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Virginia Couse Leavitt Papers

Identifier: Ms. Coll. 23

Scope and Contents

This collection was donated to the Lunder Research Center by Virginia Couse Leavitt, granddaughter of E. Irving Couse. A large portion of the collection contains the personal research accumulated by Leavitt over the course of a forty-plus year period, including genealogical research that aided her in writing Eanger Irving Couse: Image Maker for America. A large part of the collection includes her research around the career and paintings of her grandfather and the catalogue raisonné she compiled from that. This was all in an effort to comprehensively document the works of E. I. Couse, including information on where his paintings ended up, sales history, and exhibition history. The collection also houses Virginia Couse Leavitt’s correspondence with museums, collectors, and individuals as well as photographs documenting Couse’s paintings.


  • 1980 - 2019

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open and available for research use. Copyright restrictions apply.

Biographical / Historical

Virginia Couse Leavitt was born to Kibbey Whitman Couse and Lucille Wrenn Couse on May 22, 1932. She is the granddaughter of E. Irving Couse, and has dedicated a large portion of her life to preserving her grandfather's home and studio, as well as his legacy as an American painter. She obtained 276 letters written by her grandmother that had been kept for many years by a relative. The letters provide valuable insights into their lives in Paris, New York, and Taos. Leavitt, along with her sister, Elizabeth, transcribed the letters and used them as a primary source for her biography on E. I. Couse. She has conducted extensive research on her grandfather's life and created a growing database of his paintings. Together with her husband, Leavitt has actively preserved the historic artist’s home for the past 40 years and established The Couse Foundation in 2001.


60 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection focuses on the research and work of Virginia Couse Leavitt. Her primary area of research revolves around her grandfather, E. I. Couse, who was a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists. Areas of the collection center around the creation of a comprehensive catalogue raisonné of his work. The collection also contains drafts and correspondence for several of her books and publications related to the TSA, provenance research on Couse paintings and historic objects held at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site, as well as her personal correspondence, genealogical research, photographs, and graduate school work. This body of work was compiled over a roughly 40-year period and touches on various aspects of the European and American art world from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries as it relates to E. I. Couse and the Taos Society of Artists.


Material has been arranged largely in the order it was received. Where possible, the original intellectual order has been kept. The material is housed in 106 Hollinger boxes, 18 smaller archival boxes, and consists of paper and mixed media.

Separated Materials

Books and periodicals have been separated and are located in the research library and the archival storage room.

Processing Information

This collection was processed from a medium to high level depending on the order of the material received. The material in the collection was acquired, housed in banker’s boxes, over a period of time, rather than on one specific date. Some boxes where without arrangement while others were foldered and had a clear intellectual arrangement. Where possible, the original intellectual arrangement was kept. The majority of the material with dates prior to 1980 are photocopies or facsimiles of the original document, unless otherwise noted. Books, periodicals, and other publications have been separated from the collection.
Lucas McDaniel
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Lunder Research Center Repository

The Lunder Research Center for the Taos Society of Artists
The Couse-Sharp Historic Site
146 Kit Carson Road
Taos NM 87571 USA