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Anna Russell Jones papers

1892-1989, 17 linear feet


This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

African American Museum in Philadelphia
Jones, Anna Russell, 1902-1995
Anna Russell Jones papers
Date [inclusive]:
Call Number:
17 Linear feet
Location Note:
Most of the collection is in the Collections Storage Room. Boxes 1-10 are stored on Unit 9, Shelves 8-12. Boxes 11-36 are stored on Unit 5, Shelves 34-38. There are also oversized items in the map case, drawers 1.9-1.11. Additional oversized items are in the Basement Vault, in the Map Cabinet drawers 3 and 4. There are also framed items in Unit 18, Shelf 16. One framed items is on Painting Rack A.
Anna Russell Jones (1902-1995) was the first African American woman from Philadelphia to join the Armed Forces during World War II and the first African American graduate of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design). She was a talented artist who worked as a wallpaper and carpet designer, civil service illustrator, and freelance artist. Her life evidenced her interest in African American history and civil rights, commitment to public service, and fascination with medical practice. The Anna Russell Jones papers, 1892-1989, primarily document her time in the military and as a civil service illustrator through scrapbooks, photographs, illustrations, sketches, and related correspondence and personnel records. There are also materials relating to her art education and some family papers, as well as correspondence, artworks, and documents from later in Jones' life.
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Anna Rachel (Rae) Malinda Russell was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1902 to John C. Russell (1867?-1911) and Anna M. Evans (1871?-1959). Anna had two older brothers, Thomas E. (1897-1927) and John W. (1899-1981) Russell. While she was still very young, Anna’s family moved to Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, where her father had found work as a Pullman porter on the Pennsylvania Railroad. After her father passed away in 1911, Anna's mother eventually settled the family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Anna M. encouraged her daughter to educate herself, as a way for African Americans to succeed despite race-related societal obstacles. Anna Rae followed her mother’s advice, graduating from William Penn High School for Girls in 1920. She had a strong interest in art and one of her teachers, recognizing her artistic abilities, recommended her for a four year scholarship from the Philadelphia Board of Education that allowed her to attend the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (later known as the Moore Institute of Art, Science, and Industry, and now known as Moore College of Art and Design). Anna was the first African American woman to receive this award.

Anna majored in textile design and in 1925 became the first African American graduate of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. At graduation, she received awards for her carpet and wallpaper designs and a drawing of hers was selected for the cover of the school catalog. After graduation, the Dean of Women at the School of Design recommended Anna for a job as a carpet designer at the James G. Speck Studio in Philadelphia. She was hired and remained there for four years. After leaving the Speck Studio, Anna was offered other jobs, but instead she decided to work as a freelancer and establish her own studio. She sold her wallpaper and carpet designs to firms in Philadelphia, New York, and Canada, a difficult and rare accomplishment for an African American woman in the 1930s. She also illustrated and sold Christmas cards depicting African American school children during this time.

Wallpaper and carpet sales declined during the Great Depression, and Anna began designing educational posters, some of which related to African American history and featured illustrations of prominent African Americans including George Washington Carver and Sojourner Truth. She sold the posters to various schools in Eastern states. The Free Library of Philadelphia purchased some of these posters and also displayed other works created by Anna such as paintings of Santa Claus and other Christmas scenes. Leading up to World War II, Anna gave public lectures and lessons on African American history.

When the United States entered World War II, Anna joined the Gray Lady Service of the American Red Cross. In September of 1942, shortly after finishing her training for the Red Cross, Anna was accepted into the United States Army as part of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), later known as the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), becoming the first African American woman from Philadelphia to join the Armed Forces during World War II. Anna was stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, a military base where African American troops were trained. For just over three years she worked as a graphic artist for the army, designing maps, posters, booklets and various other things for military publications. By the end of her service she had attained the rank of sergeant, and had received the WAAC Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal.

In 1947, Anna returned to her alma mater, Moore College of Art and Design, to complete one year of post-graduate work in textiles. Among other educational pursuits at this time, she studied medical illustration under the G.I. Bill (Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944) at Howard University College of Medicine (Washington, D.C.) from 1948 to 1952. Anna worked at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia as a licensed practical nurse in the 1950s and also was employed as a graphic artist and illustrator for several years in the civil service. Additionally, she continued to paint, sketch, draw, and do freelance artistic work in her spare time.

In 1952, Anna married William Albert Marsh Jones Jr. The two spent the next thirty-four years together, until his passing in 1986. Anna was awarded the Honor of Excellence Award from the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum (now African American Museum in Philadelphia) in 1986, and the following year received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Fine Arts, from Moore College of Art. Anna died in Philadelphia in 1995.

William Albert Marsh Jones Jr. (1900-1986), often called “Albert”, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the oldest child of William Albert Marsh Jones Sr. and Clara B. J. Croston. Albert had four siblings: James R. S., Naomi Elizabeth, Chauncy D., and Clara M. His parents also had an adopted son, William M. Jones. Albert’s sister, Naomi (1902-1973), married John Thomas Jenkins in 1922 and had eight children. As a boy, Albert attended Hancock School in Philadelphia, and later played trombone in a band. In 1930 Albert became an elevator operator, a position he held for thirty years until his retirement in 1960. In 1964, Albert became the Court Crier for Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. (1928-1998) when Higginbotham was appointed as a district judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Judge Higginbotham was a prominent African American civil rights advocate who would go on to become a federal appeals court judge.

Thomas Edward Russell (1897-1927) was the first child of John C. Russell and Anna M. Evans and Anna Russell Jones’s oldest brother. His middle name likely came from his father’s brother, Edward S. Russell, who lived with Thomas’ family in Jersey City, New Jersey before they moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Thomas married Josephine L. Walker in 1924, but was tragically killed when he was hit by a car in the Overbrook neighborhood of Philadelphia in 1927.

John Warner Russell (1899-1981) was the middle child of John C. Russell and Anna M. Evans and Anna Russell Jones’s older brother. Warner, as he was known to family and friends, worked for the postal service and married Ann Elizabeth Broomes in 1947. Ann had a daughter from a previous marriage to James M. Broomes, Hortense Broomes Heath (died 1964).

Scope and Contents

This collection chronicles the life of an African American woman who, in serving in the military during World War II and in training and working as a professional artist from the 1920s through the late 20th century, was at the vanguard of her race and gender. Her personal interests included African American history and civil rights, medical illustration, carpet and fabric design, and religion (Christianity). This collection documents the life of Anna Russell Jones, particularly her time in the military, her career as a civil service illustrator and freelance designer, and her art education and job searches. Also covered are other aspects of Jones' personal life and the lives of her family members, particularly her husband (William Albert M. Jones), mother (Anna Evans Russell), and brother (J. Warner Russell). The collection is organized into five series by format type: "Series I. Papers, 1897-1989"; "Series II. Photographs and scrapbooks, circa 1892-1987"; "Series III. Artwork, circa 1940-1970"; "Series IV. Objects, circa 1940-1982"; and "Series V. Printed materials, circa 1900-1961." Correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, paintings on paper, pen and ink illustrations, ephemera, printed materials, certificates, personnel records, and other papers comprise the collection.

Series I. Papers, 1897-1989 includes a large amount of correspondence, particularly relating to Jones's freelance work as a carpet designer; personnel records and papers from Jones's job searches; and documents and ephemera relating to her education. A quantity of papers pertain to Jones's husband, William Albert M. Jones. Additional family members are represented in certificates, correspondence, genealogical information, and other documents.

The largest segment of Series II. Photographs and scrapbooks, circa 1892-1987 date from Jones' period in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) during World War II. Featured are many photographs of Jones and her compatriots, as well as scrapbooks she assembled documenting WAC training, daily life at Fort Huachuca, and furlough travel. Additionally, the series includes photographs of Russell family members, Anna's marriage to William Albert M. Jones, and other family photographs. There are also two scrapbooks Anna Russell Jones compiled for classes on art education and art history.

Series III. Artwork, circa 1940-1970 is the largest series in this collection, comprised primarily of carpet designs, medical illustrations, government and military illustrations, and posters, many of which are of prominent figures in African American history, all created by Anna Russell Jones. There are also some greeting cards, religious artwork, sketches, and other artwork by Jones, as well as a small amount of art reference materials.

The highlight of Series IV. Objects, circa 1940-1982 is Anna Russell Jones's WAC uniform. The collection also includes a military medal for good conduct, several printing blocks, a wooden plaque carved by Jones, and many other items.

Series V. Printed materials, circa 1900-1961 is comprised of military news, newsletters, and publications, many of which feature artwork created by Jones; newspaper clippings collected by Jones about herself, World War II, African Americans in the military, and other topics; books, periodicals, and pamphlets about African American history and civil rights; and a large amount of books and publications on art technique and art history. An inventory is available on-site.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

African American Museum in Philadelphia

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories


This finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Access Restrictions

Contact African American Museum in Philadelphia for information about accessing this collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

Gift of Anna Russell Jones, 1986 (accession AAMP.1986.040)

Processing Information Note

This collection was processed in 2014 by staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR). The HCI-PSAR project was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)
  • Moore College of Art and Design.
  • United States. Army. Women's Army Corps
  • United States. Army
Geographic Name(s)
  • Fort Huachuca (Ariz.)
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)
Personal Name(s)
  • Jones, Anna Russell, 1902-1995
  • Jones, William Albert, 1900-1986
  • African American women
  • African American women artists
  • Artists
  • Civil service
  • Graphic artists
  • Illustrators
  • Medical illustrators
  • Women artists
  • Women in the civil service
  • Women textile designers
  • World War, 1939-1945

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Collection Inventory

Series I.  Papers, 1897-1989.

Box Folder

Anderson, Marian. Autographed program, 1965.

11 1

Art supply and education advertisements, circa 1945-1965.

11 2

Autograph book, 1945.

11 3

Business ledger, 1928-1936.

11 4

Business. Record books for Christmas cards, 1939-1942.

11 5

Calendars and maps, 1934-1954.

11 6

Certificates and diplomas, 1911-1984.

11 7

Civil service personnel records, 1949-1971.

11 8

Correspondence, 1920, 1927-1929.

11 9

Correspondence, 1930-1939.

11 10

Correspondence, 1940.

11 11

Correspondence, 1949.

11 12

Correspondence, 1942-1949.

12 1

Correspondence, 1950-1951.

12 2

Correspondence, 1952-1963.

12 3

Correspondence, 1972-1987.

12 4

Correspondence, undated.

12 5

Correspondence regarding carpet design, 1929.

12 6

Correspondence regarding carpet design, 1930.

12 7

Correspondence regarding carpet design, 1931-1932.

12 8

Correspondence regarding carpet design, 1933-1934.

12 9

Correspondence regarding carpet design, 1935.

12 10

Correspondence regarding carpet design, 1936-1948.

12 11

Correspondence regarding carpet design, 1950, undated.

12 12

Correspondence. Greeting cards, undated.

12 13

Correspondence. Letters of introduction and recommendation, 1950-1962.

12 14

Correspondence. Letters regarding non-government employment, 1938-1946.

12 15

Correspondence. Letters regarding fair employment and housing, 1942-1960.

12 16

Correspondence. Postcards (with writing), 1909-1947.

12 17

Correspondence. Postcards (blank), circa 1909-1947.

13 1

Correspondence. Photo postcards of South Broad Street USO Club (Philadelphia, Pa.), circa 1945.

13 2

Court personnel salary information, 1964.

13 3

Diary, 1937.

13 4

Education. Cardozo Night High School (Washington, D.C.), 1950-1951.

13 5

Education. Class notes, 1947.

13 6

Education. College of Swedish Massage, circa 1944.

13 7

Education. Course in plastic study, 1944.

13 8

Education. Howard University, 1946-1965, 1988.

13 9

Education. Howard University College of Medicine annual report (mentions Anna Russell Jones), 1951.

13 10

Education. Jules E. Mastbaum Vocational-Technical School (practical nursing), 1957.

13 11

Education. Philadelphia School of Design for Women (Moore College of Art and Design), 1924-1965, 1987.

13 12

Education. Temple University, 1947.

13 13

Education. University of Pennsylvania commencement instructions, 1943.

13 14

Education. William Penn High School for Girls commencement program, 1915.

13 15

Education. William Penn High School for Girls autograph book, 1920.

13 16

Education. William Penn High School for Girls yearbook and commencement program, 1920.

14 1

Event invitations and programs, 1908-1989.

14 2

Family history narratives and research, undated.

14 3

Family members certificates, 1926, 1946.

14 4

Family Bible (with genealogy information, 1897-1927), 1854.


Family Bible - loose items removed, circa 1900-1930.

15 6

Financial papers, 1939, 1949.

14 5

Fort Huachuca printed matter, 1943-1944.

14 6

Golden Star Lodge No. 4 papers, 1931, undated.

14 7

Government and military employment applications and correspondence and discharge papers, 1943-1963.

14 8

Government employment records, 1957-1965.

14 9

Job application materials, circa 1941-1965.

14 10

Jones, William Albert M., diploma, 1914.

25 3

Jones, William Albert M., papers, 1930-1988.

14 11

Jones, William Albert M., court transcripts, 1964-1967.

14 12

Jones, William Albert M., papers regarding Judge A. Leon Higgenbotham, Jr., 1964-1988.

15 1

Jones, William Albert M., notes from Anna Russell Jones, undated.

15 2

Jones, William Albert M., political letters, 1961.

15 3

Jones, William Albert M., wallet and cards, 1930-1960, undated.

15 4

Jones, William Albert M., papers of his father (William A. M. Jones Sr.), 1908, 1921.

15 5

Memorial service guestbook for Ann E. Russell, 1974.

15 7

Memorial service programs, 1927-1981.

15 8

Military papers, 1944-1946.

15 9

Political and social reform papers, circa 1930-1965.

15 10

Notebook, daily record of work projects, circa 1950-1959.

15 11

Notebook, mostly on African American historical figures, circa 1950-1970.

15 12

Papers and jottings, 1920-1966, undated.

15 13

Philadelphia city employees, publications and ephemera, 1958-1967.

15 14

Religious papers, circa 1938-1986.

15 15

Russell, John Warner, papers, 1922-1981.

16 1

Stephen Smith Home for the Aged ephemera, 1959-1964.

16 2

Women's Army Corps (WAC) papers, 1943-1945.

16 3

World's Fair publicity, 1939.

16 4

Series II.  Photographs and scrapbooks, circa 1892-1987.

Box Folder

Evans, Malinda. Metal-mounted photograph, undated.

16 4

Jones, Anna Russell. Photographs, circa 1910-1987.

16 5-6

Jones, Anna Russell. Photographs in uniform, 1942-1945.

16 7-8

Jones, William Albert M. Photographs, circa 1900-1960.

16 9

Russell, Anna (Evans). Photographs, circa 1920-1960.

16 10

Russell, John Clayborn. Photographs, circa 1909.

16 11

Russell, J. Warner. Photographs, circa 1910-1960.

16 12-13

Russell, Thomas. Photographs, circa 1910-1925.

16 14

Class scrapbook. Moore Institute of Art: Art Education Methods, 1947-1948.


Class scrapbook. History of Art, undated.

20 2

Military photographs, circa 1942-1960.

16 15

Military scrapbook, 1942-1945.

20 3

Military scrapbook pages, 1942-1945.

18 3-14

Military. Women's Army Corps (WAC/WAAC) real photo postcards, 1942-1943.

16 16

Military. "The 'Three Musketeers' of W.A.C.'s go West on 'Holiday' Furlough" scrapbook, 1945.

20 1

US Army Electronics Material Agency (USA EMA) event photographs, circa 1964.

16 17

Vacation photo albums, circa 1965.

16 18

Vacation souvenir photos from Vancouver (B.C.), 1945.

16 19

Wedding photographs (Anna Russell and W. Albert Jones), 1952.

17 1-2

Wedding cards scrapbook (Anna Russell and W. Albert Jones), 1952.

20 4

Photograph album, circa 1925-1930.

17 3

Photograph album, circa 1925-1940.

17 4

Family photographs (oversized), circa 1910-1945.


Family photograph album, 1945-1973 (Bulk, 1971-1973) .

17 5

Family photographs (color), circa 1960-1980.

17 6

Various identified photographs, circa 1870-1970.

17 7-9

Various unidentified photographs, circa 1892-1960.

17 10

Various unidentified photographs, circa 1892-1960.

18 1-2

Detached scrapbook covers, 1942-1945, undated.

25 4

Empty scrapbook album, undated.

25 1

Series III.  Artwork, circa 1940-1970.

Box Folder

Art reference, undated.

21 1

Artwork (oversized).


Black and white artwork, undated.

21 2
Map-case Drawer

Black history posters (9).

Basement 3

Black history posters (6).

Basement 4
Box Folder

Carpet designs (small), undated.

21 3

Carpet designs (on film), undated.

21 4

Carpet designs (oversized).

Map-case Drawer

Carpet design (1 oversized).

Basement 4
Unit Shelf

Carpet design (1 framed).

18 (basement) 16
Box Folder

Christmas drawings, undated.

21 5

Color artwork, undated.

21 6

"God Answers Prayer" by Elizabeth M. A. Abbott (illuminated by Anna Russell Jones), undated.

21 7

Government/military. 25th Infantry coat of arms (carved wood), circa 1942.

23 4

Government/military. Fort Huachuca printed matter featuring Anna Russell Jones artwork, 1943.

21 8

Government/military. Illustrations, 1944-1964.

21 9
Unit Shelf

Government/military. Illustrations (3 framed).

18 (basement) 16
Box Folder

Government/military. US Army Electronics Material (USA EMA) illustrations (photographs), undated.

22 1

Government/military. Women's Army Corps (WAC) illustrations, 1943-1945.

22 2

Greeting cards designed by Anna Russell Jones, circa 1940-1960.

22 3

King David Lodge sketches, undated.

22 4

Material samples, undated.

22 5

Medical art references, circa 1949-1951.

22 6

Medical illustrations (small), 1946-1950.

22 7

Medical illustrations (on film), undated.

22 8

Medical illustrations (oversized).

Unit Shelf

Medical illustration (1 framed).

18 (basement) 16
Box Folder

Medical illustrations, Howard University (photographs), 1952.

22 9
Map-Drawer Map-Drawer Map-Drawer

Oversized artwork.

1.11. 1.09. 1.10.
Unit Shelf

Painting (1 oversized).

18 (basement) 16

Posters (oversized).

Map-case Drawer

Posters (oversized).

Basement 4
Box Folder

"A Psalm of Life" By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (illuminated by Anna Russell Jones), undated.

22 10

Series of ink drawings, 1957.

22 11

Sketchbooks (animals, portraits, medical), undated.

22 12

Sketches, undated.

22 13
Unit Shelf

Sketches (framed).

18 (basement) 16

Wallpaper design (1 framed).


Series IV.  Objects, circa 1940-1982.


Casket key, undated.


Cosmetic compact engraved "A R from Vocal Pedagogy Class '49", 1949-1952.


Drawing stand and swivel chair.


Embroidered pillow, undated.


Jones, William Albert M. Inspiration plaque, undated.


Jones, William Albert M. Plaque from Zoar United Methodist Church, 1982.


Military medal (good conduct), circa 1945.

23 1

Name plate, "Mrs. Anna R. Jones", After 1952.


Nametag, "A. R. Russell", undated.


Pastel set in wooden box.


Pen and ink stand with world monuments, undated.


Printing blocks (8), circa 1945.


Red Arrow token and cloth bag, undated.


Textiles, undated.


U.S. Post Office tie clip, undated.

23 2

WAC uniform, circa 1940-1945.


Wooden carved plaque by Anna Russell Jones, "Christ Liveth", Before 1952.


Wooden picture frame, undated.


Series V.  Printed materials, circa 1900-1961.


Books and publications on art technique and history.


Books and periodicals on various topics, especially African Americans.


Booklets on various topics, 1931-1954.

32 1

Empty 78 rpm record covers, 1920s.

25 2

Military pamphlets and publications, 1941-1945.

32 2

Newsletters, pamphlets, and reprint articles about African Americans, 1938-circa 1964.

32 3

Newspaper clippings on Anna Russell Jones, 1942.

26 1

Newspaper clippings, World War II and African American soldiers, 1942-1945, 1970.

26 2

Newspaper clippings, 1941-1977.

26 3

Military news. "93rd Blue Helmet" vol. I (4 issues, gaps), 1942 December - 1943 February.


Military news. "Apache Sentinel" vol. I (13 issues, gaps), 1943 October - 1944 February.


Military news. "The Buffalo 92d Infantry Division " vol. 2 (12 issues, gaps) and vol. 4 (5 issues, gaps), 1943 May - 1944 July.