Creator: Robert DeWeese, 1920-1990 and Gennie DeWeese, 1921-2007

Provenance Note: The Robert and Genevieve DeWeese Collection on Robert Pirsig was purchased from Lynn Parkinson and the DeWeese Family Trust in September 2013.

Historical Note: Robert (Bob) and Genevieve (Gennie) DeWeese were pioneers in the modernist movement in the state of Montana. Primarily painters and printmakers, both artists influenced a generation of students through their teaching and involvement with the Montana arts community. Bob was Professor of Art at Montana State University from 1949 to 1977. Both artists exhibited extensively throughout the state and major retrospectives of their works were presented at the Montana State University School of Art in 1979, the Yellowstone Art Center in 1990 for Bob, and at the Missoula Art Museum in 1996 for Gennie. In 1995 Bob and Gennie received the Montana Governor's Award for the Arts, and the same year Gennie was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Montana State University in Bozeman.

Bob and Gennie were a hub for a very lively community of intellectual, modernist "thinkers" and artists of their generation, mostly a cross section of university faculty. They loved to stay in touch with what people were thinking about and what was new in their respective fields through hosting parties which provided them with lifetime friends. This was the context that they became acquainted with Robert Pirsig in the late 50s.

Robert Pirsig was an instructor of English for Montana State College from September, 1959 to June, 1961. Pirsig is the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila. Pirsig's book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a fictional account of his motorcycle trip from Minnesota to California with his son and coming to terms with his nervous breakdown. The book featured conversations with his old friends, Bob and Gennie DeWeese, at their Cottonwood Canyon home.

Content Description Note: The Robert and Genevieve DeWeese Collection on Robert Pirsig includes correspondence, ephemera, photographs, and a photocopied unedited manuscript. The materials in this collection were gathered over the course of the DeWeese's friendship with Pirsig. Photographs in series 1 were separated and relocated to series 3, a notation of an asterisk (*) refers to the folders from which photographs were removed.

Restrictions: Duplication of the manuscript Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is not permitted pending family permission.


Series 1 Correspondence
Series 2 Ephemera
Series 3 Photographs
Series 4 Manuscript

Series 1: Correspondence

Letters and postcards in this series pertain to correspondence received by the DeWeese's from Robert Pirsig and his family or discuss Robert Pirsig. Members Pirsig's family included in the correspondence are his first wife Nancy Pirsig, second wife Wendy Pirsig, son Ted Pirsig, and daughter Nell Persig. Topics discussed include Pirsig's books Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila, activities related to Pisirg's books, Piserg's family, philosophy, artwork, Guggenheim fellowship, etc. This series contains photographic materials that have been separated from the series. An asterisk (*) next to a folder indicates that photographic material has removed and relocated to series 3.

Box 1
1. From Pirsig, 1972-1978
2. From Pirsig, 1980-1987
3. From Pirsig, 1990-1997*
4. From Pirsig, 2000-2006, Undated*
5. Discussing Pirsig, circa 1970-2007

Contents | Special Collections

Series 2: Ephemera

Ephemera in this series include newspaper clippings discussing Robert Pirsig's books Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila, magazine article discussing Zen and the art of sailing, and drawings by Ted Pirsig.

Box 1 (Cont.)
6. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Newspaper Clippings, 1974-1984
7. Lila Newspaper Clippings, 1991
8. Cruising Blues and Their Cure - Robert Pirsig, Esquire, May 1977
9. Drawings by Teddy

Contents | Special Collections

Series 3: Photographs

Photographs in this series portray Robert Pirsig, Pirsig family members, and friends.

Box 1 (Cont.)
10. #1-28
#1-6 Robert Pirsig and Family
#7-14 Robert Pirsig and Motorcycle
#15-17 Compliments of Henry Gorr
#18-21 Summer Solstice Annual Picnic
#22 Nell Pirsig
#23 Rodeo Scene in Wilsall
#24 Nell Pirsig and Rufus
#25 Rufus
#26 Nell Pirsig, Matt Peiken, and Rufus
#27-28 Robert and Wendy Pirsig and Relatives

Contents | Special Collections

Series 4: Manuscript

Photocopied manuscript with handwritten marginal notes of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance prepared by Robert Pirsig prior to editing done by publishers for review by individuals central to the book. This photocopy was presented by Robert Pirsig to Robert and Genevieve DeWeese.

Box 1 (Cont.)
11. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Contents | Special Collections

Updated: 9/27/13