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Howard Norton Cook Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: TG/KM
Date: Aug 1993

Biographical History

American painter, illustrator, muralist.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Spanning 1866 to 1972, the Howard Norton Cook Papers comprises correspondence, artwork, writings, and memorabilia of the American illustrator, muralist, and painter (1901-1980). The collection not only illuminates the personal life and professional career of the artist, but also reflects the multiculturalism of the the Southwest and the growth of the Taos art community.

The Correspondence-subject Files (Boxes 1-9) encompasses family and general correspondence, including both incoming business and personal letters and a number of outgoing holograph drafts, as well as photographs, reports, and printed material. Spanning 1928 through the 1960s, letters between Howard Cook and his wife, artist Barbara Latham, together with a small amount of printed material (artwork reproductions and exhibition catalogs) relating to her career, constitute the bulk of the family material. The remainder of the Correspondence Subject Files comprises letters of artists (Ernest L. Blumenschein, Victor Candell, Jean Charlot, Frederick Conway, Russell Cowles, Andrew Dasburg, Lamar Dodd, Ernest Fiene, Lez Haas, John Haley, Ward Lockwood, Henry Lee McFee, B. J. O. Nordfeldt, Arthur Osver, Rudolph Ruzicka, Millard Sheets, Carl Zigrosser); academic institutions (Dartmouth College, San Jose State College, University of Hawaii, University of Illinois, University of Texas, Washington University); and agents and private galleries (Raymond Burr Galleries, Grand Central Art Galleries, Grand Central Moderns, Frank K. M. Rehn, Rosequist Galleries, E. Weyhe). Correspondence also includes that with art institutions and museums (Art Association of Newport, Art Institute of Chicago, Associated American Artists, Baltimore Museum of Art, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of New Mexico, Philbrook Art Center); authors (Margaret Anderson of Common Ground, John Hodgdon Bradley, J. Frank Dobie, Lenore Marshall); clients and patrons (Joseph Blumenthal of Spiral Press, Mayo Clinic, R. Gray Winnan, Woodcut Society); and professional organizations (American Artists Group, American Institute of Graphic Arts, Artists Equity Association, Associated American Artists, Society of American Graphic Artists). Materials relating to the production of Cook's mural paintings for the post office in Pittsburgh and the courthouse and post office in San Antonio (U. S. Post Office, U. S. Public Buildings Administration, U. S. Treasury Department) demonstrate federal support for the arts during the Depression through the early 1940s. Additional documentation concerning the relationship between the arts and government may be found among the material relating to the U. S. Office for Emergency Management and the U. S. Office of Civilian Defense.

Original sketches, watercolor drawings, woodcut and lithographic proofs as well as reproductions of Cook's graphic work and paintings constitute Artwork (Box 10). Original work includes drawings for an unpublished Book of the Month Club edition of Jack London's The Call of the Wild; drawings and page proofs for Cook's children's book, Sammi's Army; watercolor drawings for The Reader's Digest; a self portrait sketch; and a number of sketches for Cook's San Antonio frescoes. Reproductions include periodical illustrations arranged by title of publication in which they appeared; a portfolio of murals at the Mayo Clinic, for which Cook contributed "Man's Responsibility to Others;" and miscellaneous graphic work and paintings arranged by title.

Comprised of published and unpublished material, Cook's Writings (Box 11) are arranged alphabetically by format. They include articles, a draft essay on artist Ernest L. Blumenschein, inventories of Cook's work (some with prices), reminiscences about Taos, the transcript of a speech delivered at a retrospective exhibition of Andrew Dasburg's work, statements and notes on Cook's artistic philosophy, and miscellaneous notes, including those for the Mayo Clinic mural project.

Financial and legal material, identification and membership cards, photographs, and printed material compose Memorabilia (Boxes 12-19). Printed material includes articles, reviews, and clippings about Cook (1923-1965), exhibition announcements, invitations, and catalogs (1920s-1969) for Cook's group and one man shows, and miscellaneous periodical issues and reports. Arranged by institution, there are also a number of catalogs which Cook collected for exhibitions in which he did not participate.


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.

Related Material

Part of this collection is also available on microfilm.

See also the Aaron Bohrod Papers.

Subject Headings


Anderson, Margaret C.
Blumenschein, E. L. (Ernest Leonard), 1874-1960.
Blumenthal, Joseph, 1897-1990.
Bradley, John Hodgdon, 1898-
Candell, Victor.
Charlot, Jean, 1898-1979.
Conway, Fred.
Cook, Howard Norton, 1901-1980.
Cowles, Russell, 1887-
Dasburg, Andrew, 1887-1979.
Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964.
Dodd, Lamar.
Fiene, Ernest, 1894-1966.
Haas, Lez.
Haley, John.
Latham, Barbara, 1896-1989.
Lockwood, Ward.
Marshall, Lenore, 1897-1971.
McFee, Henry Lee, 1886-1953.
Nordfeldt, Bror Julius Olsson, 1878-1955.
Osver, Arthur, 1912-
Ruzicka, Rudolph, 1883-1978.
Sheets, Millard, 1907-1989.
Zigrosser, Carl, 1891-1975.

Corporate Bodies

Mayo Clinic.
United States -- Post Office Department.
United States -- Department of the Treasury.
United States -- Public Building Administration.


Art and state -- United States.
Art, American -- 20th century.
Artist colonies -- New Mexico -- Taos.
Federal aid to the arts -- United States.
Illustrators -- United States.
Mural painting and decoration -- United States -- 20th century.
Painters -- United States.
Painting, American -- 20th century.
Painting, American -- Southwestern States.

Genres and Forms

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



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Howard Norton Cook Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Howard Cook, 1964-1972. Kurtz letters gift of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art, 2009.

Table of Contents

Family Correspondence Subject Files

Correspondence Subject Files





Note on alternate formats:

Part of this collection is also available on microfilm.