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Virginia Dooley papers from her personal life and business relationship with R.C. Gorman

Identifier: MSS-844-BC

Scope and Content

The collection contains personal papers and papers pertaining to Virginia Dooley’s business relationship with R.C. Gorman from 1916-2008. The collection’s value lies in the materials Dooley kept relating to Gorman and his art career. Virginia Dooley first met R.C. Gorman in the summer of 1970 in Taos, New Mexico. The bulk of the collection highlights Dooley and Gorman’s social life and work together at Gorman’s Navajo Gallery. Dooley prodigiously documented Gorman’s art career through newspaper clippings, articles, pamphlets, programs and publicity mostly relating to Gorman’s art shows and public appearances. Dooley retained press releases that document important milestones in Gorman’s art career, like his first one-man show in New Mexico at the Manchester Gallery, which he later purchased and renamed the Navajo Gallery. Published materials in the collection include the Nudes & Foods series Dooley collaborated with Gorman on, which features his drawings and her recipes. The collection includes the recipes Dooley collected or created for Nudes & Foods and for the many parties and holidays she hosted.

In addition, their friendship is well documented. Dooley recorded her friendship, business relationship, and travels with Gorman in several dairies. Family, friends and the public sent Dooley an outpouring of condolences after Gorman passed away in 2005. The files of sympathy notes are a testament to the close friendship Dooley and Gorman shared. A large portion of the collection is photographs, mainly photo albums Dooley put together documenting her social life with Gorman. The collection contains a small assortment of legal documents, sales ledgers, scrapbooks, and unpublished writings of Dooley and Gorman.

The collection is arranged in 6 series:

Biographical: Virginia S. Dooley and Dooley Family, 1916-2008 (Subseries: Virginia S. Dooley and Dooley Family). The files in the Virginia Dooley subseries reflect her early life and her personal interests: food, music, and the opera. Even though the focus of the series is Dooley’s early life, her connection to Gorman overlaps into her biographical series. These files are organized first alphabetically and then chronologically. The files contain personal correspondence, diaries, legal documents, childhood and young adult photographs, published and unpublished writings on food/entertaining and opera reviews. The Dooley Family subseries primarily focuses on family history and family reunions. The files contain correspondence, documents pertaining to Dooley family history and reunions, snapshots, videos, newspaper clippings.

Biographical: R.C. Gorman, 1931-2006: This series documents Gorman’s early life and blossoming art career in San Francisco, California and Taos, New Mexico. There are two diaries Gorman kept in 1963-1967 while living and working as an artist in San Francisco. One of the files contains press releases documenting early successes in his art career, such as numerous art awards. The files are organized first alphabetically and then chronologically and include correspondence, ledgers of art sales, legal documents, newspaper clippings on the Gorman family, childhood, family and young adult photographs and unpublished writings.

Virginia S. Dooley and R.C. Gorman, 1960-2008: This series comprises the bulk of the collection. It contains two subseries: Business and Personal. The business subseries is organized chronologically and then alphabetically. Dooley kept a record of Gorman’s accomplishments per year. For each year, Dooley wrote a list of awards Gorman received, shows where he exhibited and major art works he completed like the bronze "Doreen" in 1984. In addition, she collected press, publicity and other ephemera related to Gorman and his art for that year. The chronological files end in 2006 and continue with an alphabetical organization including correspondence, media, ledgers of artwork sales, press releases, magazines and news paper clippings and publicity advertising Gorman’s artwork and art shows. The personal subseries contains scrapbooks from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Sympathy cards sent to Virginia Dooley after R.C. Gorman died on November 3, 2005 constitute the remainder of the subseries.

Nudes & Foods, 1981-2003: This series documents the Nudes & Foods cookbook/art book series Gorman and Dooley collaborated on. The files are organized by the Nudes & Foods series volumes, 1-5. Four Nudes & Foods publications are in the series as are working files on a fifth volume that was never published. In addition, three files contain correspondence on Nudes & Foods.

Recipes, 1960-2006: This series, mainly comprised of recipes Dooley collected, demonstrates Gorman and Dooley’s passion for food and entertaining. Some files also contain invitations, menus, guest lists for holidays and parties. It is organized alphabetically.

Photographs, circa 1940s-2006: This series consists of photos of Virginia Dooley, R.C. Gorman, family and friends taken in New Mexico, principally in the Taos area. Included are photos of celebrities such as Bea Arthur, Jeanne Cooper, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elizabeth Taylor, and well-known personalities of the New Mexican art community such as Cynthia Bissell. The series contains reproductions of Gorman’s paintings. Snapshots of Gorman and Dooley’s travels together to Hawaii, Europe and Asia are also included. This series contains a number of professional photographs of Gorman by various photographers including Mel Buffington, Norman Lehfelt, Linda Montoya, Del Marie Rogers, J.B. Smith, and Dick Spas. The files within the subseries are organized first alphabetically and then chronologically.


R. C. Gorman Modeling, circa 1960 (Box 11, Folder 11)

R. C. Gorman and Virginia Dooley, circa 1970 (Box 11, Folder 11)

R. C. Gorman with Model, 1984 (Box 11, Folder 13)

R. C. Gorman Painting, 1986 (Box 9, Folder 12)


  • 1916-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1960-2006


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or duplication.

Biography / History

Virginia S. Dooley was born March 7, 1943, in New York City, the daughter of Raymond N. Dooley and Lovilla Frederick Dooley. She moved with her family to central Illinois, where her father was director of student services at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington and later president of Lincoln College in Lincoln, Ill. Lovilla, Dooley’s mother, died when Dooley was a child. Her father's second wife, Florence Adams Dooley adopted Virginia and her two brothers, William Paul Dooley (goes by Paul) and Raymond W. Dooley (goes by Sandy).

Virginia Dooley attended Lincoln public schools and Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam, WI. She graduated from the College Conservatory of Cincinnati with a major in voice and a minor in piano. After graduation, she moved to Arizona and taught music at St. Michael’s Mission School. In 1970, she took a job in the Taos school system. Dooley met Gorman in the summer of 1970 at the Navajo Gallery on Ledoux Street. Gorman offered Dooley a part time job working in the gallery to supplement her music salary. In 1972, Dooley became the Executive Director of the Navajo Gallery. For over three decades, Dooley and Gorman worked together establishing Gorman’s art legacy that continues today.

R. C. Gorman and Virginia Dooley. Photo by Linda Montoya, © Linda Montoya Images, 1991. (Box 11, Folder 15)

Dooley and Gorman developed a close friendship sharing mutual interests of food, parties, art and music. Early in her days in Taos, Dooley won a national baking contest for her turquoise margarita pie, and she collaborated with Gorman on a series of books called Nudes and Foods, which features his drawings and recipes she collected or created. Dooley also published a column entitled "The Dooley Guide to Opera" reviewing productions of the Santa Fe Opera for Taos Magazine. Dooley served as an active member of the Taos Press Club, the Taos County Chamber of Commerce and the Taos Art Festival committee. She died in Taos on April 25, 2008.

R. C. Gorman, 1994 (Box 7, Folder 8)

R.C. Gorman was born July 26, 1931, in Chinle Arizona, the son of Carl Nelson Gorman and Adelle Katherine Brown. Gorman lived with his family on the Navajo Reservation until he joined the Navy in 1951. After his discharge in 1955, the Navajo people awarded Gorman a scholarship to study art at Mexico City College. Inspired by Mexican artists’ such as Orozco and Rivera, Gorman experimented with bold use of color and developed his own unique style. After a year of studying art in Mexico, Gorman established his first studio in San Francisco, California where he painted abstract canvases based on Navajo rug designs. His Navajo rug series brought him his first recognition in the art world.

Gorman’s career flourished in the late sixties. He became known for his depictions of strong Navajo women. In 1964, he went to Taos, New Mexico, and shortly after had an exhibition at the Manchester Gallery. Gorman had several sold out showings at the Manchester Gallery. Although Gorman returned to San Francisco, he made frequent trips to Taos and decided to make it his permanent home in 1968. He purchased the Manchester Gallery and renamed it in honor of his own people. The first group exhibition at the Navajo Gallery took place in May of 1969. The gallery roster included Patrick Swazo Hinds, Robert Draper, Al Momaday, Helen Hardin, Pablita Velarde, Charles Lovato, Cynthia Bissell, Dorothy Brett, and R.C.’s father, Carl Gorman. R. C. Gorman gained international acclaim in the 1970s for his own art, when the New York Times christened him the "Picasso of American Indian Art" after he exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum. Gorman became one of the Southwest’s best known late twentieth century artists. He died in Taos on November 3, 2005.


14 boxes (12.6 cu. ft.)


This collection documents the personal and professional lives of Navajo artist R.C. Gorman and the Executive Director of his Navajo Gallery, Virginia Dooley. Materials from their early lives and their time together as friends and colleagues are included. The collection highlights Gorman’s career as an artist, Dooley’s hand in managing his career, and their shared interests in parties, food, music and art.


6 series, organized chronologically or alphabetically depending on the provenance of the original collection
  1. Biographical: Virginia S. Dooley and Family
  2. Biographical: R.C. Gorman
  3. Virginia S. Dooley and R.C. Gorman
  4. Nudes & Foods
  5. Recipes
  6. Photographs

Related Archival Material

Dorothy Brett Papers Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Lee Marmon Photograph Collection Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico New Mexico Press Women Center for Southwest Research. University Libraries. University of New Mexico. Material about Virginia Dooley in Box 6, Folder 12.

Separated Material

Publications have been cataloged in LIBROS and can be found by searching the title, "Virginia Dooley Book Collection"

Archival DVDs are stored in B3.


Material about Virginia Dooley in Box 6, Folder 12.

Processing Information

There is no DVD 22.
Finding Aid of the Virginia Dooley papers from her personal life and business relationship with R.C. Gorman, 1916-2008
Edited Full Draft
Jordan Biro
© 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English
Funding provided by: University of New Mexico Center for Regional Studies.

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131