January 28: Alice Hartley Neel is born in Merion Square, Pennsylvania, to Alice Concross Hartley, a descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and George Washington Neel, an accountant in the per diem department of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Her father’s family is variously described as owners of a steamship company and as a family of opera singers.
Neel is the fourth of five children (Hartley, Albert, Lillian, Alice, and George Washington, Jr.), the eldest of whom will die of diphtheria at age eight. In mid-1900 when Neel is about three months old, her family moves to Colwyn, Pennsylvania, a small town outside Philadelphia in Darby Township. The U.S. Census of 1900 records their address as 106 Third Street; two years later they are listed as residing at 110 South Third Street.
Neel attends Darby High School, at which time the family is listed at 408 Colwyn Avenue, Colwyn, Pennsylvania.
June 28: Graduates from Darby High School, afterwards taking a business course including typing and stenography. Upon completing the course, she takes the civil service exam.
Holds a secretarial job with the Army Air Corps, working for Lieutenant Theodore Sizer, who will later become an art historian at Yale University. She takes evening art classes at the School of Industrial Art, a division of the Pennsylvania (later Philadelphia) Museum of Art.
After leaving her job with the air force, turns down a secretarial position at Swarthmore College.
Alice Neel’s parents c.1907
Alice Neel, 1905, age 5
Neel c.1917