Scope and Contents note
The papers of African-American painter and art instructor Alma Thomas date from 1894-2001 (bulk 1936-1982), and measure 6.6 linear feet. The papers provide documentation of Thomas' artwork, exhibitions, teaching career at Shaw Junior High School in Washington, D.C., and her relationships with friends and colleagues. Included are biographical material, letters, personal business records, notes and writings, scrapbooks, exhibition files, printed materials, and photographs.
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, J. Maurice Thomas, 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 1999-2000 retrospective of her work at the Columbus Museum in Columbus, Georgia. 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.