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Leah Nolan papers

Call Number: RH MS 422


Leah Nolan (1901-1982) was an artist and native of Kinsley, Edwards County, Kansas. The majority of her collection relates to Nolan's artwork, as well as her personal and family life.


  • Creation: 1901 - 1983


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Leah Nolan

Leah Williams Nolan was born in Kinsley, Kansas, on February 3, 1901. Her father was James Edward Williams and her mother Isabel Alexander. Nolan graduated from Kinsley High School in 1918. Throughout her life, she lived in Kansas, Colorado, Illinois, California, Connecticut, and New York. In 1924, she and William Nolan married, divorcing in 1936.

Nolan is best known for her figurines, which were widely publicized and earned her great acclaim. Her artwork appeared in advertisements at department stores, movie and performance theaters, magazines (such as Esquire), and in displays (such as those for Arthur Murray Dance Studios).

Not limiting herself strictly to artwork, Nolan was also a skilled engineer and taught women's courses at the Illinois Institute of Technology during the 1940s, as well as working for the United States Army Air Force during WWII. While living in Chicago and New York she befriended artists, authors, and intellectuals such as Alexander Calder, Laslo M'Holy, Ross Parmenter, and George Kepes.

Leah Nolan returned to Kansas in 1978, living in Topeka and then Wichita before her death in 1982.


14 Linear Feet (14 boxes + 2 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The collection consists of notes, receipts and financial records, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and genealogical information collected by Leah Nolan throughout her life. Much of the collection relates to Nolan's artwork, published in Esquire Magazine among other publications, as well as her personal and family life.

Physical Location

RH MS 422

Physical Location

RH MS Q126

Physical Location


Physical Location

RH MS-P 422

Physical Location

RH MS-P 422(f)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, MaryBelle Bowman, 1986; Connie Springer, 2014, 2018.

Related Materials

Leah Nolan papers, 1908-1977, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Guide to the Leah Nolan Collection
Leah Nolan papers
Finding aid prepared by sh, 2006. Finding aid encoded by sh, 2006. Finding aid revised by cl, 2010; tmw, 2017; mwh, 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Leah Nolan papers, Kansas Collection, RH MS 422, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States