NOTES
ABBREVIATIONS
agr Ankrum Gallery Records, 1960–1990, Archives of American Art,
Smithsonian Institution
cwwp Charles W. White Papers, c. 1930–1982, Archives of American Art,
Smithsonian Institution
Marbl Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University
npp Noah Purifoy Papers, 1935–1998, Archives of American Art,
Smithsonian Institution
INTRODUCTION
1. Biddy Mason had been an influential figure in nineteenth- century Los Angeles. A
midwife and nurse, she was among the founders of the First African Methodist Epis-
copal Church. She’d started her life as a slave, walking westward from Mississippi
to Utah and arriving in San Bernardino County, California, in 1851. There she peti-
tioned for her freedom in a highly visible case, winning it in 1857. This occurred just
before the Dred Scott decision ruled that slaves who traveled to nonslave territory
were not automatically free, one of the incidents that set the stage for the Civil War.
Like others inquiring about a commission, Miriam Matthews provided White with
a biographical document on Biddy Mason. Miriam Matthews to Charles White, July
13, 1966; Miriam Matthews to Charles White, undated card, c. winter 1966; Miriam
Matthews to Charles White, July 30, 1967, reel 3189 microfilm, Charles W. White
Papers, c. 1930–1982, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution (hereafter
cwwp).
2. In 1955, for instance, White received a letter from a Eugene Feldman of Winston
Salem, North Carolina, asking him to create a likeness of one “James T. Rapier,
Negro congressman of Alabama 1873–75,” providing a detailed biography. See
Eugene Feldman to Charles White, July 9, 1955, reel 3189 microfilm, cwwp.
3. David Hammons quoted in Joseph E. Young, “Los Angeles,” Art International 14,
no. 8 (October 20, 1970): 74. Hammons discusses Charles White’s impact on him
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