1921-1986 and undated


East Tennessee State University
Archives of Appalachia
Box 70295
Johnson City, Tennessee 37614
U. S. A.


E-Mail -
Telephone -  (423) 439-4338



Title:  John Alan Maxwell Papers
Collection Number:  Accession No. 579
Physical description:  .25 linear ft. (1 box)
                                      2 photographs
                                      1 oversized map folder
Creator:  John Alan Maxwell
Repository:  Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee State University


Provenance: The John Alan Maxwell Papers were transferred to the Archives of Appalachia from the Reece Museum, ETSU, on February 20, 2001. The papers had originally been donated to the museum by the Rocky Mount Museum, Piney Flats, Tenn.

Access: The collection is open for research.

Processing Information: The collection was processed by Ned Irwin and Brian Winstead in December 2005.


John Alan Maxwell was born on March 7, 1904 in Roanoke, Va. As a boy, he became fascinated by the history of the region, and this interest continued into adulthood and found expression in many of the illustrations and art work he later produced on historical subjects. He grew up in Bristol, Va., and later Johnson City, Tenn., where he attended Science Hill High School. 

Artistic from an early age, Maxwell trained in the 1920s at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D. C., and at the Art Students’ League in New York City. A need to earn a living led Maxwell to begin professional work as an illustrator. Over the course of a long career, he provided illustrations for many advertisements, books, and for such magazines as Collier’s, Civil War Times Illustrated, Saturday Evening Post, Life, Cosmopolitan, and the Woman’s Home Companion. He supplemented this bread-and-butter work with paintings, especially commissioned portrait paintings. Maxwell lived for many years in New York City and returned to live in Johnson City, Tenn., in the mid-1960s. 

He was married to Michelle O’Hara and died in Johnson City on April 13, 1984. Maxwell was the older brother of Johnson City photographer Clifford Maxwell, whose collection of photographs is also in the Archives of Appalachia.


The papers of John Alan Maxwell document Maxwell’s personal life and his career as a professional artist. The collection includes correspondence, newspaper clippings and magazine articles, printed ephemera, biographical information, information regarding art work and exhibits, and his involvement in such organizations as the Tipton-Haynes Historical Association, Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church, and the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. The collection is arranged in one series of subject files, alphabetically by topic. Undated material is filed at the back of folders. Two photographs of John Alan Maxwell are filed in a folder in Small Photographic Collections Box 7.

Important subjects in the collection include the following:

Artists—United StatesTennessee
Maxwell, John Alan, 1904-1984
Tipton-Haynes Historic Site (Johnson City, Tenn.)


Box 1

1. Artistic work, undated
2. Correspondence, 1945-1985 and undated
3. Doubrava, Jan, 1952
4. Newsclippings and articles, 1926-1968
5. Newsclippings and articles, 1970-1986 and undated
6. John Alan Maxwell School of Art, 1963-1977
7. Maxwell, Jim, undated
8. Maxwell, John Alan: Biographical, 1921-1984 and undated
9. Miscellaneous, undated
10. Munsey Memorial Methodist Church, 1976
11. Southern Landmark, undated
12. Tipton-Haynes Historical Association, 1966-1971 and undated

Oversized Folder 1

1. “John Alan Maxwell: A Long, Distinguished Career” article by Dorothy Hamill from Johnson City Press-Chronicle, January 17, 1981
2. “History as seen by John Alan Maxwell” article by Mark Dawidziak from Kingsport Times-News, August 31, 1980
3. “Artist John Maxwell busier than ever” article by Bill Williams from Kingsport Times-News, February 17, 1984