News | August 10, 2022

Library of Congress Acquires Original Artwork by Vera B. Williams

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Illustration by Vera B. Williams from Cherries and Cherry Pits showing Bedemmi, head tilted to left, leaning on hand. 

Washington, D.C. — The Library of Congress has acquired the original watercolor illustrations created by Vera B. Williams for her children’s books, “A Chair for Always” (2009) and “Cherries and Cherry Pits” (1986). The collection was acquired from Williams’ children on behalf of the Vera B. Williams Trust.

Award-winning author and illustrator Vera B. Williams (1927-2015) brought to life the voices and imaginations of working-class children in loving families, with dreams of success through education and hard work. Many of Williams’ books echoed her own childhood experience of poverty, separation from parents and her use of imagination that empowered her to forge her own path as a lifelong artist, author and activist.

"A Chair for Always" is centered on a young Hispanic, perhaps multi-ethnic, family and their diverse working-class neighborhood. In “Cherries and Cherry Pits,” Williams portrays Bidemmi, an aspiring young Black artist, through a series of vignettes that celebrate childhood storytelling, creativity and community-building.

Born in Los Angeles to Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Williams moved to New York City as a young girl. She earned a degree from Black Mountain College in Ashville, North Carolina. Williams produced a dozen award-winning books throughout her career and won various awards for her work.

A select number of the illustrations have been digitized and are available online at

Williams’ art enhances the existing collections of the Library, strengthening its holdings of original art by distinguished illustrator-authors that date back to the founding of the Cabinet of American Illustration in the 1930s. The collection is housed in the Prints and Photographs Division.