Manuscript Group 1316, Ruth Wilcox (1908 – 1989), Artist Papers, 1914-1964

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.

Biographical Note:

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.

Provenance Note:

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.

Scope and Content Note:

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 Descriptions:

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.

Folder List:

Folder Description Dates
Series I – Ruth Wilcox Personal Papers
1 Correspondence: Wilcox Family 1914-1923
2 Correspondence: Raritan State Bank 1948
3 Correspondence: Fairleigh Dickinson University 1964
4 Genealogy: Research notes 1922-1958
5 Genealogy: Coat of Arms n.d.
6 Genealogy: DAR application 1923
7 Printed material: Resume and professional card n.d.
8 Photographs n.d.
Series II – Ruth Wilcox Exhibition material
Provident Savings Bank:
9 Printed material: Correspondence 1954
10 Printed material: Brochures n.d.
11 Printed material: Brochures (color) n.d.
12 Printed material: Color drawings 1953
13 Printed material: Calendars (see also Oversized) 1951-1956
14 Printed material: Greeting cards n.d.
15 Photographs n.d.
16 Photographs: negatives n.d.
17 Photographs: Public relations (group photos) n.d.
Colonial Insurance Company:
18 Correspondence April 15, 1953
19 Printed materials: Color drawings n.d.
20 Printed materials: Greeting cards 1949, 1951
21 Photographs n.d.
22 Photographs: Public relations (group photos) 1953
Other Artwork:
23 Awards of merit (ribbons) 1937-1942
24 Labels (portrait labels) 1937-1942
25 Labels (metal portrait labels 1933
Calendar (11×16″): The Provident Institution for Savings in Jersey City – Featuring “Prior’s Mill, 1776” by Ruth Wilcox 1951

Processed by Janette Pardo, April 1999

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