Oral history interview with Elma Lewis
Portions of this collection are digitized

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.lewis97
Creators:
Lewis, Elma
Brown, Robert F.
Dates:
1997 July 25 and Sept. 19, 1997
Languages:
English
.
Physical Description:
34 Pages
Transcript
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
An interview of Elma Lewis conducted 1997 July 25 and Sept. 19, by Robert Brown, for the Archives of American Art, in Lewis' home, Roxbury, Mass.
Scope and Contents
Lewis discusses her parents, immigrants from Barbados; her father being very politicized, quickly disillusioned regarding economic opportunity and racism; meeting Marcus Garvey and becoming a member of United Negro Improvement Association; her parents giving her a very strong cultural sense of her race and culture steeped in Christian doctrine; family thought in pan-African terms; attending integrated schools; World War II as a watershed for the Black community; her brother graduating from Harvard medical school after their mother demanded he be admitted, though still he had difficulty being accepted in medical community; another brother who became a concert pianist; her study of dance (ballet) for many years.
Scope and Contents
Father's encouragment to attend Emerson College in Boston (1939-1943); preparation for a career in music and the performing arts; teachers' training at Boston University (1943-1944); teaching at the school of dance and performing arts run by Doris Jones; Lewis founding her own school, the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts in the largely Black Roxbury section of Boston in 1950; incorporating the visual arts; teaching by Alvin Ailey, Talley Beatty, Duke Ellington; problems posed by patronizing white liberal community; development of cooperative program with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; hiring the artist John Wilson and art historian Edmund Barry Gaither to further develop visual arts programs; and the primacy of culture and spirituality.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Elma Lewis (1921-2004) was an artist and teacher from Boston, Mass.

Administration
Sponsor
Funding for the transcription of this interview provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Women's Committee.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

General
General
Originally recorded on 1 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2007 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 32 min.

Digital Content

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Educators -- Massachusetts -- Boston Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African American artists Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women artists Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women educators Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts Corporate Name 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/