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Calvin Burnett papers, 1920-1979, bulk bulk 1960s-1970s

Burnett, Calvin W., 1921-2007

Painter, Designer, Illustrator

Collection Information

Size: 6.1 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of graphic artist and arts educator Calvin Burnett measure 6.1 linear feet and date from 1920 to 1979, with the bulk of the collection dating from the 1960s to the 1970s. The papers contain biographical material, correspondence, writings, material related to his education and professional activities, personal business records, printed material, a scrapbook, and a small amount of photographs and artwork.
Biographical material consists of resumes, biographical notes/drafts, certificates from volunteer organizations, an interview transcript, and personal calendars.
Correspondence consists of letters and drafts of letters to and from Burnett. Some partial fragments of letters are housed with the undated correspondence.
Writings consist of two subseries and includes both materials related to Burnett's book, Objective Drawing, as well as notes, notecards, poetry, and some class assignments.
Education and professional activities also includes two subseries. Teaching and education files consist of materials related to Burnett's time as both a student and an instructor. These include class notes, assignments, course materials, correspondence, etc. Black Artists Union, committee work, and related materials include materials related to the Black Artists Union (BAU), the Committee on Urban Education (CUE), and the Committee on Minority Affairs, and their work. These items include memos, printed materials, reports, and other documentation.
Personal business records consist of correspondence, financial documents, printed material, and notes related to commercial art jobs, consultations, sales, loans, and exhibitions.
Photographs are of Burnett, other individuals, and works of art. Not all of the works of art appear to be by Burnett.
Artwork includes drawings and three small sketchbooks.

Biographical/Historical Note

Calvin Burnett (1921-2007) was a graphic artist, illustrator, and arts educator. He graduated from the Massachusetts School of Art (also known as MassArt; now the Massachusetts College of Art and Design) in 1942, and earned his MFA from Boston University in 1960. He later received another degree in arts education. Burnett taught at a number of institutions in the Northeast, including the DeCordova Museum and the Massachusetts School of Art, where he was the first African American to be appointed to the faculty, and where he taught for 33 years.


The papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Calvin Burnett in 1990.

Related Materials


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.