ANDREWS, BENNY, 1930-2006.
Benny Andrews papers, 1940-2006

Emory University

Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


Permanent link:

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Andrews, Benny, 1930-2006.
Title: Benny Andrews papers, 1940-2006
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 845
Extent:96.25 linear ft. (159 boxes), 19 oversized papers (OP), 15 bound volumes (BV), 7 oversized bound volumes (OBV), and AV Masters: 3 linear ft. (3 boxes)
Abstract:Papers of African American artist Benny Andrews including correspondence, photographs, exhibit files, printed material, family papers, and artwork.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Series 9, Andrews family correspondence and papers, personal correspondence between Benny Andrews and Nene Humphrey is restricted to researchers until December 31, 2020.

Researchers must contact MARBL in advance to access audiovisual materials in this collection.

Researchers must contact MARBL in advance for access to unprocessed born digital material in this collection. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder MARBL's ability to provide access to unprocessed born digital material.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Related Materials in Other Repositories

Benny Andrews papers, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History, Atlanta, Georgia.

Related Materials in This Repository

Raymond Andrews papers and Viola Andrews papers


Gift, 2000, with subsequent additions.


[after identification of item(s)], Benny Andrews papers, Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Processed by Elizabeth Simoneau, December 2006.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Benny Andrews, African American painter and collage artist, was born November 13, 1930 in Madison, Georgia. He was the second of a family of ten children of George and Viola (Perryman) Andrews, sharecroppers. He married Mary Ellen Smith in 1957 (divorced 1976), two sons and one daughter; married Nene Humphrey, 1986. He served in the United States Air Force as a staff sergeant from 1950-1954. He attended Fort Valley State College (Georgia) from 1948-1950 and then the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received a Bachelors of Fine Arts in 1958.

After graduating from Burney Street High School in 1948, Andrews received a college scholarship for his work in the local 4-H organization. He spent a summer in Atlanta painting murals, then enrolled in Georgia's Fort Valley State College. Two years later, when the scholarship ended, he enlisted in the Air Force. Andrews trained in Texas, then served in Korea until 1954, attaining the rank of staff sergeant.

Returning to civilian life, Andrews enrolled at the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago. During his years at art school, Andrews earned money as an illustrator for record companies and drawing advertising illustrations for various theater companies in Chicago. Andrews earned his BFA in 1958 and moved to New York, settling on the Lower East Side. During the next seven years, they had two sons, Christopher and Thomas, and a daughter, Julia. His wife took an office job to support the family, while Andrews stayed at home, took care of the children, and painted.

Between 1960 and 1970, he had eleven solo shows at the Paul Kessler Gallery in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and three at the Forum Gallery in New York City. In 1965, Andrews received a John Hay Whitney Fellowship, which was renewed the following year. In addition to his success as an artist, Andrews earned a reputation as a political activist, fighting for recognition of African American artists and culture. He died on November 10, 2006.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the papers of Benny Andrews from 1940-2006. The papers include correspondence, exhibit files, files relating the his organizational work with the National Arts Program files and the National Endowment for the Arts, photographs, printed material, writings and illustrations, audio-visual material, artwork, and Andrews family correspondence and papers.

Arrangement Note

Organized into eleven series: (1) Correspondence, (2) Exhibit files, (3) Organization files, (4) Photographs, (5) Personal files, (6) Printed material, (7) Subject files, (8) Writings/Illustrations, (9) Andrews family correspondence and papers, (10) Audiovisual materials, (11) Artwork, and (12) Unprocessed additions.

Description of Series