Joan Sandler papers, circa 1971-2011

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Sandler, Joan.
Title: Joan Sandler papers, circa 1971-2011
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1456
Extent: 32.5 linear feet (31 boxes), 1 oversized papers folder (OP), 1 extra-oversized papers folder (XOP), AV Masters: 1 linear foot (1 box and CLP 4), and 89 MB of processed born digital materials (86 files)
Abstract:Papers of African American art collector and art administrator Joan Sandler, including books, correspondence, personal papers, photographs, printed material, subject files, audiovisual material, and born digital material.
Language:Material primarily in English with some material in French.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Special restrictions apply: Use copies have not been made for audiovisual material in this collection. Researchers must contact the Rose Library at least two weeks in advance for access to these items. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder the Rose Library's ability to provide access to audiovisual material.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

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


Purchased from Joan Sandler, 2018

Custodial History

Eve Sandler executed the deed of sale acting as power of attorney for her mother, Joan Sandler. The collection was packed by Curator of African American collections, Pellom McDaniels, III.


[after identification of item(s)], Joan Sandler papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Appraisal Note

Curator of African American collections, Pellom McDaniels, III, acquired the collection as part of the Rose Library's holdings in African American literature and arts. One linear foot of duplicate publications, blank stationary, individual tax return information, and plaques were removed from the collection and securely shredded. Appraisal decisions were made by Dorothy Waugh and Carrie Hintz.


Arranged and described at the box level by Dorothy Waugh, February 2019. Material has been arranged in the order received and consolidated into fewer boxes wherever possible. Where existing folders were damaged, Waugh refoldered collection material into acid free archival folders, noting the original folder labels where relevant.

Born digital material processed by Dorothy Waugh, March 2019. Files have been migrated from their original format (primarily Word Perfect and Microsoft Word) to PDF.

This finding aid may include language that is offensive or harmful. Please refer to the Rose Library's harmful language statement for more information about why such language may appear and ongoing efforts to remediate racist, ableist, sexist, homophobic, euphemistic and other oppressive language. If you are concerned about language used in this finding aid, please contact us at

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Joan Delores Sandler (1934-2020) was born in Harlem, New York, on October 2, 1934. After graduating from the New York High School of Music and Arts in 1952, Sandler worked as a clerk for an insurance company until she began her study of theater with the Negro Ensemble Company in the early 1960s. During this period, Sandler took a role in the television drama series Black Girl.

In 1975, Sandler joined the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs as a program specialist. From there, she went on to work for a number of arts organizations and museums, including the Black Theatre Alliance (New York, New York); the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, New York), where she served as Community Education Director from 1983 until 1987; the National Endowment for the Arts (Washington D.C.), where she served as liaison to local arts councils and cultural institutions in New England, the Mid-Atlantic region, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands from 1988 to 1993; and the Museum of American Folk Art (New York, New York), where she served as director of educational programming from 1995 to 2000. Throughout her career, Sandler also managed fundraising campaigns for the American Civil Liberties Union, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, and the Bronx Museum of Art, and acted as consultant to clients including UNESCO, Foundation Afrique en Creations, Arts Connection, and Essence Magazine, among others. In the early 2000s, Sandler served as the executive director of the Romare Bearden Foundation, a non-profit organization established by the estate of artist Romare Bearden to support educational programs, exhibits, and scholarship related to Bearden’s work and the work of other African American artists and scholars. Sandler held academic positions at Bank Street College Graduate School of Education (New York, New York), Hunter College (New York, New York), New York University, and Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey).

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the papers of Joan Sandler circa 1971-2011 and includes correspondence, personal papers, photographs, printed material, subject files, and a small amount of audiovisual and born digital material. Subject files include reports, studies, and proposals related to projects that Sandler worked on in her professional capacity at a number of arts organizations, including Hunter College Facilities for the Performing Arts, the Pittsburgh African American Cultural Facility, the Romare Bearden Foundation, the Harlem Opera Theater, the Museum of American Folk Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others. Personal papers include health records and documents related to Sandler’s family. Among the printed material included in the collection are exhibit catalogs, newsletters, programs, and flyers.

Born digital files date from between 1997 and 2002. Many relate to Sandler's work with the Sojourner Travel Program to organize tours exploring on the black presence in Europe. These include guest lists, planning documents and schedules, and related correspondence.

Arrangement Note

Arranged in order received.

Selected Search Terms

Corporate Names

Topical Terms

Form/Genre Terms

Container List

Box Folder Content
RRL - Access copies of processed born digital material [Reading room access ONLY]
1 - Address book, Rolodex card files, and artwork
31 - Artwork
OP1 - Artwork and posters
XOP1 - Artwork and posters
20 - Books
21 - Books
22 - Books
23 - Books
24 - Books
25 - Books
26 - Books
27 - Books
28 - Books
29 - Books
30 - Books
AV1 - Born digital material [originals: 3.5” floppy disks (4)]
2 - Correspondence, 1971-1994
3 - Correspondence, 1974-1985
4 - Correspondence, 1985-1986, 1999-2007
5 - Correspondence, 2001-2010
AV1 - The First Black Theatre in America Conference, 1992 [original: VHS]
AV1 - Lamont's 50th birthday, undated [original: CD]
AV1 - Mama’s Pushcart: Ellen Stewart and 25 Years of La Mama etc., 1988 [original: VHS]
CLP4 - Motivations, Dane Belany, 1975, signed by the artist [original: LP]
6 - Notebooks and subject files
AV1 - Oprah’s Song of Maya, 1998 [original: VHS]
7 - Personal papers and correspondence, 1993
8 - Personal papers and subject files
9 - Personal papers and subject files
10 - Personal papers and subject files
11 - Personal papers and subject files
12 - Photographs
13 - Photographs
14 - Planners, 1996-2011, and subject files
15 - Printed material, including exhibit catalogs, flyers, newsletters, and programs
16 - Subject files and correspondence, 2000-2003
17 - Subject files
18 - Subject files
19 - Subject files
AV1 - Unlabelled recordings, undated [originals: VHS, MiniDV, and audio cassette]