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Betty LaDuke papers

Identifier: WUA108

Scope and Contents

The Betty LaDuke papers (1935-2018) include photographs, sketchbooks, scrapbooks, clippings, drafts of published works and projects, and other materials related to her long career as an artist. The materials document her extensive travels in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; her many writing and sketchbook projects; and her exhibitions throughout the United States. A significant portion of the materials relate to LaDuke's projects as an advocate for women and women artists around the world.


  • 1930-2018
  • Majority of material found within 1935-2018


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Library acts as “fair use” reproduction agent.

For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections.

Copyright Information: Before material from collections at Willamette University Archives and Special Collections may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permission. Persons wishing to quote from materials in any collections held by University Archives and Special Collections should consult the University Archivist. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Biographical / Historical

Betty LaDuke was born Betty Bernstein in 1933 in the Bronx, New York. She enrolled in the High School of Music and Art in New York when she was sixteen and attended a summer camp where she took art classes taught by well-known African-American artists Elizabeth Catlett and Charles White. As a college student, she continued her education through scholarships to Denver University, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and the Instituto Allende in San Miguel, Mexico. She lived in Mexico from 1953 to 1956, and it was there that she was first introduced to indigenous cultures and also met Mexican modernists Rufino Tamayo, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. It was this early exposure to a diverse array of experiences, cultures, and artists that set LaDuke on a path she still follows today.

In 1963 LaDuke completed her academic schooling at California State University in Los Angeles with a special secondary art teaching credential and a master’s degree in printmaking. She immediately started teaching junior high school art in East Los Angeles, but in 1964 took a teaching position at Southern Oregon University (SOU) in Ashland. She was the only woman in the Art Department for eighteen years of her thirty-two-year career there. Her teaching and art demonstrated her desire to raise the profile of women and international artists. As part of her efforts she initiated “Women and Art” and “Art in the Third World” courses at SOU, and her exhibitions highlighted the themes from the courses she taught, including one at Willamette University in 1977 titled Landscape: A Feminine Mythical View. LaDuke has also published a number of books documenting the art and experiences of women in Africa, Asia, and Latin-America.

LaDuke has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and is represented in many public collections, including Willamette University’s Hallie Ford Museum of Art. Her process involves developing a series of sketchbooks and taking numerous photographs during her travels which then form the basis for her larger works and exhibitions. Other thematic elements in her work include animals, rituals, and celebrations, which LaDuke uses to illustrate similarities among geographically and traditionally disparate cultures. She received the Oregon Governor’s Award in the Arts in 1993 and the National Art Education Association’s Ziegfield Award for distinguished international leadership in 1996.

LaDuke has completed several large-scale projects, including multi-panel exhibitions and murals. For a commission from Heifer International, she created an extensive mural sequence called Dreaming Cows (2009) to explore poverty and food-related issues throughout the world. In 2013 the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport installed twenty-six panels by LaDuke entitled Celebrating Local Farmers and Farmworkers that share her vision of the dignity and hard work of Southern Oregon’s farmers and farm workers. In December of 2016, LaDuke saw her artwork documenting the life and struggles of the people of Eritrea from 1994 onward installed permanently in Eritrea at the invitation of the Eritrean government. LaDuke’s most recent project includes a walking exhibit of her artwork, classroom visits, and a public presentation at Willamette University during fall 2017, courtesy of a Willamette University Sustainability Institute Green Fund Grant.


40 Linear Feet (90 boxes)


The Betty LaDuke papers document her prolific career as a painter, including her creative process using photography and sketchbooks, from 1950 to 2018. This collection also includes materials related to LaDuke's commitment to advocate for and represent women and women artists around the world as well as personal documents concerning her family and friends.


The records are arranged into six series: I. Art career, II. Correspondence, III. Personal papers, IV. Photography, V. Project files, and VI. Sketches and sketchbooks. Series I (Art Career) includes five subseries: A. Business records, B. Resumes and artist statements, C. Art, D. Publicity, and E. Awards. Series II (Correspondence) includes two subseries: A. Art-related and B. Personal. Series III (Personal papers) includes three subseries: A. Winona LaDuke, B. Family records, and C. Ephemera. Series V (Project files) includes eleven subseries: A. China, B. Women Artists International, C. Nigeria, D. Africa through the Eyes of Women Artists, E. Women Artists: Multicultural Visions, F. Freedom from Hunger, G. An Artist’s Journey: from the Bronx to Timbuktu, H. Exhibits, I. Project notebooks, J. Publications and layouts, and K. Various project scrapbooks. Files are arranged in original order and in chronological order.

Physical Location

Mark O. Hatfield Library

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials donated by Betty LaDuke starting in 2008.


Guide to the Betty LaDuke papers, 1935-2018
Additions to the finding aid processed by Jennifer L. Gehringer and Stephanie Milne-Lane. Finding aid initially processed by Ford Schmidt and Amber J. D'Ambrosio.
© 2019
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Processed with funds provided by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission's (NHPRC) Access to Historical Records grant.

Repository Details

Part of the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections Collection Descriptions

Mark O. Hatfield Library
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 United States