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Mary Gehr Papers

Identifier: Wing-Modern-MS-Gehr

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, artwork, writings, and other files of Chicago artist Mary Gehr.

The largest part consists of original work and photographs of work, sketchbooks from her extensive travels, and travel essays. Also included are articles she authored, and information on her prize-winning garden. A biographical section includes articles about Mary Gehr and her numerous exhibits, awards, and photographs. Also included are letters from ancestors of Mary Gehr: Mrs. Rachel Smedley, Capt. Harvey Smedley, Ruth Smedley and the Lum and Mead families. Subject files contain material about her interests in theater and dance.


  • Creation: 1828-1997
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1945 - 1997



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Mary Gehr Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Mary Gehr Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Mary Gehr

Chicago painter, printmaker, and illustrator, active 1940-1997.

Mary Gehr (1913-1997) was born in Chicago in 1913; she attended Smith College for one year, then toured with theater companies and returned to Chicago, where she danced with the Chicago Opera Company and the Page-Stone Ballet. She turned to painting and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Institute of Design, and the Illinois Institute of Technology Summer School of Painting in Saugatuck, Michigan. Between 1945 and the mid 1960s she illustrated many children’s books for the Chicago-based Childrens Press and the Henry Regnery Co. Her paintings were also used in advertising and reproduced in books and magazines designed by her husband, the prominent art director Bert Ray. She participated actively in the Chicago art scene well into the 1990s with numerous exhibits, essays, and lectures about her art and her travels.


12.5 Linear Feet (27 boxes)


Original work, reproductions of work, correspondence and subject files of Chicago artist Mary Gehr.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Correspondence, 1928-1995
Boxes 1-2
Series 2: Works, 1945-1981
Boxes 3-5
Series 3: Biographical, 1828-1997
Boxes 6-10
Series 4: Sketchbooks, 1961-1996
Boxes 11-22
Series 5: Subject files, 1941-1994
Box 23
Series 6: Realia, 1975-1995
Box 24
Series 7: Oversize material, 1955-1990
Boxes 25-26
Series 8: Additions, 1956-1991
Box 27

Collection Stack Location

4a 28 10, 4a 29 8


Estate of Mary Gehr, 1998; additional gifts from Mary Czerniski, 2005.

Processed by

Mette Shayne, 2010.


Inventory of the Mary Gehr Papers, 1828-1997, bulk 1945-1997
Mette Shayne
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States