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James Daugherty papers

Identifier: Ax 450

Scope and Contents

The James Daugherty papers are arranged into the following series: Publication Artwork, Artwork, Manuscripts, Other Writings and Publications, Correspondence, Notebooks and Sketchbooks, News Clippings and Ephemera, Sonia Daugherty manuscripts, Charles Daugherty manuscripts, Personal, and Photographs.

Series I contains artwork produced for use in publications. It is primarily composed of original illustrations on paper in a variety of media, including ink, watercolor, guache, and pencil. Complete sets of final illustrations for several publications are drawn on two to three layers of acetate for color separation (including complete sets for Gillespie and the Guards and The Loudest Noise in the World). In addition to original illustrations for publications, this series includes other production material such as dummies, lithographic proofs, posters, page layouts, and many sets of galleys.

Series II contains unpublished artwork, and includes illustrations, paintings, comics, abstract works on paper, Christmas cards, relief prints, photographs of murals, sketches for murals, and reproduced U.S. Government posters. Some items may be sketches or studies for publications that have not been identified.

Literary works by James Daugherty, Sonia Daugherty, and Charles Daugherty are represented within the Manuscripts series. These include early drafts, printer’s copies, research material, and notes. Early biographical manuscript material is also included with the manuscripts.

The correspondence series includes personal letters exchanged with family members, as well as professional correspondence and fan mail. The sketchbooks in Series VI are mostly bound. Newspaper clippings range from 1934–1970. This series includes printed ephemera such as art exhibition announcements, advertisements, greeting cards, and various financial documents (e.g. lists of the declaration of value for artwork and appraisals). Series X contains photographs from the early biographical material.


  • 1922-1973


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

James Daugherty (1889–1974) was born in Asheville, North Carolina in 1889. He grew up on farms in Ohio and Indiana until age ten, when his family relocated to Washington, D.C. There, with encouragement from his father, James enrolled in night classes at Corcoran School of the Arts and Design (formerly, the Corcoran School of Art). Later, during the summer of 1903, he attended the Darby School of Painting, run by professors at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The following year, when his father relocated to London, James accompanied him and had the opportunity to study art under British artist Frank Brangwyn. He returned to New York at 18, and began his professional career in the arts.

Upon his return from London he took up residence in Brooklyn Heights, and worked as an illustrator for magazines and advertising agencies. In 1913, James married Sonia Medvedeva, and they soon had their son Charles. During World War I, he was employed as a camouflage painter of naval ships and began work as a mural artist. He also received commissions to create posters for U.S. Government agencies, including the U.S. Shipping Board and Department of the Treasury. In his early twenties, he moved his family to Weston, Connecticut, where he began to establish himself as an illustrator for books and magazines. In Connecticut he became a member of two local art organizations, the Darien Guild of the Seven Arts and the Silvermine Guild of Artists.

Daugherty’s artistic style was greatly influenced by the 1913 landmark Armory Show in New York. Daugherty joined artists Arthur B. Frost, Jr., Morgan Russell, and Stanton Macdonald Wright in the development of the Synchromist approach (1913–1918), a practice of abstract art that focused on rhythmic color forms.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Daugherty received several major commissions from the Works Projects Administration (WPA), a program under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Daugherty completed five major murals under this program. They are located in the Holmes School in Darien, Connecticut; the Virden, Illinois Post Office; Stamford High School in Connecticut; the Greenwich, Connecticut Town Hall; and the Fairfield Court, a low-income housing development in Stamford, Connecticut.

After the Great War, Daugherty continued working as a prolific children’s book author and illustrator, illustrating nearly seventy titles throughout his life. In 1940, he won the Newbery Medal for his book Daniel Boone, which he wrote and illustrated, and was a runner-up for two Caldecott Medals with Andy and the Lion and Gillespie and the Guards. Many of his works highlight the stories of American politicians and folk heroes such as Abraham Lincoln and Lewis and Clark. Daugherty, however, was also greatly influenced by and illustrated the works of great American poets such as Walt Whitman (Walt Whitman’s America, 1964) and Ralph Waldo Emerson (The Sound of Trumpets, 1971). He was also a collaborator and illustrator for many children’s books authored by his wife Sonia, including The Way of An Eagle (1941) and Ten Brave Women (1953). His son Charles also became a children’s book author, and published several titles with Viking Press and Macmillan, many of which were illustrated by James Daugherty.

In 1953, Daugherty returned to abstract color painting, something he continued over the last twenty years of his life. His paintings were exhibited in only a handful of shows from the 1950s through the 1970s. In 2002, the Spanierman Modern gallery in New York presented a solo exhibition of his work titled James Daugherty: Late Abstractions that displayed over thirty-five of his abstract paintings and resulted in a published catalogue of these works. His abstract paintings are held in many public collections including the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York).

James Daugherty died in Boston, Massachusetts on February 21, 1974.


45 linear feet (46 containers, 3 folders)

Language of Materials



James Daugherty (1889-1974) was a muralist, author, and illustrator who won the Newbery Medal in 1940 for his children's book, Daniel Boone, and was a runner-up for two Caldecott Medals. The collection is primarly comprised of artwork, but also includes manuscripts and other writings (including several by Sonia Daugherty and Charles Daugherty), correspondence, notebooks and sketchbooks, news clippings and ephemera, and photographs.


Materials within this collection were originally organized by accession: March 1976 Addendum, October 1976 Addendum, and a 1981 Addendum. This initial organization reflected the gradual acquisition of the collection over time. This organization was also based on an initial decision not to merge the various accessions into a comprehensive whole.

The collection was reprocessed beginning in the Fall of 2015 to better facilitate intellectual access, and is now arranged into the following series:

Series I: Publication Artwork [preparatory artwork and production materials] Series II: Artwork [unpublished] Series III: Manuscripts Series IV: Other Writings and Publications Series V: Correspondence Series VI: Notebooks and Sketchbooks Series VII: News Clippings and Ephemera Series VIII: Sonia Daugherty Manuscripts Series IX: Charles Daugherty Manuscripts Series X: Personal Series XI: Photographs

Artwork in Series I and Series II is arranged alphabetically by title. Manuscript materials in Series III and Series VIII are intellectually arranged according to publication date, rather than alphabetically by title. Where no publication date was identified, materials in these two series were arranged alphabetically by title.

Other Finding Aids

Paper finding aid with additional information is available in the Paulson Reading Room of Special Collections and University Archives.

Related Materials

Other collections relating to Charles Daugherty at Special Collections and University Archives include: Charles Michael Daugherty Papers, Ax 748.

A James Daugherty collection also may be found at the University of Minnesota Libraries Children's Literature Research Collections: James Henry Daugherty Papers, CLRC-122.

Physical Description

46 containers, 3 oversize folders.

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff, 1967-1981. Collection was partially reprocessed by Claire Christy, 2013-1014. Reprocessing was completed by Alexa Goff and Tom Beech, 2015-2016.

Descriptive information is drawn in part from information supplied with the collection, and initial surveys of the contents. Folder titles are based on those created by the creators or previous custodians.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the James Daugherty Papers
Revise Description
University of Oregon Libraries, Archivists' Toolkit Project Team, Cassie Schmitt, Tanya Parlet, and Claire Christy. Revisions by Alexa Goff, Tom Beech, and Rachel Lilley.
2012; 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for initial production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA