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Hale Woodruff Collection
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 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, from where he retired in 1967.
This small collection about Hale Woodruff consists primarily of 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 pieces of correspondence. Among these are photocopies of letters from Hale Woodruff to 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.