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Guide to the Hugo Gellert Papers TAM 150

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Peter Meyer Filardo, 2009. Edited by Erika Gottfried to reflect the incorporation of nonprint materials and for compliance with DACS and Tamiment Required Elements for Archival Description, March 2013.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 20, 2018
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Title: Hugo Gellert Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1934-1980s, (Bulk 1934-1944)
Dates [bulk]: 1934-1944
Abstract: Hugo Gellert was a communist, graphic artist, cartoonist, muralist and painter born in Hungary in 1892. After coming to the U.S. in 1906, he became a leading contributor of art work to progressive journals such as The Masses and  Liberator, and was the author of 3 books. He played a leading role in many Popular Front arts organizations such as: the Mural Artists Guild of the United Scenic Painters, the Artists Coordinating Committee for the New York World's Fair and Artists for Victory; he was also involved with the Hungarian-American anti-fascist group, the Anti-Horthy League. These papers include correspondence, notes, and clippings, documentation of Gellert's participation with Popular Front arts organizations, pencil drawings, reproductions of graphic art by Gellert, and photographs.
Quantity: 2 Linear Feet in 2 manuscript boxes and one oversized box.
Language: Materials are in English
Call Phrase: TAM 150

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Historical/Biographical Note

Hugo Gellert (1892-1985) was a communist graphic artist, cartoonist, muralist and painter. He was born in Hungary in 1892 and came to the U.S. in 1906. Gellert was a leading contributor of art work to The Masses,  The Liberator and  New Masses. Gellert published three books:  Karl Marx in Lithographs (1933),  Comrade Gulliver (1935),  Aesop Said So (1936). Among his murals were those done for the National Maritime Union headquarters and the Seward Park Houses, both in New York City. He also played a leading role in many Popular Front arts organizations from the 1930s through World War II. Gellert was the director of the John Reed School of Art. In 1937 he organized the Mural Artists Guild of the United Scenic Painters, and successfully fought, as chair of the Artists Coordinating Committee, to insure that only works of organized artists were accepted for exhibits at the New York World's Fair. During WWII, Gellert was active in Artists for Victory. Throughout his life, Gellert contributed to the Hungarian-American radical press beginning in 1916, with the newspaper  Elore, and later to the  Magyar Szo. He also organized, in 1927, the Anti-Horthy League, a Hungarian-American anti-fascist group.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contain correspondence, memos, press releases, minute, clippings, notes, drawings, printed graphic materials, and photographs that document Hugo Gellert's role in Popular Front arts organizations from 1934-1944, as well as his artistic career. In addition to Gellert, the principal correspondent is Frederic Knight of the Artists Coordination Committee (ACC).


The files are grouped into 2 series; folders are arranged alphabetically by title.

Series I: Correspondence and Other Materials Series II: Graphic and Photographic Materials

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Wallis, Leonard B. Wall between.
  • Kahn, Otto Hermann, 1867-1934
  • Frank, Waldo David, 1889-1967
  • Stieglitz, Alfred, 1864-1946
  • Evergood, Philip, 1901-1973
  • Knight, Frederic C., 1898-1979
  • Barr, Alfred Hamilton, 1902-1981
  • Moses, Robert, 1888-1981
  • Davis, Stuart, 1892-1964
  • Biddle, George, 1885-1973
  • Browder, Earl, 1891-1973
  • Gellert, Hugo, 1892-1985
  • Deak, Zoltan

Document Type

  • Correspondence.
  • Postcards.
  • Black-and-white photographs.
  • Greeting cards.
  • Drawings (visual works)

Subject Organizations

  • Artists for Victory, Inc.
  • Anti-Horthy League (U.S.)
  • Artists Committee for Action for the Municipal Art Gallery and Center (New York, N.Y.)
  • National Society of Mural Painters (U.S.)
  • New York World's Fair (1939-1940)
  • Artists Coordinating Committee
  • United Scenic Painters (U.S.). Mural Artists Guild

Subject Topics

  • Hungarian Americans.
  • Popular fronts -- United States.
  • Radicals -- United States.
  • Painters -- United States.
  • Mural painting and decoration -- United States.
  • Communists -- United States.
  • Labor unions -- Organizing -- United States.
  • Cartoonists -- United States
  • Communism and art -- United States.
  • Art and state -- United States.
  • Arts -- United States.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (and related rights to publicity and privacy) to materials in this collection created by Hugo Gellert was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; Hugo Gellert Papers; Tam 150; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.

Related Archival Materials

Hugo Gellert Papers at the Archives of American Art (http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/hugo-gellert-papers-7845/more)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Zoltan Deak on behlaf of the American Hungarian Word in 1993. The accession numbers associated with this gift are 1993.002, 1993.009 and NPA.1994.005.

Processing Information Note

Photographs separated from this collection were established as a separate collection (Hugo Gellert Photographs - PHOTOS 065) in April 1994. In 2013 this photographs collection was reincorporated into the Hugo Gellert Papers (TAM 150).

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Container List

Series I: Correspondence and Other Materials

Scope and Content Note

The most valuable portion of Series I are those items documenting Popular Front arts organizations and Hugo Gellert's role therein (1934-44). These files contain correspondence, memos, press releases, minutes, etc., from the Artists Committee for Action for the Municipal Art Gallery and Center, the Artists Coordination Committee (ACC), Artists for Victory, the National Society of Mural Painters, the New York Society of Women Artists, and other organizations. In addition to the World's Fair campaign (including Gellert's exhibit proposal), there is documentation of conflict over the content of the various arts programs sponsored by the U.S. government, and conflict about the working conditions and artistic freedom of artists participating in these programs. In addition to Gellert, the principal correspondent is Frederic Knight (ACC). There are also letters from John Taylor Arms, Alfred Barr, Earl Browder, Stuart Davis, Philip Evergood,Tom Mooney, Robert Moses, and a postcard from Art Young. Other correspondents include officials of the Federal Art Project (U.S. Works Progress Administration) and of the World's Fair. The papers also contain similar, but sparser files documenting Gellert's activities from the 1950s through the 1970s. There is a short story, possibly autobiographical; a long handwritten letter to "Theodore," probably a business partner, about the quarrel that led to their estrangement; a file of Hungarian language correspondence and notes; clippings and press releases documenting Gellert's artistic career, and a proletarian play, "The Wall Between," by Leonard B. Wallis. There is also one folder of notes and doodles for art project proposals.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 American Artists Congress
Box: 1 Folder : 2 American Artists Congress: "Dear Comrade Trachtenberg..." from L.N. [Hollywood Unit Buro] re: Stanley Rose Bookstore [Rose was the Hollywood, CCA representative of the AAC, and his bookstore is alleged to be a gathering place for anti-communist leftists]
Nov 1936
Box: 1 Folder : 3 American Dialog
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Artists' Committee of Action for the Municipal Art Gallery and Center (Includes letters from Otto Kahn, Waldo Frank, Robert Moses, Alfred Stieglitz)
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Artists Coordination Committee (Frederic Knight, secretary). Includes letters from Alfred A. Barr, George Biddle, Earl Browder, Stuart Davis.
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Artists Coordination Committee
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Artists Coordination Committee
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Artists Coordination Committee
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Artists Coordination Committee: lists of artists
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Artists for Victory
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Artists' Oil Paints, General Conference on [MOMA, NYC] - condensed record
Feb 9, 1940
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Artists Societies for National Defense
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Capital in Lithographs
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Capital in Lithographs: Tom Mooney letter
Mar 17, 1934
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Gellert, Hugo: Art Projects Notes & Doodles
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Gellert, Hugo: Biographical reflections ( Masses- New Deal)
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Gellert, Hugo: General Correspondence & Documents
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Gellert, Hugo: General Correspondence & Documents
Box: 1 Folder : 19 Gellert, Hugo: General Correspondence & Documents
Box: 1 Folder : 20 Gellert, Hugo: General Correspondence & Documents (includes Philip Evergood letter)
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Gellert, Hugo: General Correspondence & Documents
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Gellert, Hugo: General Correspondence & Documents
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Gellert, Hugo: Memorabilia
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Gellert, Hugo: "Theodore" (business dispute, letters to)
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Gellert, Hugo: Writings - Short story (?), untitled, 18 pp.
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Gellert, Jim
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Gellert, Livia: Diary
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Hungary & Hungarian language materials
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Inter-American Relations in the Field of Art, Conference on [Washington, DC]
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Municipal Art Committee, City of New York
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Municipal Art Society
Box: 2 Folder : 12 The Mural Artist - issue #1 (Mural Artists Guild, United Scenic Artists of America, Local 829, Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America)
Dec 6, 1938
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Mural Painters, National Society of
Box: 2 Folder : 14 National Committee for People's Rights
Box: 2 Folder : 15 New York City Executive Committee for Art Week
Oct 1940
Box: 2 Folder : 16 New York Society of Women Artists
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Siqueiros, David: Protest vs arrest
Box: 2 Folder : 18 Spain: Civil War
Box: 2 Folder : 19 "The Wall Between" a [proletarian] play in 5 episodes, by Lawrence B. Wallis]
Box: 2 Folder : 20 World's Fair Exhibit Proposal
Box: 2 Folder : 21 Young, Art: Signed Holiday Postcard with AY Cartoons [copy - original in NP]
Dec 1943

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Series II: Graphic and Photographic Materials, 1930s-1980s

Scope and Content Note

Series II contains drawings, printed graphic materials, and photographs. Drawings are in pencil (including a storyboard and what looks like a sketch for another work); printed graphic materials include postcards and greeting cards, a leaflet, newspaper clipping, catalog, and mockup by Gellert, as well as a small number of items by other artists. Photographs include images of other artists' works (mainly Mexican muralists), and images of individuals, mainly American Communist Party leaders and other radicals (including Israel Amter, Isidor Begun (at a Bronx housewives' demonstration protesting high milk prices), Paul Crosbie (Chair of Queens County, New York City, Communist Party), Angela Davis, Gus Hall, and Vito Marcantonio; a group photograph with Israel Amter, Peter Cacchione, James Ford, Richard Fuchs, William E. Davis, Edward E. Fuchs; and group photograph with Molly Pichenny, Fred Benedict, Isidore Begun, Margaret Walker and Phil David (executive secretary British Communist Party).

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Drawings (mockups, storyboard, doodles) by Gellert and Poster Art by Other Artists
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Photographs of Communist Leaders and Other Radicals
1937; 1949; 1976; undated
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Photographs of Other Artists' Works
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Printed Reproductions of Gellert's Art
1974; ca. 1980s; undated
Box: OS003 Folder : 1 Oversize

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