MS 308 Dan Dickey Collection

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
Dickey, Daniel
Dan Dickey Collection
MS 308
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1920-1962
Date [inclusive]
5.0 Linear feet (10 boxes)
This collection contains the personal papers and family papers of Dan Dickey, a San Diego painter, sculptor, and muralist partly known for his work under the WPA Federal Art Project.

Preferred Citation

Dan Dickey Collection, MS 308, San Diego History Center Document Archives, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

Dan Dickey was born in New York on March 17, 1910 to parents Roy Dickey (1878-1953) and Ellen Rose Dickey (d. 1952). The family moved to Chicago when Dickey was very young, and his parents divorced in 1914. Dan was raised in Chicago by his father (who was a commercial artist working in advertising) and stepmother, Alice Manning Dickey, who married Roy Dickey in 1916. He majored in English at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, graduating in 1932. In the years following his graduation, he studied art in New York at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students’ League and traveled in Europe with his family.

In 1935, during the California-Pacific International Exposition, Dickey and two college friends, Malcolm McDowell (“Mac”) and Paul Swartz traveled to San Diego, where Dickey would spend the rest of his life. He painted portraits at the Exposition, where he met artist Foster Jewell and his wife Melisse, also an artist and a trained nurse (b. 1896). In 1937, Melisse divorced her husband, and she and Dickey became lifelong partners. Their relationship went through a period of turmoil when, in 1950, Dickey married former student and fellow local artist Ethel Greene, but they divorced in 1952, and Dickey and Jewell formally married in 1955.

From 1937-1939, Dickey worked for the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project. In 1944, he joined San Diego muralist Belle Baranceanu in painting six murals for a World War II bond drive. During 1944-1945 he wrote a column called “The Visual Arts” for the San Diego Journal. He was a member of the San Diego Art Guild and the La Jolla Art Center, and his paintings and sculptures appeared in exhibitions at the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the California State Fair. His first solo exhibition was held at the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego in 1948.

Dickey died in San Diego on November 2, 1961.

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Scope and Content

The collection contains material related to Dickey’s family, his elementary and secondary education and class notes, and other material from his time at Carleton College. Dickey’s art career is documented by clippings, writings, correspondence, and exhibition catalogs. Of particular significance is the voluminous correspondence that survives between Dickey and his parents, spanning from the 1920s to the 1950s. A scrapbook (compiled by Roy Dickey) documents family activities during the first decades of the 1900s. Many of the photographs feature Dan Dickey as a child.

Correspondence and family papers include those of his wife, Melisse Jewell Dickey; his father, Roy Dickey; his mother, Ellen Rose Dickey; his step-mother, Alice Manning; and his maternal grandmother, Rose Higgins.

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This collection is arranged in two series:

Series I: Dan Dickey Papers;

Series II: Dickey Family Papers.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection August 22, 2016

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Ettilie Wallace, a San Diego journalist and close friend of the Dickeys. Wallace assumed ownership of the collection after Melisse Dickey’s death in 1963.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Amy Fry in September 2008.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Ilan-Lael Foundation.

Personal Name(s)

  • Dickey, Alice Manning
  • Dickey, Ellen Rose Higgins
  • Dickey, Roy
  • Dickey, Velma Melisse Holben Jewell
  • Greene, Ethel J.
  • Ruocco, Lloyd, 1907-1981
  • Wallace, Ettilie


  • Art, American–California–San Diego–20th century
  • Artists
  • Artists–California–San Diego

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Scrapbooks are extremely fragile. Many of the letters are very soiled and some are brittle.

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All original artwork has been removed to the Curatorial department. Most of original photographs have been removed to the Photographs department.

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Collection Inventory

 Series I: Dan Dickey Papers

Biographical information, 1956-1962


Eulogy; Who’s Who in California; Dickey’s European summer trip itinerary (1931).

Art Career: Art, 1938-1978


Correspondence, awards, price lists.

Art Career: California-Pacific International Exposition, 1936


ID cards and participation medal.

Art Career: Exhibition catalogs, 1936-19421:4
Art Career: Exhibition catalogs, 1944-19531:5
Art Career: Exhibition catalogs, 1960-19641:6
Art Career: “The Visual Arts,” 1944-1945


Drafts, clippings, and copies of a newspaper column written by Dan Dickey.

Art Career: Newspaper articles, 1935-19781:8
Art Career: San Diego Magazine articles, 1950-1957


Book of San Diego interview with Dickey and four other artists.

Art Career: Point Magazine articles, 1951-19542:1
Art Career: Miscellaneous publications, 1941-1963


Spanish Village Art Quarterly (spring 1941); Voice of the Carleton Alumni (May 1962); Omni Art (Feb. 1962, Jan. 1963).

Art Career: Allied Artists’ Council, 1947-1948


Letter by Dickey to San Diego Fine Arts Society.

Art Career: Miscellanea, 1936-1973


Newspaper articles; 1952 Art Guild Calendar; photo of Betty C. Dennis.

Education: Elementary and Secondary schools, 1921-1930


Grade reports; class notes; certificate from American Academy of Art (Chicago).

Education: Carleton College class notes and exams, undated2:6
Education: Carleton College class notes, 19322:7
Education: Carleton College class notes, 19322:8
Education: Carleton College compositions by Dickey, 1928-19322:9
Education: Carleton College yearbook, 19292:10
Education: Miscellanea, 1928-1932


Pictures of Carleton College campus; 1932 literary magazine; Carleton yearbook page; Article on Shakespeare’s play “Pericles” and script of the play “The Frogs of Aristophanes.”

Correspondence: Dan Dickey to Roy and Alice Dickey, 1910-19553:2
Correspondence: Roy Dickey to Alice Manning, c.1913-1916


Note and sketch from Dan Dickey.

Correspondence: Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, undated3:4
Correspondence: Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1918-19293:5
Correspondence: Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1930-19363:6
Correspondence: Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1937-19393:7
Correspondence: Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1940-19414:1
Correspondence: Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1942-19464:2
Correspondence: Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1947-19524:3
Correspondence: Alice Manning and Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1920-1929 and undated4:4
Correspondence: Alice Manning and Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1930-19354:5
Correspondence: Alice Manning and Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1936-19374:6
Correspondence: Alice Manning Dickey and Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1938-19395:1
Correspondence: Alice Manning Dickey and Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 19405:2
Correspondence: Alice Manning Dickey and Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 19415:3
Correspondence: Alice Manning Dickey and Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 19425:4
Correspondence: Alice Manning Dickey and Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1943-19445:5
Correspondence: Alice Manning Dickey and Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1945-19465:6
Correspondence: Alice Manning Dickey and Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1947-19506:1
Correspondence: Alice Manning Dickey and Roy Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1951-19566:2
Correspondence: Dan Dickey to Melisse Jewell Dickey, 1936-1948 and undated6:3
Correspondence: Dan Dickey to Melisse Jewell Dickey 1956

Scope and Content:

Correspondence after the death of Alice Dickey.

Correspondence: Melisse Jewell Dickey to Dan Dickey, 1940 and undated6:5
Correspondence: Ellen Rose Dickey to Dan and Melisse Dickey, 1910-1952 and undated6:6
Correspondence: Rose Higgins to Dan Dickey, 1917-1925 and undated7:1
Correspondence: Dan Dickey to various recipients, 1919-19557:2
Correspondence: Malcolm McDowell to Dan and Melisse Dickey, 1937-1963 and undated7:3
Correspondence: Ethel Greene to Dan Dickey, 1948-19497:4
Correspondence: Miscellanea 1918-1962


Letters from Rawson J. Pickard and Lorser Feitelson.

Miscellaneous personal documents, 1923-1938 and undated


Clippings about Paul Dickey.

Personal notes and writings, c.1940-1962?7:7

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 Series II: Dickey Family Papers

Roy Dickey: Personal Papers 1909-1953


Correspondence; retirement tribute; postcards from 1933-1934 Chicago World’s Fair; writings and sketches; death certificate.

Roy Dickey: Correspondence c.1916-1930?


Family correspondence; Roy Dickey to Alice Manning Dickey.

Alice Manning Dickey, 1864-1953


Personal and professional correspondence, signed letters from Carl Sandburg and Edna Ferber; copy of letter from Eleanor Roosevelt; family papers; wedding invitation.

Ellen Rose Higgins Dickey, c.1909-1941


Higgins family papers and correspondence; resume; letter from Roy Dickey before their marriage.

Melisse Jewell Dickey: Personal Papers, 1914-1937


Diplomas; Balboa Mounted Troop items; clippings; photo scrapbook pages; divorce papers; miscellaneous papers concerning Foster Jewell (Melisse Dickey’s first husband).

Melisse Jewell Dickey: Correspondence, 1913-1955


Letters from Foster Jewell; from Roy and Alice Dickey; to Reginald Poland.

Melisse Jewell Dickey: Correspondence 1961-1962


Correspondence following Dan Dickey’s death.

Melisse Jewell Dickey: Correspondence 1962-1963


Correspondence during her final illness, from Baranceanu, Cummings, Dennis, Fair, Foster, McGaughey, McGee, Messenger, Porter.

Miscellanea, 1864-1960


Correspondence and papers pertaining to Roy and Alice Dickey’s estate; clippings; family letters; souvenir postcards and photos.

Family Scrapbook: copy (part 1 of 2)9:1
Family Scrapbook: copy (part 2 of 2)9:2
Family Scrapbook: original (part 1 of 2)9:3
Family Scrapbook: original (part 2 of 2)9:4
Family Scrapbook: loose photographs from pages 1 – 4910:1
Family Scrapbook: loose photographs from pages 50 – 8910:2
Family Scrapbook: loose photographs from pages 90 – 11910:3
Family Scrapbook: loose photographs from pages 120 – 17110:4
Family Scrapbook: loose photographs, original locations unknown10:5
Family Scrapbook: loose photographs, original locations unknown10:6
Dan Dickey loose leaf binder from Carleton College10:7

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