Hale Woodruff collection
Scope and contents
Hale Aspacio Woodruff (b.1900-d.1980) was a renowned artist and educator. Although Woodruff never earned a formal degree he studied extensively, attending the John Herron Art School in Indianapolis, Indiana; the Chicago Art Institute; Academie Moderne and Academie Scandinave in Paris, France; Fog Art Museum of Harvard University; and he studied in Mexico with Diego Rivera. In 1926 Woodruff won the Harmon Foundation Bronze Award giving him national recognition. Soon thereafter he travelled to Europe to continue his studies. A highlight of his time in Europe was the opportunity to meet with Henry O. Tanner. Specializing in landscapes, murals and woodcuts, Woodruff exhibited extensively and was commissioned to do numerous works of art. Among his most outstanding works are the murals - The Amistad Mural, and The Founding of Talledega College, Talledega College, Alabama, The Art of the Negro, Atlanta University, Georgia, The Golden State Mural, Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, California. Major exhibitions honoring Woodruff include Hale Woodruff: 50 Years of His Art, Studio Museum of Harlem, second retrospective exhibition in its Black Masters Series, 1979) and Homage to Hale Woodruff , Waddell Gallery, Atlanta University, 1981.
Hale Woodruff also distinguished himself as an educator. Through the encouragement of President John Hope, Woodruff reluctantly began his teaching career at the Atlanta University Center in 1931. He worked at the University following the Depression and through the second World War, a time when funds and resources were limited and segregation laws and practices severely restricted African American life. Despite these hindrances, Woodruff helped develop an art curriculum and built a strong faculty that attracted students and brought national recognition to the Atlanta University Center. To broaden awareness of his students, Woodruff arranged for major art shows to be exhibited at the Atlanta University Center. He encouraged students to exhibit and compete and in 1932 started an annual student exhibition. Among his most noted achievements was the establishment of the Atlanta University Annual Exhibition of Paintings, Sculpture and Prints by Negro Artists. This national juried competition for new and established artists was held from 1942 through 1970. It provided a venue and recognition for Negro artists during a period when opportunities were greatly restricted due to segregation and discrimination practices in the United States. Through these exhibitions many artists received national exposure and Atlanta University developed one of the most prestigious collections of art by African Americans. Woodruff left Atlanta University in 1946 to accept a position at New York University, where he retired in 1967.
This small collection about Hale Woodruff is primarily materials accumulated by Winifred Stoelting in doing research for her dissertation, Hale Woodruff, Artist and Teacher: Through the Atlanta Years, Emory University, 1978. In September 1978, upon completion of the dissertation, Dr. Stoelting donated her research materials to the Atlanta University Trevor Arnett Library Negro Collection. These research materials consist of audio cassette tapes of interviews with Woodruff’s students and colleagues, correspondence from Woodruff, and slides of his work.
In addition to these research materials there are a few other pieces of correspondence. Among these are photocopies of letters of Hale Woodruff to Mrs. Millicent Dobbs Jordan in reference to a commissioned work, Cinque Exhorts his Captives. The collection also includes copies of brochures for the mural, The Art of the Negro and programs from In Memory of Hale Aspacio Woodruff (1900-1980) and the accompanying exhibit Homage to Hale Woodruff, held at Atlanta University in 1981.
An appendix to this finding aid is a list of artwork by Hale Woodruff that is in the collections of the Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library.
- Majority of material found within 1977 - 1978
- Woodruff, Hale (Person)
The original tapes do not circulate. Use copies of the tapes has been made for research.
- 1900 August 26
- Born in Cairo, Illinois, the only child of George and Augusta Bell Woodruff
- 1919 Summer
- Completed high school in Nashville, Tennessee
- Woodruff's artwork included at exhibits at the Indiana State Fairs, Indianapolis Y.M.C.A., Indianapolis Museum and the Herron Art Museum
- 1920 Fall
- Entered John Herron Art School, Indianapolis, Indiana (unable to complete studies because of financial difficulties)
- Won the Harmon Foundation Bronze Award, bringing national recognition to his work
- Wrote articles on the art scene in France for The Indianapolis Star
- Studied and traveled in Europe (primarily in France)
- 1931 Fall
- Returned to the United States and accepted a position at Atlanta University that included teaching art at the Laboratory High School and Oglethorpe [elementary] School
- Taught art at Atlanta University Center, helped develop the art curriculum and brought major art shows to the campuses
- 1932 Spring
- Organized the first annual art show for students at the Atlanta University Center
- Collaborated with Wilmer Jennings in painting a four-part mural, The Negro in Modern American Life: Agriculture and Rural Life; Literature, Music, and Art (David T. Howard Junior High School, Atlanta, Georgia)
- 1934 June 14
- Married Theresa Baker of Topeka, Kansas
- Painted mural for the Atlanta School of Social Work
- 1935 March 30
- Birth of son, Roy
- Painted The Amistad Mural, Talledega College, Alabama
- Taught art courses in the People’s College, a community program sponsored by Atlanta University
- Lecturer for the Association of American Colleges
- Worked in New York as recipient of a Julius Rosenwald Fund Fellowship for Creative Painting
- Returned to work at Atlanta University and commissioned to paint murals for the Trevor Arnett Library
- Accepted teaching position at New York University
- Collaborated with Charles Alston on The Golden State Mural,Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, California
- The Art of the Negro mural installed at the Trevor Arnett Library,Atlanta
- Honored as "Great Teacher of the Year" by the New York University Alumni Association
- Retired from New York University
- 1967 May 15- June 8
- Hale Woodruff, An Exhibition of Selected Paintings and Drawings, New York University
- 1968 May 21-June 14
- Hale A. Woodruff Paintings, Prints and Watercolors, Morgan State College
- 1974 April 7-30
- Selected Drawings of Hale Woodruff, Spelman College
- 1975 April 11- May 3
- Hale Woodruff An Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings Acts of Art, New York City
- 1979 April 29 - June 24
- Hale Woodruff, 50 Years of His Art -Studio Museum of Harlem exhibition, Black Masters Series
- 1980 September 6
- Died in New York City, buried September 10 in Topeka Kansas (the native home of his wife Theresa Baker Woodruff
1 Linear feet
Language of Materials
The Collection is arranged into four series: 1. Winifred Stoelting's Research Materials; 2. Letters and Programs; 3. Audio Cassette Tapes; 4. Artwork of Hale Woodruff In the Collections of Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library.
- Woodruff, Hale (Person)
- Hale Woodruff collection, 1930-1981
- Finding aid prepared by Karen Jefferson and Cathy Mundale, 2001 January.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository