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Tom Feelings artwork

Call Number: JWJ MSS 74

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of original artwork, dummies, prints, posters, professional and personal papers, and audiovisual materials documenting Tom Feelings's work as an artist and book illustrator. The collection includes the original artwork for The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo, which consists of 51 drawings, currently housed in 47 frames, created in mixed-media tempera, pen and tissue, heightened with white and collage; the artwork is accompanied by 11 text panels that were part of a traveling exhibition. Other book illustration projects documented in the collection include Now Sheba Sings the Song by Maya Angelou, Soul Looks Back in Wonder, and I Saw Your Face by Kwame Senu Neville Dawes. Also found are numerous portraits of women and children, as well as drawings of a Civil War soldier, New York City, and street scenes that document Feelings's early career as an artist. An addition to the collection includes artwork, materials related to book projects including The Middle Passage, Now Sheba Sings The Song, and others, professional and personal papers, comics and illustratoins, and audiovisual materials.


  • 1940s-2010


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Boxes 155-161 (audiovisual materials): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Tom Feelings Artwork is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from William Reese Company on various funds, 2010.

Novemeber 2013 acquisition: Purchased from Niani Feelings on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2013.


Organized into five series: I. Original Artwork, 1959-2003. II. Dummies, 1987-1995. III. Prints, undated. IV. Posters, 1987-1997. V. November 2013 acquisition, 1940s-2010.


139.31 Linear Feet ((112 boxes) + 77 framed items, 26 broadside folders )

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

Tom Feelings (1933-2003)

Tom Feelings, artist and illustrator, was best known for his book The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo (1995) which depicts life on the ships that brought slaves from Africa to America. Feelings was born in 1933, grew up in Brooklyn, and studied at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School and later at the School of Visual Arts. In addition to The Middle Passage, Feelings illustrated numerous books, including Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987) and Soul Looks Back in Wonder (1993), which were collaborations with Maya Angelou, and I Saw Your Face (2005), a collaboration with Kwame Senu Neville Dawes, which was published posthumously. He was also a professor of art at the University of South Carolina from 1989 to 1996. Feelings passed away in 2003.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

As part of basic processing carried out in 2010-2011, unframed artwork was housed in acid-free folders and boxes, while framed artwork was left in the frames. Descriptive information in the inventory below is drawn primarily from information supplied with the collection in the form of the auction catalog. The information about specific artwork has not been verified. It is supplied here in order to provide some level of access to the material within the collection.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Tom Feelings Artwork
by Tina Evans and Jennifer Meehan
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • May 2021: Updated with November 2013 acquisition.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.