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The Austin Merrill Mecklem and Marianne Greer Appel papers measure 1.4 linear feet and date from 1910-2006, with the bulk of materials dating from 1928-1977. Correspondence, writings, drawings, printed material, miscellaneous items and photographs document Mecklem as an artist, Works Progress Administration (WPA) muralist and art instructor and Appel as an artist, puppet designer and author and illustrator of children's books. A significant portion of Appel's papers consist of drafts of two illustrated children's books, "The Story of Juliet" (1945) and "Perlydew" (after 1953).
Austin Mecklem's papers include biographical materials, personal and professional correspondence, and letters and printed material from the WPA. There are letters from friends and applications for association memberships, teaching positions and a Guggenheim fellowship. Other printed material includes newspaper clippings relating to Mecklem and his work, (some of which also relates to Appel); exhibition catalogs, announcements and press releases; and an article from Fortune Magazine,"Grand Coulee," which concerns the construction of the Coulee Dam, a subject of interest to Mecklem.
Of particular note are Mecklem's hand-written lecture and teaching notes concerning the Fundamentals of Art prepared for his class at the Albright Art School. Also, there are black and white photographs of Mecklem's paintings and murals, including his design for a mural for the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D.C., which shows "Commander Peary and Matthew Henson at the North Pole, April 6, 1909." Original artwork by Mecklem includes the blueprint for the Portland, Conn. Post Office mural, drawings on tissue paper, a small watercolor landscape and a cartoon drawing in color, "Life at the High."
Appel's papers consist of drafts of children's books, correspondence, writings and sketches, and clippings from the period after Mecklem's death. The correspondence is both personal and professional and includes letters from the Federal Works Agency Public Buildings Administration regarding the Agency's purchase of Appel's artwork and an application for a Guggenheim Fellowship with accompanying references.
Also found are sketch books and an original, signed watercolor by Appel. There are black and white photographs of Appel's paintings, black and white and colored photographs of puppets designed by Appel, and photographs of Appel along side of puppets. Some photographs of puppets carry notes by Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets. Also, there is a CD labeled Mecklem "Catalogue Raisonne as of Feb. 2009." Appel's drafts of "The Story of Juliet" written in 1945 include manuscripts, both typed and hand-written, with layouts and illustrations in tempera or gouache. There are sketches and notes for a second children's book, "Polydew," as well as notes and a diagram for a garden.
There is also a collection of black and white photographs of Mecklem and Appel family and friends.
Found with the papers are notes made by the donors to identify or explain materials. These have been kept to augment an understanding of the papers.
Austin Merrill Mecklem and Marianne Greer Appel papers, 1910-2006, bulk 1928-1977. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Austin Merril Mecklem (1894-1951) was a WPA muralist and art instructor in Woodstock, N.Y. 1894-1951. Mecklem was married to painter, illustrator and puppet maker Marianne Greer Appel (1913-1988).
Donated 2010 by Sarah Greer Mecklem and Merrill Mecklem Piera, Austin Mecklem's and Marianne Appel's daughters.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001