Beverly Buchanan papers and photographs, 1989-2001, undated

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Buchanan, Beverly, 1940-2015 and Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
Beverly Buchanan was an African American artist who explored Southern vernacular architecture. This collection contains some photographs and images of her artwork, particularly "shacks" and modern ruins, as well as some correspondence from her to Courtney Reid-Eaton at the Center for Documentary Studies. Also contains some materials by Walter Buchanan, Beverly Buchanan's father, whose work as an agricultural scientist in the 1920s inspired her artistic practice and themes.
1.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes)
Materials in English.
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

Collection consists of assorted photographs and other materials created by Beverly Buchanan or her family and sent to Courtney Reid-Eaton at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies while they explored or researched a potential exhibition or other showcase of Buchanan's work in 2001. Some photographs are Beverly Buchanan's reprinted and enlarged historical images, originally made by Walter Buchanan or Marion Buchanan during his work with South Carolina tenant farmers in the 1920s. The other materials include photographs, some titled or captioned and signed by Beverly Buchanan, of "shacks" or other wooden structures that served as schools or homes in Georgia, North Carolina, and other unidentified locations.

The collection also contains a copy of Walter Buchanan's master's thesis, "Economic and Social Conditions of Negroes as Tenants and Farm Laborers in South Carolina," dated 1929. Beverly Buchanan's correspondence to Reid-Eaton discusses her father's influence on her work as an artist, and it seems these themes were intended to frame the prospective exhibit they were creating. Buchanan's letters also include mentions of her poor health as well as slides of Buchanan's artwork, sent to Reid-Eaton by the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery in 2001.

Biographical / historical:

Beverly Buchanan was an African American artist, originally from North Carolina, whose works include painting, sculpture, video, and land art. Buchanan was noted for her exploration of Southern vernacular architecture through her art. Her father, Walter Buchanan, was an agricultural scientist who worked with tenant farmers in the 1920s. Beverly Buchanan credited her childhood trips with him into the fields and rural countryside as a major influence on her later art, which often featured sculptures and visual depictions of modern ruins and "shacks".

Courtney Reid-Eaton is a North Carolina artist and was the director of exhibitions at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Buchanan corresponded with her in 2000-2001 about a potential collaboration or exhibit between Buchanan and the Center, which appears to be how Buchanan's materials initially came to Duke.

Acquisition information:
The Beverly Buchanan Papers and Photographs were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift in 2023.
Processing information:

Processed by Meghan Lyon, January 2024

Accessions described in this collection guide: 2023-0217

Materials have been loosely sorted based on apparent connections and provenance at the time of acquisition in 2023. Many photographs by Buchanan are untitled and appear to be more working prints or reference materials than finished or final pieces.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is open for research.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the Rubenstein Library's Citations, Permissions, and Copyright guide.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Beverly Buchanan Papers and Photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.