Special Collections Department
403 Parks Library
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2140

RS 26/2/52
Christian Petersen (1881-1961)
Papers, 1922-[ongoing]


Descriptive summary

creator:

Petersen, Christian (1881-1961)

title:

Papers

dates:

1922-[ongoing]

extent:

5.25 linear feet (12 document boxes and 1 half-document box)

collection number:

RS 26/2/52

repository:

University Archives, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University.

 

Administrative information

access:

Open for research; artifacts and sketches restricted without permission of the Head, Special Collections Department

publication rights:

Consult Head, Special Collections Department

preferred citation:

Christian Petersen Papers, RS 26/2/52, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.

 

Historical note

Christian Petersen (1885-1961) emigrated to America with his parents from Dybol, Denmark, in 1894. In 1900, he apprenticed in the die-cutting trade at the Newark Technical School (New Jersey); and later attended the Fawcett School of Design (Newark, New Jersey); and the Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, Rhode Island). He also joined the prestigious Art Students League in New York, where he met life-long friend, George Nerney. Petersen studied drawing under George Bridgeman, and apprenticed with sculptor Henry Hudson Kitson. Due to financial constraints, he focused on his die-cutting career at the Robins Company in Attleboro, Massachusetts. He returned to sculpting however, and produced numerous works in the East. Through Kitson's connections, Petersen received sculpture commissions from Iowa beginning in the late 1920s.

During the Depression Petersen was hired by Grant Wood's Public Works of Art Project in Iowa City, Iowa, at the suggestion of Iowa State College (ISC, later University) President, Raymond Hughes. In 1934 he began working on relief sculptures for ISC's Dairy Industry Building and was appointed Campus Artist-in-Residence in 1935 (1935-1961). Petersen was named an Associate Professor in 1955. Among his works on Iowa State's campus are the Athletic Bas Reliefs (1936, State Gym); the "Gentle Doctor" (1937, Veterinary Medicine); the Four Seasons Fountain (1941, Memorial Union); the Marriage Ring (1942, Family and Consumer Sciences); and Library Boy and Girl (1944, ISU Library). Petersen also produced numerous major studio sculptures, including Flood (1938); Soon After Flood (1939); Old Woman in Prayer (1940); The Price of Victory (1944); Viking (1946); Christ with Bound Hands (1950); and other busts, reliefs, portraits, and small sculptures.

He was an honorary member of Delta Phi Delta (an art honorary), and Tau Sigma Delta, (an architecture and applied art honorary society). His first marriage (1908-1928) to Emma L. Hoenicke had three children: Helene, Lawrence, and Ruth. He married Charlotte Garvey (d. 1985) in 1931, and their daughter Mary Charlotte was born in 1936.

 

Collection description

This unorganized collection, 1922-1967, contains biographical materials, correspondence, photographs, sketches, printed materials including exhibit brochures and newspaper clippings, and artifacts.

The biographical materials, ca. 1940-ca. 1960, provide information about Christian Petersen, his family, and his artwork.

The majority of the correspondence, 1932-1967, is from the 1930s and consists of Petersen's communications with his colleagues, providing an in depth look at the world of artists during the American Great Depression. Correspondents include: journalist, August L. Bang; artist, J.M. "Ding" Darling; life-long friend, George Nerney; and artist, Grant Wood. The later correspondence relates to Petersen's work with St. Cecelia's church and Iowa State University.

The largest part of the collection are a series of photographs, the majority undated, of various sizes including 3 X 5, 4 X 6, 5 X 7, 8 X 10, and 11 X 14. Organized by subject matter, there are folders of images of Petersen's sculptures at Iowa State's Dairy Building, the Four Seasons Fountain; the Marriage Ring; a sculpture now located at the Fisher Community Center in Marshalltown, Iowa; works relating to World War II; religious works; busts; reliefs; and additional sculptures. Of particular interest are the shots Petersen working on his sculptures in his campus studio and also working with his students. In addition, there are a small number of photographs relating to Petersen's family in Denmark and in Iowa.

The oversized and undated sketches, numbering approximately 121, illustrate Petersen's skill as an artist and his mastery of various subjects. Included are sketches (in pen, ink, crayon, and charcoal) of a funeral in Kentucky (approximately 21); sketches relating to his religious sculptures and others (approximately 43); and sketches (approximately 54) created for the publication of Cha-Ki-Shi, a work about Iowa Native Americans (Mesquakie (Fox) tribe).

The remainder of the collection consists of printed materials, published by Iowa State and others, concerning exhibitions by Petersen. The sketches and artifacts, including tools used by Petersen, various small sculptures and medallions, have been transferred to the Artifact Collection in the Special Collections Department.

See also, the Christian Petersen Digital Collection: http://cdm15031.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=%2Fp15031coll12

The Christian Petersen Digital Collection, 1934-1942, contains images from a number of series in the Christian Petersen papers (RS 26/2/52).

These include drawings and sketches by Christian Petersen that were published in the book, Cha-ki-shi based on the Mesquakie of Iowa. The seventeen images depict various illustrations for the work, including Cha-Ki-Shi, her family and home, clothing, and daily life. Some sketches have editorial comments as part of the image, and there is one letter from the Charles Scribner's Sons, NY to the authors, regarding the sketches.

The digital collection also contains images of four pencil sketches, known as the Kentucky Sketches, based on a funeral in Wilhurst, Kentucky. Included in this series is an essay (3 pages) by Charlotte Petersen, titled, "A Mountain Interlude."

Petersen was primarily known for his sculptures, and four artifacts demonstrate his skill. They include a clay tile; the Marston Medal, an Iowa State award for achievement in engineering by an alumnus; a medal awarded for biological chemistry by the Eli Lilly & Co; and a painted plaster study of 4 running buffalo created by Petersen during his employment by the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP). Ten silver gelatin prints also demonstrate the variety of his sculpture as well as his teaching duties on the Iowa State campus, including the Dairy Science bas relief, the Marriage Ring, and Petersen working in his studio with students.

Finally, the digital collection includes images of "Hello Beautiful," a small published sketchbook written by Charlotte Petersen and illustrated by Christian Petersen for their daughter Mary. There are also two engravings related to this publication, and a 3-page letter from Petersen's life-long friend George Nerney, describing his responses to the booklet.

 

Organization

This collection is organized alphabetically.

 

Container list

Box

Folder

Title

Dates

1

1

Biographical Materials

1940-1960, undated

12

5

Biographical Materials

1942-1961

13

1

Biographical Materials: Danish Heritage

2002-2006, undated

11

1

Book: Christian Petersen, Sculptor

1961

12

11

Brochure and Article: Off-campus Bas Relief

undated

1

6

Christian Petersen Committee Correspondence and Records

1942

12

14

Christian Petersen Exhibit Brochure

1972

4

1

Correspondence: August L. Bang

1947-1954, undated

5

2

Correspondence: Author of Cha-Ki-Shi

1936-1940

4

8

Correspondence: Bronze Incorporated

1937, undated

4

10

Correspondence: Charles Friley and Family

1939-1942

5

3

Correspondence: Charles Rogers

1942

5

5

Correspondence: Chicago Parks

1936-1937

5

7

Correspondence: Des Moines Register

1935-1940

4

15

Correspondence: Frank McVey

1937-1937

5

11

Correspondence: Frederick Whitaker

1958-1961

5

13

Correspondence: General

1932-1937

4

12

Correspondence: General

1936

5

14

Correspondence: General

1938-1948

5

15

Correspondence: General

1949-1957

5

16

Correspondence: General

1958-1961

5

18

Correspondence: General

1980

4

16

Correspondence: George Nerney

1936-1962

5

12

Correspondence: Grant Wood

1933-1935, undated

13

3

Correspondence: Grau family members in Denmark (distant relatives of Petersen's) with Dr. James D. Iversen

2006

4

6

Correspondence: J.C. Cunningham

1940, undated

5

9

Correspondence: J.E. Stonecipher

1935-1936

4

7

Correspondence: J.M. “Ding” Darling

1933-1941

4

9

Correspondence: J.W. Fisher

1958-1959

5

6

Correspondence: James Shropshire

1937-1938

4

2

Correspondence: John Barry, Jr.

1937

4

11

Correspondence: Kirk Fox

1937-1938

5

4

Correspondence: Mrs. Charles Ryan

1940-1942

4

3

Correspondence: Mrs. R.W. Beemer

1958-1959

1

5

Correspondence: Professional

1942

5

1

Correspondence: Puseys

1934-1935

4

13

Correspondence: Raymond Hughes

1933-1941

4

5

Correspondence: Raymond Hughes

1934

4

14

Correspondence: Raymond Hughes

1937-1939

5

8

Correspondence: St. Cecelia’s Church

1945-1951

1

2

Correspondence: Sympathy

1961

1

3

Correspondence: Sympathy

1961

1

4

Correspondence: Sympathy

1967-1967

5

10

Correspondence: Thorwald Thorson

1939

 13

6

Memorial: Dedication: A Tribute to Christian and Charlotte Petersen at North Grand Mall

1988

12

10

Essay by Charlotte Petersen: “A Mountain Interlude”

undated

2

3

Exhibit Brochures

1935-1988, undated

1

7

Exhibition guestbook

undated

2

4

Iowa State College (University) Committee Records and Correspondence

1938-1956

2

5

Lectures given at Iowa State College (University)

1930s-1950s

12

16

News Clippings

1922-1964

12

3

News Clippings

1936-1981

12

18

News Clippings

1940-1964

12

17

News Clippings

1940-1968

2

6

News Clippings

1951-1968

12

20

News Clippings

1996-2012

2

7

News Clippings

1960s

2

8

News Clippings

1980s

12

6

News Clippings and Printed Materials: Statues

1942-1961, undated

12

13

News Clippings: Madonna of the Schools

1947

12

15

Notebook and printed materials relating to career of Petersen

undated

12

1

Notes on Sculpture and Art 

undated

12

2

Notes on Sculpture and Art 

undated

1

8

Photograph Album: Photocopy of Photographs and Loose Pages

1950 circa

1

3

Photographs and Printed Materials

1960

11

2

Photographs: (Agricultural Experiment Station)—assorted Petersen sculptures (25 images)

undated

11

3

Photographs: (Agricultural Experiment Station)—assorted Petersen sculptures (25 images)

undated

11

4

Photographs: (Agricultural Experiment Station)—assorted Petersen sculptures (25 images)

undated

11

5

Photographs: (Agricultural Experiment Station)—assorted Petersen sculptures (25 images)

undated

11

6

Photographs: (Agricultural Experiment Station)—assorted Petersen sculptures (25 images)

undated

11

7

Photographs: (Agricultural Experiment Station)—assorted Petersen sculptures (26 images)

undated

8

5

Photographs: Bust and Trophy (2 items)

undated

10

3

Photographs: Busts (16 items)

undated

10

4

Photographs: Busts (9 items)

undated

10

2

Photographs: Busts and Reliefs (19 items)

undated

8

6

Photographs: Carver, Lincoln, Country Doctor, Corn Husker (15 items)

undated

6

1

Photographs: Dairy Industry Building (11 items)

undated

6

4

Photographs: Dairy Industry Building (5 items)

undated

6

3

Photographs: Dairy Industry Building (7 items)

undated

6

5

Photographs: Dairy Industry Building (8 items)

undated

6

2

Photographs: Dairy Industry Building (9 items)

undated

9

1

Photographs: Fisher Community Center sculpture
(8 items)

undated

9

2

Photographs: Fisher Community Center sculpture (13 items)

undated

9

3

Photographs: Fisher Community Center sculpture (20 items)

undated

6

7

Photographs: Four Seasons (13 items)

undated

6

6

Photographs: Four Seasons (18 items)

undated

7

1

Photographs: Marriage Ring (12 items)

undated

7

2

Photographs: Marriage Ring (18 items)

undated

10

6

Photographs: Petersen and family (31 items)

undated

9

4

Photographs: Petersen Pieces (15 items)

undated

8

4

Photographs: Religious Works (14 items)

undated

8

3

Photographs: Religious Works (25 items)

undated

10

5

Photographs: Sculptures of Children (21 items)

undated

10

1

Photographs: Sculptures of Women (16 items)

undated

7

4

Photographs: Students (12 items)

undated

7

3

Photographs: Students (26 items)

undated

7

5

Photographs: Studio Stills (20 items)

undated

8

1

Photographs: War Memorials, undated (14 items)

undated

8

2

Photographs: War Memorials, undated (14 items)

undated

12

8

Plaques

1938, 1952

13

4

Presentation: “Sculptor Christian Petersen” by James Iversen (1- CD; print copies included)

2010

12

19

Printed material: “Hello Beautiful”

1939

12

7

Printed materials

1931-1972, undated

12

4

Printed materials

1954-1960

13

2

Printed Materials: Articles

1987, 2001

2

9

Printed Materials: Articles and Brochures

1940s-1950s

2

1

Printed Materials: Articles, Brochures, Correspondence

1938-1987

3

1

Printed Materials: Brochures, Booklets, Pamphlets

1930s-1970s

2

2

Printed Materials: Exhibit Information

1930 circa-1950s

12

12

Reproduction Sketches of Cards

undated

13

5

Research Materials on Christian Petersen from Other Institutions (photocopies)

1921-1938

5

17

Sculpture Sales List

1964

12

9

St. Thomas Aquinas memorial Service for Charlotte Petersen

1985