Archives Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs
Manuscript Group 1316, Ruth Wilcox (1908 - 1989), Artist
Papers, 1914-1964, 0.5 linear feet
Call Number: MG 1316
Letters, brochures, copies of artistic works, photographs, relating to Ruth Wilcox (1908-1989), an artist from Closter, New Jersey.
Gift of Virginia Mosley from the estate of Ruth Wilcox, 1990.
Artist Ruth Kathryn Wilcox (1908-1989) was the only child of Ray Marvin Wilcox, also an artist, and Maude Ruth Turner. Her paternal grandparents were Hezekiah D. Wilcox of Elmira, New York and Kate Finch. Ruth Wilcox was born in New York City, bur for many years made her home in Closter, New Jersey (Bergen County). She was married to James Dawes. Her artistic work is represented in various locations throughout New Jersey, including the Provident Institution for Savings in Jersey City and the Colonial Life Insurance Company of America in East Orange. A list of her academic and artistic accomplishments is included in this collection.
The Ruth Wilcox Papers were donated to The New Jersey Historical Society on May 15, 1990 by Virginia Mosley, Tenafly Borough historian. Transferred to the Society's Museum Collections in December of 1993 were three paintings of Ruth Wilcox, 53 glass slices, and 2 frames each containing a pair of awards of merit.
The Ruth Wilcox Papers span the years 1914-1964. The papers are divided into two series, Ruth Wilcox's personal papers and her exhibition material. The document types include letters, photographs, negatives, genealogy notes, and awards of merit. Also included are greeting cards, calendars, and brochures featuring images of her artwork.
The bulk of the collection consists of printed material and photographs of two major murals she was commissioned to execute for the Provident Institution for Savings and the Colonial Life Insurance Company of America. There is minimal material, primarily negatives, showing any of her other artwork.
While renovating in 1948 and 1949, the management of the Provident Institution for Savings commissioned murals to be painted at their Main and Bergen Avenue offices in Jersey City (Hudson County). The management decided to add murals that would depict early New Jersey history. There are six murals created for the Main office: Prior's Mill, The First Church, a map of Paulus Hoeck, Edge's Windmill, Communipaw and Hook Steam Ferry Boat. Three murals located at the Bergen Avenue office depict Tise Tavern, Sip Manor, and an early map of Bergen.
The mural created for the Colonial Insurance Company is located in the lobby of the home office building in East Orange (Essex County). The mural runs along the upper wall in the lobby, and depicts life in colonial New Jersey. The mural recreates scenes of laborers at work in early colonial times. These scenes vary from glass workers and blacksmiths to book makers and furriers. The mural was commissioned and completed in 1948.
Ruth Wilcox made a valuable contribution to the style of Realism in American art after World War II. Her work is of interest to researchers of many fields as she realistically recreated scenes of colonial life in New Jersey based on historical research.
Series I - Personal Papers, 1914-1964 with gaps.
Arranged alphabetically with gaps.
The personal papers consist of correspondence, Wilcox genealogical notes, including a DAR application, and her resume, professional card and photographs of Ms. Wilcox at events and at home.
Series II - Exhibition Material, 1933-1956 with gaps.
Arranged by subject and alphabetically by type of record.
Includes photographs, negatives, greeting cards, calendars, and brochures for the permanent murals on display at the Provident Institute for Savings and the Colonial Life Insurance Company. Unrelated to the commissioned murals, but also in the collection are awards of merit and portrait labels for artworks by Ruth Wilcox and Ray Wilcox.
Processed by Janette Pardo, April 1999
The New Jersey Historical Society