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Audio recording of William Dawson speaking with Charles Rosenak

 Digital Record
Identifier: A0009_10_21a_Dawson


  • undated



This recording is a more in-depth conversation compared to the other William Dawson recording in this collection. Here, Chuck Rosenak interviews Dawson at his home in Chicago. Dawson’s wife can be heard towards the end of the recording. Dawson talks about growing up on a farm in Huntsville, Alabama. He tells Rosenak that he did not like doing the farm work, and instead rode the horses his family owned. He explains that, compared to many Black families, his family was very well off and could afford to have hired hands do the farm work. He describes coming to Chicago, finding an apartment, marrying his wife, and working various jobs. Dawson recounts that he settled into work at South Water Market unloading produce and other groceries from trucks. It was while he worked for the Market, Dawson says, that he joined the Teamsters Union as their first Black member.

Dawson talks about beginning to carve after he retired, telling Rosenak the story about how his creativity was initially discouraged by an art class he took at the local YMCA. He next talks about his first exhibit at the Lincoln Park Library, where he was discovered by Roger Brown. Dawson also shares information about his tools, materials, and inspiration.

Conditions Governing Access

The Charles B. and Janice M. Rosenak Collection is owned by the American Folk Art Museum. The collection is subject to all copyright laws, and is dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship.


1 file(s) ; Length: approx. 45 minutes

Language of Materials


Related Materials

The full transcript of this recording is available upon request.

Processing Information

This recording was digitized from tape cassette through a grant from the National Recording Preservation Foundation in 2020.

Repository Details

Part of the American Folk Art Museum Archives Repository

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