Skip to main content

Wilbur G Kurtz, Sr. visual arts collection

 Collection
Collection number: ahc.VIS197

Scope and Content

This collection contains the family photographs of the Kurtz and Fuller families as well as visual materials Kurtz created and collected during the course of his career. Family photographs pertain to Kurtz and Fuller families as well as a few images from Annie Pye Kurtz prior to her marriage to Wilbur Sr. Also included are images of Wilbur Sr. and friends during his time in Chicago, Illinois. The bulk of this collection is photographic materials which support the research and field work Kurtz conducted pertaining to two events during the American Civil War: Andrews' Raid and the Atlanta Campaign. The collection also contains original works of art, primarily watercolors, which depict Southern historical scenes such as Civil War events; early Atlanta, Georgia; and private and commercial commissions of wide ranging topics. The collection also contains photographs Kurtz took of his completed work, most of which are not in this collection. In addition, there is a significant collection of sketches in various stages of completion that Kurtz utilized during the planning and creative stages of his work. Some of the sketches reflect the entire body of the final work while others are study examples he created for specific components of the piece, such as livestock, figures, and structures.

Dates

  • 1859-1972, undated

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

This material is protected by copyright law. (Title 17, U.S. Code) Permission for use must be cleared through the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. Licensing agreement may be required.

Administrative/Biographical History

Wilbur G. Kurtz, Sr. (28 February 1882 - 1 February 1967) was born in Oakland, Illinois, raised in Greencastle, Indiana, and attended DePauw University and the Art Institute of Chicago. His parents were George H. Kurtz (1844 October - 1903) and Amanda Helen Kurtz (27 September 1847 - 8 March 1928) and he was the youngest of three children. While living in Chicago, Illinois, Kurtz worked as a draftsman, engraver, and professional illustrator. In 1903, he traveled south to Atlanta, Georgia, to interview Captain William H. Fuller (15 April 1836 - 28 December 1905) regarding his involvement in Andrews' Raid. During one of his visits with Captain Fuller he met his future wife, Annie Laurie Fuller (21 October 1884 - 2 October 1946). Kurtz married Annie Laurie on June 14, 1911, at the summer home of the bride's mother. The couple briefly lived in Indiana before permanently relocating to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1912, so Wilbur could pursue his research pertaining to the events of the Atlanta Campaign of the American Civil War. After Annie Laurie's death, Kurtz married Annie Rachel Pye (1895-1985) of Woodland, Georgia, in 1949. Kurtz and Annie Laurie had five children: Wilbur G. Kurtz, Jr. (1912-1991); Nelle Louise Kurtz Fambrough (1913-2000); Henry Harrison Kurtz (1916-1988); Annie Laurie Kurtz (1921-?); and Eugene Allen Kurtz (1923-2006).

After his move to Atlanta, Kurtz's professional career followed a variety of paths but some of the most significant and memorable involved his work with the filming of Gone With the Wind, 1938-1939, and the Georgia Historical Marker program in the 1950s. Selznick International Pictures hired him as historian and technical advisor for Gone With the Wind due to his association with Margaret Mitchell and his knowledge of the Battle of Atlanta. Kurtz and his wife, Anne Laurie, lived in Culver City, California, during the production of the film to provide onsite advice during filming, conduct research, and design sets and props. He also served as technical advisor for two other films: Song of the South, 1946, based on a series of stories written by Atlantan Joel Chandler Harris; and The Great Locomotive Chase, 1957, based on Kurtz's primary research topic, Andrews' Raid. In the early 1950s, the Georgia Historical Commission contracted with him to research and write the text for a series of historical markers, primarily in the region where the Atlanta Campaign took place. He also played a key role in the 1934-1936 restoration of the Cyclorama of the Battle of Atlanta as an employee of the art project division of the Works Project Administration (WPA). Kurtz also created illustrations for the Atlanta Journal and Atlanta Constitution, as well as magazine articles, murals and paintings for commercial buildings, and private commissions primarily for paintings depicting Southern historical events.

Extent

7683 item(s) (1583 negatives, 98 paintings, 5124 photographs, 52 postcards, 42 prints, and 784 sketches)

System of Arrangement

This collection is arranged in two groups: Personal and Professional. The Personal Group is arranged into five series based on format: I. Negatives; II. Paintings; III. Photographs; IV. Prints; V. Sketches. The Professional Group is arranged into seven series based on format: I. Illustrations; II. Negatives; III. Paintings; IV. Photographs; V. Postcards; VI. Prints; VII. Sketches. Series II of the Professional Group is further subdivided into subseries based on subjects: 1. Cityscapes; 2. Civil War; 3. Counties; 4. Employment; 5. Photographs of Kurtz originals; 6. Markers and Monuments; 7. Miscellaneous; 8. People; 9. Geographic locations; 10. Structures; 11. Study examples.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 1968 with subsequent additions.

Related Archival Materials

Wilbur G. Kurtz, Sr. papers, MSS 130, Kenan Research Center, Atlanta History Center

General

America's Turning Point: Documenting the Civil War Experience in Georgia received support from a Digitizing Historical Records grant awarded to the Atlanta History Center, Georgia Historical Society, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Digital Library of Georgia by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Description Control

Collection processed in 2011.
Title
Wilbur G. Kurtz, Sr. visual arts collection
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center Repository

Contact:
130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305
404-814-4040