The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

city

Margaret Burroughs

Artist, educator and institution-builder Margaret Burroughs was born on November 1, 1917 in Saint Rose, Louisiana. Always passionate about learning, Margaret moved north to Chicago in order to earn her Elementary Teacher's Certificate, which she received in 1937 from Chicago Normal College. She continued her education first at Chicago Teachers College, and later, at the Art Institute of Chicago, from which she earned her B.A. in Art Education in 1946 and her M.A. in 1948.

Dr. Margaret Burroughs made the first of her many contributions to African American arts and culture when she founded--at age 22--the South Side Community Art Center, a community organization that serves as a gallery and workshop studio for artists and students. Mrs. Burroughs continued to serve on the Board of Directors for the Center, which remained active more than sixty years after its formation.

During the mid-1950s Margaret Burroughs married Charles Burroughs, poet and founder of the Associated Negro Press. His organization, modeled on the Associated Press, played an important role in the coordination of African American newspapers throughout the United States. After extended travels together, the Burroughs' made the most well-known contribution to African American posterity in 1961 when they founded the DuSable Museum of African American History on the ground floor of their Chicago home. The museum, which has since moved to its own buildings in Chicago's Washington Park, has become an internationally recognized resource for African American art. DuSable Museum also hosts various educational programs and houses a permanent collection of more than thirteen thousand artifacts, artworks and books.

Although Margaret Burroughs worked in sculpture, painting, and many other artforms throughout her career, it was her exceptional skill as a printmaker that earned her a place within the history of art. For many years she worked with linoleum block prints to create images evocative of African American culture. Margaret Burroughs' work was featured in exclusive shows at the Corcoran Art Galleries in Washington D.C. and at the Studio Museum in New York. She served as art director for the Negro Hall of Fame and illustrated many books including What Shall I Tell My Children Who are Black?(1968). Mrs. Burroughs also published several volumes of her own poems, illustrated a number of children's books, and exhibited her own artwork all over the world. In 1975 she received the President's Humanitarian Award and in 1977 was distinguished as one of Chicago's Most Influential Women by the Chicago Defender. February 1, 1986 was proclaimed "Dr. Margaret Burroughs Day" in Chicago by late Mayor Harold Washington.

Burroughs passed away on November 21, 2010 at age 93.

Accession Number

A2000.012

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/12/2000

Last Name

Burroughs

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Taylor

Organizations
Schools

James R. Doolittle, Jr. Elementary School

William W. Carter Elementary School

Englewood High School

Chicago State University

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Teachers College, Columbia University

Illinois State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Margaret

Birth City, State, Country

Saint Rose

HM ID

BUR04

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

If first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

11/1/1917

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

11/21/2010

Short Description

Printmaker and museum director Margaret Burroughs (1917 - 2010 ) was a prominent artist who helped establish Chicago's South Side Community Arts Center and co-founded the DuSable Museum of African American History.

Employment

DuSable Museum of African American History

Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art

South Side Community Art Center

DuSable High School

Favorite Color

Purple

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Margaret Burroughs Interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Margaret Burroughs lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Margaret Burroughs recalls her family background and early childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Margaret Burroughs shares memories of growing up during the Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Margaret Burroughs remembers her childhood personality and aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Margaret Burroughs recounts her high school aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Margaret Burroughs remembers those who encouraged her artistic pursuits

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Margaret Burroughs details her college experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Margaret Burroughs talks about how she inspires students to achieve

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Margaret Burroughs discusses the founding of the South Side Community Arts Center

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Interviewer reveals to Margaret Burroughs her motive for the HistoryMakers project

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Margaret Burroughs compares Chicago's arts scene to that of New York's Harlem Renaissance

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Margaret Burroughs discusses her medium in the context of her teaching

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Margaret Burroughs discusses her marriages, children and grandchildren

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Margaret Burroughs reveals the connection between her teaching and her artwork

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Margaret Burroughs explains her notion of herself as a "People's Painter"

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Margaret Burroughs talks about concept behind her children's story, 'Jasper, the Drummin' Boy'

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Margaret Burroughs talks about her affiliation with Paul Robeson and the McCarthy Era

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Margaret Burroughs explains the Mexico connection, its sphere of influence, and her community of comtemporary artists.

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Margaret Burroughs recalls negotiating the sales of a few of her paintings

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Margaret Burroughs discusses her late husband, Charlie Burroughs

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Margaret Burroughs discusses the precurser to the DuSable Museum

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Margaret Burroughs summarizes the origin of the DuSable Museum from its earliest years

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Margaret Burroughs details how she obtained funding to outfit the DuSable Museum of African American History

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Margaret Burroughs discusses transitions in Chicago's black arts community

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Margaret Burroughs envisions a future for the DuSable Museum

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Margaret Burroughs shares her experiences traveling in Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Margaret Burroughs discusses her views on the African Diaspora

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Margaret Burroughs talks about influential persons in her life

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Margaret Burroughs talks about her legacy and other African American artists who were her contemporaries

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Margaret Burroughs explains her philosophy of life, art, creativity, and teaching

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Margaret Burroughs comments on how she would like to be remembered