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Nancy Leitch Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 2007-04

Collection Scope

The collection documents Nancy Leitch’s life as a student, artist, and art instructor.

SERIES I. Biographical (1932-1995) contains materials related to the personal life of Nancy Leitch. Among the materials represented here are diaries and notebooks, correspondence, coursework, and clippings. Leitch’s experience at Cranbrook is documented within the Education sub-series. Her years at Cranbrook left a deep impression on her and she often reflected in her writings on her time at the school during WWII and the impact her instructors, Carl Milles and Maija Grotell, left upon her life. The notebooks and writings within this series provide detailed and personal descriptions of life at Cranbrook Academy of Art during those years.

SERIES II. Professional (1930-1993) contains materials relating to Nancy Leitch’s career as a professional artist and art teacher. Two sub-series, Correspondence and Longwood, contain correspondence directly relating to her professional work and materials from her long tenure at Longwood College. Other materials in this series include clippings, commission details, exhibition inventories, announcements, programs, and resumes.

SERIES III. Research (n.d.) contains materials collected by Nancy Leitch from her childhood up through the late eighties and includes various clippings, photocopies, sketches, notebooks, writings, publications, and ephemera primarily relating to her interests in art and wildlife. Leitch drew on these collected materials for developing ideas for her own artwork, commissions and lectures. She accumulated a large amount of clippings over the years and it was necessary to weed the collection to obtain a representative sample of the clippings. Many of the sketchbooks within this series have notes and drawings left by Leitch in between the pages. These items were left in place within the notebooks in order to maintain their context. Several headings originally designated by Leitch have been used in the Horses sub-series and are written in quotations.

SERIES IV. Images (1952-1958, n.d.) contains albums, photographs and slides pertain to Nancy Leitch’s personal life, Cranbrook, artwork, and animals. Although many of the materials in the albums and scrapbooks have notes and/or correspondence on the back, the albums were left intact in order to illustrate Leitch’s unique arrangement of the materials.

SERIES V. Oversized (1915-1935) contains matted photographs and drawings in addition to clippings and a scrapbook.

SERIES VI. Realia (n.d.) contains some original sculptural works by Leitch in wood, metal, and plaster.

Dates

  • 1915 - 1994
  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 1994

Creator

Access

Access to the collection is unrestricted.

Use

Permission to use collection materials must be requested in writing.

History

Nancy Leitch was born 19 Jan 1915 in Pittsburgh, PA, to Robert L. and Anna C. (Miller) Leitch. At the age of twelve, Leitch began her formal study of fine art under Christian Walter, President of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh. As a high school student she won many awards in local and national competitions for her paintings and sculpture, including a scholarship to attend the Carnegie Institute of Technology. During her time there she befriended Eliza Miller and Janet de Coux with whom she would maintain lifelong friendships. In 1936, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sculpture from Carnegie Institute of Technology, College of Fine Arts. After graduation Leitch continued to live in the Pittsburg area and maintain a sculpture studio. Her favorite subjects were animals of all kinds, but particularly horses and dogs. She continued to exhibit energetically and won many awards including a Tuition Grant to attend the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

In 1943, Leitch attended Cranbrook to study sculpture with Carl Milles, and was also a student of Maija Grotell, Howard Dearstyne, and Ernest Scheyer. She counted Jon Johnson, Margueritte Kimball, Signe Midelfars, Ruth Robinson, George Koren, Frances Ericsson, and Bob Lohman among her friends during this time. After finishing her first year in the program she was asked to return as Maija Grotell’s studio assistant, a position that she treasured and reflected upon often in her later years. Two large pieces that she created during those years, Rocky Mountain Goat and Rhinoceros, were purchased by Carl Milles for permanent addition to his home at Millesgarden. Several letters from her correspondence with Milles can be found at Millesgarden as well. Leitch left Cranbrook in 1945 to return to her family in Pittsburgh. She received her MFA in Ceramic Sculpture from Cranbrook in 1946.

In 1948, Leitch married Urban Hoffman in Pittsburgh and a year later gave birth to a daughter, Valerie. The marriage did not last very long and Leitch soon began teaching art courses at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. In 1952, she moved with her immediate family to Newport News, Virginia and took a position in the Warwick High School art department where she developed an interest in weaving. During her eight years there she continued to work on her art and exhibit, in addition to pursuing courses in education and art at the College of William & Mary, University of Virginia, and the Hampton Institute.

Leitch became the assistant art professor at Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia in 1961. Her courses focused on art history and she received a Ford Foundation fellowship in 1964 for the study of Asian art, which allowed her to attend several courses and exhibitions on the subject. During her years at Longwood, she had numerous exhibitions, commissions, and several one-woman shows. She retired with the title of professor in 1977.

Even in her retirement, Leitch remained active in her professional work exhibiting and taking commissions and she continued to pursue her educational interests by auditing geology and archaeology courses at Longwood. In 1988, Nancy Leitch was diagnosed with cancer and later, Alzheimer’s. She passed away 24 Mar 2008 at the age of 93.

Extent

8 Linear Feet (12 MS, 3 OS)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

In 1943, Leitch attended Cranbrook to study sculpture with Carl Milles, and was also a student of Maija Grotell, Howard Dearstyne, and Ernest Scheyer. She counted Jon Johnson, Margueritte Kimball, Signe Midelfars, Ruth Robinson, George Koren, Frances Ericsson, and Bob Lohman among her friends during this time. After finishing her first year in the program she was asked to return as Maija Grotell’s studio assistant, a position that she treasured and reflected upon often in her later years. Two large pieces that she created during those years, Rocky Mountain Goat and Rhinoceros, were purchased by Carl Milles for permanent addition to his home at Millesgarden. Several letters from her correspondence with Milles can be found at Millesgarden as well. Leitch left Cranbrook in 1945 to return to her family in Pittsburgh. She received her MFA in Ceramic Sculpture from Cranbrook in 1946. During her career, she taught at Warwick High School in Newport News, Virginia; became assistant art professor at Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia in 1961; and she retired with the title of professor in 1977. Even in her retirement, Leitch remained active in her professional work exhibiting and taking commissions and she continued to pursue her educational interests by auditing geology and archaeology courses at Longwood. The collection documents Nancy Leitch’s life as a student, artist, and art instructor.

Arrangement

The collection is organized into the following six series:

I. Biographical (boxes 1-4) includes three sub-series: Pesonal, Correspondence and Education.

II. Professional (boxes 4-7) includes three sub-series: Printed Materials, Correspondenc, and Longwood.

III. Research (boxes 7-10) includes three different sub-series: Art, Dogs, and Horses.

IV. Images (boxes 11-12)

V. Oversized (boxes 13-15)

VI. Realia (box 14).

The folders are arranged chronologically and/or alphabetically within each series; the documents within the folders are arranged chronologically and/or alphabetically where appropriate.

Acquisition

Gift of Ms. Leitch’s daughter, Valerie Armini, in June 2007.

Transfers

The images, negatives and slides are housed within the Photograph Special Collection (Envelopes 1-7 and NL1-23).

Processing History

Processed by Candi Wilson, 2008.
Title
Guide to the Nancy Leitch Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid written by Candi Wilson.
Date
2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Edition statement
Resource record created by Laura MacNewman.

Repository Details

Part of the Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Repository

Contact:
39221 Woodward Ave.
P.O. Box 801
Bloomfield Hills MI 48303 US