1.75 cu. ft. (3 document boxes) (1 half document box)
Ruel P. Tolman (1878-1954) was born in Brookfield, Vermont. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1902, he moved to Washington and attended the Corcoran School of Art. In 1906 he studied at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York. He taught classes at the Corcoran from 1906 until 1919.
Tolman's association with the Smithsonian began in 1912 when he joined the Division of Graphic Arts of the United States National Museum as a Preparator. He became an Aide in 1913, Assistant Curator in 1920, and Curator in 1932. From 1932 to 1946 Tolman also occupied the position of Acting Director of the National Collection of Fine Arts (known as the National Gallery of Art until 1937). Appointed Director in 1946, Tolman retired in 1948. His major work, The Life and Work of Edward Greene Malbone, Miniature Painter, was published in 1958 by the New York Historical Society, four years after Tolman's death.
Tolman was a practicing graphic artist, working in lithography, etching, mezzotint, drypoint, oil, and watercolor. He was active in the Washington art community and was nationally recognized as a painter of miniatures. He was founder and President of the Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers Society of Washington. In 1909, he obtained a patent for an artist's wet-canvas carrier.
(1) Personal correspondence and related materials, 1909-1954, 1958-1962 and undated; (2) scrapbooks, 1934-1936, 1944; (3) prints, drawings and photographs, 1910-1945 and undated; (4) newspaper clippings, 1908-1952, 1964; (5) patent, 1909
These papers consist of correspondence; biographical material; photocopies of prints, drawings and photographs; and four scrapbooks. One scrapbook documents a 1934 tour Tolman took of art galleries, museums and historical societies in the northeastern United States. Three scrapbooks contain photographs, dated 1934-1936, and 1944 taken by Tolman of Smithsonian staff, buildings, grounds, and exhibitions, and Washington scenes.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520