Use requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The papers of African-American painter and art instructor Alma Thomas date from 1894-2000 (bulk 1936-1982). They provide documentation of Thomas' artwork, exhibitions, teaching career at Shaw Junior High School in Washington, D.C., and her relationships with friends and colleagues.
Biographical material includes identity cards, chronologies, biographical accounts, including an audiocassette of Thomas's verbal autobiographical account, records from her teaching career, and files concerning Tony Sarg's marionette class and Thomas's tour of European art centers. Thirty-three folders of letters are primarily from art institutions and colleagues, including Franz Bader, Adelyn Breeskin, poet Nathalie J. Cole Johnson, Celine Tabary, and Joshua Taylor.
Personal business records include price lists, miscellaneous receipts and files concerning the Art in Embassies Program, the Martha Jackson Gallery, a benefit auction for the Corcoran School of Art, and the designation of the Thomas family home as a historic property. Notes and writings include four notebooks, "Alma's Birthday Book" which contains listings of friends' birthdays, a hand-written statement by Thomas with a painted sketch on the reverse, miscellaneous notes by Alma and her sister, and writings by others about Thomas.
Eleven scrapbooks document Thomas' teaching career through the activities of the art classes she taught at Shaw Junior High School. Exhibition files contain a wide variety of documents for numerous exhibitions of Thomas' work from the early 1950s through a 1999-200 retrospective of her work at the Columbus Museum in Columbus, Ga. Printed materials include newsclippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, books, pamphlets, brochures, reports, and press releases. Photographs are of Alma Thomas, family, friends and colleagues, her home and garden, and of exhibitions not documented in the Exhibition Files series. Much of the material in the collection is accompanied by explanatory notes written by J. Maurice Thomas, the artist's sister.
Alma Thomas papers, 1894-2000, bulk 1936-1982. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Portions of this collection and the separated materials lent for microfilming are available on 35 mm microfilm reels 1541-1543 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the collection as described in this finding aid does not reflect the order of the collection on microfilm.
In 1979, J. Maurice Thomas loaned papers for microfilming. Most, but not all, of the loaned material was later donated and is described in this finding aid. Loaned materials not donated at a later date are available on reels 1541-1543 and are not described in the container listing of this finding aid.
Alma Thomas (1891- 1978) was a painter and teacher in Washington, D.C.
The Alma Thomas papers were donated in several accretions between 1979 and 2004 by J. Maurice Thomas, the artist's sister, and in 2010 by Charles Thomas Lewis, Thomas' nephew.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001