Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The papers of painter and political cartoonist Maurice Becker measure 2.3 linear feet and date from circa 1910 to 1970. Found within the papers are biographical material; personal and professional correspondence; writings; printed material, including radical labor and political periodicals; artwork; and photographs of Becker, his family and friends, and his artwork.
Biographical materials consist of a curriculum vitae and a list of artworks.
Correspondence is primarily with Becker's family, friends, and business associates. There are letters from his wife, Dorothy Baldwin Becker, one letter from friend and artist Elizabeth Lancaster, and a letter from Artists for Victory. One letter from Becker to friend J. B. Neumann contains a draft of Becker's will authorizing Neumann to sell and distribute his paintings upon his death or incapacitation, and a letter of invitation to artists and writers interested in reviving a new Masses style journal. and letters from magazine editors regarding freelance commissions. Also found are letters from magazine editors regarding freelance commission work.
Printed material includes bulletins, clippings and labor newspapers, exhibition announcements and catalogs, periodicals, press releases, and miscellaneous printed material. Periodicals include whole issues of Liberator, The Masses, New Masses, and One Big Union Monthly, where Becker's political cartoons were frequently featured.
Artwork includes paintings, over 800 graphite and pen and ink sketches, watercolors, and prints depicting Becker's figure drawings, caricatures, portrait drawings of men and women, and sketches of animals and landscapes. Many of these sketches were the basis for panels that later appeared in the New York Tribune, The Masses, and Liberator.
Photographs are of Maurice Becker with family and friends, and five photographs of his artwork.
Maurice Becker papers, circa 1910-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Portions of the collection were microfilmed on 35 mm microfilm reels 128 and 4909. While the microfilm is available at the Archives of American Art offices and affliates, and through interlibrary loan, researchers are advised that the microfilm does not reflect the current arrangement of the papers as described in this finding aid, and may also be incomplete.
Location of Originals:
REEL 96: Originals in Tamiment Library, New York, N.Y.
Processing of this collection was funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Also in the Archives are scattered Maurice Becker papers found within the Art Young papers at the Tamiment Library in New York. These were loaned to the Archives in 1971 for microfilming on reel 96. These papers are not described in the containter inventory of this finding aid but include approximately 20 postcards, catalogs, sketches, photographs, and other printed materials.
Duplicate magazines, catalogs, and clippings were transferred to the National Portrait Gallery Library in 1977.
Painter and political cartoonist Maurice Becker (1889-1975) lived and worked in New York City, New York and Tioga County, Pennsylvania, and was a frequent contributor to contemporary periodicals of the 1910s.
Maurice Becker donated his papers in several increments between 1962-1966.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001