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Contents and Arrangement | A Finding Aid to the Romare Bearden papers, 1937-1982 | Digitized Collection

Romare Bearden papers, 1937-1982

Contents and Arrangement

The collection is arranged into seven series based on type of materials. Documents within each of the seven series have been arranged in chronological order, except for the writings which have been further subdivided by creator and are undated. Printed materials have been arranged primarily according to form of material and are in rough chronological order.

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  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.

Series 1: Biographical, 1977, undated
1 folder
Box 1

One folder of miscellaneous biographical information that includes awards, certificates, family history, resumes, and other miscellaneous documents.
DescriptionContainer
Miscellaneous Biographical Information, 1977, undated
1
1

Series 2: Correspondence, 1944-1981
0.8 linear feet
Boxes 1-2

Letters to and from Bearden with family, friends, artists, galleries, museums, publishers, universities, arts associations, and colleagues primarily concerning gallery space, exhibitions, sales of artwork, publishing, and arts events. Also found are numerous letters referring to African-American art movements of the 1960s and 1970s, including exhibitions, publications, and associations, and scattered letters of a more personal nature. Many of the letters are illustrated with Bearden's doodlings and drawings. Although most of the letters are from galleries, museums, publishers, and arts associations, scattered letters from Charles Alston, Ad Reinhardt, Carl Holty, and Sam Middleton are found, as well as a 1946 letter from Samuel Kootz Gallery agreeing to be the sole representative of Bearden for a two year period. There are a few letters from Jacob Lawrence, including a 1971 letter stating that Bearden's exhibition brings "back memories of 33 West 125th Street....which as is so offtimes true - turn out to be times we treasure greatly". Lawrence is referring to a studio building on West 125th where Bearden also had a studio in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In addition, there are letters from the Black Academy of Arts and Letters, and letters concerning its founding. There is also a 1970 Guggenheim award letter for a fellowship to develop and write "A History of Afro-American Artists".
DescriptionContainer
Correspondence, undated
1
2
Correspondence, 1944-September 1972
19 folders
1
3-21
Correspondence, October 1972-1981
18 folders
2
1-18

Series 3: Writings By and About Bearden, circa 1950s-1980s
6 folders
Box 3

This series houses writings, primarily in draft or manuscript version, by Bearden, such as lectures, speeches, talks, essays, and prose. Many are handwritten, annotated, and edited in Bearden's hand and several are illustrated with Bearden's doodlings and sketches. Included are a memorial delivered upon artist Carl Holty's death, a tribute to Zell Ingram, autobiographical essays, essays on art, and African-American art, artists, and cultural life. Also found are several handwritten examples of Bearden's prose and poetry. One folder of writings by others includes an interview transcript edited by Bearden, a student paper, numerous essays about Bearden and his work, and one proposal for a film based on Bearden's life. One folder of fragments and notes assumed to be by Bearden is also found and one folder of unidentified writings.
DescriptionContainer
Writings By Bearden, circa 1950s-1980s
2 folders
3
1-2
Writings By Bearden, Prose and Poetry, circa 1950s-1980s
3
3
Miscellaneous Notes, circa 1950s-1980s
3
4
Writings About Bearden By Others, circa 1950s-1980s
3
5
Unidentified Writings, undated
3
6

Series 4: Legal and Financial Material, 1970-1977
3 folders
Box 3

Scattered legal and financial material, including a 1977 agreement with Warner Brothers Records, Inc. for artwork for a Charlie Parker album cover. Also found are miscellaneous financial receipts, invoices, and statements for sales and purchases of artwork, as well as loan and exhibition documentation. Scattered household receipts are also arranged in this series.
DescriptionContainer
Legal Agreements, 1975, undated
3
7
Miscellaneous Financial, Art-Related, 1970-1977
3
8
Miscellaneous Financial, Non Art-Related, 1974-1975
3
9

Series 5: Photographs, undated
2 folders
Box 3

Two folders containing scattered photographs and snapshots of Bearden, family members, other unidentified artists or friends, classes and/or lectures, and works of art.
DescriptionContainer
Photographs of Bearden, Family, Other Artists, undated
3
10
Photographs of Works of Art, undated
3
11

Series 6: Drawings, undated
4 folders
Box 3, 6

Undated ink drawings, sketches in pencil and ink, and a hand-drawn and colored map with overlay of Paris.
DescriptionContainer
Ink Drawings, undated
3
12
Pencil and Ink Sketches, undated
See also Box 6
3
13
Hand-drawn Map of Paris with Overlay, undated
3
14
Oversized Sketch, undated
See Box 3, F13
6

Series 7: Printed Material, 1937-1982
1 linear foot
Box 3-5

Printed material includes printed examples of Bearden's commissioned artwork for publications, press releases, exhibition catalogs and announcements, invitations, newspaper and magazine clippings, and miscellaneous printed materials, such as magazines and bulletins. Also found is one folder of printed material concerning the 1973 Annual Conference of Artists and another folder housing materials concerning other artists. Although much of the printed material concerns Bearden's work, a fair portion concerns African-American art, artists, and cultural movements.
DescriptionContainer
Examples of Artwork for Publications, circa 1970s
3
15
Press Releases, 1971-1979, undated
3
16
Catalogs, 1948-1971
3
17
Catalogs (mostly Bearden), 1972-1982
4 folders
4
1-4
Announcements, 1964-1982, undated
4
5
Invitations, 1972-1975, undated
4
6
Newspaper Clippings, 1937-1969
2 folders
(partially scanned)
4
7-8
Newspaper Clippings, 1970-1982, undated
6 folders
partially scanned
5
1-6
Magazine Clippings, 1933-1980, undated
Partially scanned
5
7
Magazines, 1967-1969
Not scanned
5
8
Miscellaneous Printed Material, undated
4 folders
(partially scanned)
5
9-12
National Conference of Artists, 1972-1973
5
13
Information on Other Artists, undated
Partially scanned
5
14

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.