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Paul Bransom Collection

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Paul Bransom Collection

Table of Contents

Collection Overview

Collection Inventory+/-

Biographical Note/Historical Note

Content Description

Collection Use

Administrative Information


Collection Overview +/-

Title: Paul Bransom Collection
Dates: 1873-1979 (inclusive)
Collection Number: MS 010
Summary: The Paul Bransom Collection originated from his gift of drawings, illustrations and sketches presented to Weber State College in 1972. Subsequent donations of art work, books and manuscripts were bequeathed by the artist in 1974, and received by the College in 1975, 1980 and 1983. In addition to these contributions, original Bransom paintings were donated by Margaret (Mrs. Fredrick) Osborn of Garrison-on-Hudson, New York, in 1974, and by Mr. George F. Pierrot of Detroit, Michigan, in 1980. Future supplements to the collection, bequeathed by various Bransom admirers and associates, are forthcoming.
Repository: Stewart Library Special Collections
2901 University Circle
Ogden UT 84408

Collection Inventory +/-

Box 1: Correspondence File, 1937 –1959

Fd 1 2/2/37 – 12/27/39 (7 pieces)

Fd 2 3/4/44 – 9/20/45 (12 pieces)

Fd 3 1/8/47 – 12/23/47 (5 pieces)

Fd 4 4/10/48 – 9/23/48 (7 pieces)

Fd 5 12/15/49 – 12/31/49 (7 pieces)

Fd 6 1/3/50 – 2/13/50 (14 pieces)

Fd 7 8/23/50 – 12/27/50 (13 pieces)

Fd 8 1/21/51 – 12/29/51 (13 pieces 1 item)

Fd 9 1/8/52 – 2/19/52 (10 pieces)

Fd 10 8/1/52 – 12/22/52 (10 pieces)

Fd 11 2/4/53 – 12/18/53 (15 pieces 3 items)

Fd 12 2/4/54 – 10/12/55 (10 pieces 1 item)

Fd 13 7/23/56 – 9/7/56 (10 pieces)

Fd 14 10/20/56 – 12/26/56 (12 pieces 1 item)

Fd 15 1/3/57 – 1/11/57 (16 pieces)

Fd 16 1/17/57 – 1/30/57 (11 pieces 1 item)

Fd 17 2/5/57 – 12/23/57 (20 pieces 1 item)

Fd 18 3/7/58 – 4/28/58 (10 pieces 3 items)

Fd 19 5/27/58 – 5/28/58 (16 pieces 1 item)

Fd 20 3/5/59 – 12/30/59 (6 pieces)

Box 2: Correspondence File, 1960 – 1969

Fd 1 1/1/60 – 1/25/60 (21 pieces)

Fd 2 2/19/60 – 3/19/60 (10 pieces)

Fd 3 4/1/60 – 4/21/60 (10 pieces)

Fd 4 5/6/60 – 5/8/60 (7 pieces 1 item)

Fd 5 2/2/61 – 11/13/62 (8 pieces 1 item)

Fd 6 4/7/63 – 4/30/63 (12 pieces)

Fd 7 5/1/63 – 5/4/63 (11 pieces)

Fd 8 5/5/63 – 5/8/63 (19 pieces)

Fd 9 5/9/63 – 5/14/63 (15 pieces)

Fd 10 5/15/63 – 5/17/63 (6 pieces)

Fd 11 5/20/63 – 5/30/63 (11 pieces)

Fd 12 6/1/63 – 6/23/63 (7 pieces)

Fd 13 7/5/63 – 11/30/63 (17 pieces)

Fd 14 9/20/64 – 12/6/66 (6 pieces 4 items)

Fd 15 7/26/68 – 12/9/68 (6 pieces)

Fd 16 4/16/69 – 9/10/69 (13 pieces)

Fd 17 11/7/69 – 11/20/69 (14 pieces)

Fd 18 12/7/69 – 12/31/69 (9 pieces)

Box 3: Correspondence File, 1970 –1979

Fd 1 9/21/70 – 10/30/70 (8 pieces 3 items)

Fd 2 11/4/70 – 12/29/70 (6 pieces 2 items)

Fd 3 2/26/71 – 3/27/71 (16 pieces 2 items)

Fd 4 4/21/71 – 6/2/71 (8 pieces 2 items)

Fd 5 4/5/72 – 12/25/72 (12 pieces)

Fd 6 2/28/73 – 12/11/73 (6 pieces)

Fd 7 2/5/74 – 6/23/74 (12 pieces)

Fd 8 7/19/74 – 9/26/74 (12 pieces)

Fd 9 11/2/74 – 12/31/74 (11 pieces)

Fd 10 5/1/75 – 12/16/75 (3 pieces 1 item)

Fd 11 2/19/76 – 12/5/76 (10 pieces)

Fd 12 1/1/77 – 9/6/77 (7 pieces)

Fd 13 1/29/78 – 7/27/78 (14 pieces)

Fd 14 8/21/78 – 12/28/78 (9 pieces)

Fd 15 1/22/79 – 7/20/79 (7 pieces 2 items)

Fd 16 No date (7 pieces)

Box 4: Subject File, A-C

Fd 1 “Awards”: Distinctive Merit in Outdoor Advertising Art: Presentation at the 13th Annual Exhibition, 1942. (1 piece)

Fd 2 “Awards”: Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree: Awarded by Weber State College. June 1, 1974. Invitations to reception in honor of recipients and program for 68th annual commencement at which award was presented. (3 pieces 1 item)

Fd 3 “Awards”: Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree: Awarded by Weber State College, June 1,1974. Newspaper clippings pertaining to the award and the donation of the Bransom Collection. (11 pieces)

Fd 4 “Biography”: “Artists of the Outdoors: Paul Bransom” by Lilian M. Cromelin. “American Forests and Forest Life.” v. 35, no. 3, March, 1929. (1 item)

Fd 5 “Biography”: “Paul Bransom”, by Dorothy P. Lathrop. “The Horn Book,” v. XVI, no. 3, May/June, 1940. (2 items)

Fd 6 “Biography”: “Paul Bransom: An Appreciation by Normon Kent.” American Artist, v. 11, no. 4, April, 1947. (1 item)

Fd 7 “Biography”: “Paul Bransom, The Dean of Canada Lake’s Art Colony at 92” by Donald L. Tuttle. “Adirondack Life,” v. X, no. 4, July/August, 1979. (1 item)

Fd 8 “Biography”: Miscellaneous newspaper articles, Autobiographical sketches, and obituary notices. (7 pieces 4 items)

Fd 9 “Clubs, Institutes and Societies”: American Artists Professional League, Inc. Membership card, and Miscellaneous documents, 1957. (4 pieces)

Fd 10 “Clubs, Institutes and Societies”: Boone and Crockett Club. Officers roster, By-Laws, List of Members, 1965. (4 pieces)

Fd 11 “Clubs, Institutes and Societies”: Emergency Conservation Committee of New York. Publication no. 54, “Finishing The Mammals”, by Rosalie Edge, 1936. (1 item)

Fd 12 “Clubs, Institutes and Societies”: Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association. Newsletter No. 37, March, 1966. (1 piece)

Fd 13 “Clubs, Institutes and Societies”: New York Zoological Society. Miscellaneous articles, 1942, 1943. (2 pieces 1 item)

Fd 14 “Clubs, Institutes and Societies”: Salmagundi Club. Annual Report and list of member, 1940; 75th Anniversary, Special Exhibition Program, 1945; miscellaneous receipts, 1958 – 1960. (1 piece 7 items)

Fd 15 “Clubs, Institutes and Societies”: Teton Artists Associated Institute. Advertisements and brochures,1960. (23 pieces)

Fd 16 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. – A-C”: Clippings of illustrations by Darrel Austin (1 piece), Edmund Blampied (3 pieces), and program of exhibition of the watercolor of Chen Chi (2 pieces)

Fd 17 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. – Dobie, J. Frank”: Biographical data, 1943-1964. (11 pieces 3 items)

Fd 18 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. – Dobie J. Frank”: Publications inscribed to Paul Bransom from J. Frank Dobie. Andy Adams, “Cowboy Chronicle”s: Juan Oso: “The Merry Christmas Tale of Bigfoot Wallace and the Hickory Nuts; and Old Bill, Confederate Ally.” (Original and Xerox copy).

Fd 19 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. - Dobie, J. Frank”: Miscellaneous.

Fd 20 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. – London, Jack”: Xerox copies of inscriptions to Paul Bransom from books Written by Jack London. Originals in Bransom Book Collection (3 pieces)

Fd 21 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. – London, Jack”: Thirty Page pamphlet, “The Strength of the Strong”, by Jack London. Charles H. Kerr and Co., Chicago, 1911; Postcard Advertisement with photo of London for “The Valley of the Moon.” (1 piece 1 item).

Fd 22 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. – London, Jack”: Miscellaneous newsclippings regarding his children and the London estate in California.

Fd 23 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. – Mochi, Ugo”: Newspaper article in “The Standard-Star”, New Rochelle, New York, 4-19-76, “Ugo Mochi Still Cuts Shadow Art Masterpieces”, by June Schetterer.

Fd 24 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. – Rackham, Arthur”: Magazine illustrations. (3 pieces)

Fd 25 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. – Rockwell, Norman”; Miscellaneous magazine articles. (1 piece 1 item)

Fd 26 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. – Siemel, Alejandro (Sasha)”: Articles by Siemel: “Capturing the Jungle With Camera and Spear” and “ When It’s Man vs. Jaguar”. Advertisement for Big Game Hunt in Brazil with Siemel. (2 pieces 1 item)

Fd 27 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. – Tack, Augustin Vincent”: Biography of Tack, 1870 – 1949, The American Studies Group, (cont.) Hilson Gallery, Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Massachusetts, 1968. (1 item)

Fd 28 “Colleagues, Contemporaries, et al. – Miscellaneous”: (3 pieces 3 items)

Box 5: Subject File, D-Z

Fd 1 “Exhibitions”: Announcements of various art exhibitions in Which Bransom participated, 1902-1976 (8 pieces 1 items)

Fd 2 “Illustrations, List”: Bibliographies of books and magazines in which Bransom’s illustrations appear. (1 piece 3 items)

Fd 3 “Memorabilia”

Fd 4 “Miscellaneous – Envelopes”

Fd 5 “Miscellaneous – Newspaper Clippings”

Fd 6 “Miscellaneous – Publications”

Fd 7 “Miscellaneous – Quotations”

Fd 8 “Miscellaneous – Receipts”: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Fd 9 “Miscellaneous – Receipts”: New York City

Fd 10 “Reviews – An Argosy of Fables”: Publisher’s advertising Pamphlet and newspaper reviews, 1921. (7 pieces 1 item)

Fd 11 “Reviews – Hunting American Lions”: Newspaper review, 1948. (4 pieces)

Fd 12 “Reviews – Tawny Goes Hunting”: Newspaper reviews, 1937, (6 pieces)

Fd 13 “Reviews – Wilderness Champion”: Junior Literary Guild Review, 1944. (1 item)

Fd 14 “Reviews – The Wind in the Willows”: Horn Book review, 1940 and newspaper clippings, (no date). (1 piece 1 item)

Fd 15 “Technical Note”: Instructions for making plaster casts from Life (handwritten, no date). (1 piece)

Fd 16 “Technical Note – Washington School of Art”: Instructions For drawing animals, 1957. (1 item)

Biographical Note/Historical Note +/-

If there is any truth in the Taoist belief that we pass through life leaving a part of ourselves wherever we go, then I “met” Paul Bransom, “Dean of America’s Wildlife Artists,” two decades before the day we first sat together in his studio. Given a stack of issues of the “Saturday Evening Post” from the 1930’s and 1940’s, I remember the day I carefully clipped Bransom’s cover and story illustrations of bears, deer and foxhounds and stored them away in my burgeoning picture file. Years later, while living in Canajoharie, N.Y., I suddenly learned that Paul Bransom lived only a few miles north of me at Canada Lake, and that much of his work and certainly many of “my” illustrations had emanated from his studio there.

When we met for the first time in 1977 Paul Bransom was entering his ninety-first year, but what immediately impressed me most was not his artwork or his amazing six-decade career, but his face. In a north light, it is deeply furrowed now, with more seams and creases than an Adirondack back country road. When he talks, it lights up like etched diorite with the memories of sketching expeditions with Texas writer J. Frank Dobie, of the Bronx Zoo lion house and Zoo Director William T. Hornaday, of the books like Jack Londons’s “Call of the Wild”, and of the thousands upon thousands of sketches, studies and articles for almost every major American magazine – an endless panorama of wild animal designs that issued forth from his brushes and pens.

Paul Bransom began his professional career at 13 as an apprentice draftsman assisting with mechanical drawings for patents, and exacting discipline requiring precise rendering of structure and details. That skill at drawing machines earned him a job with a railroad, where he drew locomotives and box cars, then briefly with General Electric Co. in Schenectady. At the ripe age of 17 he went to New York and the “New York Evening Journal”, where he drew a comic strip, “The Latest News from Bugville.”

In each job, however, he continued to pursue his avocational sketching of animals, a practice he had begun in childhood. In New York he haunted the lion house of the Bronx Zoo and eventually attracted the notice of William T. Hornaday, the Zoo’s famed director. Hornaday, impressed with the young artist’s work, granted him the unusual privilege of a studio in the lion house. Finally, with a portfolio of animal drawings under his arm, Bransom began the rounds of publishing houses. The editor of the “Saturday Evening Post”, then the nation’s largest popular magazine, was so impressed that he bought four cover pictures and several smaller drawings on the spot. The world of comic strips had lost an artist and that of animal art had gained a master.

Paul Bransom first came to the Adirondacks in 1908, when the 22-year-old artist and his wife rented a cottage on Canada Lake for the summer. Next door was the summer camp of Clare Victor Dwiggens, One of America’s greatest comic strip artists and creator of the popular panel “School Days.” The retreat afforded Bransom the solitude and, of course, the access in the field to animal subjects needed to complete his growing list of assignments from the “Post, Country Gentleman, American Weekly”, and other publishing houses. At one time the deadlines and the pressures were so great that a sign hung on the back door, “Pleases, no visitors until after five o’clock.” In 1917 the prospering Bransom built his own Canada Lake camp near that of the artist Louis Sarka, and year after year since then he has spent his summers in the Adirondacks, gathering drawings and backgrounds which he translated into finished drawings in the winter in New York.

The living room of the camp, filled with mementos and lighted by a high north window, serving for many years as both living space and studio. Today, the studio is in a smaller room dominated by a high drawing board, a comfortable chair in front of it, and the brushes and colors still conveniently at hand on a low table to the right. From this retreat has come much of Bransom’s best work over the years. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, some 35 magazines used Bransom’s illustrations. He illustrated nearly 50 books, including Jack London’s “Call of the Wild”, Kenneth Grahame’s English classic “The Wind in the Willows”, and editions of Hunter’s Choice by Archibald Rutledge. Book collectors today find his illustrations in books by such celebrated authors as Charles Roberts, Albert Terhune and Rudyard Kipling.

The essence of Bransom’s art is a private feeling, unfathomable to those who neither hunt nor fish nor know animals intimately. Bransom saw and painted the same animals you and I see, but he saw them better. Deer, foxes, bears, squirrels, moose and mountain lions: there are no surprises in his choice of subject, only the surprise of his achievement in bringing them to vivid life on paper. Technique and practice can account for much of his art, but love of his subject accomplished much more. That love etched the image of fleeting lives of birds and animals onto paper and into our memories forever.

Love of nature and of his subjects is the key to Bransom’s art and, he says, to that of his peers in this rather specialized field. Young artists, he observes, think that if they can master the anatomy of a few animals, the rest will come easily, but nothing could be further from the truth. The animal painter who wishes to represent living animals must learn at first hand the habits of those he wishes to portray. An intimate knowledge of the subjects and its reactions to man and other animals, accumulated through hours of study in the field and endless sketching, is a necessary part of the artist’s preparation. In Bransom’s view, an artist who would study anatomy but not the life of the subject is akin to the actor who pronounces the lines with faultless diction but no emotion.

Bransom’s method naturally reflects influences of his early mentors and friends, Walt Kuhn and T.S. Sullivant, both of whom he met during his cartoonist days in New York. To Kuhn, who studied in Munich, he attributed his principles of construction. Sullivant, a caricaturist interested in animals, “taught me how to draw horses.” Curiously enough, Bransom never met another wildlife artist, Charles Livingston Bull, whom he credits as having the greatest influence on his work, even though they once both produced illustrations (each unknown to the other) for an edition of the “New International Encyclopedia”. Although they both lived and worked near each other in New York and spent summers nearby in the Adirondacks, a long-planned meeting of the two was cut short by Bull’s untimely death in 1935.

The value of these other artists to Bransom’s early development as an illustrator became evident when I inquired about his formal training. It is not often that one encounters a successful artist – in any field – who has made his way without benefit of at least some formal art training. Formal art had little to do with it, he insists – he completed only about two months of art school. “He was born to draw, and to draw animals,” wrote Dorothy Lathrop in “Illustrators of Children’s Books”, 1744 – 1945, published in 1947 by Horn Book, Inc., Boston. “His love of them was his stimulus, for to him animals were then, and still are now, the most exciting things in the world… he makes us forget his art and remember the animals he draws. And that we do must please him, for he loves animals as most others love only man.”

Newer wildlife artists today like David A. Maass, Ray Harm and Roger Tory Peterson, prospering on the photolithographed collector’s print, may reach a greater audience. And some other, like Peter Parnell and Maynard Reece, may find greater success with arresting paintings that at the same time evoke both the mystery and dignity of the wild bird on the wing. But no painter yet approaches Bransom’s 60-year career of artistic success and earned respect among his colleagues and friends. Bransom has won more than 80 art awards, including the Benjamin West Clinedinst Memorial Medal of the Artists Fellowship of New York City. He has been president of the Society of Animal Artists, and he has taught at the Teton Artists Associated Art School in Jackson Hole, Wyo. In 1974 he was awarded an honorary degree by Weber State College in Ogden, Utah; now a Paul Bransom Collection hangs in the College’s library. When he was 89, the Town of Caroga recognized his achievements with a formal resolution noting his many years of residence at Canada Lake and the many friendships he has made there.

Today, at the age of 92, what does Paul Bransom think of these accolades and tributes? Recently, thinking only of his animals and his art, he wrote:

“The winter wears on… I am impatiently waiting for the time we can return to Canada Lake. I’ve reached the age when like the old automobile, various important parts begin to wear out and cease to function correctly, but unlike this old car, the old body is not quite so easy to repair and install new parts, especially the eyes – so i mportant to an artist. However, what with visits to various doctors who specialize in all the different parts I manage to get to the studio almost every day to work on pictures which greatly interest me and I hope to finish.”

*Reprinted from Adirondack Life, July/August 1979, courtesy of the author. Copyright 1979 by Adirondack Life. All rights reserved.

Content Description +/-

The Paul Bransom Collection is something of a rarity. Though relatively large and containing both textual and nontextual material, it is extraordinarily manageable. Manageable not only for the curator, but for the researcher as well. There are no superfluous accumulations of unrelated items cluttering the collection. Only that which provides information pertinent to an understanding of the donor has been included. Yet it is not a “culled” collection, not has it been manicured to affect a contrived impression. The diversity of its contents negates partiality. It is, in fact, a compendium on the life and work of Paul Bransom; a prerequisite for any detailed study of the man known as “The Dean of America’s Wildlife Artists.”

To facilitate its use, the collection’s contents have been separated into the following groups and inventoried accordingly:

Books – The Bransom Library contains two hundred and thirty titles and includes books illustrated by Bransom, autographed first editions, and volumes bearing personal inscriptions to the artist from such noteworthy authors as Jack London. The register lists the books alphabetically by the author’s surname. Though the library is housed in the Special Collections Department, card entries for each book have been filed in both the departmental and the main library card catalogs. To request a particular volume, the patron must obtain the call number from the catalog and specify that it is a volume from the Bransom library.

Manuscripts – The papers of Paul Bransom are contained in five document boxes and include correspondence and subject files dating from 1973 to 1979. The former contains personal letters from such associates as J. Frank Dobie, Joseph W. Lippincott, and Charly Sarka, and business correspondence from various publishers, authors, and gallery curators. The subject file contains an assortment of material ranging from biographical sketches to reviews of Bransom’s work. Following the inventory, a selected name and subject index provides the box and folder location of each item and piece. To obtain manuscript material for study, the patron will request the manuscript by collection number (MS 10), the box number and the folder number.

Photographs – Thought small, the photograph collection provides a valuable visual chronicle of Paul Bransom’s life, dating from 1921 to 1976. The collection includes photographs of Grace Bond Bransom, J. Frank Dobie, the Salmagundi Club of New York City, and Bransom’s Canada Lake Studio. A brief description of each photograph is given in the inventory, along with the individual call numbers. A selected name and subject index is also provided. To obtain a particular photograph, the patron will note both the collection number (P9) and the individual call number.

In addition to this collection, Paul Bransom donated art work and papers to several other repositories. For further study, the researcher is referred to the following institutions:

Archives of American Art. New York City, New York.

Fulton County Historical Society. Gloverville, New York.

Jack London Historical Museum. Glen Ellen, California.

Johnstown Public Library (the Helen I. Hays Collections.) Johnstown, New York.

New Britain Museum of American Art. New Britain, Connecticut.

Salmagundi Club. New York City, New York.

University of Oregon Library, Department of Special Collections. Eugene, Oregon.

University of Texas Library (J. Frank Dobie Collection). Austin, Texas.

Collection Use +/-

Restrictions on Access:

Open to public research.

Administrative Information +/-


The Paul Bransom Collection originated from his gift of drawings, illustrations and sketches presented to Weber State College in 1972. Subsequent donations of art work, books and manuscripts were bequeathed by the artist in 1974, and received by the College in 1975, 1980 and 1983. In addition to these contributions, original Bransom paintings were donated by Margaret (Mrs. Fredrick) Osborn of Garrison-on-Hudson, New York, in 1974, and by Mr. George F. Pierrot of Detroit, Michigan, in 1980. Future supplements to the collection, bequeathed by various Bransom admirers and associates, are forthcoming.

At this writing, the collection consists of some 200 pieces of art work, a library containing 230 titles, three linear feet of manuscript material, and thirty photographs. Under the terms of the 1974 agreement with Mr. Bransom, Weber State College received the right to reproduce or reprint the contents of the collection. To maintain the collection in good condition, use of all materials is governed by the following Department restrictions: 1) Books, manuscripts and photographs do not circulate. Research of collection materials must be undertaken in the Department’s reading room. 2) Use of pens is prohibited when working with original materials; pencils are recommended for note taking. 3) Permission to duplicate or photocopy materials must be obtained from the Special Collections Curator or an authorized assistant.

Acquisition Information:


Processing Note:

This collection was processed by a Special Collections processor.


Bransom, Paul


Collection materials are in English.


Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008


5 boxes

Language of the Finding Aid:

Finding guide is in English in Latin script.

Author of the Finding Aid:

Finding aid created by a Special Collections processor.

EAD Creation Date:



Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard).

Subjects +/-

Subject Terms:

Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Fine Arts
Wildlife Art

Personal Names:

Bransom, Paul (Paul).

Geographical Names:

Salt Lake City, Utah

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