Dorothy E. Yepez papers
The papers primarily document the career of Dorothy E. Yepez, and significantly highlight the contributions of an African American businesswoman and art gallery owner in the United States. The collection is extremely rich on the subjects of art, Black history, education and the business documentation of Yepez’s career, with collected files from her art gallery and social activities. Yepez’s papers contain business and some personal correspondence; biographical sketches of Yepez and artists who exhibited at the Dorothy Yepez Galleries; announcements; news clippings; forms and questionnaires; invitations; news releases; reports; and advertisements and publicity notices pertaining to events at the Galleries. In addition, there is a scrapbook, dating from 1936 to 1973, which includes items pertaining to the social and philanthropic activities of Yepez during World War II.
Of interest is an autographed photograph of Duke Ellington addressed to Dorothy Yepez (circa 1966, undated); programs and brochures from children’s theater activities, including an extensive number of greeting cards (1961-1989); information regarding Harlem Health Council (1966); and other programs (1955-1966). Also of note are Yepez’s family photographs (1864-1940s); Yepez’s high school diploma (1934 June); and numerous files on community activities in which Yepez was involved, including Stern’s Career Club (1959- 1964); Arts Center Committee, Henry Street Settlement (1963-1965); Council of the Arts (1964-1965); and files regarding her membership on the executive board of Harlem Health Council (1966-1967). The bulk of the papers are art gallery files, including business correspondence. Additionally, the papers contain a unique ephemeral item, a rock for the Urban Renewal Project with a handscript note stating “Spring 1974 Edythes House was here Urban Renewal 1974.” Edythe was Yepez’s sister.
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services award MH-245560-OMS-20.
- Other: circa 1864-1990, undated
Conditions Governing Access
The Dorothy E. Yepez papers are open and available for research.
Biographical / Historical
Dorothy E. Yepez (1916-1999) was an artist, gallery owner, former nurse and teacher of violin and piano. She owned Dorothy Yepez Galleries for fifteen years in Saranac Lake, New York; and also worked in the area of children’s theater in New York City during the mid-1960s.
Dorothy Elizabeth Yepez (née Robinson) was born in 1916 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Amos N. Robinson and Alice Delgado. She attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work; Temple University School of Music; New York University Cooper Union City; Queens and Brooklyn Colleges in New York; and studied art with Richard Colin and Alfred Crimi. On September 10, 1948, Dorothy E. Robinson married Bolivar Yepez.
Most galleries and museums possess a home base from which to operate. For more than 28 years, Dorothy Yepez Art Galleries showcased a full range of artistic forms of expression within the confines of a small, two-story gallery space on Bloomingdale Road in Saranac Lake, New York. Eventually, with the assistance of several museum professionals and individuals, Yepez extended the original gallery experience far beyond its historic area. Those individuals established Dorothy Yepez Gallery Without Walls, Inc., which exhibited shows of art ranging from modern sculpture and traditional American paintings to exhibition of dolls, children’s art and photographic prints. The purpose of the gallery-museum was to “promote education and culture in art by means of exhibitions, lectures, classes, radio, television, cinema, discussions, and any other available media; to bring artist and public together; and to encourage experimentation in all media,” [sic] according to the Galleries’ brochure.
Many of Yepez’s contributions to African American women’s history centered around her civic, political, philanthropic and social activities. As a reverend, she was actively involved in the United Ministries in Higher Education, serving as a member of the Black Arena Committee (1973). Yepez also worked on the Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. political campaign and served as a member of the American Federation of Arts and Brooklyn American Society.
Yepez expressed her passion for education and art in New York. Her community activism in education included a union of faith-based activities and art. She helped with several projects on art foundation committees and taught art courses for the greeting card industry. She served as chair and member of the Religion and Arts Committee of Central Presbyterian Church (NYC); provided art consultant work for the Community League of West 159th Street; and advocated for art programs for children, young adults and local and international artists and composers.
Dorothy Yepez died in 1999 in New York.
48.7 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift, Dorothy E. Yepez
- Dorothy E. Yepez papers
- Felicia D. Render
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
Part of the Amistad Research Center Repository
6823 Saint Charles Avenue
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