Betty Parsons Gallery records and personal papers, circa 1920-1991, bulk 1946-1983

Parsons, Betty, b. 1900 d. 1982
Painter, Dealer, Gallery owner
Active in New York, N.Y.

Betty Parsons Gallery, est. 1946 - 1983
Art gallery
New York, N.Y.

The Betty Parsons Gallery records and Betty Parsons papers in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2009. The bulk of the papers have been scanned and total 61,421 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by Terra Foundation for American Art


Collection size: 49.6 linear ft.

Collection Summary: The Betty Parsons Gallery records and personal papers measure 49.6 linear feet and date from 1920 to 1991, with the bulk of the material dating from 1946-1983. Records provide extensive documentation of the gallery's operations from its inception in 1946 to its closing in 1983 and provide a comprehensive overview of the activities of an art dealer at the forefront of promoting contemporary American Art in the latter half of the twentieth century. Included is extensive correspondence with artists, galleries, dealers, art institutions, private collectors, and the media. Also found are exhibition files, exhibition catalogs and announcements, sales records, stock inventories, personal financial records, and photographs. Additionally, Betty Parsons' personal papers consist of pocket diaries, personal correspondence, and evidence of her own artwork, including sketchbooks, and files documenting her personal art collection.

Biographical/Historical Note: Betty Parsons (1900-1982) was an art dealer in New York, N.Y. Parsons was director of the Wakefield Bookshop Gallery, 1940-1944, and director of the contemporary section of the Mortimer Brandt Gallery, 1944-1946. She opened Betty Parsons Gallery in 1946 at 11 E. 57th St., later moving to 24 W. 57th St. Artists represented included many abstract expressionists. For many years Jock Truman was director. The gallery closed in 1983.

The bulk of the collection was donated in 1984 and 1986 by William Rayner and Chrisopher Schwabacher, executors of the Estate of Betty Parsons. The gallery donated some records in 1974, most of which had been loaned earlier for microfilming. Additional material was donated by William Rayner in 1998.

How to Use this Collection

  • Read the Finding Aid for this digitized collection
  • The bulk of this collection was digitized in 2008-2009 and is available online via the Archives of American Art's website. Materials that generally have not been scanned include duplicates, slides, transparencies, and unannotated photographs of works of art, routine financial transactions, and income tax records. Only the covers and title pages for many publications, such as catalogs, pamphlets, etc., have been scanned; the complete publication is available by appointment. Materials lent for microfilming on reels N68/62-N68/74 and N69/105-106 are available at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary- loan.
  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
  • For more information on using the Archives’ resources, see the FAQ or Ask Us.

Also in the Archives

Related Materials

Separated materials: Papers lent for microfilming in 1968 and 1969, reels N68/62-N68/74 and N69/105-106.
Also found in the Archives of American Art are oral history interviews with Betty Parsons, June 4-9, 1969 and June 11, 1981.