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John Rood Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: EL
Date: Sep 1978

Biographical History

John Rood, sculptor, was born 22 February 1902 near Athens, Ohio, the son of George D. and Frances E. (Snedden) Rood. He left school at the age of twelve to help his widowed mother support the family, and educated himself in painting, music, and writing. Two years in Europe fostered these interests. Several years' work in printing and publishing culminated in the literary periodical Manuscript, published at Athens from 1934 to 1936, and edited by Rood and his first wife, Mary Lawhead. However, Rood had begun to sculpt in 1933, and as he devoted more time to his sculpture the publishing venture was abandoned.

In 1937 Rood had his first one-man show in New York; more than a hundred one-man shows followed in venues across the United States. His principal medium was wood, a preference reflected in his Folk Music Series and his books Wood Sculpture (1940) and Sculpture in Wood (1950). In the late 1940s he took up stone carving; during this same period he and Lawhead divorced and Rood married his second wife, Dorothy Bridgman Atkinson (1948). Later he moved to metal, using welding tools; his book Sculpture With a Torch was published in 1963. In 1965 Rood had his first exhibition in Europe, at Milan and Rome. Later phases of his work included "structachromes" of wrought iron and stained glass and, in the 1970s, painted wood constructions.

Most of Rood's career was spent in Minneapolis, and examples of his work are abundant in the Twin Cities area. His affiliation with the University of Minnesota began in 1944 as resident artist, and he won successive promotions until his appointment as professor in 1957. He spent a few years in Washington, DC but returned to Minneapolis, where he died in March 1974.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The John Rood Papers include biographical material, correspondence, scrapbooks, and miscellanea.

Correspondence includes letters from James Farrell and James Laughlin. Additional correspondence is located in some of the scrapbooks (these are indicated by an asterisk). Miscellaneous includes photographs, loose clippings, and a transcript of the 1960 trial in which Rood as plaintiff sought recovery of taxes paid on his income from sculpting. One of the four items of published material on Rood's work is the sculptor's personal copy, with his bookplate, of John Rood's Sculpture by Bruno F. Schneider (Minneapolis, 1958).

Seventeen Scrapbooks complete the collection. Six scrapbooks contain clippings, photographs, exhibit catalogs, and reviews. Two scrapbooks document exhibits of Rood's sculpture in clippings, letters, and photographs and cover two exhibits in the United States (Associated American Artists, 1950, and Minneapolis Historical Society, 1951) and one in Europe (Milan and Rome, 1956), the latter with photographs only.

Four scrapbooks contain data on Rood's art collection and sculptures. One documents the John and Dorothy Rood Art Collection, donated to the University of Minnesota, with works, prices, correspondence about loans to exhibitions. An alphabetical log, arranged by artist's name, contains notes on prices and purchase dates, exhibition catalogs, bills for artwork purchased, records of loans to museums, letters -- occasionally from the artists themselves -- and other items. Two spiral albums, numbered "IV" and "VI," contain a partial record of Rood's sculpture (other scrapbooks presumably in this series are not part of the collection at Syracuse).

The remaining scrapbooks consist of three travel diaries and two miscellaneous scrapbooks. Scrapbooks which contain correspondence are indicated in the inventory below by an asterisk (*).

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically. Scrapbooks which contain correspondence are indicated in the inventory below by an asterisk (*). Miscellaneous material is arranged alphabetically by type.


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

See also Manuscript (Athens, Ohio) Records for correspondence to Rood as editor of Manuscript.

Subject Headings


Rood, John, 1902-1974.


Art, American -- 20th century.
Art, American.
Periodical editors -- United States.
Sculptors -- United States.
Sculpture, American -- 20th century.
Sculpture, American.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Exhibition catalogs.
Reviews (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John Rood Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of John Rood, 1967.

Kendall correspondence, gift of Caroline Kendall Orszak, 2012.

Table of Contents

Biographical material