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Black History Month Exhibit at UGL  

This guide accompanies the traveling display "Jacob Lawrence and The Legend of John Brown" which will be in UGL's 1st floor Atrium during the month of February.
Last Updated: Feb 4, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Printed Books on the Artist, Jacob Lawrence

The following books on Jacob Lawrence are available in the library. CLICK ON THE TITLES for locations.

Jacob Lawrence : thirty years of prints, 1963-1993 : a catalogue raisonné - Peter Nesbett
Call Number: NE 539 .L35 A4 1994
ISBN: 0295973579
Publication Date: 1994

Jacob Lawrence, American Painter - Ellen H. Wheat
Call Number: ND 237 .L29 A4 1986
ISBN: 0295963441
Publication Date: 1986

Six Black Masters of American Art - Romare Bearden & Harry Henderson
Call Number: N 6537 .N5 B4
Publication Date: 1972

Cover Art
Story Painter - John Duggleby
Call Number: L4365D8
ISBN: 0811820823
Publication Date: 1998
Includes bibliographical references. A biography of the African American artist who grew up in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance and became one of the most renowned painters of the life of his people.


EBooks on the Abolitionist, John Brown

EBooks are available online for WSU affiliates, including students, faculty, and staff. To access a book, just click on the title.

Cover Art
John Brown, Abolitionist - David S. Reynolds
ISBN: 0375411887
Publication Date: 2005
Few historical figures are as intriguing as John Brown, the controversial Abolitionist who used terrorist tactics against slavery and single-handedly changed the course of American history. This brilliant biography of Brown (1800—1859) by the prize-winning critic and cultural biographer David S. Reynolds brings to life the Puritan warrior who gripped slavery by the throat and triggered the Civil War. In fascinating detail, Reynolds recounts how Brown permeated politics and popular culture during the Civil War and beyond. He reveals the true depth of Brown’s achievement: not only did Brown spark the war that ended slavery, but he planted the seeds of the civil rights movement by making a pioneering demand for complete social and political equality for America’s ethnic minorities. A deeply researched and vividly written cultural biography–a revelation of John Brown and his meaning for America.

Cover Art
The Afterlife of John Brown - Andrew Taylor; Eldrid Herrington
ISBN: 1403978468
Publication Date: 2005
The Afterlife of John Brown explores the impact of the uncompromising abolitionist John Brown since his execution in 1859. The essays in this collection examine this divisive figure, lauded as a principled hero and demonized as a home-grown terrorist. The essays trace his presence in a variety of narrative and artistic forms, including poetry, the visual arts, children's literature, biography, and political polemic. John Brown is a figure whose status within the cultural imagination of the United States has never been settled. This book is the first to explore the diversity of artistic response that such unsettling has evoked.

Cover Art
John Brown - W. E. B. Du Bois; John David Smith
ISBN: 0585001650
Publication Date: 1997
"A moving cultural biography of abolitionist martyr John Brown, by one of the most important African-American intellectuals of the twentieth century.

In the history of slavery and its legacy, John Brown looms large as a hero whose deeds partly precipitated the Civil War. As Frederick Douglass wrote: "When John Brown stretched forth his arm ... the clash of arms was at hand." DuBois's biography brings Brown stirringly to life and is a neglected classic" (from the publisher).

This addition contains a new introduction and primary documents.


Information about the Display


Visit the Undergraduate Library Atrium to see the display on the final stop of its three year journey traveling through Michigan (with a stop in Georgia)

In 1941, African American artist, Jacob Lawrence, created a series of 22 gouache paintings depicting the radical white abolitionist, John Brown, and his crusade to end slavery. The original paintings eventually made their way to the Detroit Institute of Arts, where there was increasing demand to view them. Because of their fragility, Lawrence was approached  in 1977, to convert the images to silkscreen. He did so, and 60 sets of prints were produced.

Since 1994 the Wayne State Art Collection has owned a set of the prints, and they hang on the 2nd floor of WSU's Undergraduate Library.

Visit the 2nd floor of UGL to see the original silkscreen prints. They are located on the walls outside the Student Technology Studio.

In 2009 the Library and the Art Collection decided to create a traveling display of the prints, so that other libraries in Michigan could see the important series. Digital images of the prints were made, and descriptive text written that describes the life and work of Lawrence and his subject.

Over the course of three years, the display has traveled to 17 libraries in Michigan, and one in Atlanta, Georgia, including:

~      Detroit Public Library
~      Eastern Michigan University Bruce T. Halle Library
~      Macomb Community College Library
~      Oakland Community College (Auburn Hills)
~      Wayne State University Neef Law Library
~      University of Detroit Mercy Libraries
~      Southfield Public Library
~      Orion Township Public Library
~      Mt. Clemens Public Library
~      Adrian Public Library
~      Rochester College Ham Library
~      Monroe County Community College
~      Milford Public Library
~      Alpena County Public Library
~      Atlanta University Center
~      Farmington Community Library
~      Mott Community College library
~      Wayne State University Undergraduate Library

The traveling display in the UGL Atrium

The project collaboration between the University Art Collection and the Library System included assistance from Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) graduate student interns, the Wayne State Visual Resources Collection, in the Department of Art and Art History, and was made possible with funding from the Detroit Area Library Network (DALNET.) Arts and Media Librarian, Diane Sybeldon, served as Project Manager.





For information about the Wayne State University Art Collection, contact UAC Coordinator, Sandra Schemske at

his Library Guide was created by
Diane Sybeldon and
Julianne Novetsky


These selected online articles can be accessed by WSU faculty, students and staff.


  • "The Legend of John Brown and the Series by Jacob Lawrence"
    Sharp, E. (1993). Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 67 (4), 14-35.
    Published by: Detroit Institute of Arts
  • "John Brown's Constitution"
    Tsai, R. L. (2010). John Brown's Constitution. Boston College Law Review, 51(1), 151-207
    --To access the article after clicking on the title, use the HTML or PDF links on the upper left side of the screen.
  • "John Brown: The Stone in the Historian's Shoe"
    Brundage, W. (2012). John Brown: 'The Stone in the Historian's Shoe'. Journal Of The Historical Society, 12(1), 79. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5923.2011.00356.x
    --To access the article after clicking on the title, use the "360 Link to Full Text" in the upper left corner of the screen.

Web Resources for John Brown

  • John Brown: from Africans in America
    From PBS, this web page provides a brief biography and an overview of important events in John Brown’s life. Related links provide information about the raid on Harper's Ferry, John Brown's Black Raiders, and the Civil War and Emancipation. Links to historical documents and modern interpretations about and relating to these events are also included.
  • "John Brown's Holy War"
    This web site, from PBS' American Experience series includes information on the motion picture "John Brown's Holy War", including a transcript of the film, a timeline of Brown's life and key events, and lots more.

    The DVD of "John Brown's Holy War" is available for checkout from the Undergraduate Library.

    From the library catalog record:
    "John Brown, considered the father of American terrorism, was an inspiration to the Civil Rights movement. He was a farmer, a warrior, a family man and an avenging angel. More than 150 years after his execution, questions swirl around John Brown: was he a madman or a martyr? A bloodthirsty fanatic or a great American hero? Dramatic reenactments trace John Brown's obsessive battle against human bondage."
  • John Brown's Address to the Court
    From PBS, Africans in America series. The address of John Brown to the Virginia Court at Charles Town, Virginia on November 2, 1859. John Brown was hanged on December 2, 1859.

Web Resources for Jacob Lawrence

  • Images of "The Legend of John Brown" silkscreen series from the Washington State Art Collection
    All 22 silkscreen prints of Jacob Lawrence's "Legend of John Brown" series are available for viewing online, sponsored by the Washington State Arts Commission's Art in Public Places Program.

    Click the links on the right side of the screen to move from image to image.

  • Timeline of Jacob Lawrence's life and work
    This is one of the links from the Jacob and Gwen Knight Lawrence Virtual Resource Center.
  • Jacob Lawrence: Exploring Stories: the Whitney Museum of American Art
    "The Whitney Museum’s online space designed to introduce visitors to the art and life of Jacob Lawrence.
    This website is for families, teachers, students, and anyone else who is interested in exploring Jacob Lawrence’s work, his themes, and his approach to visual storytelling. Here you'll find some of Lawrence’s paintings, information, learning resources, and fun activities. (from their web site)
  • Oral History with Jacob Lawrence, October 26, 1968
    The transcript of an interview with Jacob Lawrence is available online at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art web site.

    Scroll down the page to access the interview transcript.

    "This interview is part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others."
  • The Jacob and Gwen Knight Lawrence Virtual Resource Center
    "This website provides a wealth of information on the art and life of Jacob and Gwen Knight Lawrence and their contribution to American culture. Here you will find biographical information on Jacob Lawrence and Gwen Knight Lawrence, extensive resources for teaching and research on the art of Jacob Lawrence, descriptions of programs endowed by the Lawrences, and a searchable archive of nearly 1,000 images of their work. "
    (From the website)

  • Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence papers at the Smithsonian Institution
    Covers the time period, 1945-1995, bulk 1973-1994
    "More than half of the collection is correspondence with friends, artists, students, school children, art schools, galleries, museums, and others. Also found are writings by Lawrence and others, newsclippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, press releases, brochures, books, photographs of Lawrence, Knight, and Lawrence's artwork, scattered financial and business records, primarily relating to Lawrence's relationship with the Terry Dintenfass Gallery in New York, and two small lithographs by James Rosenquist." (from the online record)

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