Rockwell Kent letters, 1955-1962

Overview of the Collection

Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971
Rockwell Kent letters
1955-1962 (inclusive)
0.1 linear ft.
Collection Number
Mss 482
Nineteen letters dated 1955 to 1962 from Rockwell Kent to poet John G. Moore of Pasadena, California, discussing cultural criticism, books, his art, and his view of politics and U.S. and Soviet affairs.
University of Montana, Mansfield Library, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library
University of Montana
32 Campus Dr. #9936
Missoula, MT
Telephone: 406-243-2053
Access Restrictions

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of Archives and Special Collections, the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, and The University of Montana--Missoula.

Additional Reference Guides

Finding aid in the repository.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Rockwell Kent was one of the leading illustrators and artists in America. He was a printmaker, illustrator, painter, lobsterman, ship's carpenter, and dairy farmer. He lived in Maine, Newfoundland, Alaska, Greenland, and the Adirondacks. Kent was born in Tarrytown Heights, New York in 1882. He studied art at the Horace Mann School in New York and architecture at Columbia University. He studied art with William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, Kenneth Hayes Miller, and Abbot Thayer. His first one-man gallery show was in 1908. In the 1920s, Kent worked as a successful printmaker. By the 1930s, he reached the height of his popularity. In the 1940s, however, Kent's popularity declined. After Kent failed to find a repository for his collection, a body of work consisting of eighty paintings and 800 drawings, it was donated to the Soviet Union. Kent was the author of several books and a popular lecturer on his travels and art during the 1930s and 1940s. Throughout his life, he was a left-wing activist and was blacklisted by Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He was a member of the Socialist Party and a promoter of civil rights and civil liberties. Kent received the Lenin Peace Prize in 1967 and donated some of the proceeds to North Vietnam. He died in 1971.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

In the nineteen letters dated from 1955 to 1962, Rockwell Kent discusses cultural criticism, books, his art, and his view of politics and U.S. and Soviet affairs. In some of the letters, Kent discusses his donation of paintings and drawings to the Soviet Union, a detail Moore apparently leaked to the press. There is an enclosed newspaper clipping of an article Kent wrote explaining the reason for his donation. In some of the letters, Kent enclosed letters he wrote to other people, including one to Olin Downes, music critic for the New York Times; Mrs. Macy, an editor; and a letter he wrote to the U.S. Post Office accusing it of censoring his mail. In some of the letters, Kent discusses his books, It's Me O Lord and Greenland Diary.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers are responsible for using in accordance with 17 U.S.C. and any other applicable statutes.

Preferred Citation

[Name of document or photograph number], Rockwell Kent Letters, Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana-Missoula.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Donated by Rick Jones and Michelle Capra-Jones, 1987.

Related Materials

This collection of letters is part of a larger Capra-Jones Collection which included books placed into Special Collections.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Artists--United States--Correspondence
  • Poets, American--California--Pasadena--Correspondence

Family Names

  • Downes, Olin, 1886-1955--Correspondence
  • Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971 -- Political and social views
  • Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971--Aesthetics
  • Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971--Art collections
  • Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971--Books and reading
  • Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971.-- It's me, O Lord
  • Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971.--Greenland journal
  • Moore, John G., 1900---Correspondence

Geographical Names

  • Soviet Union--Foreign relations--United States
  • United States--Foreign relations--Soviet Union

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top