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Regenia A. Perry Personal Papers (VA-07)

 Sub-Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: VA-07

Scope and Contents

The collection documents the life, work, and research interests of Dr. Regenia Perry. The collection’s inclusive dates are 1907-2019, with the bulk of the material dating from the 1970s-1990s. This collection contains correspondence, ephemera, negatives, photographs, publications, and other manuscript material.


  • Creation: 1907-2019


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is subject to all copyright laws. Upon donation, Perry assigned to the VMFA Archives all of her available rights of copyright in the materials. Transmission or reproduction of other materials protected by copyright, beyond that allowed by fair use, requires the researcher to obtain permission of copyright holders.

Biographical / Historical

Regenia Alfreda Perry, African American art historian, was born in 1941 in Virgilina, Virginia. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia State College (now Virginia State University) in 1961, and went to Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, Ohio, where she received a Ph.D. in Art History in 1966. Perry is the first African American woman to hold doctorates in art history and American art. She has published books on African American art, including James Van Der Zee, Photographer (1973), The Folk Tradition in Black American Art (1975), Black Folk Art in America (with John Beardsley, 1982), and Harriet Powers Bible Quilts (1994). She also has taught at numerous colleges and universities, including Howard University (Washington, D.C.), though the majority of her professorial career was spent at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, Virginia). Perry also founded Raven Arts, an art consulting firm that represents African American folk artists.

Source: Regenia Perry papers finding aid by the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University


2 Linear Feet (8 boxes; 17 folders)

Language of Materials



The collection documents the life, work, and research interests of Dr. Regenia Perry (1941-), an African American art historian. Dr. Perry is the first African American woman to hold doctorates in art history and American art, and has focused her career on researching and collecting African American folk art. In addition to her work as a professor, Dr. Perry served as a guest curator for The Metropolitan Museum’s “Selection of Nineteenth-Century Afro-American Art,” the first comprehensive exhibition of African American art at the museum.


The collection is organized into 2 series, and items are generally arranged chronologically within each series. Items with no date are generally placed at the end of each series. Sub-series are arranged alphabetically by artists' surnames.

Series 1
Biographical, 1941-2015
Series 2
Artists, 1907-2019


The collection was donated to the VMFA Archives by Regenia Perry in 2021.

Related Materials

A large collection of her papers are located at Emory University.

Related Materials - VMFA Library: Catalogs

  • Free within ourselves : African-American artists in the collection of the National Museum of American Art
  • What it is : Black American folk art from the collection of Regenia Perry, October 6-27, 1982 : catalog
  • Art of the Kuba : Selected works from the William H. Sheppard Collection, Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia, November 20 - December 20, 1979
  • Impact '79 : Afro-American women artists
  • Selections of nineteenth-century Afro-American art

Related Materials - VMFA Library: Subject File

  • Subject file : Collections and collectors - Private - Perry, Regenia : miscellaneous uncataloged material



Finding Aids to the Special Collections in the VMFA Archives | Regenia A. Perry Personal Papers
Virginia Artist Archives 07 (VA-07)
Emily Johnson, VMFA Assistant Archivist
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Archives Repository

Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library
200 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard
Richmond VA 23220-4007 United States