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Catalog Data

Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969  Search this
Wolcott, Marion Post  Search this
Martin, John Bartlow  Search this
Robbins, Jerome  Search this
Nakashima, Marian  Search this
Lee, Russell Werner  Search this
Nakashima, George K.  Search this
Rodman, Selden  Search this
Rivera, Diego  Search this
Taylor, Dorothea Lange  Search this
Smith, David  Search this
Delano, Jack  Search this
Vachon, John  Search this
Baskin, Leonard  Search this
Sheeler, Charles  Search this
Rothstein, Arthur  Search this
Dugan, Alan  Search this
Soby, James Thrall  Search this
Gusten, Theodore  Search this
Lionni, Leo  Search this
MacLeish, Archibald  Search this
Evans, Walker  Search this
Kingman, Dong  Search this
Francis, Arlene  Search this
Friendly, Fred W.  Search this
Ferry, Hawkins  Search this
Osborn, Robert Chesley  Search this
Williams, William Carlos  Search this
Odets, Clifford  Search this
Mydans, Carl  Search this
Hirsch, Joseph  Search this
Soyer, Raphael  Search this
Zorach, William  Search this
Motion pictures (visual works)
Sound recordings
Video recordings
Place of publication, production, or execution:
United States
Physical Description:
24.8 linear feet
Access Note / Rights:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.
The papers of social realist painter, photographer, illustrator, printmaker, and teacher Ben Shahn (1898-1969) measure 24.8 linear feet and date from 1879-1990, with the bulk of the material dating from 1933-1970. The bulk of the collection consists of over 14.0 linear feet of incoming letters from artists, writers, colleagues, publishers, art organizations, galleries, and universities and colleges. Also found are biographical materials, project and source files, printed material, artwork by Shahn and others, photographs taken of and by Shahn, interview transcripts, and audio and video recordings. An addition of one sketch of a plan for The Great State of Wisconsin Post Office mural, circa 1937, was donated in 2018.
Ben Shahn papers, 1879-1990, bulk 1933-1970. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Additional Forms:
The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2011 and is available via the Archives of American Art's website.
Location of Originals:
Reel N70-6: Originals returned to lender, Bernarda Bryson Shahn, after microfilming.
Funding for the preservation and transfer of motion picture film provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee. Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art
Related Materials:
In 1969, Bernarda Bryson Shahn loaned addresses and essays by Shahn, 7 royalty statements, and 3 letters from publishers for microfilming. After filming, the material was returned to the donor. The loaned material is available on 35 mm microfilm reel N70-6 at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan, which is not described in the container list of this finding aid. However, many of Shahn's writings on this microfilm were included in subsequent donations to the Archives of American Art.
The Archives of American Art holds four oral history interviews with Ben Shahn: 1964 April 14 interview conducted by Richard K. Doud for the Archives of American Art New Deal and the Arts Project in which Shahn speaks of his travels and work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the American image as portrayed by FSA; 1965 January 17 interview; 1965 October 3 interview conducted by Harlan Phillips for the Archives of American Art New Deal and the Arts Project; and 1968 September 27 interview conducted by Forrest Selvig. Most of these interviews have transcripts available online.
The Archives also holds the Bernarda Bryson Shahn papers, circa 1947-2005, and two oral history interviews with Bernarda Bryson Shahn: 1983 April 29 and 1995 July 3.
Biography Note:
Ben Shahn (1898-1969) was a painter, printmaker, and photographer who worked primarily in Brooklyn, N.Y. and New Jersey. Shahn immigrated from Lithuania to the United States in 1906. He apprenticed as a lithographer, 1913-1917, and studied at the National Academy of Design from 1919 to 1922. He had his first solo exhibition at the Downtown Gallery in 1930. Shahn took photographs of rural areas for the Farm Security Administration between 1935 and 1938. During the 1940s, he made posters for the Office of War Information.
Language Note:
107 letters are in French.
36 letters are in Italian.
The Ben Shahn papers were donated in several installments between 1967-1991 by Shahn's widow, Bernarda Bryson Shahn. One additional sketch donated 2018 by Jean Shahn, Ben Shahn's daughter-in-law and estate representative.
Digitization Note:
This site provides access to the papers of Ben Shahn in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2010. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 41,803 images.
Location Note:
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Printmakers  Search this
Photographers  Search this
Painters  Search this
Illustrators  Search this
Record number:
Art Movements and Schools
Data Source:
Archives of American Art