Special Collections of the ODU Libraries

Everett Parker Lesley, Jr. Papers, 1907-2010 | Special Collections and University Archives

By Susan M. Catlett, November 2004; revised by Sonia Yaco, April 2011

Collection Overview

Title: Everett Parker Lesley, Jr. Papers, 1907-2010

ID: 17/RG 17-2B2

Primary Creator: Lesley, Everett Parker, Jr. (1913-1982)

Extent: 4.0 Linear Feet. More info below.


This collection is organized into five series: I. Personal; II. Professional; III. Trips; IV. Photo Slides; V. Oversize.

Series I: Personal. This series is divided into seven sub-series. Subseries B is in alphabetic order. The remaining subseries are in chronological order.  Subseries A: Calendar Planner and Notes; Subseries B: Correspondence; Subseries C: Personal Records; Subseries D: Student Records; Subseries E: Military Records; Subseries F: Photographs; Subseries G: Printed Materials.

Subseries A: Calendar Planner and Notes. Includes calendar planners and notepads from various years dated from 1974 to 1981.

Subseries B: Correspondence. Correspondence with family and friends from 1942 to 1982. Of interest are Lesley's mother's recollections about him and letters between E. Parker, Jr. and E. Parker, Sr. Included are letters from Lesley's brother John (a.k.a. Jack) who refers to E. Parker as "Bill." In correspondence between John Roper, also known as Jack, Lesley is referred to as “Sambo.” Correspondence and related photographs with the Riemann Family (Lesley is the godfather of the eldest son Christopher Riemann) are also included.

Subseries C: Personal Records. Includes official records dated from 1914 to 1979 for his birth, baptism, divorce, retirement.  Also included are medical records and passports.

Subseries D: Student Records. Contains Lesley's student records dated from 1930 to 1938. Includes his high school, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Fine Arts diplomas and transcripts.

Subseries E: Military Records. Dated from 1942 to 1953, documents include an Award of the Bronze Star Medal Citation; certificates of commendation, completion, proficiency, promotion and service; and two Honorable Discharges: one from Quartermaster Corps Officer Candidate School (QMC OCS) and one from U.S. Army.

Subseries F: Photographs.  Includes photographs of family members and from a California trip (photos were collected out of context with California trip documents elsewhere in the collection). The photographs are dated from 1907 to ca. 1981.

Subseries G: Printed Materials. Includes items related to Lesley’s death in 1982 including several obituaries.

Series II: Professional. This series contains material dated 1955-2010 and is divided into two sub-series: Subseries A: Creative Works and Subseries B: Correspondence.

Subseries A: Creative Works. Includes manuscripts, painting, photographs, lecture notes, translations and correspondence dated 1958-2010. Of interest is an art history handbook he wrote for the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences, written in 1958. David Corona, an Old Dominion University volunteer, transcribed the handbook in 2010. Also of note is a manuscript and related material for "Bibelots.” The series is arranged alphabetically, and then chronologically.

Subseries B: Correspondence. Includes correspondence related to Lesley’s publications and academic work. Also contains a catalog of works for an exhibit. Arranged alphabetically, 1955-1982.

Series III: Trips. Contains material dated 1962-1982 from Lesley's trips to California, Russia, Seattle, WA, Taiwan, Thailand, India & Nepal and Turkey.  Includes correspondence, a travel log, photographs, various travel documents, a class roster, a syllabus and miscellaneous documents. Includes correspondence with the Private Secretary to Her Majesty the Queen of Netherlands regarding the ODU class, Art 320D.

Series IV Photo Slides. This series is divided into seven sub-series: A. Belgium; B. England; C. Israel; D. Massachusetts; E. Turkey; F. Virginia; G. Miscellaneous (includes negatives). The slides are dated 1967 to 1970.

Series V: Oversize. Includes a painting and an article about Lesley, dated ca. 1959 to 1968.

Date Acquired: 07/23/1982

Subjects: Art historians--United States, Lesley, Parker, Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences (Va.), Old Dominion University--Dept. of Art, Old Dominion University--Faculty, World War, 1939-1945--Veterans

Languages: English


Served as Art Professor at Old Dominion University, 1959-1979, and served as co-chairman of the Art Department, 1968-1969. He authored one art-historical handbook for the Norfolk Museum of Art and Science (Chrysler Museum), one book, two magazine articles and other publications. Collection consists of a large number of photo-slides related to his expertise in Byzantine Art and Architecture, also consists of printed material, documentation of travels abroad, correspondence and photographs.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Papers of E. Parker Lesley, Jr., dating from 1907 to 2010, contains personal documents, student records, military records, correspondence, travel information, printed materials, photo-slides, photographs, negatives, artifacts and miscellaneous documents. The bulk of the collection documents his professional knowledge pertaining to art history.

Collection Historical Note

Everett Parker Lesley, Jr., known as Parker Lesley, was born in Baltimore, Maryland on August 31, 1913. He graduated from Palo Alto Union High School, California, in 1930 and proceeded to attend Stanford University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Classical Literature (Greek), in 1934. From 1935 to 1938 he was a Scholar Fellow and an Advanced Fellow in Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. In 1935 he earned a Certificat des tudes, Institut d'Art et d'Archologie from the University of Paris; in 1937 he earned a Master of Fine Arts, Art and Archaeology, Princeton University. Also in 1937 as a Belgian- American Educational Foundation Fellow he earned a Certificat des tudes from the University of Brussels, Belgium.

Lesley enlisted as Private in the United States Army, June 1942 and progressed through the grades to Sergeant. He was commissioned December 1942 at the Quartermaster Corps Officer Candidate School and progressed through the ranks to Major. He was discharged from the U. S. Army December 1946. During his military career he was awarded a Bronze Star for Meritorious Service, Army Commendation Medal, Chevalier of the Order of Polonia Restituta (Poland) and Honor Medal in Silver for Art and Science of the House-Order of Orange-Nassau (The Netherlands).

In 1942 Lesley married Miriam Pfaff Lucker and the two were divorced in 1948.

Lesley was Curator of European Art at Detroit Institute of Arts in 1938. From 1939 to 1942 he was Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture at University of Minnesota. He served in the U. S. Army from 1942 to 1946. The following year he was Chief of the Restitution Division with the Office of Military Government for Greater Hesse (Germany). From 1950 to 1954 as Assistant Keeper he progressed to Associate Keeper and then to Keeper of Department of Exhibitions at The Cooper Union (NYC). In 1955 he was contracted by Fortune Magazine, which resulted in two published articles. 1955 to 1958 he was self-employed in New York cataloguing private collections. He moved to Norfolk, Virginia in 1959 and became the Norfolk Museum's Acting Director. Also in 1959 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Art at the College of William and Mary in Norfolk and taught under that title up to 1967 (in 1963 the College became Old Dominion College). He began building up the Art Department during 1960 to 1964. From 1968 to 1969 he was titled Professor of Art and was co-chairman of the Art Department (in 1969 Old Dominion College became Old Dominion University). Throughout the remainder of his tenure Lesley did not hold the position of chairman, he continued to teach as Professor of Art until his retirement in 1979 as Eminent Professor; between 1970 through 1979 he went on leave two times: 1972-1973; and 1975-1976.

Lesley was fairly fluent in the German language, fluent reading knowledge in French, working knowledge in Italian and Spanish, studied Hebrew and had a fluent knowledge of classical Greek and Latin. His teaching specialties were Classic and Byzantine Art, Medieval Art, European Painting from the 17th Century to the present (1982), American Painting, History of Architecture and Architectural Design and History of the Decorative Arts.

Lesley authored articles in "The Art Bulletin", "Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts", "Art in America", and "The Art Journal"; in 1945, a Report of The General Board, European Theater of Operations, War Department, "Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Operations in the European Theater"; at The Cooper Union Museum, 1950-1954, "Leather", "Alter Ego", "Lacquer", "Conspicuous Waist", "Enamel" and "The Prince Regent's Style"; December 1955 and January 1956 (with Eric Hodgins), Fortune Magazine, "The Great International Art Market"; catalogue of the Lillian Thomas Pratt Collection of Russian Imperial Jewels, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Art-historical handbook (2nd version), Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences; "The Iconography of the Spirit"; "Bibelots"; and a book "Renaissance Jewels and Jeweled Objects", The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1968.

During Lesley's teaching years he ventured on many trips across the world; England, Israel, the Netherlands and Turkey. After his retirement from Old Dominion University he traveled to California and Washington state, U.S.A., India, Nepal, Russia, Taiwan and Thailand.

Everett Parker Lesley, Jr. died Saturday, February 13, 1982 in his home.

Subject/Index Terms

Art historians--United States
Lesley, Parker
Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences (Va.)
Old Dominion University--Dept. of Art
Old Dominion University--Faculty
World War, 1939-1945--Veterans

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections and University Archives

Alternate Extent Statement: 8 Hollinger Document Cases, 1 oversized box

Access Restrictions: Open to researchers without restriction.

Use Restrictions: Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Acquisition Source: Mark Lesley

Acquisition Method: Gift. Accession #A82-14

Related Materials: Monuments Men Foundation: Captain Everett Parker Lesley, Jr.

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title], Everett Parker Lesley, Jr. Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Personal],
[Series II: Professional],
[Series III: Trips],
[Series IV: Photo Slides],
[Series V: Oversize],

Series V: Oversize
Box 9
Item 1: Painting, artist unknown, 1959–1962 (?)
Item 2: "The Teacher," The Virginian Pilot Action Magazine, October 19, 1968

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Personal],
[Series II: Professional],
[Series III: Trips],
[Series IV: Photo Slides],
[Series V: Oversize],

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