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Robert L. Lepper Papers

Identifier: 1988-0001

Scope and Content Note

The Robert Lepper Papers are housed in eight archival boxes and arranged into ten series. Series have been designated for Design, Publications/correspondence, Andy Warhol, Art work, Transit Vehicle Design, Industrial Design, Awards, Philosophy of Design, Astrobat, and oversized material. Generally, these papers include correspondence, catalogs from art shows and articles. The collection also contains items from his teaching careers such as class notes, lectures and class projects. Mr. Lepper's ideas about design can be found in this collection. There are also articles and newspaper clippings about Andy Warhol being a former student of his. A large portion of this collection is slides, photographs, and negatives of art work done by Lepper as well as some of his students. This collection includes extensive information in the form of correspondence, slides, pictures, articles, notes, and sketches on Mr. Lepper's Transit Vehicle Design project. A video taped lecture given by Lepper in 1988 at the Carnegie Museum of Art and a cassette recording from the "Machine Age" exhibit are also a part of this collection. The Architecture Archives at Carnegie Mellon University houses three detailed pencil drawings (21"x63") of the Kanawha Airport (Charleston, West Virginia) ceiling which was painted by Lepper in 1950. The University Archives has one painting/three-dimensional piece of art. In the oversized material includes several large photographs of Lepper's artwork as well as art work done by other artists.


  • Majority of material found within Bulk, 1938-1965
  • 1920-1989



Permission to use photographs of Lepper's art work in publications will be considered by the University Archivist on a case by case basis and cannot be guaranteed.

Biography or History

Robert L. Lepper was born in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania and graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1927. After spending thirteen months in Europe studying art, Lepper worked for the Sun-Telegraph as a "hack artist." He joined the faculty at Carnegie Tech in 1930 where he would remain until his retirement in 1975. He married Helen Jewett in 1933. They had one daughter, Susan.

Mr. Lepper was instrumental in establishing the first degree-granting School of Industrial Design at Carnegie Tech in 1934. It was the first of its kind in the country.

To ease the unemployment problems caused by the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration established the Federal Arts Project (1935-1943) to employ the nation's artists. During the 1930s, the Treasury Department also established two art programs: the Treasury Relief Project and the Section of Fine Arts. Mr. Lepper painted murals in the Grayling, Michigan and Caldwell, Ohio post offices for the Section of Fine Arts (1934-1943). From 1940-1942, he also painted a mural for West Virginia University in the new Mineral Industries Building which depicted the prevalent industries in the area. At Carnegie Mellon University, the sandblasted mural in the Tepper School (GSIA) was done by Mr. Lepper in 1952.


8.0 Linear feet (8 boxes, 1 oversized box, 1 map drawer)




This collection contains the papers of Robert L. Lepper (1906-1991), a Professor at the College of Fine Arts from 1930 to 1975 and was instrumental in establishing the first degree-granting School of Industrial Design at Carnegie Tech in 1934.

Physical Location

Shelves 98-99


These materials were received from Robert L. Lepper from 1989-1990.


The oversized materials in this collection are in the map case on the second floor of Hunt Library. Three pencil drawings of Lepper's Kanawha Airport ceiling are in the Architecture Archives. Also, "Zeta," a painting/three-dimensional piece of art, is in the University Archives.

Physical Description

Eight boxes (Boxes 1-8); 8 linear feet


July 1991; Papers arranged and inventory written by Clare L. Michelson. Finding aid written by Cassandra Nespor (8/07).
Robert L. Lepper Papers 1920-1989 1938-1965 1988.01
August 15, 2007
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives Repository

4909 Frew St
Pittsburgh PA 15213
(412) 268-5021