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Ben Brown World War II drawings collection

Call Number

PR 274


1943-1945, inclusive


Brown, Ben, 1921-


2.25 Linear feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials

This collection is primarily visual. Any text is likely to be in English.


The collection contains 131 loose drawing and two sketchbooks of drawings and paintings in graphite, colored pencil, pen and ink, pastel, and watercolor. The drawing are of soldiers and their daily lives during World War II as well as landscapes of Italy and North Africa. There is also a photograph album documenting Brown's experiences during the war.

Biographical Note

Ben Brown was born Ben Hurwitz in 1921 in the Bronx, New York. He attended the High School of Music and Art in New York and after graduation studied art at the University of Iowa before enlisting in the United States Army in 1942. In 1943, after basic training, he was shipped to North Africa and then to Italy a few months later. During his two years in the service, he kept a record of his experiences by sketching and painting whenever he had the chance.

Hurwitz changed his name to Brown after the war. He put aside his war sketches but continued to work in the arts as a painter, cartoonist and photographer. In 1995, just two years before his death, his son Joshua Brown convinced him to revisit his wartime drawings. A selection of his work, along with Brown's comments, can be found online on the History Matters website:


The collection is organized in three series:

Series I. Drawings
Series II. Sketchbooks
Series III. Album

The drawings are further sorted by size and arranged by subject and location, when known.

Scope and Contents

The Ben Brown World War II Drawings Collection spans the period from 1943 to 1945 and contains 131 loose drawings and painting and two sketchbooks made during Brown's time in the United States Army during World War II. Images primarily include soldiers in North Africa and Italy, on duty and at rest. It also contains a photo album and clippings from Brown's tour of duty.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Use Restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit:

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Ben Brown World War II Drawings Collection, PR 274, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Location of Materials

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Joshua Brown, 2008 and 2017.

Related Materials

Additional material related to World War II can be found in the World War II Photograph Collection (PR 076) and the Robert L. Benney Reference Collection (PR 250). The museum holds other artists' drawings, paintings and sketchbooks.

Collection processed by

Kelly McAnnaney

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:50:16 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from benbrown.xml


New-York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024