Bernice West Beyers papers, 1912-1987

A Finding Aid to the Bernice West Beyers Papers, 1912-1987, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Berenice West Byers (1906-1987)worked as as sculptor in the New York and New England area. Later in life, she became a patron of the arts in Dallas, Texas.

Bernice Delemar West was born on April 26, 1906 in New York City, the daughter of Abigail Palmer and E. Lovette West, an engineer. In 1925 she graduated from the Bennett School in Millbrook, New York, where she took diplomas in both drama and fine arts. After a summer trip to Europe with classmates, she spent the next year studying drama with Winifred Lenihan at the Theatre Guild. In the summer of 1926, she did summer stock in Binghamton as a member of Actors Equity. In 1927 she began to pursue a career in sculpture and pottery.

She first worked in the studio of Lu Duble, her former teacher at the Bennett School. From 1927 to 1929, she also studied under Alexander Archipenko, Edmond R. Amateis, and Winold Reiss. In the fall of 1929, West began studies at the Art Students League under William Zorach.

Beginning in 1934, she exhibited primarily in New England and Florida. She was later influenced by the Haitian and Mayan art work she encountered while on a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1937-1938.

West was married in March 1940 to Robert Arthur Beyers, and their family moved permanently to Dallas, Texas, where they were primarily patrons of the arts.

Bernice West Beyers died in 1987.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of sculptor Bernice West Beyers measure 1.7 linear feet and date from 1912-1987. Found within the papers are biographical material; letters that discuss sculpture commissions and exhibitions; scattered business and financial records; notes and writings; a sketchbook; printed material, including 3 scrapbooks of clippings; and photographs of Beyers and photograph albums of her art work.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 7 series. All series are arranged chronologically. All oversized material has been housed in Box 3 (sol) and is referenced in the folder headings of the Series Description/Container Listing.

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms.


  • Sculpture, Modern -- 20th century
  • Women sculptors -- New York (State)
  • Sculptors -- New York (State)

Types of Materials:

  • Works of art
  • Sketchbooks
  • Photographs


The Bernice West Beyers papers were donated in 1988 by Robert West Beyers, the artist's son.

How the Collection was Processed

The papers were processed in November 2005 by Jean Fitzgerald.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Bernice West Beyers papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

Bernice West Beyers papers, 1912-1987. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1923-1935, undated
(Box 1; 2 folders)

Biographical material consists of report cards from the Bennett School of Liberal and Applied Arts, membership certificates including an Actors' Equity card, and an award certificate.

1 Report Cards, 1923-1924
1 Membership Certificates and Award Certificate, 1926-1935, undated

Series 2: Correspondence, 1928-1974, undated
(Box 1; 16 folders)

Correspondence consists of letters exchanged between Beyers, members of her family, and colleagues. Many letters discuss commissions and exhibitions of her sculpture. There is one letter, 1951, signed by Alexander Archipenko.

1 Correspondence, 1928-1974, undated
(16 folders)

Series 3: Business Records, 1923-1960, undated
(Box 1; 11 folders)

Business records primarily consist of miscellaneous receipts, price lists, and patent records relating to Beyers' designs for an ashtray and for an automobile hood ornament.

1 Miscellaneous Receipts, 1923-1960, undated
(9 folders)
1 Patent Records, 1928-1929
1 Price Lists, 1933, undated

Series 4: Notes and Writings, 1925-1967, undated
(Box 1, 3; 10 folders)

Notes include a notebook listing information about miscellaneous art work, transcripts of radio interviews, and miscellaneous notes. Writings consist of miscellaneous typescripts written by Beyers.

1 Notebook Concerning Art Work, 1931-1939
1 Transcript of Radio Interviews, undated
(2 folders)
1 Notes on Etching, undated
1 Caption Cards for Art Work, 1967, undated
1 Miscellaneous Notes, 1925-1933, undated
(See Also Box 3)
1 Miscellaneous Typescripts, 1933-1941, undated
(3 folders)
3 (sol) Oversized Blueprint of Portrait Plaque of Fred H. Albee, 1925
3 (sol) Oversized Blueprint of a Wooden Easel, 1933

Series 5: Art Work, undated
(Box 1; 2 folders)

Art work consists of a sketchbook containing geometric designs, and an abstract pencil drawing.

1 Sketchbook, undated
1 Drawing, undated

Series 6: Printed Material, 1912-1987, undated
(Box 1, 3; 33 folders)

Printed material consists of clippings, scrapbooks of clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, programs primarily from Beyers' plays and readings, brochures including one from the General Bronze Corporation, and miscellaneous printed material.

1 Clippings, 1912-1966, undated
(12 folders; See Also Box 3)
1 Scrapbook 1, 1921-1927
(6 folders; See Box 3 for Scrapbook 2)
1 Scrapbook 3, 1938-1939
1 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1933-1987, undated
(7 folders)
1 Programs, 1917-1926, undated
(2 folders)
1 Brochures, 1932, undated
1 Reproductions of Art Work by Others, undated
1 Picture Postcards, undated
3 (sol) Oversized Clippings, 1931
3 (sol) Scrapbook 2, 1934-1946

Series 7: Photographs, 1937-1956, undated
(Box 1-3; 29 folders)

This series consists primarily of photographs of art works, both unbound and in albums. There are also photographs of Beyers and her exhibitions.

1 Photographs of Bernice West Beyers, 1937, undated
1 Photographs of Art Exhibitions, 1941,undated
1 Photograph Album 1, undated
(See Also Box 3; 4 folders)
1 Photograph Album 2, undated
(3 folders)
2 (hol) Photograph Album 3, undated
(2 folders)
2 (hol) Photograph Album 4, undated
(2 folders)
2 (hol) Photograph Album 5, undated
2 (hol) Photographs of Art Work by Beyers, 1956, undated
(13 folders)
2 (hol) Photographs of Art Work by others, undated
3 (sol) Oversized Cover for Photograph Album 1, undated