Summary Information

George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011
Creator - Collector
Hughes, H.E., (Helen E.)
Helen E. Hughes collection on Betye Saar
1966-2012, undated
1.0 linear feet
Helen E. Hughes's collection of materials relating to Betye Saar including digital copies of Saar's artwork, printed materials (mainly exhibition catalogues), correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia.

Preferred Citation

Helen E. Huges Collection on Betye Saar, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine.

Biographical/Historical Note

Betye Irene Saar was born July 30, 1926, in Los Angeles, California, was graduated from the University of California in 1949 with a degree in design, and continued her education with graduate studies at several California universities. An American artist, Saar is known for her multimedia collages, box assemblages, and altars, the bulk created with found materials. Through her art Saar expresses family nostalgia as well as gender, political, racial, and religious concerns. Betye Saar has received numerous awards and honors for her work, which has been included in many solo exhibitions and museum of art collections.

Helen E. Hughes and Betye Saar met and became friends in the 1960s at Long Beach State University in California where they both took courses at Long Beach State University.

Scope and Content

Helen E. Hughes's collection of materials relating to Betye Saar including digital copies of Saar's artwork, printed materials (mainly exhibition catalogues), correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

 George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011

3000 College Station
Brunswick, Maine, 04011
(207) 725-3288

Collection Inventory

 M307.1 Artwork (digital copies) and Publications, 1966-2006, n.d.   0.3 linear feet

Series Description:

Digital copies of artwork on compact discs and magazines by or relating to Betye Saar.


Arranged alphabetically by material type, then by title.

Separated Materials:

Artist's books by Saar, exhibition catalogues, and books have been removed from the manuscript collection and cataloged separately.

Box Folder
1 1

Artists' Books: Hand Book, 1967 

    1 2

    Artists' Books: Sanctified, 1990 (removed and catalogued separately) 

      1 3

      CDs: "Betye Saar Slides," display quality, 800 px wide, n.d. 

        1 4

        CDs: "Betye Saar Slides," full resolution, 3000 px, n.d. 

          1 5

          CDs: "Digital Griot," Betye Saar, 1998 

            1 6

            Exhibition Catalogues and Books: African Americans in Art, Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1999 (removed and cataloged separately) 

              1 7

              Exhibition Catalogues and Books: "Betye Saar: Collages," National Urban League, Inc., Gallery 62, 1979 May 7-Jun 15 (removed and cataloged separately) 

                1 8

                Exhibition Catalogues and Books: "Betye Saar: Resurrection: Sight Installations, 1977-1987," California State University, Fullerton, 1988 Feb 6-Mar 6 (removed and cataloged separately) 

                  1 9

                  Exhibition Catalogues and Books: "Betye Saar: Secret Heart," Fresno Art Museum, 1993 Sep 7-1994 Jan 9 (removed and cataloged separately) 

                    1 10

                    Exhibition Catalogues and Books: "Betye Saar: Workers + Warriors: The Return of Aunt Jemima," New York, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, 1998 Sep 10-Oct 31 (removed and cataloged separately) 

                      1 11

                      Exhibition Catalogues and Books: Creative Fire, Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1994 (removed and cataloged separately) 

                        1 12

                        Exhibition Catalogues and Books: "David Driskell: Painting Across the Decade, 1996-2006," New York, DC Moore Gallery, 2006 Oct 11-Nov 11 (removed and cataloged separately) 

                          1 13

                          Exhibition Catalogues and Books: "The Negro in American Art," UCLA Galleries, 1966-1967 (removed and cataloged separately) 

                            1 14

                            Exhibition Catalogues and Books: "Towards a Society for All Ages: World Artists at the Millennium," New York, United Nations Visitor's Lobby, 1999 Sep 11-Oct 18 (removed and cataloged separately) 

                              1 15

                              Magazines: The Creative Woman Quarterly, v.2, no.1, Summer 1978 

                                1 16

                                Magazines: The Creative Woman Quarterly, v.6, no.2, Winter 1983 (cover only with enclosed miscellaneous letters to "Helen," notes, newspaper clippings about Betye Saar exhibits, and written exchanges about lectures given by Betye Saar) 

                                   M307.2 Letters, Photographs, and Postcards, 1967-2011, n.d. (removed and catalogued separately)   0.4 linear feet

                                  Series Description:

                                  Greeting cards, letters, postcards, and photographs, the bulk sent to Helen Hughes by Betye Saar, with enclosed gallery announcements, invitations, clippings, and flyers.


                                  Loose letters, photographs, and postcards arranged alphabetically; letters, photographs and postcards in plastic sleeves and envelope packages arranged chronologically.

                                  Box Folder
                                  1 17

                                  Birthday card to "Helen," 1999 Apr 

                                    1 18

                                    Blue hand-painted envelope with a pink flower, n.d. 

                                      1 19

                                      Card in the shape of a fan, Monday, 2003 Feb 24 

                                        1 20

                                        Christmas card from Tracye to Helen, 2006 

                                          1 21

                                          Christmas card from Tracye to Helen, 2007 

                                            1 22

                                            Envelope containing: "Betye Saar exhibition schedule" announcing Betye Saar exhibitions in 2005 and 2006 in Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, California, Connecticut, England, and Paris; greeting card from 2004 and a photo of a tree in a gallery; Valentine's Day card from 1991 to "Helen" 

                                              1 23

                                              Envelope containing: invitation to Helen from Betye for "An Artful Evening at California African American Museum, 2011 Oct 15 

                                                1 24

                                                Greeting card, purple, with "BETYE" on the front, 2006 

                                                  1 25

                                                  Painted envelope from Betye Saar to Helen Hughes, postmarked from Van Nuys, California, 1991 Aug 13 

                                                    1 26

                                                    Valentine's Day card from Betye to Helen, 2002 

                                                      1 27

                                                      Photograph: "Belfast, August 15, 2006, Spencer, Helen, Betye, & Megan" 

                                                        1 28

                                                        Photograph: Black and white photograph of a woman: "To Helen, from Betye, 1967" 

                                                          1 29

                                                          Photograph: "Holiday Happiness," printed copy of family picture with family members identified, Christmas, 1997 

                                                            1 30.

                                                            Photograph: House wih a mailbox numbered "8074," n.d. 

                                                              1 31

                                                              Photograph: Inside of a room, n.d. 

                                                                1 32

                                                                Photograph: "Mrs. Mojo, Spencer, Tracye, and Megan, Cadillac Mt., Maine, 2006 Aug" 

                                                                  1 33

                                                                  Photograph: "Old friends, Helen and Betye, Belfast, Maine, 2006 Aug 15" 

                                                                    1 34

                                                                    Photograph: Plant: back "upper patio, Willow Glen Gardens, 1991 Jul" 

                                                                      1 35

                                                                      Photograph: "Saar sisters, Lesley, Alison, and Tracye, Thanksgiving, 1973" 

                                                                        1 36

                                                                        Photograph: Wedding, n.d. 

                                                                          1 37

                                                                          Photograph: Wedding, n.d. 

                                                                            1 38

                                                                            Postcard: "Blow Top Blues, The Fire Next Time," by Betye Saar, ca. 1997 

                                                                              1 39

                                                                              Postcard: Crosses: back "Epiphany," written to Helen from Betye, n.d. 

                                                                                1 40

                                                                                Plastic Sleeves: 1970, 2001, n.d., Photograph: back "May 23rd, 1970, Pleasure Fair;" letter to Helen with a collage called "Coffee," 2001; family picture with Sola, Kyle, Geneva, Maddy, Spencer, and Mega, n.d. 

                                                                                  1 41

                                                                                  Plastic Sleeves: 1970-2010, Three postcards, 1990, 1994, 2010; and one letter, 1970 Aug 25 

                                                                                    1 42

                                                                                    Plastic Sleeves: 1989, 1995, Valentine's Day card, New Zealand, 1989; and postcard from Betye to Helen from South Africa, 1995 Mar 8 

                                                                                      1 43

                                                                                      Plastic Sleeves: 1992, n.d., Two Valentine's Day cards from Betye to Helen 

                                                                                        1 44

                                                                                        Plastic Sleeves: 1995, n.d., Two postcards from Betye to Helen 

                                                                                          1 45

                                                                                          Plastic Sleeves: 2001, "Happy Valentine's Day 2001," from Betye 

                                                                                            1 46

                                                                                            Plastic Sleeves: 2002, Two photographs and a postcard 

                                                                                              2 1

                                                                                              Envelope Packages: 1977 Dec 27, Manila envelope addressed from 8074 Willow Glen Rd., Hollywood, California 90046 to Dr. Helen E. Hughes, 808 Pin Oak Lane, Park Forest, So. Illinois 60466 containing multiple postcards, letters, photographs, gallery announcements, and invitations 

                                                                                                2 2

                                                                                                Envelope Packages: 1992 Jul 15, Off-white envelope to Helen containing several photos, letter to Helen from 1999 and letter from 1967 

                                                                                                  2 3

                                                                                                  Envelope Packages: 1996 Dec 26, Gray envelope containing photo from Christmas, 1989, and a collage 

                                                                                                    2 4

                                                                                                    Envelope Packages: 1998 Jul 21, Gray envelope containing Betye Saar review journal, bumper sticker, invitations, newspaper clippings, etc. 

                                                                                                      2 5

                                                                                                      Envelope Packages: n.d., Manila file folder, "Betye Saar Program," containing articles, letters 

                                                                                                        2 6

                                                                                                        Envelope Packages: n.d., Manila file folder, "Saar Collection for Collage?" containing reviews of Betye's work, photos, letters, miscellaneous pamphlets, etc. 

                                                                                                          2 7

                                                                                                          Envelope Packages: n.d., Off-white envelope from Betye to Helen, "`Sheba' with slide (for TCW cover)" containing letters, postcards, flyers, and a magazine called "News Magazine" (School of the Art Institute) 

                                                                                                            2 8

                                                                                                            Envelope Packages: n.d., White envelope to Helen containing two gallery exhibition books: "Betye Saar in Service: A Version of Survival," New York: Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, 2000 Mar 9-May 6 and "Betye Saar As Time Goes By," Savannah College of Art & Design, Pinnacle Gallery, 2000 Mar 24-May 30 

                                                                                                               M307.3 Mailers, 1996-2011   0.1 linear feet

                                                                                                              Series Description:

                                                                                                              Mailings announcing exhibitions by Betye Saar and her daughters, Lezley and Alison Saar. Letters to Helen Hughes, photocopied photographs, and a lecture by Helen entitled "My Friend Betye Saar," are included with the mailings.


                                                                                                              Arranged chronologically.

                                                                                                              Box Folder
                                                                                                              2 9

                                                                                                              1996, Announcement of exhibition called "Betye Saar: Personal Icons," Omaha, Nebraska: Joslyn Art Museum, 1996 Aug 31-Oct 13 with enclosed letters to "Helen" and photocopied photographs 

                                                                                                                2 10

                                                                                                                2000, "Art Insights," with enclosed lecture (2000 Feb 1, Department of Museum Education, Art Institute of Chicago) entitled "My Friend Betye Saar," by Helen E. Hughes; bibliography; list of slides 

                                                                                                                  2 11

                                                                                                                  2001, "Alison Saar (Post)terior," New York: Phyllis Kind Gallery, 2001 Oct 27-Nov 30 

                                                                                                                    2 12

                                                                                                                    2002, "Lezley Saar: Paintings from the Rap Series," New York: Lehman College Art Gallery, 2001 Oct 16-2002 Jan 4 

                                                                                                                      2 13

                                                                                                                      2005 Dec-2006 Mar, "Family Legacies: The Art of Betye, Lezley, and Alison Saar," Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Ackland Art Museum, 2005 Dec 18-2006 Mar 26 

                                                                                                                        2 14

                                                                                                                        2011, Two gallery cards: "Betye Saar: Red Time," Culver City, California: Roberts & Tilton, 2011 Sep 10-Dec 17 (One card is red and blank on the back, the other is red and has a letter to Helen from Betye dated 2011 Oct 17 on back) 

                                                                                                                           M307.4 Miscellaneous Materials, 1983-2012, n.d.   0.2 linear feet

                                                                                                                          Series Description:

                                                                                                                          Various printed materials including lecture invitations, newspaper clippings, and a calendar and program with art work by Betye Saar.


                                                                                                                          Arranged chronologically.

                                                                                                                          Box Folder
                                                                                                                          2 15

                                                                                                                          1983, "LA Energy," mural by Betye Saar card, wall celebration, 1983 Sep 11 

                                                                                                                            2 16

                                                                                                                            1984, "Contemporary Women Artists," calendar which contains art work by Betye Saar 

                                                                                                                              2 17

                                                                                                                              1998, 1999, Reviews of work by Alison and Betye Saar (photocopies) 

                                                                                                                                2 18

                                                                                                                                1999, ArtNews articles re: Kara Walker piece (photocopies) 

                                                                                                                                  2 19

                                                                                                                                  2000, Manila envelope containing clippings from the New York Times and  Los Angeles Times Magazine, a letter and photos 

                                                                                                                                    2 20

                                                                                                                                    2002, "Crossing Boundaries: Stories from Biracial America," Chicago: Field Museum, 2002 Feb 1 (program with cover art by Betye Saar) 

                                                                                                                                      2 21

                                                                                                                                      2011, "The 20 Artists who are Setting the Standard," Los Angeles Times 2011 Sep 18 (photocopy) 

                                                                                                                                        2 22

                                                                                                                                        2011, "Crimson Visions Stir the Psyche," Los Angeles Times, 2011 Oct 14 (photocopy) 

                                                                                                                                          2 23

                                                                                                                                          2011, Mini guest lecture invitation for "Red Time," Culver City, California: Roberts & Tilton, 2011 Sep 10-Dec 19 

                                                                                                                                            2 24

                                                                                                                                            2012, Guest lecture invitation for "Red Time," Culver City, California: Roberts & Tilton, 2011 Sep 10-Dec 19, with 2012 Jan 12 note from Betye to Helen on the back 

                                                                                                                                              2 25

                                                                                                                                              n.d., Bookmark from the Art Institute of Chicago 

                                                                                                                                                2 26

                                                                                                                                                n.d., Drawing of a hand and moon