United States -- Politics and government -- 1933-1945
United States -- Social conditions -- 1933-1945
The Edward Bruce papers measure 8.9 linear feet and date from 1902 to 1960, with the bulk of the material dating from 1932 to 1942. The collection documents Bruce's work as an artist, art collector, exhibition juror, and federal government art administrator, particularly his tenure as Director of the U. S. Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts. Well over one-half of the collection consists of extensive correspondence with artists, art collectors and dealers, arts associations, galleries, and government officials, including President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Scope and Content Note:
The Edward Bruce papers measure 8.9 linear feet and date from 1902 to 1960, with the bulk of the material dating from 1932 to 1942. The collection documents Bruce's work as an artist, art collector, exhibition juror, and federal government art administrator, particularly his tenure as Director of the U. S. Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts. Well over one-half of the collection consists of extensive correspondence with many notable artists and government officials. Also found is scattered biographical material, office diaries and speeches, personal financial material, printed material, four scrapbooks, and photographs.
A small amount of biographical material includes birth records and many awards and certificates. Bruce's correspondence files comprise over half of this collection, containing correspondence with family, friends, artists, art organizations, political figures, museums, art galleries, and government agencies. Found within the files is extensive correspondence with friend and art critic Leo Stein and artist friend Maurice Sterne. Additional artists Bruce corresponded with include George Biddle, Adrian Dornbush, and Olin Dows. Also included is correspondence documenting his career as Chief of the Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts with government colleagues and officials, much of it concerning his role on various federal arts committees, including the Commission of Fine Arts. There is also extensive correspondence with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt concerning federal and public art projects.
Writings include office diaries and notebooks containing notes, addresses, lists of Section of Fine Arts projects, and dated work entries. There are copies of numerous written speeches given by Bruce on the importance of art, public art projects, and political issues. Financial material consists of a small number of items documenting Bruce's financial activity such as tax and insurance records, bills, a cash book, and house leases. Printed material documents Edward Bruce's career as an artist and federal arts projects and programs. Found are news clippings and magazine articles, exhibition catalogs, brochures, bulletins from the Section of Fine Arts, published speeches, and miscellaneous publications. Four scrapbooks contain news clippings, letters, photographs, and other printed material highlighting Bruce's career.
Extensive photographs include photographs of Bruce's artwork, portraits of Bruce, the Bruces with family and with friends and at many special events, including an NBC radio broadcast and at an exhibition with Eleanor Roosevelt. There are also photographs taken by Bruce during his travels and while living in Anticoli Carrado, Italy.
The Edward Bruce collection is arranged into 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1904-1938 (Box 1, OV 11; 3 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1921-1957 (Boxes 1-6; 5.5 linear feet)
Series 3: Writings, circa 1931-1942 (Box 6; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 4: Financial Material, circa 1909-1913, circa 1928-1943(Box 6, 0.3 linear feet)
Series 5: Printed Material, circa 1919, circa 1926-1943, 1960 (Box 7, 0.5 linear feet)
Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1922-1941 (Box 7-8; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 7: Photographs, circa 1902-1943 (Box 7, 9-10; 1.0 linear foot)
Although the collection no longer matches the exact filmed order, large groups of materials have been maintained in film order, particularly the correspondence. Microfilm reel and frame number notations are provided at the folder level when known.
Edward Bruce was born in 1879 in Dover Plains, New York. Though he enjoyed painting at a young age, he pursued a career in law and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1904. He practiced law in New York and in Manila, Philippines and was actively involved in international issues. He became president of the Pacific Development Corporation of California, was a lobbyist for the Philippine Independence Bill, and, in 1933, attended the London Economic Conference as a silver expert.
In 1923 Bruce gave up his career in law and business and began to paint, particularly landscapes. He and his wife Peggy spent the next six years in Anticoli Carrado, Italy where he studied painting from his friend and fellow artist Maurice Sterne. Bruce returned to the United States in 1929 and settled in California, exhibiting his artwork to much public and critical praise. In addition, Bruce was an avid collector of Chinese art.
In 1933 Bruce was appointed Chief of the newly established Public Works of Art Project, a federal government New Deal program within the U.S. Treasury Department, that employed artists to decorate numerous public buildings and parks. Though this federal program lasted less than a year, Bruce worked with Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., to establish the Treasury Department's Section of Painting and Sculpture in 1934 - later renamed the Section of Fine Arts in 1938. Bruce was appointed Director of the department and played a primary role in securing federal government support for American artists. In 1940 he was appointed to the Commission of Fine Arts by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Bruce received many honors and awards during his lifetime both for his work as an artist and for his capable and dedicated administration of federal arts programs. Despite poor health, he continued his work for the Section of Fine Arts until shortly before his death in 1943.
Other resources in the Archives relating to Edward Bruce include an oral history interview with Margaret (Peggy) Bruce on October 11, 1963 conducted by Harlan Phillips. Miscellaneous Manuscript Collections include one file of material, 1933-1960, concerning Edward Bruce that was donated by the U.S. General Services Administration in 1986 and microfilmed on reel 3960.
Also available at the Archives are two collections of records loaned by the U.S. National Archives from their Public Buildings Administration records and the records of the Public Works of Art Project for microfilming by the Archives. Microfilm reels DC1-DC 13 and DC116-DC128 contain Edward Bruce's files and correspondence, respectively.
A book Art in Federal Buildings by Forbes Watson and Edward Bruce was donated to AAA with Bruce's papers and microfilmed with the rest of collection on Microfilm Reel D91-D92, and then transferred to the Smithsonian American Art Museum Library.
The Edward Bruce papers were donated by Margaret (Peggy) Bruce, Edward Bruce's wife, in 1962. Additional printed material, financial records, and photographs of artwork were donated by Mrs. Bruce's niece, Maria Ealand in 1979.
The collection is open for research. The collection is partially microfilmed. Use of material not microfilmed requires an appointment.
The Edward Bruce papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.