Louise Jefferson

Women in Power in the Arts

Louise E. Jefferson (1908-2002) was a photographer, illustrator, and graphic designer. As an active member of the artistic community during the Harlem Renaissance, she became a founding member of the Harlem Artists Guild, alongside Augusta Savage and Jacob Lawrence. In 1942, Jefferson became the Artistic Director of Friendship Press, the first African American woman to hold such a role in the publishing industry. In 1973, Jefferson published her book, The Decorative Arts of Africa, which contains over 300 illustrations and photographs from her travels to fifteen African countries. The work on display consists of publicity materials for the National Urban League Guild’s Beaux-Arts Ball, a draft for the 1978 NAACP annual Christmas seal, and a small print depicting a scene from her travels in Africa. These showcase the bright colors and chunky shapes that were a hallmark of Jefferson’s style.

Source: Facincani, Lee. 50 Years/50 Collections: Louise Jefferson: Illustrator and Photographer. Amistad Research Center, 18 Sept. 2016, www.amistadresearchcenter.org/single-post/2016/09/19/50-Years50-Collections-Louise-Jefferson-Illustrator-and-Photographer.


Suggested Resources:

Louise Jefferson Papers, Amistad Research Center, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Louise E. Jefferson. The Decorative Arts of Africa. New York: Viking Press, 1973. NK1487.A1 J43 1973 Amistad Research Center

Black and white photo of Louise Jefferson in her studio.
An ink sketch featuring a woman carrying a jar under her head, underneath a shade tree with a church in the foreground.
An ink and pen drawing of a 1978 NAACP victory seal.
Cover image in purple and dark pink of the 1970 National Urban League's Beaux Art Ball.
Cover drawing for the 1971 National Urban League's Beaux Arts Ball.