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Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2009, bulk 1966-2003

Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2009, bulk 1966-2003

Donaldson, Jeff, 1932-2004

Art teacher, Painter

Collection Information

Size: 12.9 linear feet

Summary: The papers of artist and educator Jeff Donaldson measure 12.9 linear feet and date from 1918 to 2009, with the bulk of the records dating from 1966 to 2003. The collection documents Donaldson's work as a professional artist, his academic career at Howard University, and his leadership role in the Black Arts Movement through biographical material, a small amount of professional and personal correspondence, personal business records, writings by Donaldson and others, research files, artist files, sound recordings of interviews Donaldson conducted with over 40 artists, teaching files, exhibition files, printed material, and photographs. Also found are detailed records of his professional activities and leadership roles in AfriCOBRA, CONFABA, FESTAC, and the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC), including documentation on the "Wall of Respect" mural.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jeff Donaldson (1932-2004) was an African American artist and art educator in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Donaldson was a leading figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s as he promoted "TransAfrican"-aesthetic.

Provenance

Donated 2015 by Jameela Donaldson, Jeff Donaldson's daughter.

A Finding Aid to the Jeff Donaldson Papers, 1918-2009, bulk 1966-2003, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.donajeff
Author
Finding aid prepared by Erin Kinhart
Biographical/Historical note
Jeff Donaldson (1932-2004) was an African American artist and educator who worked in Chicago and Washington, D.C. He was a leading figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s and promoted the "TransAfrican" aesthetic.
Donaldson was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas with a B.A. in studio art in 1954. He briefly served in the U.S. Army and taught art in a Chicago high school from 1957 to 1965. In 1963, he received his M.S. in Art Education from Illinois Institute of Technology, and taught at Northwestern University while pursuing his Ph.D. there. He received his Ph.D. in art history in 1974 with a dissertation on young African-American artists working in Harlem during the 1930s. In 1970, Donaldson became director of the Howard University Art Gallery and chairman of the art department. From 1985 to 1998, he served first as associate dean and then dean of the Howard University, College of Fine Arts.
As a leading member of the Black Arts Movement, Donaldson co-founded the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC) Visual Art Workshop which created the influential
Wall of Respect
mural in 1967 on the southside of Chicago. He also co-founded the AfriCOBRA artist collaborative in 1968 of which he was a lifelong member. Donaldson promoted the TransAfrican art aesthetic through his leadership role in FESTAC, the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, held in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977. He was guest editor for a TransAfrican focused issue of the
International Review of African American Art
which coincided with the
TransAfrican Art Invitation Exhibition
he curated at the Orlando Museum of Art in 1997.
Donaldson also worked as a professional painter, exhibiting in over 150 group and solo exhibitions, and wrote critical essays for several arts publications. He regularly served as an exhibition juror, conference presenter, and served on advisory committees and as a board member for many arts and African-American organizations.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 12 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1954-2004 (0.3 Linear feet; Box 1, OV 15)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1957-2004 (0.3 Linear feet; Box 1)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1966-2001 (0.2 Linear feet; Box 1)
Series 4: Writings, 1963-2002 (0.5 Linear feet; Box 2)
Series 5: Research Files, 1930-2001 (0.4 Linear feet; Box 2)
Series 6: Artist Files, 1928-2003 (1.1 Linear feet; Boxes 2-3)
Series 7: Interviews, circa 1972-1997 (1.7 Linear feet; Boxes 4-5)
Series 8: Teaching Files, 1961-2002 (0.6 Linear feet; Boxes 5-6)
Series 9: Exhibition Files, circa 1966-2000 (1.3 Linear feet; Boxes 6-7)
Series 10: Professional Files, 1960s-2009 (5.3 Linear feet; Boxes 7-12)
Series 11: Printed Material, 1918, 1960s-2003 (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 12-14)
Series 12: Photographs, 1956-2003 (0.3 Linear feet; Box 14)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of artist and educator Jeff Donaldson measure 12.9 linear feet and date from 1918 to 2009, with the bulk of the records dating from 1966 to 2003. The collection documents Donaldson’s work as a professional artist, his academic career at Howard University, and his leadership role in the Black Arts Movement through biographical material, a small amount of professional and personal correspondence, personal business records, writings by Donaldson and others, research files, artist files, sound recordings of interviews Donaldson conducted with over 40 artists, teaching files, exhibition files, printed material, and photographs. Also found are detailed records of his professional activities and leadership roles in AfriCOBRA, CONFABA, FESTAC, and the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC), including documentation on the
Wall of Respect
mural.
Provenance
Donated 2015 by Jameela Donaldson, Jeff Donaldson's daughter.
Processing Information note
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Erin Kinhart in 2016-2017.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information. Use of archival audiovisual recordings and electronic records with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.

How to Cite This Collection

Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2009, bulk 1966-2003. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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