A Finding Aid to the William Christenberry papers, circa 1917-2018, bulk 1979-2018, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.chriswill
Creators:
Christenberry, William, 1936-2016
Dates:
circa 1917-2018
Languages:
English
.
Physical Description:
7.3 Linear feet
14.76 Gigabytes
Repository:
The papers of photographer, painter, sculptor, and educator William Christenberry (1936-2016) measure 7.3 linear feet and 14.76 GB and date from circa 1917-2018, with the bulk of the records dating from 1960-2018. The collection sheds light on Christenberry's career through personal papers, gallery and museum files, professional files, personal business records, printed and digital material, photographs, artwork, and sound and video recordings about his work.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of photographer, painter, sculptor, and educator William Christenberry (1936-2016) measure 7.3 linear feet and 14.76 GB and date from circa 1917-2018, with the bulk of the records dating from 1960-2018. The collection sheds light on Christenberry's career through personal papers, gallery and museum files, professional files, personal business records, printed and digital material, photographs, artwork, and sound and video recordings about his work.
Personal papers include personal correspondence with friends and family and transcripts of interviews with Christenberry. Gallery and museum files mostly consist of correspondence, price lists, and records of exhibitions. Professional files shed light on Christenbery's relationship with various foundations, colleges and universities, his involvement in the renovation of the John A. Wilson Building in Washington, D.C., and his teaching tenure at the Corcoran College of Art and Design.
Personal business records document purchase of art supplies, and also include correspondence with collectors, sales records, permission forms, and papers concerning fellowships that Christenberry received. Printed materials include newspaper clippings and articles, solo and group exhibition material, and reproductions of Christenberry's work.
Photographs include several series of Christenberry's work and publicity photos of Christenberry. Artwork includes one sketchbook, and project sketches.
Recorded materials consist of sound, video, and digital recordings primarily of footage compiled during the creation of William A. Christenberry, Jr.: A Portrait (1997), produced by Stanley J. Staniski, and the making of The Place I know, Visions of the South (2003).

Arrangement
Arrangement
This collection is arranged as 8 series.
  • Series 1: Personal Papers, circa 1917, 1953-2016 (Box 1; .3 linear feet)
  • Series 2: Gallery and Museum Files, 1984-2017 (Box 1; .7 linear feet)
  • Series 3: Professional Files, 1979-2018 (Box 2; .5 linear feet, ER01; 0.263 GB)
  • Series 4: Personal Business Records, 1979-2017 (Box 2; .3 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Printed Material, 1947-2017 (Box 2-3, 8; 1.1 linear feet)
  • Series 6: Photographs, 1958-2012 (Box 3, 8; .4 linear feet, ER02-ER03; 0.275 GB)
  • Series 7: Artwork, 1965-2000 (Box 3, 8; 4 folders)
  • Series 8: Recorded Materials, 1980-2009 (Box 4-7; 4 linear feet, ER04-ER12; 14.23 GB)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Washington, D.C. photographer, painter, sculptor, and educator William Christenberry (1936-2016) was a pioneer in the use of color photography and is known for his images of west-central Alabama and his explorations of the psychology of place.
Originally from Hale County, Alabama, Christenberry had an interest in art and photography from an early age. He earned his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the University of Alabama and, after graduating in 1959, joined the faculty at his alma mater. After a brief stint in New York where he met Walker Evans, Christenberry took a position as assistant professor of art at Memphis State University in 1962. While in Memphis, Christenberry began exploring color photography more thoroughly while also crafting his own unique style; he also organized a small happening in Memphis in 1965.
Christenberry and his wife moved to Washington D.C. in 1968 where he took a position at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. While living in D.C., Christenberry began photographiing buildings and hand-lettered signs, and photographed other structures and scenes during trips back to Hale County.
Christenberry held solo exhibitions of his work at The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Philips Collection, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Belgium, and many more; and participated in group exhibitions such as Visualizing the Blues: Images of the American South, 1962-2000 (2000) at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, Picturing Modernity (2010) at the San Francisco Museum of Art, and Seeing Now: Photography Since 1960 (2011) at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1984, an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Alabama in 1998, and several other notable awards for artistic merit. His work may be found in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Center for Creative Photography, Birmingham Museum of Art, and many others.

Administration
Author
Christopher DeMairo
Sponsor
The processing of this collection received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated in 2019 by Sandra Christenberry, William Christenberry's widow.
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Christopher DeMairo in 2021. Born-digital materials were processed by Kirsi Ritosalmi-Kisner in 2021 with funding provided by Smithsonian Collection Care and Preservation Fund.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact References Services for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
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.
Preferred Citation
William Christenberry Papers, circa 1917-2018. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
Also found in the Archives of American Art are an oral history interview with William Christenberry conducted by Merry Foresta, March 3 and 31, 2010, and an oral history interview of William Christenberry conducted by Buck Pennington, January 17, 1983.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Interviews Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Educators -- Washington (D.C.) Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographers -- Washington (D.C.) Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- Washington (D.C.) Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors -- Washington (D.C.) Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/