1929
Box 2 Sketchbook II 1927-1929
Box 2 Reminiscences 1923-1926, undated
Box 2 Speeches 1964-1965, undated
Box 2 Miscellaneous articles, reviews, etc 1928-1951 (2 folders)
Artwork by others
Box 3 Davies, Edgar (7 pencil drawings)
Box 3 Manship, Paul (1 pencil drawing)
Box 3 Williams, Wheeler (1 pencil drawing)
Box 3 Unidentified (1 page pencil drawings)
Box 3 Awards 1935-1963 (2 folders)
Box 3 Re: Beethoven Association
Box 3 Financial, legal
Box 3 Photographs - personal
Printed material
Box 3 Announcement, booklet, programs (3 programs, 1 each of others)
Box 3 Clippings 1919-1957, undated (6 folders)
Box 3 Exhibition catalogs, invitations 1931-1947, undated
Publicity, reviews, miscellany
Box 3 Animal X-rays
Box 3 The Sculptor's Way
Oversize 1 The Sculptor's Way, photograph of front cover
Box 3 Reprints 1949-1952 - George A. Dondero speeches on communism and art from Congressional Record.
Oversize 1 Scrapbook 1926-1936, undated - newspaper clippings
Photocopies only. For preservation purposes, damaged originals were discarded.
Box 3 Transcript 1932 - from radio broadcast about Brenda Putnam by Alice Hutchins Drake
Box 3 Miscellany

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Selected index to correspondence

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