• Identification00064579
  • TitleDescriptive inventory for the Archibald J. Motley, Jr., papers and photographs collection, 1894-2004, bulk 1920-1990
  • PublisherChicago Historical Society
  • RepositoryChicago History Museum Research Center 1601 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60614-6038
  • OriginationArchibald J. Motley, Jr., 1891-1981 Valerie Gerrard Browne
  • Date
    • 1894-2004
    • 1920-1990
  • Physical Description7.5 linear feet (18 boxes), 17 sound cassettes (original), 1 VHS cassette (original)
  • Location
    • MSS Lot M
    • OMM 87
  • Language
    • English
    • French

For audio-visual listening or viewing, it is necessary to use a copy, not the original (and to have a use-copy made if one is not available).

Accession 2015.0001.1 is unprocessed. Contact research@chicagohistory.org for access to unprocessed portions. Staff will typically respond to your inquiry within two weeks. However, due to the high volume of inquiries and depending upon the nature of your request additional time may be required to respond. Please note that not all material will be available for researcher access due to condition, location, staff availability, confidentiality and/or other factors. Scheduling an appointment to view available material may require several additional weeks.

Copyright may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law, unless otherwise noted.

Materials were a gift of Valerie Gerrard Browne (2013.0001.1).

Archibald J. Motley, Jr., papers and photographs collection (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.

Correspondence, publications, manuscripts, photocopies of sketches and sketchbooks, photographs, sound recordings, and a videocassette related to the life and work of Archibald J. Motley, Jr., a painter known for his portraiture and scenes of urban life. Included are his handwritten manuscript "The Negro in Art," documentation of his numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Foundation grant, items related to exhibitions in which he participated, and photographs. Mr. Motley and his wife and son resided in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago for many years. The collection includes a letter from the Englewood Property Restriction Association in 1928 asking the Motley family to sign a restrictive covenant.

Archibald J. Motley, Jr. (1891-1981) was a painter who became noted for his portraiture. He was one of the first African American artists to graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (graduating in 1918). He was honored over the years with such awards as a Guggenheim Fellowship, recognition from the White House for his artistic influence, and numerous prizes in Chicago, where he resided for most of his life. In 1928, he was the first African American artist to have a solo exhibition in a New York gallery. Motley also painted genre scenes depicting folk culture and urban life, a trend perhaps influenced by his work in the 1930s and 1940s with several New Deal public works programs. Motley continued to be active as an artist until his death in 1981.

Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include the Motley family photograph collection (1981.0068), the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters certificate of membership issued to Archibald J. Motley, 1929; the published book that accompanied a retrospective exhibition of Motley paintings organized by Chicago Historical Society in 1991, and other materials.

  • Subject
    • African American art--Exhibitions
    • African American artists--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • African American artists--Illinois--Chicago--Interviews
    • African American families--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • Art, American--Illinois--Chicago--Exhibitions
    • Discrimination in housing--Illinois--Chicago--20th century. (box 4)
    • Painters--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
  • Names
    • Abercrombie, Gertrude, 1909-1977--Portraits
    • Burroughs, Margaret Taylor, 1915-2010
    • Motley, Archibald John, 1891-1981--Archives
    • Motley, Archibald John, 1891-1981--Criticism and interpretation
    • Motley, Archibald John, 1891-1981--Interviews
    • Motley, Archibald John, 1891-1981--Portraits
    • Motley, Edith Granzo, -1948
    • Motley, Willard, 1909-1965
    • Motley family--Portraits
    • Robinson, Jontyle Theresa
    • Browne, Valerie Gerrard
    • Weingartner, Fannia
    • Motley, Archibald J., Jr., 1934-2002
    • Winkler, Cathy
    • Art Institute of Chicago. School--Alumni and alumnae
    • Art Institute of Chicago--Exhibitions
    • Chicago Historical Society--Exhibitions
    • Englewood High School (Chicago, Ill.)--Students
  • Geographic Coverage
    • Englewood (Chicago, Ill.)--20th century
    • Chicago (Ill.)--Race relations--20th century
    • Chicago (Ill.)--Social conditions--20th century

The collection is arranged in seven series.

Series 1. Honors and awards, 1916-1980 (box 1-2)

Series 1 contains honors and awards related to the work of Archibald J. Motley, Jr., including his Honorary Doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and awards from the Guggenheim and Harmon foundations.

Series 2. Personal and family documents, 1894-2004 (box 2-8)

Series 2 contains documents relating to the personal life of Archibald and the Motley family. Materials include his handwritten manuscript "The Negro in Art", his handwritten autobiography, papers documenting his travel to Paris, France, as part of his Guggenheim Foundation award, and correspondence with family, friends, and colleagues.

Series 3. Published materials and other documents, 1914-1981 (box 9-11)

Series 3 contains newspaper clippings related to Motley, his art, reviews of his exhibitions, and other topics.

Series 4. Exhibition documents, 1921-1991 (box 12-14)

Series 4 contains catalogs, correspondence, articles, and reviews of exhibitions in which the art of Motley appeared. Of particular note are documents related to his solo and group exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Series 5. Sketch copies and miscellaneous materials, 1933-1974 (box 15)

Series 5 contains photocopies of sketches created by Archibald Motley, Jr.

Series 6. Photographs, 1882-1980 (box 16-17)

Series 6 includes originals and photocopies of photographs documenting the Motley family. The majority of photographs relate to Archibald Motley and his immediate family, and other photographs in the series document his friends, travel, and work.

Series 7. Audio-visual materials, 1971-1976 (box 18)

Series 7 includes sound recordings of interviews of Motley and a video of a television broadcast.