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John DePol Research Collection

Identifier: NNWhit.020

Scope and Contents

This collection, donated to the Whitney by Mr. DePol, includes correspondence, several original prints, keepsakes that include prints, holiday cards, exhibition catalogs and documentation, and press clippings. Correspondence with Whitney Museum staff members includes references to the donations that form this collection. Much of the material was organized into folders by Mr. De Pol, with typed labels explaining their contents. For the most part, this organization has been maintained; where items were moved, a notation has been made on the folder. See series description below for more detailed information on the contents of this collection.


  • 1953-2004 [bulk 1997-2004]


Biographical / Historical

John DePol (1913-2004), artist and wood engraver, is considered to be one of the great exemplars in the field of wood engraving, having produced thousands of images for commercial graphic design and for private presses and fine printers.

Born in Greenwich Village, New York City, in 1913, DePol left school at age thirteen to help support the family, and worked as a statistical clerk and securities runner on Wall Street. An ardent interest in art led him to make drawings of sights he saw around the city, and study art in library books. He also took night classes in lithography at the Art Students League. During World War II, he served in the United States Army Air Corps, and while on duty in Northern Ireland, he continued his lithography studies at the College of Art in Belfast. During this time he also sketched the sights and scenes of Ireland, images that would later form the basis for many prints and book illustrations, including his own Ireland Remembered: A GI’s Recollection (1982).

After the war, DePol began a career as a graphic designer, working as a production assistant for the L.F. White Company, a commercial printing firm. He began doing wood engraving in 1947. He continued to work for a number of commercial publishing companies, and also received independent commissions illustrating private-press booklets, separate prints, broadsides, and limited edition books. After his retirement from commercial illustration in 1978, DePol remained active illustrating private press books, producing individual prints, and teaching wood engraving in workshops at Farleigh Dickinson University.

He received many honors for his work including election as a National Academician by the National Academy of Design and Laureate, New York Printers Wall of Fame. John DePol died in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, on December 15, 2004.


1 box

Language of Materials



This collection consists of material sent to Whitney Museum print department staff members by wood engraver John DePol during the years 1997, 1998 and 2004. It includes samples of DePol’s work, as well as documentation about his career.


This collection is organized into eight series:

Series I: Correspondence with Whitney Museum staff, 1997-2004

    Arranged chronologically

Series II: Original prints and related documentation, 1945-1998

    Arranged alphabetically by work title

Series III: Holiday cards, 1938-1947

Series IV: Keepsakes, 1961-1994

Series V: Talks by DePoL, 1979-1982

Series VI: Exhibition catalogs and documentation, 1945-1998

Series VII: Press clippings and reproduction of DePol images, circa 1940s-2004

Series VIII: Whitney Museum of American Art Cataloging Information, 1997-2005

Custodial History

This collection was kept in the print department offices before coming to the Whitney Museum Archives. It was arranged there, more or less, in the series presented here.

Related Materials

Items in Whitney Museum Special Collectons: The Wood Engravings of John DePol, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, The Ellen Clark Bertrand Library, September 25 – December 30, 1989. Signed and dated 1998 by DePol. Illustrated exhibition catalog. Special collections NE1112.D4 W6 1989

Ireland Remembered, A GI’s Recollection by John DePol; An Appreciation by Sinclair Hitchings; and a Catalogue Raisonne of John DePol’s Irish Graphic Works by Renee Weber. Madison, New Jersey: The Friends of the Library, Farleigh Dickinson University, 1982. Signed by DePol. Special collections NE1112.D4 I7 1982

Not Barn Again: Four Engravings by John DePol. Council Bluffs, Iowa: Yellow Barn Press, 1997. Includes DePol’s bookplate. Special collections NE1112.D4 Ng 1997

Elizabeth McClintock, California Flora, with wood engravings by John DePol. San Francisco: The Book Club of California, 1995. In cloth case with a suite of proofs by De Pol, made by The Campbell-Logan Bindery in Minneapolis, April 1996, signed by De Pol. Includes DePol’s bookplate. Special collections NE 1112.D4 C3 105

Processing Information

A listing of the material in this collection was prepared; see Series 8, Whitney Museum of American Art cataloging information.


Finding aid compiled in 2004 by Whitney Museum archivists. Updated information was added in 2019 by Mariana Lopez de Castilla.
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Repository Details

Part of the Whitney Museum of American Art Archives, New York, NY Repository

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.
New York, NY 10014 United States

Access to the Archives:

Researchers may consult archival materials on-site at the Frances Mulhall Achilles Library and Archives in West Chelsea. To request an appointment, please send an email to with the following information:
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