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Katharine Wolfe papers, 1912-1972 (bulk 1928-1964)
- Arranged in series: I. Correspondence, 1937-1969; II. Research materials, 1912-1972; III. Writings, circa 1960 and undated.
The Katharine Wolfe papers primarily document her work on an unpublished dance history book, The Concert Dance, begun during the summer of 1942 and completed in 1960. Research files contain clippings, programs, publicity materials, and notes relating to performers, choreographers, companies, and other topics chronicled in the book. As a significant component of her research and writing process, Wolfe conducted at least one interview with most of the individuals discussed in volumes two, three, and four of the book and sought and received their input on her manuscript, incorporating those suggestions or corrections into the final version. The majority of thecorrespondence is of a professional nature and relates primarily to the development of the book. While the list of correspondents reads like a who's who of early to mid-twentieth century modern dance, among those contributors with whom she carried on a lengthy correspondence are MaryWigman and long time friend Eleanor King. In addition to some probable earlier drafts of sections of the manuscript,the collection includes a photocopy of the entire 1960 typescript of The Concert Dance. The collection provides aunique perspective on twentieth century American theatrical dance, chiefly composed just before the national dance boom that increased federal funding soon would promote. It also contains some material that may be of interest to researchers of Seattle dance and educational history, including numerous programs of early (and often obscure) local performances, as well as many copies of official Seattle Public Schools communications (Wolfe frequently typed her research notes on the verso ofextra mimeographed leaves).
Katharine A. Wolfe (1904-1990) was a dance teacher and an administrator for Seattle Public Schools, who spent over ten years preparing a comprehensive study of twentieth century American concert dance, which never found a publisher. She became a dance teacher with Seattle Public Schools in 1926 and remained a teacher through 1944,later becoming a consultant in health and physical education, responsible for developing the physical education curriculum. While working in the public school system, Wolfe continued her own study of a variety of modern dance techniques, taking classes with Gret Palucca and Mary Wigman associate Lore Deja during her tenure at the Cornish School in Seattle and traveling to Dresden, Germany during the summer of 1934 to train with Wigman herself. She also spent several subsequent summers studying with major modern dancers in New York and Bennington, Vermont. It was while in Bennington in 1942, that Wolfe began work on what eventually would become The Concert Dance. Wolfe had started writing pieces about those individual dancers with whom she had studied for theuse of her own students, but gradually increased the scopeof her research and writing. As part of her research process, she interviewed over forty dancers and choreographers. Although she remained based in Washington State for the period of her most intensive work on the manuscript, she received a sabbatical leave in 1957 and was able to spend time in New York to use the resources ofthe New York Public Library's Dance Collection, attend dance performances, and conduct additional interviews. Shecontinued to work on the manuscript in her spare time and had completed a 1600-page version of the text by 1958. Scribner's took an option on the manuscript that same year,but requested significant revisions, setting a June 1960 deadline for the new, shortened version. Although Wolfe made extensive cuts and changes, the revised form ultimately was rejected by the firm. She apparently continued to tinker with the manuscript through 1964 and still was actively seeking a publisher following her retirement from Seattle Public Schools in 1969. Her last known contact with a publishing house was in 1971 when Wesleyan University Press also turned down the manuscript,which remained unpublished at the time of her death.
Controlled Access Terms
- Wolfe, Katharine.
- King, Eleanor, 1906-1991 -- Correspondence.
- Wigman, Mary, 1886-1973 -- Correspondence.
- Dance critics -- United States -- 20th century.
- Dance teachers -- Washington (State) -- Seattle.
- Ballet -- History -- 20th century.
- Dance -- History -- 20th century.
- Modern dance -- History -- 20th century.
- Dance critics.
- Dance teachers.
Additional Creator Names
- Deja, Lore.
- King, Eleanor, 1906-1991.
- Palucca, Gret, 1902-1993.
- Wigman, Mary, 1886-1973.
- Wolfe, Katharine. Concert dance.
- Cornish School of Allied Arts (Seattle, Wash.)
- Seattle Public Schools.