This collection of Elizabeth Olds Papers came to the Ransom
Center in May 1997 as part of a large donation of Olds' art work. Painter,
printmaker, author and illustrator of books for children, Olds' renown as
Social Realist developed through her work on WPA projects during the
Depression. She was also influenced by her early training with American artist
George Luks and extensive travel abroad from 1925-29. The Archives of American
Art at the Smithsonian is the primary repository of Olds' papers; however,
papers in this collection are from the files of Prof. Emeritus Emmett Hudspeth
(Physics Department, University of Texas, Austin). As husband of Olds' niece,
Hudspeth acted on Olds' behalf, both as advocate and collector of her works,
promoting exhibitions and the sale of photolithographic prints to fund a
conservation scholarship at the Ransom Center. In general, the papers of
Hudspeth and Olds are interwoven in this collection, most especially in the
The papers are arranged in five series: I. About E.O.'s
Works; II. Exhibitions; III. Correspondence, 1927-1992; IV. Personal; and
About Other Artists.
Series I, About E.O.'s Works, contains a range of activities
from a pre-publication layout for one of her children's books to inventories
her works, including silk screen and wood block prints, lithographs, as well
Depression era works from 1930-40. Also present is extensive documentation
"Celebration Portfolio" which
offered selected prints for sale beginning in 1989. Copies of her six
children's books, received with the papers, have been transferred to the Ransom
Series II, Exhibitions, contains exhibition brochures and
gallery announcements from the 1940s to 1990s. Olds works were exhibited in
galleries and museums throughout her professional career, chiefly at the ACA
gallery and others in New York, but also at The Brooklyn Museum, the Whitney
Museum of American Art, the Carnegie Institute, and the Library of Congress.
Several exhibitions are well-represented here, especially the 1986
retrospective exhibition in Austin, Texas, which Hudspeth curated with Susan
Arthur, Olds' biographer.
Correspondence between Hudspeth and Olds from 1965-1989 and
their correspondence with others from 1927-1992 is found in Series III.
Correspondents include collectors of Olds' works, art galleries and museums,
publishers, friends, and relatives. Correspondence with the National Museum
American Art and the Archives of American Art documents Olds' gift of her
and papers to these institutions.
The largest series, Series IV. Personal, contains numerous
magazine and newspaper articles about Olds, Susan Arthur's biographical
master's thesis, business papers, Olds' interviews with Hudspeth and Arthur,
photographs, and miscellaneous writings by Olds. The business papers date
the 1980s-1990s and contain medical and financial statements. Also included
earlier book contracts with Houghton Mifflin and Scribners as well as royalty
statements. The photographs are an eclectic mix of Olds and family, her art
works, and scenes that Olds may have used as subjects for her artistic
pursuits. Chief among her writings is a biographical sketch she prepared for
Encyclopedia of the American
Woman in 1973.
Series V, About Other Artists, contains articles on art and
artists, as well as photographs of art work including fresco artist José
Several videocassettes containing excerpts of Olds'
interviews and her art works were transferred to the Ransom Center Film