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Virginia Walker Couse Correspondence Collection

Identifier: Ms. Coll. 26

Scope and Contents

This collection of 278 letters are written by Virginia Walker Couse, the wife of artist E. I. Couse, to her relatives in the Pacific Northwest spanning the years 1882-1912. The majority of the letters are written to her sister, Fan, but a number are also addressed to her parents and other family members. The letters begin with Virginia writing from Paris during the period in which she studied art at the Academie Julian where she met E. I. Couse. It details their courtship, marriage, and the birth of their son, Kibbey Whitman Couse. It covers their time living at the art colony in Etaples, France as well as their many returns to their apartment in New York City. Beginning in 1902, Virginia writes of their first visit to Taos, New Mexico and her impressions of the people and place. In 1903, she recounts their trip to Walpi, Arizona to visit the Hopi people and witness the Snake Dance as well as their daily visits and interactions with the Hopi potter Nampeyo. The letters stop in the year 1912, but are full of Virginia's accounts of E. I. Couse's painting commissions, sales, his mentorship under the artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau, the Couses initial struggles to adapt to life in rural northern New Mexico, their developing relationships with Couse's models, their purchase of their house on what is now Kit Carson Road, and their relationships with other Taos artists. As Couse himself was not much of a letter writer, this correspondence collection was the primary resource which informed Virginia Couse Leavitt's biography on her grandfather, E. I. Couse.


  • 1882-1912

Conditions Governing Access

The first two boxes of this collection contain original materials that are fragile and require supervision when being handled in the reading room.


2.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection comprises 278 letters written by Virginia Walker Couse to her relatives, spanning the years 1882-1912. The majority of the letters are written to her sister, Fan, but also to her parents and other members of the family. They detail her years in Paris studying at the Academie Julian, meeting and marrying E. I. Couse, their time at the art colony in Etaples, New York, and eventually Taos. The collection also includes typed transcripts, one set of which has been annotated by Virginia Couse Leavitt. It also includes two handwritten subject indices.
Virginia Walker Couse Correspondence Collection
Marissa Hendriks, Director, Lunder Research Center/Virginia Couse Leavitt Archivist Chair
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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