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Illustrations and papers of Kreigh T. Collins

Identifier: Collection 056

Scope and Contents

Spanning the years circa 1914-73, the collection contains many of the works of Collins from the various stages of his career, and portrays the styles and techniques he developed in his illustrations and paintings. The papers give an insight not only into the man, but also of the place of the artist in the Depression, and (through his patriotic illustrations) World War II, two of the major events of his lifetime. The collections are valuable both to the art historian and the historical researcher. The collection consists of: Correspondence, Scripts, Sketchbooks, Scrapbooks, Sketches, Paintings, Comic Strips, Historical Illustrations, Illustrations, Publications, Photographs, Overlays, Miscellaneous, Clippings.

Some 63 portraits, landscapes, drawings and other work were transferred from this collection to the Public Museum of Grand Rapids. Other examples of Collins' work may be found in private hands or at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. An oral history from Teresa Collins (Mrs. Kreigh Collins) was recorded in the Winter of 2003/2004, and is attached to this collection.


  • 1914-1973


Biographical / Historical

Kreigh T. (Taylor) Collins was born in Davenport, Iowa, January 1, 1908, to Stephen W. and Nora C. Collins. He attended high school at Cincinnati (Ohio) High, where he majored in art, but dropped out at 16 to pursue art in earnest. He studied art in Cleveland (1924-1925) and in 1925 opened his own studio. It was during this period that he met Theresa VanderLaan, whom he married in 1929 after a year spent studying in Paris (with visits to North Africa). She became the model for many of his characters, especially in “Up Anchor” and “Kevin the Bold,” as well as model for many of his sketches, paintings, and studies. They moved to Chicago in 1929, where he worked for an advertising agency. Collins disliked advertising illustration. In the fall of 1930 the Collins family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he again took up advertising illustration. Then, in 1931, he and Theresa returned to Paris, where he worked and studied, and first began to concentrate on his landscapes.

Upon their return to the states, the Depression was severe, but Collins did well and in 1935 painted and sold many landscapes in the small village of Leland, Michigan. Then, in 1935-1936, he contracted with a newspaper syndicate to illustrate the "Do You Know" series by Willis Atwell for the Michigan Centennial. During the next two years, he painted portraits in Ohio, eight 20' X 40' or larger murals in Dallas, and landscapes in Taos, New Mexico. All the work caught up with him, and in late 1937 he could no longer use his right arm to paint. He discovered, however, that he could make line drawings by resting his elbow on the arm rest of a chair and his forearm on the drawing board. The Methodist Publishing House, which had until then bought only a few of his travel sketches, started sending him large quantities of work. He also illustrated the Informative Classroom "Teaching Pictures." In 1941 he found he could do a small amount of painting again without pain, and among other projects painted an official portrait of Supreme Court Justice McDonald.

In 1948 Collins signed an agreement with NEA to syndicate a comic strip to be titled "Mitzi McCoy." The strip was a great success, and in 1950 "Kevin The Bold" was launched. "Kevin" was equally successful and had a long run. Then in 1968 Collins started a new type of comic strip "Up Anchor" which was a departure from either the adventure or the slapstick form, the prevalent types then in vogue. The new strip followed the daily lives of a family on a sailboat. This strip also proved to be a success, and continued until Collins' retirement in 1973 due to ill health.

Collins died on January 8, 1974. Theresa Collins died January 9, 2008, with the obituary and photo published in the Grand Rapids Press on Jan. 16, 2008. They had four sons, Eric, David, Glen and Kevin.


55.8 Linear Feet (Over 50 boxes)

Language of Materials



Kreigh Collins (1908-1974) was an artist, illustrator and cartoonist. This collection contains the bulk of the known archival papers and illustrations compiled from his estate. Included are childhood sketches, early advertising art, book and church illustrations and panels from his three better known comic strips (Mitzi McCoy, Kevin the Bold and Up Anchor). Also included are reference materials, personal and professional correspondence, scrapbooks, sketchbooks and other clippings.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Kreigh Collins Estate, 1973 and Jack Bromiley additions. Accession numbers 00.000[1980?], 2000.113, 2001.088, 2004.094, 2007.068

Related Materials

Grand Rapids Art Museum

Syracuse University Collection list including Kreigh Collins

Kreigh Collins Comics

Grand Rapids Power Squadron


Finding aid for the illustrations and papers of Kreigh T. Collins
William C. Black
January 1988
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Grand Rapids History Center Repository

111 Library Street NE
Grand Rapids Michigan 49503 USA