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Susan Cayton Woodson

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Information about Susan Cayton Woodson

Profile image of Susan Cayton Woodson

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Art Collector

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Cobbler (Apple)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Seattle, Washington
Favorite Quote:
The kitchen is closed.

Birthplace

Born:
10/16/1918
Birth Location:
Seattle, Washington

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Art Collector

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Cobbler (Apple)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Seattle, Washington
Favorite Quote:
The kitchen is closed.

Birthplace

Born:
10/16/1918
Birth Location:
Seattle
See how Susan Cayton Woodson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Art enthusiast Susan Cayton Woodson helped collect and preserve several works from the Chicago Renaissance. Born on October 16, 1918, in Seattle, Washington, Woodson was raised by her maternal grandparents after her mother died when she was just a year old.

From an early age, Woodson was conscious of her heritage, and expected to live up to the reputations of her ancestors. Her great-grandfather, Hiram R. Revels, became the first African American senator in 1870 when he won election from Mississippi during Reconstruction. At home, Woodson was influenced by the accomplishments of her grandparents. Grandmother Susie Revels Cayton was a suffragette and union activist, and Woodson's grandfather, Horace Roscoe Cayton, published the Seattle Republican, the city's first black newspaper.

Woodson attended Washington State College until her grandfather's death in 1940; at that time her grandmother decided it would be best to send Woodson some place where she could get married, and chose to move her to Chicago. Paul Robeson, a friend of Woodson's siblings, flew out to chaperone Woodson on the drive to Chicago. In Chicago, Woodson lived in the Rosenwald; home to many of the city's black intellectuals and artists.

After working at the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union, Woodson volunteered at the Parkway Community House where her uncle, Horace Cayton, Jr., became director; she herself became a board member in 1973. Over the years, Woodson befriended Eldzier Cortor, Langston Hughes, Ted Ward, Richard Wright, and many other artists and activists from the eras of the WPA and Chicago Renaissance. Woodson also formed relationships with Chicago's great artists, and began collecting art commemorating these important movements. The Susan Woodson Gallery houses the preeminent collection of the Chicago Renaissance and has attracted an international clientele.

Woodson served on the board of the South Side Community Art Center, and was a member of the Vivian G. Harsh Collection at the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library.

Woodson passed away on January 31, 2013.

See how Susan Cayton Woodson is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Susan Woodson interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Susan Woodson's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Susan Woodson talks about her family history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Susan Woodson remembers her mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Susan Woodson recalls her father's background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Susan Woodson recalls problems traveling to her father's funeral
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Susan Woodson remembers her early reaction to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Susan Woodson talks about growing up in Seattle, Washington
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Susan Woodson discusses childhood interests
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Susan Woodson describes family life during her childhood in Seattle, Washington
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Susan Woodson talks about her brothers' wives
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Susan Woodson remembers elementary school experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Susan Woodson explains hardships during junior college
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Susan Woodson details her years at the Rosenwald Building
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Susan Woodson describes Chicago's racial and social climates
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Susan Woodson talks about experiences with Paul Robeson
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Susan Woodson recalls her attempts at finding work in Chicago
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Susan Woodson remembers meeting her husband
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Susan Woodson explains various family problems
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Susan Woodson talks about her husband's professional career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Susan Woodson remembers opening her gallery
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Susan Woodson discusses experiences with Charles Sebree and his art
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Susan Woodson recalls the Woodson family's business successes
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Susan Woodson names artists she's worked with
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Susan Woodson explains how she got involved in showing WPA artwork
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Susan Woodson talks about various ways she's obtained artwork
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Susan Woodson discusses William McBride's art collection
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Susan Woodson talks about how Margaret Burroughs helped artists
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Susan Woodson recalls rewarding moments in gallery ownership
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Susan Woodson comments on her hopes for the black community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Susan Woodson considers her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Susan Woodson shares her regrets
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Susan Woodson looks back on her career