Scope and Content Note


This collection documents Violet Oakley's brilliance in combining her artistic talents, particularly as a muralist, with her commitment to pacificism and feminism. The seven scrapbooks in the first series primarily contain newspaper and magazine clippings, as well as pamphlets, programs, exhibition checklists, ephemera and correspondence, and chronicle Oakley's career from 1899 to 1962, one year after her death. The second series consists of four publications written, designed and illustrated by Oakley that were printed in limited editions. "The Holy Experiment, our heritage from William Penn..." pertains to the dramatic mural project Oakley executed for the State Capitol in Harrisubrg, Pennsylvania. The oversized plates illustrating the 1922 portfolio edition are housed separately from the original, leather cover and calligraphic text. There is also an octavo-sized version of "The Holy Experiment," that was published in 1950, with black and white illustrations. Oakley published "Law Triumphant" in 1932 to commemorate the Disarmament Conference that began in Geneva that year. Its four-color plates are also housed separetly from the original oversized volume. The1949 pamphlet, "Great Women of the Bible..." pertains to the ten murals Oakley, who was more than 70 years old at the time, created for the Pastoral Aid Society, which was the women's organization to the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, Pennsylvania. The pamphlet is not illustrated. The "Other" series consists primarily of black and white photographs. Most of these feature a pet cat, which from the notations on the verso of a few of the images was "Cogs," taken in 1909. The women who are included in a couple of these photographs appear to be Oakley and Edith Emerson. There are also two sheets of pencil sketches of a cat in various poses. The material identified as "Reference" probably was assembled by museum staff or scholars in 1979 in preparation for the Oakley exhibition held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. These include mounted copy prints, most of which show the artist working in her studio on various mural projects and details of the artwork, a multi-page list identifying all the images in five photograph albums belonging to Edith Emerson, and two four-color photographs of Oakley's murals on the north and south walls of the Senate chamber in the Pennsylvania State Capitol.