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Chris Petteys papers and collection of women artists

Identifier: SC125

Scope and Contents

Within the Chris Petteys papers,pieces of writing from members of her family, as well as personal writings from Petteys herself, can be found. Additionally, Petteys' research can be found in the form of annotated books, artist files that are filled with the research Petteys did on various female artists, and index card records of the sources she used. There are also publications that speak to female artists -- although not apparently used in her research directly -- and a newpaper article that reports on Petteys herself. Supporting documentation for the collection can be found in regards to the correspondence Petteys had with art dealers and insurers to protect and grow her collection. There are a grand total of 51 pieces of artwork created by female artists within Petteys' collection, all varying in subject matter and medium.


  • 1854 - 2000

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research

Biographical Information

Chris Petteys was born Marie. A. Christner in Sterling, Colorado on August 21, 1927. Petteys graduated from Sterling High School and attended Colorado State College for two years before leaving to join a local accounting firm in Sterling. She later attended Northeastern Junior College and attained her bachelor’s degree from Loretto Heights College. She married Robert Petteys of Sterling in 1955 and had three children. Spurred by her love of music and the arts, Petteys began her collection of women artists in the 1970s. Petteys’ first acquisition was a piece by Helen Frankenthaler and soon after collecting became her passion. In collecting artwork by women, Petteys quickly realized that information on female artists was limited and what was available was often inaccurate. Petteys then began a massive research project working to compile information on female artists from all over the world and create a dictionary titled, International Dictionary of Women Artists Born Before 1900. Over the course of twelve years, the dictionary ballooned to over 21,000 entries and was declared a monumental contribution to the field of art history and female artists.

Petteys also served on the board of the Sterling Arts Council and served two terms as trustee of the Denver Art Museum. She also served as a member of the Museum’s PR Council for a number of years and was involved with various projects at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling. Petteys was also a founding board member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C. In 2001, the University of Northern Colorado awarded Petteys an honorary doctorate degree for her contributions to the art world. She passed away on February 14, 2006.


99.95 Linear Feet (51 boxes and 16 map case drawers)

Language of Materials



The Petteys Papers include the correspondence and research conducted by Chris Petteys about women artists as well as a private collection of artworks by various female artists.

Acquisition Information

The Petteys family donated this collection in 2009. It was stored in the Lydia Ruyle room until transferred to archives in 2017.

Existence and Location of Copies


Processing Information

Processed by Petteys interns Darcy Wallshein (Fall 2017) and Erin Lascot (Spring 2018).

In Progress
Erin Lascot
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of Northern Colorado Repository

University Libraries
James A. Michener Library L119
Campus Box 48
Greeley CO 80639