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Alvena V. Seckar, Author and Artist, Writings, Photographs, Scrapbooks, and Other Material

 Collection
Collection Number: A&M.4204

Scope and Contents

Papers of artist and author Alvena Seckar, who spent much of her early life in West Virginia. Includes writings by Seckar, including both autobiographical and fictional writings; photographs, mainly of Seckar and her family, or of her artwork; family documents; correspondence; scrapbooks; and other material.

Contents List:

Box 1 contains mainly autobiographical writings.
These also include material regarding family history,
and regarding her travels (in folders 48-56).

box 1; folder 1; copies of correspondence from Seckar to her parents; 1941-1946
box 1; folder 2; copy of letter introducing Seckar to Random House Publishing; 1944
box 1; folder 3; copies of outgoing correspondence; 1958-1990
box 1; folder 4; correspondence regarding typing and editing of Seckar’s writing; undated
box 1; folder 5; “Outline/Preface I” and various partial typescripts; ca. 1980s
box 1; folder 6; “Outline/Preface”; undated
box 1; folder 7; “First Chapter”; ca. 1993
box 1; folder 8; “1981 Version/Notes”; ca. 1981
box 1; folder 9; partial typescripts re: Seckar’s mother; undated
box 1; folder 10; “Jewels of Memory - My Mom”; undated
box 1; folder 11; “Jewels of Memory” draft fragments re: mother and “non-fathers”; undated
box 1; folder 12; “My Mom”, “My Step-father”, “My Brother”, et al.; undated
box 1; folder 13; fragments re: Seckar’s father; ca. 1980s
box 1; folder 14; “Jewels of Memory” drafts (typed and handwritten); ca. 1980s
box 1; folder 15; partial typescripts and handwritten notes; undated
box 1; folder 16; fragments re: step-father, travel, politics, review of Polish film “Last Stop”; undated
box 1; folder 17; notes and fragments (typed and handwritten); undated
box 1; folder 18; partial typescripts; undated
box 1; folder 19; partial typescripts, correspondence; et al.; ca. 1990
box 1; folder 20; partial typescript; undated
box 1; folder 21; partial typescripts; undated
box 1; folder 22; “Some Additional Manuscripts” partial typescripts; undated
box 1; folder 23; partial typescripts; undated
box 1; folder 24; profile and autobiographical fragments; 1999, undated
box 1; folder 25; “autobiography”; 1990
box 1; folder 26; typescript re: Americanizing name; undated
box 1; folder 27; typescript re: family and coal country economic conditions; 1946
box 1; folder 28; “Houses I Have Lived In” typescript; undated
box 1; folder 29; “My Education” typescript; undated
box 1; folder 30; partial typescripts “My Planned Career” et al.; undated
box 1; folder 31; typescript “Near Misses”; undated
box 1; folder 32; typescripts and handwritten notes re: “Personal Experience - Boyfriends” and divorce; undated
box 1; folder 33; typescripts and handwritten notes “Other People in My Life” and "Apartment - All People Who Lived Here"; ca. 1980s
box 1; folder 34; typescripts “The Prison’s Song” and “People” (re: friends of Seckar); ca. 1980s
box 1; folder 35; typescript “Multiple Sclerosis”; undated
box 1; folder 36; partial typescripts “Little Boxes”, Backyard in Front”, “Nigerian Paintings”; ca. 1980s
box 1; folder 37; fragments re: Vietnam; undated
box 1; folder 38; typescript “Peacock Feather”; undated
box 1; folder 39; typescript “Outhouses and Bathroom Facilities”; undated
box 1; folder 40; typescripts “Lawnshows, Central America, Allentown - Beginnings, Baum Art School, Pittsburgh Art Show, Coal Mine Painting, Prague 1947 Youth Festival”; undated
box 1; folder 41; notes re: “Paintings and Exhibits”; 1957-1963
box 1; folder 42; “Unused Photos”; undated
box 1; folder 43; “Acknowledgements”; undated
box 1; folder 44; manuscript; undated
box 1; folder 45; list of edits to be made; undated
box 1; folder 46; partial typescripts “NY #2 1943” and “New York”; undated
box 1; folder 47; diary Pittsburgh and West Virginia; 1946
box 1; folder 48; travel - overview; undated
box 1; folder 49; "Introduction to Travel and 1939 Trip"; undated
box 1; folder 50; "Canada - Travels in this Hemisphere"; undated
box 1; folder 51; "Europe 1947 - General Observations"; undated
box 1; folder 52; "Czechoslovakia 1947 Trips"; undated
box 1; folder 53; "Nigeria - 1958"; undated
box 1; folder 54; "Around the World 1959"; undated
box 1; folder 55; "German Democratic Republic 1965"; undated
box 1; folder 56; "Wheeling Around the World 1984"; undated
box 1; folder 57; empty folders retained for their labels; undated
box 2; unfoldered; photographs of Seckar and her family, organized by subject (these photographs have been retained in their original filing system); 1932-2004
box 2; unfoldered; address books
box 2; unfoldered; small artworks and ephemera
box 3A; folders 1-7; drawings from small album
box 3A; folder 8; manuscript of "Misko and the Moving Hills"; undated
box 3A; folder 9; notes from summer lectures at the Institute of Fine Arts; 1936
box 3A; folder 10; press release and correspondence between Seckar and West Virginia University regarding her artwork; 1967, 1997
box 3A; unfoldered; journal recording a trip to Chicago taken by Seckar, including photographs; 1945
box 3B; folder 1; photographs of paintings and news clippings
box 3B; folder 2; photographs of paintings; 1960s
box 3B; folder 3; photographs of paintings; 1970s
box 3B; folder 4; photographs of paintings and news clippings
box 3B; folder 5; photographs of paintings
box 3B; folder 6; printed copies of webpages regarding Seckar; 2001-2002
box 3B; folder 7; publications, news clippings, and other items regarding Seckar's travel to Eastern Europe; 1944-1950
box 3B; unfoldered; slides of paintings by Seckar (the slides are stored in their original metal carrying case)
box 4; folder 1; family documents
box 4; folder 2; naturalization papers of Seckar's parents; 1934, 1938
box 4; folder 3; birth, marriage, and death certificates for Seckar's parents
box 4; folder 4; Seckar's birth certificate and copies; 1916
box 4; folder 5; Seckar's certifcates of marriage and divorce; 1946, 1956
box 4; folder 6; financial assets of Seckar's mother at her death; 1977
box 4; folder 7; document regarding Seckar's will and a related lien; 1977-1992
box 4; folder 8; documents regarding a deed and agreement of occupancy; 1980-1985
box 4; folder 9; document regarding property in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey; 1937-1946
box 5; folders 1-2; typed manuscripts regarding art history, Eastern Europe, and other topics
box 5; folder 3; copies of "People's Newspaper" and other publications; 1945-1946
box 5; folder 4; art-related publications; 1934, 1959
box 5; folders 5-6; family photographs
box 5; folders 7-18; scrapbook "90s to Present" (contents removed, original order retained); ca. 1990-2005
box 6; folders 1-12; photographs of paintings by Seckar (these were in a binder labeled "paintings, bratislava, etc.")
box 7; folders 1-19; photographs of paintings by Seckar (these were in a binder labeled "paintings, I")
box 8; folders 1-23; photograph album; ca. 1940s
box 9; folder 1-21; scrapbook (contents removed, original order retained); 1947-1954
box 9; folders 22-30; scrapbook (contents removed, original order retained); 1954-1957
box 10; folders 1-8; scrapbook (contents removed, original order retained); 1956-1957
box 10; folders 9-21; scrapbook (contents removed, original order retained); 1957-1961
box 10; folders 22-40; scrapbook (contents removed, original order retained); 1960-1969
box 11; folders 1-15; scrapbook "70s" (contents removed, original order retained); 1969-1979
box 11; folders 16-38; scrapbook (contents removed, original order retained); 1980-1989
box 12; folder 1; "diary 1959"; 1959-1961 (includes original copies of letters authored by Seckar, with associated envelopes and hotel stationary, from India, Singapore, and Hong Kong)
box 12; folders 2-9; photographs of Seckar, her artwork, her travels, and other subjects
box 13; folders 1-5; small black binder (contains exemplars of Seckar's work as a graphic artist, including designs for greeting cards, stationary, etc.; contents of binder removed, original order retained)
box 13; folders 6-26; scrapbook; 1929-1947 (contents removed, original order retained)
box 13; folders 27-42; photograph album; ca. 1940s-1960 (contents removed, original order retained)
box 14; oversize folder 1; oversize artwork
box 14; oversize folder 2; oversize photograph and newspaper article
box 14; unfoldered; oversize scrapbook; 5/1939-1/1940 (documents trip by Seckar to France funded by a scholarship to attend the Institute of Art and Archaeology in Paris; includes ocean liner memorabilia for her trip to and back from Europe; includes ephemera from Paris, Leningrad, and other places; also includes a few letters authored by Seckar, some of which discuss the war in Europe [WWII], her safety, and finding a steamer to cross the Atlantic in order to return home)

Dates

  • 1927-2005

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

Biographical / Historical

Alvena Seckar was born in McMechen, West Virginia to first-generation immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia in 1915. Her father was a coal miner and the family moved frequently around the coal fields of West Virginia and Pennsylvania during her childhood.

Seckar's artistic talents were recognized while she was in school and she was able to attend college, first studying at the University of Pennsylvania. She then transferred to the Institue of Fine Arts, New York University. She earned her Bachelor's Degree there in 1939 and her Master's Degree in the History of Fine Arts in 1949.

Seckar's artwork drew inspiration from her coal field childhood, depicting working class people and landscapes with sympathy by without any attempt to "prettify" her subjects. She was also inspired by her travels in post-World War II Europe, where she visited the Eastern Europe of her parent's heritage. Seckar considered herself a politically conscious artist and took part in the Civil Rights Movement, anti-nuclear movement, and other causes.

Seckar came to her second career as a writer almost by accident. She was initially interested in illustrating children's books, but after receiving several rejections, decided to write a book of her own. Like her artwork, her books drew from her childhood experiences living in the coal fields. "Zuska of the Burning Hills" and "Mischko" tell stories of children living in coal towns from Eastern European immigrant families, while "Trapped in the Old Mine" is a science-fiction story for young readers.

Seckar continued to write, paint, and exhibit her artwork throughout her life. Even when, later in life, she developed multiple sclerosis, which crippled her right hand, Seckar continued to paint and write, even teaching herself to paint with her left hand. Seckar had been working on a novel regarding the lives of her grandmother, mother, and herself -- tentatively titled "Jewels of Memory" -- which was not published before her death. Seckar passed away on 7 March 2012 in her long-time home of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.

Extent

8.3 Linear Feet (Summary: 8 ft. 3 1/2 in. (3 record cartons, 15 in. each); (1 oversize carton, 17 in.); (6 document cases, 5 in. each); (3 document cases, 2 1/2 in. each))

Overview

Papers of artist and author Alvena Seckar, who spent much of her early life in West Virginia. Includes writings by Seckar, including both autobiographical and fictional writings; photographs, mainly of Seckar, her family, and her artwork; family documents; correspondence; scrapbooks; and other material. Please be aware that parts of the collection have been minimally processed and therefore remain in their original physical and intellectual arrangement. See "Scope and Contents" note for contents list.

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL: https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/

Related A&M Collections

556, 903, 2002, 4204, 4428
Title
Alvena V. Seckar, Author and Artist, Writings, Photographs, Scrapbooks, and Other Material, ca. 1930-2005
Author
Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center
Date
2016/08/25
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

Contact:
1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US
304-293-3536