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Posts from the Manuscripts and Archives Division

Segal and Sendak: A Grimm Collaboration

Earlier this year, the NYPL Manuscripts and Archives division acquired the papers (PDF finding aid) of the acclaimed novelist and children's book author Lore Segal. The collection contains letters and literary manuscripts documenting her life as a Jewish refugee in England during World War II and her subsequent writing and teaching 

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Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: Hesse, Gurdjieff and Minor White

Early into my project, I opened a box and found a folder that caught my eye. It was labeled “Minor White.” A famous American photographer (b. 1908, d. 1976), White is known for his work with Aperture Magazine, the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco and the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Most research libraries and museums with major American photography collections own his works, including the

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: A Day at the (Civil War) Office

Anna Peterson, a graduate student at the University of Michigan's School of Information, recently helped us organize some correspondence of the USSC's Hospital Directory office in Philadelphia. Here are Anna's impressions of a letter she found in the collection during her internship with the Manuscripts and Archives Division:

The Hospital Directory, with offices in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Louisville, was established in 1862 to collect and record information concerning the location of sick and wounded soldiers in U.S. Army hospitals. Members of the 

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The Lost Musicals: Joel Grey's Star Vehicles, Part One: "Goodtime Charley"

I recently processed the papers of one of the musical theater's greatest stars, Joel Grey. His Tony and Oscar winning performances as the bizarre, androgynous master of ceremonies of a nightclub in Hitler's Berlin in Kander and Ebb's Cabaret (1966) and its 1972 film adaptation made him a star; and Grey has had a long, successful career, highlighted by hits like

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Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: The Self-Annotated Papers

Annotations throw a wrench in dating materials, and Timothy Leary liked to annotate... everything. Aware of his demise after being diagnosed with cancer in 1995, he wrote notes and signed printed matter, clippings and correspondence from his personal files. Although he authored the autobiographies High Priest and Flashbacks, it will be his 

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Frank McHugh: A Beloved Character Actor Who Played an Important Role in World War II

Unless you’re a classic film buff, you’ve probably never heard of Frank McHugh, and most of the hundred odd movies he appeared in during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s have fallen into obscurity. Born into a theatrical family, McHugh (1898-1981) grew up touring in a Vaudeville act with his brother and sister. He honed his acting skills in the 1920s, performing in regional/stock productions and on the Broadway stage. He landed in Hollywood in 1930, along with the rash of New York theatre actors talking pictures created a demand for.

McHugh quickly became 

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Transmissions from The Timothy Leary Papers: Applying Archival Processing

A box of unprocessed papersPeople ask me what my work entails as I process the Timothy Leary papers. As I pore through the boxes, I am faced with over 400 linear ft. of material created and collected by Leary which I must process to make available for research. I encounter various media, such as photographs, video tapes, computer disks, prints and posters. I encounter quite a bit of paper.

My responsibilities include determining the record keeping structure and making decisions 

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Manifesting Destiny: First Person Accounts of Westward Migration

The 1840s marked a period of unfettered expansion and exploration in America. Whether inspired by the romantic nationalism of John O'Sullivan's "Manifest Destiny," or by the more material goal of striking gold at Sutter's Mill, nearly half a million Americans pushed westward by land and by sea in search of new ground, new opportunities, and new lives. Within these larger historical currents, researchers can find the stories of individual travelers, 

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Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: Welcome!

Welcome to Transmissions... where I'll update the public on the processing of the Timothy Leary Papers, held by The New York Public Library.

High school portrait, front page of The Classical Recorder, 4 June 1937I look forward to sharing the experience of arranging and describing the collection of Timothy Francis Leary, an American psychologist and Harvard professor who, through his studies regarding the use of psilocybin and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25), 

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A Luxury Cruise in 1928: The Rose de Rose Papers

Rose de Rose and her mother, 1928When socialite Rose de Rose accompanied her mother on the 1928 round-the-world cruise aboard Empress of Australia, it was one of Canadian Pacific’s most luxurious vessels. By the 1920s, Canadian Pacific had diversified from rail travel to launching its own fleets of ships — first for the movement of goods, and then for travel and leisure. The very popular round-the-world cruises were offered on its three luxury ships — the Empress of Britain, the Empress of Canada, and the Empress of Australia.

The

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The Lost Musicals: "Skyscraper"

The successful casting of non-singing stars (or at least stars not known for singing) such as Rosalind Russell in Wonderful Town, Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, and Richard Burton in Camelot inspired a trend in 1950s and 60s musicals. In his book

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The Lost Musicals, Hollywood Edition: Comden and Green’s "Wonderland"

Wonderland isn’t technically lost — it was never made, but I found a rare script for this would-be film musical in the Betty Comden Papers. Betty Comden and Adolph Green were the two halves of the longest-running writing partnership in Broadway history. They met in 1933 at New York University and first worked together in the late 30s, writing sketches for the comedy group the Revuers, in which both also performed. They continued writing lyrics and scripts together until Green’s death in 2002. They are known for their lyrics to great Broadway shows like

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Findings from the Miscellaneous Personal Name Collection: Two Documents Reflect Cause, Resolution of the War of 1812

Detail of 1812 Joshua Barney document. Note the total number of captives and their rank in the lower left cornerIn 1812, the Royal Navy would capture and impress American sailors as a means of bolstering its personnel during the Napoleonic Wars. Irritated by this practice, the American Navy soon returned the favor.

This document, signed by Commander Joshua Barney of the schooner Rossie, contains a list of British captives, their rank, and their ship’s name. The document 

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: Army of the Potomac

The Army of the Potomac Archives, part of the United States Sanitary Commission Records, is an important resource for anyone interested in studying the USSC’s work alongside the Union armies on campaign in eastern Virginia from 1862-1865, especially during the long and bloody struggle from the battle of the Wilderness in 1864 to the fall of Petersburg and Richmond in 1865. Archivist Elizabeth Delmage shares materials explored during processing, which shed light on how the USSC geared up its systems to meet ever-growing military and humanitarian needs.

Journals 

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The Lost Musicals: Make Mine Manhattan

Richard Lewine and Arnold B. Horwitt’s Make Mine Manhattan, which clocked in 429 performances at the Broadhurst in 1948 might be the longest-running musical you’ve never heard of. I had never heard of it until I processed the Richard Lewine Papers in 2007. The collection includes scores and scripts from many musicals and revues Lewine composed before becoming a successful television producer. Make Mine Manhattan intrigued me the 

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Findings from the Miscellaneous Personal Name Collection: Georgie Barrymore’s 1884 acceptance of a stage production role

In this heavily faded 1884 letter written from the New Jersey beach town of Point Pleasant, actress Georgie Barrymore accepts a role in a New York stage production for a salary of $100.

Detail of 1884 Georgie Barrymore letter containing quote to right.Ms. Barrymore, an ancestor of the legendary Barrymore acting family (and great-grandmother of Hollywood star Drew Barrymore) writes:

“I will accept the weeks engagement commencing Sept 8th + two rehearsals in NY for 

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: Department of the Gulf

Our archival processing staff continues to follow the U.S. Sanitary Commission on campaign during the Civil War, this time along the Gulf Coast. Melissa Haley reports on one man's journey in their service:

Based in New Orleans, the USSC’s Department of the Gulf was founded in the spring of 1862, soon after that city came under Union control. Its scope of operations coincided with the territory covered by the Union’s Department of the Gulf — eventually including the entire Gulf Coast, from Brownsville, Texas on the Mexican border to Key West and the 

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Findings from the Miscellaneous Personal Name Collection: Aging and Death in 19th Century America

90 year old Isaac Bell writing in 1857This 1857 poem was written by a nonagenarian named Isaac Bell. It’s impossible for me not to admire his optimistic, confident attitude toward turning 90 in an era when geriatric care was considerably more primitive than today. I have included an image of the entire poem and would recommend that anyone take a minute to read it.

The thin folder containing Isaac Bell’s poem was filed after a folder labeled “

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The Wheel Is Come Full Circle: A Production History of "King Lear" at the Public Theater (Part 2: 1996 & 2007)

Joseph Papp conceived of a marathon at the Public Theater of every one of Shakespeare’s plays, in the order in which they were written. This began under Papp in 1988 and was continued by the Theater’s subsequent artistic directors, Joanne Akalaitis and George C. Wolfe, after Papp’s retirement and death. After early productions at the Delacorte Theater in 1962 and 1973 (see my previous blog post), the Theater didn’t tackle King Lear again 

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New York Foundation Records: Franz Boas' Project 26

Franz Boas (1858-1942) , often referred to as the "Father of Modern Anthropology," was a prominent German scholar who emigrated to the United States in 1885 and taught at Columbia University from 1896 until his retirement in 1936. It was under his influence that Columbia established its Department of Anthropology in 1902 and that the four fields concept of anthropology — integrating the disciplines of cultural/social anthropology, linguistics, biological 

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