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James Earle Fraser and Laura Gardin Fraser Studio Papers

Creator: James Earle Fraser and Laura Gardin Fraser
Dates: 1864-1870, 1892-1965
Quantity: 8 feet 1 inch
Accession #: 1968.001


James Earle Fraser (November 4, 1876-October 11, 1953) was a nationally acclaimed sculptor in the early twentieth century. He is most known for his monumental works that can be found across the United States. One of his most famous monuments is “End of the Trail.” His wife, Laura Gardin Fraser (September 14, 1889-August 13, 1966), was also an award winning sculptor. She produced monuments, medals, trophies, and coins. She was the first woman to design a coin for the United States Treasury. The couple worked together to sculpt the design for the Oregon Trail Memorial Half Dollar. Their legacies are preserved in the many monuments, medals, and coins they sculpted over the course of their careers.

Scope & Content Note

Records include incoming letters, some correspondence, photographs and photographic albums, scrapbooks, sketches and sketch books, clippings, a diary, manuscripts, research material, and plans for monuments, medals, and coins. The James Earle and Laura Gardin Papers are very similar in content and were acquired together, thus they are described together.

Series 1: James Earle Fraser (1910 – 1961)
This series contains all materials in the Papers that are specific to James. The biographical information is mostly copied news clippings, but there is a biography written by Laura Gardin Fraser and a typed memoir manuscript. Two interesting personal items in the biographical category are his Museum of Modern Art member identification, and his State of Connecticut driver’s license. The business files are journals in which he kept track of sculptures that had been purchased and payments to foundries. The correspondence tends to be business communication rather than personal. Highlights of the small personal correspondence include various fan mail, and letters from the first African American heavyweight world champion, Jack Johnson. The photographs are of his sculptures and personal life. The sculptures sub-series is categorized by type of art work. It includes coins, medals, monumental work, and a silverware pattern design. There is documentation about the process of creating “End of the Trail” and “Abraham Lincoln.” These monumental sculptures are on display at the Cowboy Museum. Other references to his art can be found in the sketchbooks.

Series 2: Laura Gardin Fraser (1892 – 1965)
This series contains all materials in the Papers that are specific to Laura. The biographical information is mostly copied news clippings. The correspondence consists of business communication. There are diaries in which Laura writes about the day to day activities of the Frasers and progress of her artworks. One of the diaries has been transcribed. The photo albums and photographs are of her art work and her personal life. They often feature the family pets. The scrapbooks subseries contains a scrapbook her mother made in the late 1800s, and personal records of Fraser’s teen years. Her mother’s scrapbook documents the Gardin family including childhood photographs of Laura. Her personal scrapbook is filled with news clippings pertaining to stage actors and actresses, as well as high school mementos such as dance cards. The sculptures category has materials relating to her art work categorized by coins, figurative, medals, pins, and trophies. Fraser often sculpted coins and medals for the United States Government. All correspondence, design ideas, sketches, and final drafts are located in the sculptures sub-series. This series also contains Laura’s sketchbooks. Several of the sketchbooks are dedicated to detailed drawings of horses, including John, Miss Buck, and Fair Play. Laura sculpted a memorial to Fair Play that stands over his grave at the Elmendorf Thoroughbred Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. The famed Man o’ War thoroughbred was a sire of Fair Play. Also among the sketchbooks is one used during the Fraser’s trip to the Yucatan and corresponds to the photograph album from the same trip.

Series 3: Subject Files (1864 – 1964)
This series contains reference material possibly used by both artists. The Frasers sculpted coins, medals, and monuments of many historical figures including presidents, inventors, and business moguls. They collected biographical information on most of their subjects, and the materials that were not marked who used them were placed in this series. The Frasers each created monuments that featured equestrians so there is extensive information about the anatomy of horses. This series also contains a large number of political cartoons by Jay Darling, a friend of the Frasers. There are also materials about artists from around the world that worked during the early twentieth century.

Series 4: Unattributed Materials (ca. 1900 – 1964)
This series contains correspondence, various documents, photographs, posters, and sketches that make no reference to the owner. The items in this series could have been used or created by either Fraser.


Note to Researchers

Syracuse University Special Collections is home to a more extensive Fraser Papers. In the late 1990s, copies of some materials in the Syracuse Fraser Papers were given to the Dickinson Research Center. These copies have been made into their own collection: the Syracuse University Special Collections Copied James Earle and Laura Gardin Fraser Papers. If you are unable to find the information you need in either Fraser collection housed at the Dickinson Research Center, please visit Syracuse University Library’s Special Collections Research Center for their James Earle and Laura Gardin Fraser Papers.

Subject Terms

Personal Names:
Darling, Jay Norwood, 1876-1962
Firestone, Harvey Samuel, 1868-1938
Fraser, James Earle, 1876-1953
Fraser, James Earle, 1876-1953. End of the Trail
Fraser, Laura Gardin, 1889-1968
Lindbergh, Charles Augustus, 1902-1974

Subject Headings:
Artists, American
Coin design
Coinage-United States
Medals-United States
Sculptors, American
Sculptors-United States
Sculpture, American
Sculpture-United States-History

Processing Information

Organization: From the time of the collection’s acquisition in 1968, the original order of the records was disturbed. A tenuous order was applied and the records became the basis of expanding vertical files on the artists and their activities, and were maintained by staff and volunteers. Photocopied materials, clippings, letters, photographs, and manuscripts, which postdated the original primary records, were added to folders which were organized topically around each of the artists and around a subject file. This organization provided the basis of the structure during the collection’s reprocessing in 2000. Among the added materials were photocopied documents from the James Earle & Laura Gardin Fraser Papers, 1872 – 1967 held by Syracuse University. All photocopied materials were separated from original documents during the 2000 processing, and the ephemera files are still available for research. Preservation concerns led to the Papers being reprocessed in 2013. The original series organization was maintained, but the remaining order was updated to current archival standards for ease of use.

Accession: The studio collection from Westport, Connecticut was acquired through a gift-purchase transaction between Syracuse University, the executors of the estate, and Dean Fenton Krakel, Director of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center in 1968.

Processing: In 2000, the Papers was reprocessed by retaining its organization and removing records which postdated 1968, the year the collection was acquired. The removed records became the basis for a number of large Fraser vertical files arranged topically and available in the Research Center. In 2013, the Papers was reprocessed again due to preservation concerns. The materials were rehoused to current archival standards, and precautions were taken to prevent further deterioration.

Additional Information: An addendum to the studio collection is the Syracuse University materials which were foldered and arranged according to the Syracuse box in which the original materials are housed. The Syracuse materials can be accessed upon request.

Preferred Citation

James Earle Fraser and Laura Gardin Fraser Papers, MS004, Box ##, Folder ##, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Container List

Series 1-4

Box Folder Folder Title / Description
James Earle Fraser
1 1 1916-1950
2 Biography of JE Fraser written by Laura Gardin Fraser, 1954
3 Art clippings, 1910-1957
4 Clippings, 1919-1965
5 Flim: Uncommon Clay, November 1951
6 Genealogy of Thomas Brown, undated
7 Marriage clippings, 1939
8 Memoirs, 1952-1953
9 Obituaries, 1953
10 Recipes, 1919-1949
Business Files
11 1914-1952
12 American Academy in Rome, 1931-1948
13 Artists, 1928-1952
14 Art related organizations, 1926-1948
15 Beliefs and Ideas, 1942-1947
16 Commission of Fine Arts, 1921-1942
17 Jay N. Darling, 1924
18 Personal, 1916-1947
19 At work, undated
20 Equestirian Group, undated
2 1 Indians, undated
2-3 James Earle and Laura Gardin Fraser, undated
4 James Earle Fraser’s parents, undated
5 Studio and house at North Avenue in West Point, Connecticut, undated
6 Works, undated
7 Alexander Hamilton Statue, 1919-1924
8 Buffalo Nickel, 1913-1941
9 American Academy of Arts, undated
10 American Institute of Graphic Arts, undated
11 American Numismatic Society, undated
12 Armed Forces Medals, 1920-1942
13 Charles Doolittle Walcot, undated
3 1 Edward H. Harriman, undated
2 George Wallace Melville Medal for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, undated
3 Henry Elias Howland, undated
4 Hot Springs High School, undated
5 Miscellaneous Medals, undated
6 Navy Cross Medal, 1942
7 Norse American Centennial, 1942
8 Pan- American Exposition, undated
9 Pony Express, 1952-1955
10 Roosevelt Medal of Honor, 1921-1931
11 Williams College, undated
12 Victory Medal, undated
13 Abraham Lincoln, 1930
14 Albert Gallatin, 1934-1947
15 Alexander Hamilton, 1920-1941
16 Augustus Saint-Gaudens, 1905-1948
17 Bank of Montreal-Canadian Officer, 1925
18 Buffalo Herd, undated
19 Buffalo Prayer, undated
20 Charles Dana Gibson, undated
21 Chicago’s Michigan Avenue Bridge, 1928
22 Children, 1910
23 Daniel Boone, undated
24 Department of Commerce, 1947
25 Edwin H. Harriman, 1912-1913
26 Elihu Root, 1928-1953
27 Elks Memorial Building, undated
28 End of the Trail, 1915-1951
29 Equestrian Groups, 1923-1959
30 Flora and Sonny-Boy Whitney, 1913-1914
31 Franklin Institute, 1937-1961
32 Franklin Life Insurance Company, 1949
33 George S. Paton, 1948-1954
34 George Washington, 1937-1939
35 Grief, undated
36 Grover Cleveland, 1914
37 Henry Codman Potter, 1916
38 John Ericsson, 1929-1947
39 John Hay, 1914-1917
40 John James Audubon, undated
41 John Nance Garner, 1941-1942
42 Masque, 1926
43 Mayo Memorial, 1942-1944
4 1 Missouri State Capitol, 1928
2 Olesen Head at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, 1934
3 Pediment on the Constitution Avenue side of the National Archives Building, 1932-1953
4 Pegasus, undated
5 Pioneer Woman, 1927
6 Robert Todd Lincoln, 1928-1930
7 Second Division of the US Army Memorial, 1920
8 Sonny-Boy Whitney, undated
9 Supreme Court figures, 1933-1968
10 Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Equestrian statue, 1922-1940
11 Theodore Roosevelt, 1921-1923
12 Theodore Roosevelt, undated
13 Thomas Edison, 1941-1947
14 Thomas Jefferson, 1923-1939
15 Victory-Montreal, 1923-1924
16 Warren Delano, undated
17 White Eagle bust, undated
18 Victory pattern, 1919
19-23 Sketches, undated
24 Oregon Trail medal, undated
Laura Gardin Fraser
25 Autobiographical writings, undated
26 Clippings, 1919-1958
27 Copyrights, 1916-1941
28 Manuscripts of “History of American Sculpture,” 1958-1959
5 1 1913-1965
2 Original, 1920-1924
3 Transcription, 1920-1924
Photo Album and Photographs
4 Record of Photographs- Brownie Camera, 1903-1910
5 Yearbook, Horace Mann High School, 1907
6 Rubens Family (friends of the Gardin’s), c.1915
6 1 Album, 1916-1918
2 Album, c.1920
3 Album, Port Au Prince and Yucatan, 1927
4 At work, undated
5 Personal, undated
7 1 1892-1897 (most likely kept by Alice Tilton Gardin)
2 1902-1923
3 1905-1908
8 1 Alabama Centennial Fifty Cent Piece, 1944-1946
2 George Washington Coin transparencies, undated
2A George Washington Coin sketches, undated
3 Oregon Trail Memorial Coin and Markers, 1926
4 Philippine Commemorative Coin, 1947-1948
5 Baby Goat, 1919-1955
6 Children, undated
7 Elks National War Memorial, undated
8 Fair Play, 1927-1928
9 Frog, undated
10 Gilbert Stuart bust, 1922
11 Goat Baby Fountain, 1955
12 Goose Boy, undated
13 Grape Baby, undated
14 Hamlet, undated
15 Hitt Monument, undated
16 John K. Tener Memorial Relief, 1948
17 Lee and Jackson Equestrian Memorial casting and shipping, 1938-1948
18 Lee and Jackson Equestrian Memorial clippings, 1936-1948
19 Lee and Jackson Equestrian Memorial copyright and timekeeping, 1936-1948
20 Lee and Jackson Equestrian Memorial dedication, 1948
21 Lee and Jackson Equestrian Memorial photography, undated
22 Liebman Memorial, undated
23 Long, Long Trail Memorial, 1923-1948
24 Mary W. Harriman Memorial, 1928
25 Mary Lyon bust, 1927
26 Nativity Panel, undated
27 Navy Goat, undated
28 Oklahoma Run, 1948-1962
29 Pegasus, undated
9 1 Penguin, 1931
2 Pershing Memorial, undated
3 Peter Pan novelties, undated
4 Roosevelt Memorial Bridge reliefs, 1959-1960
5 Satyr and Nymph, undated
6 Simplicity, 1931
7 Smith relief, undated
8 Snuff, 1913-1925
9 Sylvanus Thayer, undated
10 Timmy (Chow dog owned by President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge), 1929
11 US Military Academy, undated
12 Washington relief panel, undated
13 West Point-American History Panels, 1958
14 West Point-Guides, 1958
15 West Point-Library, 1949
16 West Point-Photographs, 1958
17 Wrestlers, undated
18 American Bar Association, undated
19 American Numismatic Society Centennial, undated
20 Anthony Nicholas Brady Memorial, undated
21 Better Babies, undated
22 Bide-A-Wee Home for Animals, 1929-1930
23 Congressional Medal – Charles A. Lindbergh, 1928-1930
24 Connecticut War Council, undated
25 George Catlett Marshall, 1946-1947
26 George Washington Bicentennial, undated
27 Grosvenor Medal National Geographic Society, 1949
28 Hubbard, 1928-1963
29 Irish Setter Club, 1927-1932
10 1 J. Sandford Saltus, 1926-1930
2 Massachusetts Bay Tercentenary, 1931
3 Medal of the Congress-Benjamin Franklin, undated
4 Miscellaneous, 1920-1958
5 New Frontiers and Pony Express, undated
6 Oklahoma Semi-Centennial Exposition, 1957
7 Peanuts, undated
8 Richard Evelyn Byrd, undated
9 Rosemary Hall, undated
10 Society of Medalists, undated
11 Samuel Finley Breese Morse, undated
12 South Hampton Hospital School of Nursing, undated
13 Special Medal of Honor-National Geographic Society, undated
14 West Point Sesquicentennial, undated
15 Patriotic Pin, 1942
16 US Polo Association, 1930
Sketches and Sketchbooks
17 Five small sketchbooks, c.1905-1945
18 Sketchbook, 1924-1926
19 Four sketchbooks, 1924
20 Sketchbook, 1928-1941
11 1 Eight small sketchbooks, 1929-1951
2 Undated
3 US Cavalry, 1889
Subject Files
4 Amateis, Edmond, 1942
4A Artists, undated
5 Asbury, Francis, 1925
6 Bourdelle, Emile Antoine, 1925
7 Barthold, Borglum
Barnard, George Gray 1935-1964
Baker, Bryant
8 Booth, Edwin, undated
9 Campbell, Alice Fraser
Cathedral Age
China’s Great Wall 1930-1947
Commission of Fine Arts
Darling, Jay
10 Cartoons, 1929
11 Cartoons, 1931
12 Cartonns, 1933
13 Presidential Race booklet, 1928
14 “A Cartoonist’s Travelogue,” 1931
12 1 “The Jazz Era” booklet, 1920
2 “Our Own Outlines of History” booklet, 1921-1922
3 Russia Trip, 1931
4 Davidson, Jo, 1933
5 Dubois, Paul, undated
6 Edison, Thomas A., undated
7 Epstein, Jacob, undated
8 Firestone, Harvey, 1942
9 Gerard, James D., 1930
10 Griffiths, Clark, 1942
11 Garner, John Nance, undated
12 Grosvernor, Gilbert, 1935-1945
13 Godey’s Fashions, 1864-1870
13A Horses, undated
14 Jackson, WH, 1931
15 Jefferson, Thomas, undated
16 Lee, Arthur, 1924
17 Lee, Robert E., undated
18 Lincoln, Abraham, 1928-1947
19 Masks, 1940
20 Miscellaneous F, undated
21 Miscellaneous G, 1932
22 Miscellaneous H, 1919-1953
13 1 Miscellaneous I, undated
2 Miscellaneous L, 1921-1942
3 Miscellaneous M, 1920-1954
4 Miscellaneous N, 1957
5 Miscellaneous P, 1938
6 Miscellaneous R, undated
7 Miscellaneous S, undated
8 Miscellaneous W, 1942-1952
9 Moore, Charles, 1942
10 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915
11 Platt, Eleanor, 1942
12 Robinson, Edwin Arlington, 1919-1935
13 Roosevelt, Theodore, 1898-1936
14 Saint-Gaudens, Augustus, 1905-1947
15 Stenographers notebooks, 1948
16 Tools, undated
17 Uniform, 1946
18 Washington, George, 1924-1935
14 1 Washington, George, 1930-1948
2 Westport, Connecticut, 1949
3 Zeigler, Lee Woodward, 1945
Unattributed Materials
4 1942-1964
5 Miscellaneous, undated
6 Studio plans, 1968
Photographs and Photo Albums
7 Photo Album, c.1900
8 Photographs, undated
9 National Sculpture Society, 1929
10 Signed “AK,” undated
11 Medals and coins, undated
12-15 Miscellaneous, undated

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