Gutzon Borglum Texas Papers
- 1921 - 2020
- Borglum, Gutzon (1867-1941) (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
1 Linear Feet
Biographical / Historical
Borglum had by this time become a notable sculptor, and became the first living sculptor to have a piece purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1909 he married Mary Williams Montgomery Borglum, and they went on to have three children. They lived in Stamford, Connecticut for a decade, where Borglum took in Czechoslovak Legion members who were fighting on the Allied side during World War I.
He also became embroiled in politics with the Ku Klux Klan, though there is no evidence he was ever a member. It is rumored that this association led to his removal from the Stone Mountain Project, a mountain carving in Georgia that was to feature Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson. He got as far as carving Lee’s head before tensions caused him to leave the project, and Lee’s portrait was eventually dynamited off the mountain by Borglum’s replacement, Henry Lukeman.
Borglum did not leave empty handed, however. He had developed several useful techniques to sculpting on such a large scale and put that knowledge to work on his next project. Mount Rushmore would be Borglum’s crowning achievement, even as it also became controversial due to the Lakota Sioux Native American history in the Black Hills of South Dakota where it was created. Mount Rushmore National Memorial contains four sixty-foot-tall sculptures of the heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln clustered together high atop a 5,725-foot mountain, originally known as The Six Grandfathers to Lakota Sioux. It is the top tourist attraction in South Dakota with over two million visitors a year.
During the late 1920’s, Borglum set up a studio in a disused pumphouse in San Antonio, Texas. It was here that he created the model for Mount Rushmore, and also developed several ideas for large public monuments throughout Texas. He clashed with politicians in Corpus Christi over an extensive bayfront rejuvenation that would have also had a thirty-foot-tall sculpture of Jesus Christ, Corpus Christi’s namesake. The project eventually fell through. He had successes elsewhere, creating a large bronze sculpture for the Texas Traildrivers, the sculpture Wars in America in Newark, New Jersey, and a statue of Woodrow Wilson in Pozan, Poland. The statue of Wilson was later destroyed during the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II.
Borglum’s works are still highly regarded and can be found in many corners of America. He was an unabashed nationalist and believer in Manifest Destiny. His enthusiasm and skills are evident in his work, and in much of the correspondence in this collection. He died of a heart attack at the age of 73 in 1941.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Artists' monuments
- Artists' studios
- Borglum, Lincoln (1912-1986)
- Borglum, Mary (1874-1955)
- Bradford, Ralph (1892-?)
- Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce
- Dallas Art Association
- Dobie, Frank J.
- Former presidents
- Governor Neff, Pat (1871-1952)
- Non-Partisan League Foundation
- Painting in art
- Spoonts, Lorine Jones (1893-1963)
- Texas Centennial Commission
- Texas Civil Works Administration
- Texas Traildrivers
- Turner, Winnie
- Witte Museum
- Gutzon Borglum Texas Papers
- In Progress
- Eric Christensen
- Description rules
- Language of description
Part of the Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Repository
6300 Ocean Dr.
Corpus Christi TX 78412 United States