Skip to main content

Ellis Wilson papers, 1922-1959, bulk 1940s

Wilson, Ellis, 1899-1977

Painter, Illustrator

Collection Information

Size: 0.2 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of African American painter and illustrator Ellis Wilson measure 0.2 linear feet and date from 1922 to 1959, with the bulk of the collection dating from the 1940s. The collection includes certificates, correspondence, printed material, and photographic material. The bulk of this collection is composed of photographs.

Biographical/Historical Note

Ellis Wilson (1899-1977) was an African American painter and illustrator. He was born in Kentucky and studied at the Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute, and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He later worked as a commercial artist in Chicago before moving to New York in 1928. Wilson was employed by the Federal Arts Project, sponsored by the Works Progress Administration, from 1935 to 1940, and was also involved with the Harlem Artists Guild. During World War II he worked in an aircraft engine factory and was commissioned to create triptychs for military chaplains. In 1944 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and traveled throughout the Southern United States. He later traveled to Haiti. He continued to paint until his death in 1977. In 1985, his painting Funeral Procession (circa 1950) was featured on an episode of The Cosby Show .


The Ellis Wilson papers were loaned for microfilming in 1970 and subsequently donated by Ellis Wilson.

Related Materials


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