Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight papers, 1816, 1914-2008, bulk 1973-2001
The papers of Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2007. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 9,877 images.
Rosa Fernandez and Rayna Andrews
Scope and Contents
The papers of African American painter and educator Jacob Lawrence and his wife, artist Gwendolyn Knight measure 25.35 linear feet and 0.001 GB and date from 1914 to 2008, with one item from 1816 and the bulk of the material dating from 1973 to 2001. The collection includes biographical material; correspondence including condolence letters to Gwendolyn Knight after Jacob Lawrence's death; writings by Jacob Lawrence and others; printed and digital material; photographs; personal business records; artwork; records from the Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonné Project; materials related to the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation; professional files; and material related to awards and honors received by Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight.
Biographical material includes appointment and address books; education and personal identification certificates and documents; awards, certificates, curriculum vitae, and chronologies; biographical material related to other individuals, including identification documents and memorial programs; and transcripts of interviews with Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight.
The correspondence series includes extensive personal and professional correspondence with family, friends, artists, admirers (including students in a number of elementary and middle schools), university students, government agencies, art schools, galleries, museums, publishing houses, and others. Included in this series are condolence letters received by Gwendolyn Knight after Jacob Lawrence's death in 2000.
Writings include published and unpublished writings by and about Jacob Lawrence, as well as writings by others. These writings include speeches, notes, essays, articles, lists, and short stories. Also included is a visitor comment book from the Los Angeles County Museum exhibition of Jacob Lawrence's Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass series.
Printed material includes books; brochures; business cards; clippings; exhibition and event announcements, invitations, catalogs, and programs; magazines; newsletters; posters; post cards; and press releases. Books in this collection may include illustrations by Jacob Lawrence or have personal inscriptions from the author to Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight.
Photographs include photographs of Jacob Lawrence artwork, photographs and reproductions of Gwendolyn Knight artwork, and photographs of Jacob Lawrence, Gwendolyn Knight, and other individuals. Also included in this series are photographs and reproductions of work by others.
Personal business records include a ledger; consignment, financial, and shipping records related to the Terry Dintenfass Gallery; contracts and agreements; and estate documents.
Artwork includes sketches by Jacob Lawrence, a blank sketchbook inscribed by Jacob Lawrence to Gwendolyn Knight, and artwork by other artists.
Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonné Project Records include materials generated by the Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonné Project, a non-profit created with the goal of producing a catalogue raisonné (and later, a digital archive) of Jacob Lawrence's work. These records include address books and phone logs; copies of Jacob Lawrence's CV; founding documents, bylaws, and meeting minutes; correspondence; writings, including draft pages of the catalogue raisonné; business records, including employment files, contracts, invoices, insurance, and tax information; printed and digital material; and photographs and artwork.
The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation and Related Material series includes founding documents and foundation bylaws, correspondence, financial documents, reports, and proposals. Found within this series are materials related to the Lawrence Center for the Visual Arts, a subsidiary foundation of the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation.
Professional files include material related to projects and exhibitions, teaching files and inclusion in curricula, files regarding possible fake Jacob Lawrence works, and gallery files.
The honors series is divided into two subseries: awards and certificates, and government honors. Awards and certificates includes honorary degrees, arts prizes, and any other honors awarded to Jacob Lawrence or Gwendolyn Knight. Government honors include resolutions, proclamations, and keys to cities. Also included in this series are correspondence related to awards and honorary degrees, commencement programs, plaques, and medals.
The Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in five accretions between 1979 and 1997. Additional papers were donated in 2012 by the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation via Barbara Earl Thomas, representative.
Also found at the Archives of American Art are an oral history interview with Jacob Lawrence conducted by Carroll Greene (1968 October 26), interviews conducted by Avis Berman (1982 July 20-August 4), and an oral history interview with Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight conducted by Paul Karlstrom (1998 November 18). The Archives of American Art also holds a collection of Jacob Lawrence papers, available on microfilm only, reels D286 and 4571-4573. Originals reside at Syracuse University Library, Special Collections.
Funding for the 2007 processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Funding for the 2018 processing of this collection was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Multiple accessions, including material previously microfilmed on reel 3042, were merged, processed, and a finding aid prepared by Rosa Fernandez, Jetta Sumulski, and Emma Lincoln between 2003 and 2005. It was prepared for digitization by Erin Kinhart and digitized in 2007 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Additional papers were donated in 2012 and processed to a minimal level by Rayna Andrews, assisted by Ashley Boykins, in 2018 with funding provided by the Henry Luce Foundation. The addition has not been physically merged with the material previously digitized, however, the entire collection is described in this finding aid. Born-digital material was processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2019 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.
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