Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to the William M. McVey Papers, 1922-1976 MS 026

creator McVey, William M.
Title: William M. McVey Papers
Dates: 1922-1976
Abstract: The papers of sculptor William M. McVey include newsclippings, correspondence, photographs related to sculptures of McVey’s, and a scrapbook with photos and mementos of his student years at the Rice Institute.
Identification: MS 026
Quantity: 1.5 cubic ft.1.5 cubic ft.
Repository: Woodson Research Center

Biographical Note

William M. McVey was born in Boston July 12, 1905, spent his boyhood on a farm near Worcester, Massachusetts and moved to Cleveland, Ohio with his parents in 1919. He later said that he could not remember a time when he was not drawing and modeling. After graduating from high school in 1922, he attended the Rice Institute (later University) in Houston, Texas on an athletic scholarship from 1923-1927, where he was president of his freshman class, played football for two years, and took courses in the department of architecture, including art, under John Clark Tidden, William Ward Watkin, and James Chillman. McVey transferred from Rice and returned to Cleveland’s Institute of Art to study sculpture, graduating in 1928. After a brief return to Houston he went to Paris, where he lived from 1929 to 1931 and studied at the Colarossi, Scandinave and Grand Chaumiere academies as a student of Charles Despiau. (He later recalled that when his borrowed funds ran out, he became an official tour guide in Paris to earn money.)

McVey returned to the United States to launch a career as teacher and sculptor. In March 1932 he married Leza Sullivan, a ceramist and textile artist; they had no children. McVey held a number of teaching positions, including assignments at the Institute of Art in Cleveland, Ohio State University, Detroit’s Cranbrook Academy of Art, Houston Museum of Art, and the University of Texas at Austin. During World War II he served in the Army Air Force both in the U.S. and in the Philippines, earning four battle stars and the rank of major. In 1953 he returned to the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he became head of the Sculpture Department.

McVey’s sculptures are found coast to coast and include portrait busts along with architectural sculpture; among his better-known sculptures are his statue of Winston Churchill in Washington, D.C., and in Texas the stone frieze at the base of the San Jacinto Monument near Houston, the Davy Crockett Memorial in Ozona, and the James Bowie Memorial in Texarkana. He also has several works around the campus of Rice University (where he received a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1983), and sculptures at the Museum of Fine Arts and other public institutions in Houston.

McVey died in Cleveland, Ohio on May 30, 1995.

Scope and Contents

The William M. McVey Papers (MS 26) include 1.5 cubic feet of material in two boxes, including newsclippings, correspondence, photographs related to sculptures of McVey’s, and a scrapbook with photos and mementos of his student years at the Rice Institute. Dates range from 1922-1976.

Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged in the following order: clippings, correspondence, sculpture files, photographs, awards (box 1), and one scrapbook (box 2).


Restrictions on Access

This material is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from the William M. McVey Papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
McVey, William M.
Decoration and ornament, Architectural
Portrait sculpture, American
Sculpture, American

Related Materials

WIlliam M. McVey information file, Woodson Research Center

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

William M. McVey Papers, 1922-1976, MS 26, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

Acquisition Information

Mr. McVey donated his papers through the Association of Rice Alumni in December 1975; an addendum was received from Cohen House in June 2001.


No future additions are expected for this material.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I: Clippings

Box Folder
1 1 Newspaper clippings; biographical information

Series II: Correspondence

Box Folder
1 2 1936-1938

Series III: Sculpture Files

Box Folder
1 3 Davy Crockett Memorial (Ozona, Texas), 1937-38
4 James Bowie Memorial (Texarkana, Tex.), 1937
5 Cohen House Sculpture (Rice University, Houston, Tex.), 1958-1961
6 Hanszen and Will Rice Panels (Rice University, Houston, Tex.), 1956 (?)

Series IV: Photographs

Box Folder
1 7 Photographs, 1936 (?) – 1961

Series V: Awards

Box Folder
1 8 “Journey to the Ohio” Medal

Series VI: Scrapbook, 1922-27

2 Scrapbook from McVey’s years as a student at Rice Institute, c. 1922-1927, oversize