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Walter Baumhofer Collection

Identifier: MGHL-mghl-00035

This collection includes original artwork in various formats and published material by Walter Baumhofer mainly dating between the 1920s and the 1960s.


  • 1920-1990
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1920-1960
  • Other: Date acquired: 02/15/2016

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions to access.

Conditions Governing Use

Some restrictions, please contact the Modern Graphic History Library Curator at (314) 935-7741 or Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies. Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University. If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


0.00 linear feet

Biographical or Historical Information

Walter Baumhofer was born on November 1, 1904 in Brooklyn, New York.(1) Baumhofer, a high school graduate of Commercial High School, attended Pratt from 1923-1925. He married fellow Pratt attendee Alureda Leach on June 28, 1930. His wife was also known as the artist Rita Leach, also referred to informally as Pete, and both Pratt graduates were able to find work as artists despite the hard times of the Great Depression.

Even though Baumhofer was able find jobs as a freelance artist, the Great Depression took its toll on the industry. Baumhofer decided to risk $30 to hire a model for a Street & Smith pulp cover, which resulted in the publisher hiring him to illustrate covers for Doc Savage and Pete Rice. According to Baumhofer, it is this break that “ended the Depression” for him and would forge the path for a career in commercial art throughout the 1930s. Baumhofer is known as a prolific pulp artist and would produce over 700 pulp illustrations throughout his career.(2) Many of Baumhofer’s fans referred to him as “King of the Pulps” because of his many contributions to numerous publications.

By 1935, Baumhofer began to publish his illustrations in Liberty Magazine. It was around this time that he joined the American Artists Agency, owned by brother and sister Celia and Sidney Mendelsohn. Their agency represented some of the top artists working at the time and for the rest of Baumhofer’s career, American Artists sold over 700 of his illustrations to advertisers and numerous slick magazine titles. (3) Baumhofer became a successful commercial artist by the rise of the 1940s and established a name for himself in an industry full of competing artists that were both celebrated and more accomplished.

Walter Baumhofer’s illustrations in the slick magazine were published in The American Magazine, Collier’s, and The Saturday Evening Post. He also produced a number of painting that were featured prominently in women’s magazines. Baumhofer illustrated stories for the likes of Cosmopolitan, Ladies’ Home Journal, Redbook, Today’s Woman, and Women’s Home Companion. Baumhofer is responsible for a large number of illustrations for these publications, both on the covers and within their pages. His work for slick magazines spans several decades and provides a rich sample of his work.

During the 1950s, Baumhofer earned his highest wage while contracted with the American Artists Agency. Shortly after, however, the industry started to decline. By 1960, Baumhofer started producing work for men’s adventure magazines; some titles from this time include Argosy, Cavalier, Outdoor Life, and Sports Afield. The shift from painting to photography did not stop him from making work. Throughout the 50s and 60s, he created illustrations for calendars published by the Thomas D. Murphy Co. (albeit he often used the pseudonym Martin Walters) in addition to a series of cover illustrations for paperback books. (4)

Baumhofer would eventually resign from American Artists to start freelancing once again; the lack of clients, however, would lead to his retirement in the late 1970s. He still kept painting, namely landscapes and other scenes from the West. He was rediscovered by pulp fans and was featured at Pulpcon 8 in 1979. In the early 1980s, he was commissioned to create a new cover painting, although still in the classic style, for a new edition of The Spider. (5) This would be his last known foray into painting in his late career.

In one of his last letters, Baumhofer states: “Sure, I enjoyed the slicks, particularlly enjoyed the money. But I enjoyed the pulps more. Those were good, exciting times. I’ve always felt fortunate in that I’ve been able to do something I really enjoyed all my life.” (6) Walter Martin Baumhofer, 82, died on September 23, 1987.

1 David Saunders, “2015 Hall of Fame Inductee: Walter Baumhofer,” Society of Illustrators,

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 David Saunders, Walter M. Baumhofer, (St. Louis, MO: Illustrated Press, 2014), 158.

5 Ibid., 219.

6 Ibid., 221.

Arrangement Note

Items are arranged by material type and art medium. The contents of the collection are arranged as follows:

Series 1: Tear Sheets

Sub-Series 1: Slick Magazine Tear Sheets

Sub-Series 2: Newsprint Tear Sheets

Sub-Series 3: Pulp Magazine Tear Sheets

Sub-Series 4: Book Tear Sheets

Sub-Series 5: Calendar Tear Sheets

Sub-Series 6: Clippings

Sub-Series 7: Fragile Tear Sheets

Series 2: Proofs and Prints

Sub-Series 1: Typical Size

Sub-Series 2: Atypical Size

Series 3: Books

Sub-Series 1: Pulp Paperbacks

Sub-Series 2: Chapbooks

Series 4: Magazines

Sub-Series 1: Slick Magazines

Sub-Series 2: Pulp Magazines

Series 5: Calendars

Series 6: Special Publications

Sub-Series 1: Books and Journals

Sub-Series 2: Newsletters

Sub-Series 3: Short Stories

Series 7: Reference Files

Series 8: Photographic Materials

Sub-Series 1: Film

Sub-Series 2: Prints

Series 9: Professional Papers

Sub-Series 1: Correspondence

Sub-Series 2: Fan Mail

Sub-Series 3: Notes and Clippings

Sub-Series 4: Society of Illustrators

Series 10: Personal Papers

Sub-Series 1: Alureda Baumhofer

Sub-Series 2: Correspondence

Sub-Series 3: Clippings

Sub-Series 4: Education

Sub-Series 5: Events

Sub-Series 6: Household

Sub-Series 7: Financial

Sub-Series 8: Invitations

Sub-Series 9: Notes

Sub-Series 10: Photographs

Sub-Series 11: Photography Equipment

Sub-Series 12: Publications

Sub-Series 13: Scrapbooks

Sub-Series 14: Subscriptions

Sub-Series 15: Travel

Series 11: Ephemera

Sub-Series 1: Promotional

Sub-Series 2: Envelopes

Sub-Series 3: Pamphlets

Series 12: Original Works of Art

Sub-Series 1: Works of Art on Board

Sub-Series 2: Works of Art on Paper

Sub-Series 3: Framed Works of Art

Method of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the Modern Graphic History Library by Helen Baumhofer in February 2016.

Accruals and Additions

There are no accruals.

Related Materials

The Dowd Modern Graphic History Library Periodical Collection contains periodicals featuring Baumhofer's published illustrations. The Walt Reed Illustration Archive contains periodicals and tear sheets featuring Baumhofer's published illustrations.

Related Publications

It's a man's world: men's adventure magazines by Adam Parfrey

Walter M. Baumhofer by David Saunders

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Andrea Degener in August 2018.

Walter Baumhofer Collection
Andrea Degener
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-01: This finding aid was entered in to Archon by Andrea Degener in August 2018. The finding aid was updated by Andrea Degener in February 2019. The finding aid was updated by Andrea Degener in January 2020.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library Collecting Area

Skye Lacerte
West Campus Library
7425 Forsyth Blvd
Clayton MO 63105 US
(314) 935-5495