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Charles W. and Frances White letters and photographs to Melvin and Lorraine Williamson, 1956-1961

White, Charles, 1918-1979

Painter, Educator

Collection Information

Size: 0.2 Linear feet

Summary: The Charles W. and Frances White letters and photographs to Melvin and Lorraine Williamson measure 0.2 linear feet and date from 1956 to 1961. The collection includes twenty-eight letters written by Charles and Frances White to Melvin (Mel) and Lorraine Williamson shortly after their arrival in California. The letters refer to financial and personal struggles, as well career triumphs and current events. In addition to their shared Chicago background, both the Whites and Williamsons were interracial couples. The letters include references to racial and social dynamics, especially comparing California to New York. Approximately half of the letters are written by Charles, the other half by Frances, and two letters are written jointly. Most are signed from "Chas & Fran."
The collection also contains photographs, negatives, and slides depicting Charles and Frances with friends, their home, and Charles' studio. Many photographs include explanatory notes. Also included are clippings and exhibition brochures for Charles White's 1958 exhibition at ACA Gallery, as well as Anton Refregier's Recent Paintings exhibition.

Biographical/Historical Note

Painter, printmaker, and educator, Charles W. White (1918-1979) was a prominent figure in the Chicago Black Renaissance and became one of the most celebrated and influential African American artists of the twentieth century. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, White lived and worked throughout the country, settling in California in 1956. He taught at the Otis Art Institute from 1965 until his death. White's artwork was primarily figurative and depicted African American history, socio-economic struggles, and human relationships.

Provenance

The Charles W. and Frances White letters and photographs to Melvin and Lorraine Williamson were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2019 by Lisa Rosenburg, Melvin and Lorraine Williamson's daughter.

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Funding

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