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Jeff Donaldson papers

Creator:
Donaldson, Jeff, 1932-2004  Search this
Names:
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Conference on the Functional Aspects of Black Art  Search this
Howard University -- Faculty  Search this
Organization of Black American Culture  Search this
World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture  Search this
Extent:
12.5 Linear feet
0.003 Gigabytes
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Gigabytes
Sound recordings
Photographs
Interviews
Date:
1918-2005
bulk 1960s-2005
Summary:
The papers of African American artist and educator Jeff Donaldson measure 12.5 linear feet and 0.003 GB and date from 1918 to 2005, with the bulk of the records dating from the 1960s to 2005. 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 and digital 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.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of African American artist and educator Jeff Donaldson measure 12.5 linear feet and 0.003 GB and date from 1918 to 2005, with the bulk of the records dating from the 1960s to 2005. 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 and digital 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 material includes biographical summaries and resumes detailing Donaldson's career, and documents such as his birth certificate, veteran and education records, and passports.

The correspondence series includes 0.3 linear feet of letters to and from colleagues, friends, and educational and art organizations. This correspondence relates primarily to Donaldson's professional activities. Also found are one folder of letters each from Gwendolyn Brooks and Hoyt Fuller. The bulk of Donaldson's professional correspondence can be found in other series.

Interviews consist of transcripts and sound recordings of interviews conducted by Donaldson for research for his dissertation on the Harlem Renaissance, with more than forty artists including Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, Bob Blackburn, Nancy Cox, Mildred Howard, Suzanne Jackson, Senga Nengudi, Mary Lovelace O'Neal, James Phillips, and Lamonte Westmoreland. This series also includes two transcripts of interviews with Donaldson.

Writings by Donaldson include articles, catalog essays, notes and draft excerpts from his dissertation, and draft lectures on TransAfrican art.

Artist files were compiled by Donaldson and relate to various projects including his dissertation, his teaching, and his involvement with FESTAC and other projects. Artists represented include Romare Bearden, John Howard, Jacob Lawrence, Archibald Motley, James Phillips, Hale Woodruff, and others. The files contain scattered correspondence, writings and notes, printed material, and photos of artists and artwork.

Exhibition files document Donaldson's involvement with the TransAfrican Art Invitational Exhibition (1997-1988) at the Orlando Museum of Art through correspondence and other planning documents, catalog essays, artist records, printed and digital material, and photographs. The series also documents solo and group exhibitions of Donaldson's artwork from 1980-2000, and includes correspondence, printed material, and photographs.

Professional files provide a rich and substantial record of Donaldson's leadership roles in the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AfriCOBRA), the Conference on the Functional Aspects of Black Art (CONFABA), the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC), and the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC). The records are particularly extensive for AfriCOBRA and FESTAC, and include correspondence, planning documents, financial records, meeting records, printed and digital material, and photographs. Additional professional files document Donaldson's involvement with other committees and conferences, including his role as guest editor for the International Review of African American Art.

Research files provide additional material related to Donaldson's dissertation and his teaching career. Of particular note is correspondence from the 1940s-1950s between the Harmon Foundation and the Department of Art at Howard University, as well as notes and a photograph of Harlem Renaissance artists outside 306 West 41st Street where Charles Alston taught art classes.

Teaching files document Donaldson's role as art department chairman and subsequently dean of the College of Fine Arts at Howard University, through correspondence and employment records. The files also include his lecture notebooks and other course documentation.

Personal business records document Donaldson's personal art collection, as well as appraisals, sales, and consignments of his own artwork. Printed material includes announcements and catalogs for exhibitions of Donaldson's artwork and the artwork of others, as well as news clippings compiled by him on subjects of interest, particularly African American artists and racial injustice.

Photographs are primarily slides of Donaldson's artwork produced from the 1950s to 2000, but also include some photos of Donaldson, including contact sheets and photographs of late career portraits, and photos of Donaldson with his wife, Arnicia. One set of photos documents a visit to Uganda in 1974, where Donaldson and his travel companions met with Idi Amin.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 12 series.

Missing Title

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1954-2004 (0.3 Linear feet; Box 1, OV 14)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1957-2004 (0.3 Linear feet; Box 1)

Series 3: Interviews, 1959-1997 (1.7 Linear feet; Boxes 1-3)

Series 4: Writings, 1963-2003 (0.5 Linear feet; Box 3)

Series 5: Artist Files, 1928-2003 (1.1 Linear feet; Boxes 3-4)

Series 6: Exhibition Files, circa 1966-2000 (1.3 Linear feet; Boxes 4-6, 0.002 GB: ER01-ER02)

Series 7: Professional Files, 1960s-2005 (5.2 Linear feet; Boxes 6-11, OV 14, 0.001 GB; ER03)

Series 8: Research Files, 1930-2001 (0.4 Linear feet; Box 11)

Series 9: Teaching Files, 1961-2002 (0.6 Linear feet; Boxes 11-12)

Series 10: Personal Business Records, 1966-2001 (0.2 Linear feet; Box 12)

Series 11: Printed Material, 1918-2003 (0.5 linear feet; Box 12)

Series 12: Photographs and Personal Sound Recordings, 1956-2003 (0.4 Linear feet; Box 13)
Biographical / Historical:
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 a hundred and fifty 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.
Provenance:
Donated 2015 by Jameela Donaldson, Jeff Donaldson's daughter.
Restrictions:
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 born-digital records with no duplicate access copies requires advance notice.
Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Occupation:
Educators -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Painters -- Illinois -- Chicago  Search this
Painters -- Washington (D.C.)  Search this
Topic:
Black Arts movement  Search this
African American artists  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound recordings
Photographs
Interviews
Citation:
Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2005, bulk 1960s-2005. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.donajeff
See more items in:
Jeff Donaldson papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-donajeff
Online Media:

Postcard for AFRICOBRA: the First Twenty Years at Nexus Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, GA

Creator:
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Subject:
Donaldson, Jeff  Search this
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Printed Materials
Date:
1990
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18688
See more items in:
Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2005, bulk 1960s-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18688
Online Media:

AFRI-COBRA III exhibition catalog

Subject:
Donaldson, Jeff  Search this
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Printed Materials
Date:
1973
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18689
See more items in:
Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2005, bulk 1960s-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18689

Gay Pop letter to Jeff Donaldson, Washington, DC

Creator:
Donaldson, Jeff, 1932-2004  Search this
Subject:
Donaldson, Jeff  Search this
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Howard University  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1972 March 2
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18691
See more items in:
Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2005, bulk 1960s-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18691

Flyer for AFRICOBRA I: Ten in Search of a Nation at the Studio Museum in Harlem

Creator:
Studio Museum in Harlem  Search this
Studio Museum in Harlem  Search this
Subject:
Donaldson, Jeff  Search this
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Studio Museum in Harlem  Search this
Type:
Printed Materials
Date:
1968-1973
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18693
See more items in:
Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2005, bulk 1960s-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18693

Brochure for AFRICOBRA: Exhibition of Chicago's African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists

Subject:
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Printed Materials
Date:
1970
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18695
See more items in:
Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2005, bulk 1960s-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18695

"African Commune of Bad, Relevant Artists" in Black Shades

Creator:
Black Shades  Search this
Black Shades  Search this
Subject:
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Printed Materials
Date:
1971 October
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18696
See more items in:
Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2005, bulk 1960s-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18696
Online Media:

Ink sketch of AfriCOBRA members at the CONFABA conference, Evanston, Ill.

Subject:
Donaldson, Jeff  Search this
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Artworks
Date:
1970
Topic:
Sketches  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18699
See more items in:
Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2005, bulk 1960s-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18699

Regenia A. Perry, Richmond, Va. letter to Jeff Donaldson, Washington, D.C.

Creator:
Perry, Regenia A.  Search this
Donaldson, Jeff, 1932-2004  Search this
Perry, Regenia A.  Search this
Subject:
Donaldson, Jeff  Search this
Perry, Regenia A.  Search this
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1972 February 19
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18924
See more items in:
Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2005, bulk 1960s-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18924

Regenia A. Perry, Richmond, Va. letter to Jeff Donaldson, Washington, D.C.

Creator:
Perry, Regenia A.  Search this
Donaldson, Jeff, 1932-2004  Search this
Perry, Regenia A.  Search this
Subject:
Donaldson, Jeff  Search this
Perry, Regenia A.  Search this
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1971 April 28
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18925
See more items in:
Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2005, bulk 1960s-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18925

AFRICOBRA appears again by Camille Giraud

Subject:
Donaldson, Jeff  Search this
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Writings
Date:
1973 May 9
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18926
See more items in:
Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2005, bulk 1960s-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18926
Online Media:

Langston Hughes Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, Buffalo, N.Y. letter to Jeff Donaldson, Washington, D.C.

Creator:
Langston Hughes Center for the Visual and Performing Arts  Search this
Donaldson, Jeff, 1932-2004  Search this
Langston Hughes Center for the Visual and Performing Arts  Search this
Subject:
Donaldson, Jeff  Search this
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Langston Hughes Center for the Visual and Performing Arts  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1972 November 17
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18927
See more items in:
Jeff Donaldson papers, 1918-2005, bulk 1960s-2005
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18927

Interview with Jae Jarrell

Creator:
Jarrell, Jae, 1935-  Search this
Hudson Street Productions  Search this
Jarrell, Jae, 1935-  Search this
Subject:
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Date:
2010
Topic:
African American artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)22049
See more items in:
Interviews of AfriCOBRA founders, 2010
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_22049

Interview with Michael Harris

Creator:
Harris, Michael D.  Search this
Hudson Street Productions  Search this
Harris, Michael D.  Search this
Subject:
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Date:
2010
Topic:
African American artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)22050
See more items in:
Interviews of AfriCOBRA founders, 2010
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_22050

Group interview with AfriCOBRA founders

Creator:
Hudson Street Productions  Search this
Hudson Street Productions  Search this
Subject:
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Date:
2010
Topic:
African American artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)22051
See more items in:
Interviews of AfriCOBRA founders, 2010
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_22051

Interview with Wadsworth Jarrell

Creator:
Jarrell, Wadsworth, 1929-  Search this
Hudson Street Productions  Search this
Jarrell, Wadsworth, 1929-  Search this
Subject:
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Date:
2010
Topic:
African American artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)22052
See more items in:
Interviews of AfriCOBRA founders, 2010
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_22052

Interview with Barbara Jones-Hogu

Creator:
Jones-Hogu, Barbara  Search this
Hudson Street Productions  Search this
Jones-Hogu, Barbara  Search this
Subject:
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Date:
2010
Topic:
African American artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)22053
See more items in:
Interviews of AfriCOBRA founders, 2010
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_22053

Interview with Carolyn Lawrence

Creator:
Lawrence, Carolyn  Search this
Hudson Street Productions  Search this
Lawrence, Carolyn  Search this
Subject:
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Date:
2010
Topic:
African American artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)22054
See more items in:
Interviews of AfriCOBRA founders, 2010
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_22054

Interview with Howard Mallory

Creator:
Mallory, Howard  Search this
Hudson Street Productions  Search this
Mallory, Howard  Search this
Subject:
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Date:
2010
Topic:
African American artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)22055
See more items in:
Interviews of AfriCOBRA founders, 2010
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_22055

Interview with Robert Sengstacke

Creator:
Sengstacke, Robert A. (Robert Abbott), 1943-  Search this
Hudson Street Productions  Search this
Sengstacke, Robert A. (Robert Abbott), 1943-  Search this
Subject:
AFRICOBRA (Group of artists)  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Date:
2010
Topic:
African American artists  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)22056
See more items in:
Interviews of AfriCOBRA founders, 2010
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_22056

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