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Dec 9, 2022
Manuscripts – The Kelly H. Stevens Collection, 1893-1991
King Jordan Student Academic Center 1255
Stevens, Kelly H., 1896-1991
The Kelly H. Stevens Collection, 1893-1991
Gallaudet University Archives
Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 202
Creator: Stevens, Kelly H., 1896-1991
Title: The Kelly H. Stevens Collection, 1893-1991
Quantity: 16 linear feet (31 boxes).
Abstract: Collection of correspondence, photographs, news clippings, scrapbooks, and other material from the life of deaf artist Kelly H. Stevens.
Note: This document last updated May 2015.
Acquisition Information: Purchased by Gallaudet University Archives, 2011.
Processed By: Processing begun by Michael J. Olson, completed by Christopher Shea, May 2015.
Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions.
Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.
Related Material in the Archives:
Born in Mexia, Texas, Kelly Haygood Stevens lost his hearing at age 5 to scarlet fever. He enrolled in the Texas School for the Deaf, where he studied art under the tutelage of Nannie Huddle. After graduating in 1914, he went on to Gallaudet University and continued to study art concurrently at Gallaudet and the Corcoran School of Art.
Graduating Gallaudet in 1920, Stevens went on to teach at the New Jersey School for the Deaf and the Trenton School of Industrial Arts. In 1926, he traveled to Spain, where he studied with the Spanish Deaf painter Valentin de Zubiaurre and became interested in landscape painting and Native American life. Many of his subsequent paintings were devoted to the Texas landscape. He also spent time living with Native Americans in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas and painting their ceremonies, dances, and costumes.
In 1933-34, Stevens traveled through France and Spain, and then returned to the US, where he became a teacher at the Louisiana School for the Deaf. He also received his master’s degree from Louisiana State University in 1938. Stevens’ writings and art appeared extensively in The Silent Worker and other Deaf publications.
Stevens was also an expert art collector. His home, a German schoolhouse in Austin, Texas, which he personally restored and furnished, became a state historic landmark. He presented Gallaudet College with a collection of material from European Deaf artists for its centennial in 1964. Much of the remainder of his collection went to the University of Texas, which created a Kelly H. Stevens Room in its Human Research Building in his honor.
Stevens received an honorary doctorate from Gallaudet College in 1971, and an Amos Kendall Award from the GCAA in 1982. He passed away in 1991.
Scope and Content
The bulk of this collection consists of letters written to Stevens by family and friends. In particular, it highlights correspondence with his mother and siblings; his adopted son, Benjamin Chevallier; and European friends he made on his trips abroad, including the de Zubiaurre, Hanau, and Colas families. It also includes a few letters that Stevens wrote himself.
Also present is a collection of postcards, Stevens’ conversation notes, and some personal items, news clippings, and sketches.
There is also a large collection of photographs, mostly of friends and family, but also including some pictures of Stevens’ own artwork and/or work by artists he admired.
Series 1. Family correspondence, 1911-1989
Most of this collection consists of letters sent to Stevens by members of his family, with the bulk coming from the 1920s to the 1970s. Some of his own letters to family members are present in boxes 5, 7, and 9.
The most extensively represented family members include:
There are also a small variety of other letters from various aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends, arranged by name. There are only a few letters to or from Stevens’ father, Archibald M. Stevens.
Unusual items in this series include a biography of Stevens’ mother (box 1), his sister Leila’s wedding book (box 4), and a variety of personal papers belonging to Ben Chevallier, including his will (box 9).
Series 2. Correspondence with friends and other artists, 1928-1988
This series consists of letters from various friends and artistic colleagues of Stevens’. There are some letters from Stevens’ friend and partner Sidney St. Pe (box 10), but most of this series consists of material from European artists Stevens met during his travels. These include the de Zubiaurre family (boxes 10-11), Francois Crolard (box 11), Jean Hanau (boxes 11-12), and Marguerite and Maurice Colas (boxes 12-13).
Series 3. Conversation notes, 1960s-1980s
A collection of notes written by Stevens for communication purposes. Most are undated and do not indicate who Stevens was conversing with. One set of notes is titled “Dirt on Tom C.,” referring to Dr. Thomas Cranfill, a faculty member at the University of Texas. In 1977, Stevens accused Cranfill of defrauding the university by donating paintings with inflated valuations for the tax benefits. For more on Cranfill, see series 4.
Series 4. Other correspondence, 1920-1991
This series covers letters sent to Stevens by assorted friends, colleagues, organizations, and others, and a few letters sent by Stevens. It also includes a collection of birthday, holiday, and Christmas cards sent to him. Included is some correspondence on the Thomas Cranfill case (see series 3); letters from Stevens’ art restorer, Charles Muskavitch; correspondence with Irving S. Fusfeld about the de Zubiaurre family; and some letters from Stevens’ early art teacher, Nannie Huddle.
Series 5. Postcards, 1920s-1980s
A large collection of picture postcards sent to Stevens by friends and family.
Series 6. Personal papers, 1912-1990
Various personal materials from Stevens’ life, including sketches, poems and other writings, tax returns, his will, and some notes on his family history. See series 13 for certificates and honors he acquired over the course of his life.
Series 7. Gallaudet materials, 1920-1976
This series includes material from Stevens’ association with Gallaudet, including graduation programs, his honorary doctorate, and some material on the presentation of the small model of the Thomas H. Gallaudet / Alice Cogswell statue that Stevens recovered and restored. See series 11, 12, and 13 for more Gallaudet-related material.
Series 8. Estate of Leila Peyton Hall accounts, 1973-1991
Stevens served as the executor for the estate of his sister, Leila Peyton Hall, after she passed away in 1972. These books include financial statements on the estate’s debts and outstanding balances.
Series 9. Documentation of collections and donations, 1964-1985
A small collection of material on Stevens’ gifts to the University of Texas and elsewhere, as well as appraisals, customs forms, and receipts from art movers. Series 12 has photographs of some artwork from Stevens’ collections.
Series 10. Clippings and scrapbooks, 1924-1984
A collection of newspaper clippings on topics that Stevens found interesting, as well as two scrapbooks. One, “Leopold’s Book,” is a scrapbook of articles, art, and cartoons on dachshunds; the other, “Garden Book,” has a planting diagram for a large garden. Also includes a small collection of postage stamps clipped from envelopes.
Series 11. Artifacts, 1930s-1980s
Boxes 20-21, 30-31
A collection of Stevens’ possessions, including a leather writing case, a hand-tooled leather book cover made for him by a friend, a portfolio case, eyeglasses, a copperplate printing block with a portrait of Stevens, an academic hood, a Shriner fez, a Western hat, and more. Also includes his 1982 Amos Kendall Award given to him by the GCAA.
Series 12. Photographs, 1893-1988
This series includes 8mm movie film, slides, snapshots, and negatives, most unlabeled and undated. Most are photos of friends, family, and colleagues, but this series also includes photos of artwork from Stevens’ collection and elsewhere, as well as photographs from Gallaudet and the Louisiana School from the Deaf and a large picture of Stevens’ 1914 graduating class from the Texas School for the Deaf. Of interest are some pictures of the Clinton Courthouse in Louisiana; Stevens’ sketches of the courthouse are included in series 6.
Series 13. Certificates, 1921-1974
A small collection of certificates and awards gathered by Stevens, including teaching licenses, diplomas, and honors. See series 7 for some similar material related to Gallaudet.
Gallaudet University, chartered in 1864, is a private university for deaf and hard of hearing students.
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