Francis Wilson papers

Title
Francis Wilson papers, 1875-1958.
Author
Wilson, Francis, 1854-1935.
Supplementary Content
Finding Aid

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Vol/DateFormatAccessStatusCall NumberLocation
Box 1Mixed materialSupervised useAvailable*T-Mss 1999-020 Box 1Offsite
Box 2Mixed materialSupervised useAvailable*T-Mss 1999-020 Box 2Offsite
Box 3Mixed materialSupervised useNot available*T-Mss 1999-020 Box 3Offsite
Box 4Mixed materialSupervised useAvailable*T-Mss 1999-020 Box 4Offsite
Box 5Mixed materialSupervised useNot available*T-Mss 1999-020 Box 5Offsite
Box 6Mixed materialSupervised useNot available*T-Mss 1999-020 Box 6Offsite
Box 7Mixed materialSupervised useAvailable*T-Mss 1999-020 Box 7Offsite
Box 8Mixed materialSupervised useAvailable*T-Mss 1999-020 Box 8Offsite

Details

Description
3.25 lin. ft. (8 boxes).
Genre/Form
  • Scripts.
  • Speeches.
Access (note)
  • Collection is open to the public. Library policy on photography and photocopying will apply. Advance notice may be required.
Source (note)
  • Mrs. Edna Bruns Wilson
Biography (note)
  • Comic actor, dramatic author and manager, Francis Wilson was an active spokesperson for theatrical interests.
  • In 1889 Wilson established his own production company, Francis Wilson and Company and ran up against the Theatrical Syndicate, a trust trying to control theater bookings. Allied with other actor-managers, Wilson fought the Syndicate but ultimately surrendered. This experience led the founders of the Actors' Equity Association to ask him to serve as the first president of the organization, a post he assumed in 1913. In 1919 Wilson led the successful strike against the Producing Managers' Association in which Equity won recognition as the bargaining agent for actors. The next year Wilson retired from the presidency.
  • Wilson was also a writer and a lecturer, writing books on Eugene Field, Joseph Jefferson, John Wilkes Booth and Edwin Booth as well as plays including THE BACHELOR'S BABY and his own reminiscences. Except for roles in Players Club productions, Wilson made his last professional appearances in the title role of RIP VAN WINKLE and in THE RIVALS, both at the opening of the new Boston Repertory Theatre in 1925. His final appearance was in the Players Club revival of THE LITTLE FATHER OF THE WILDERNESS in 1930.
Indexes/Finding Aids (note)
  • Finding aid available in repository and on Internet:
Processing Action (note)
  • Cataloged
Call Number
*T-Mss 1999-020
Author
Wilson, Francis, 1854-1935.
Title
Francis Wilson papers, 1875-1958.
Restricted Access
Collection is open to the public. Library policy on photography and photocopying will apply. Advance notice may be required.
Summary
The collection contains correspondence, speeches, accounts, clippings, scripts and other papers reflecting the personal and professional life of Francis Wilson. Wilson carried on an active correspondence with many contemporaries prominent in the theatrical or literary field. The large series of speeches illustrates his wide-ranging interests. There is material on the plays in which he appeared, especially ERMINIE, and information on his involvement with the Players Club, but very little documenting his role as first president of the Actors' Equity Association or on the pivotal strike he led in 1919. The main political battle documented in these papers is Wilson's efforts to keep child actors out from under the jurisdiction of state labor laws. There is also some information on Wilson's family and his personal financial transactions.
Biography
Comic actor, dramatic author and manager, Francis Wilson was an active spokesperson for theatrical interests. Born in Philadelphia, he began his theatrical career as a child in minstrel shows. He made his debut on the legitimate stage at the Chestnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia in the 1878-79 season. For thirty-five years he was one of the best known and best loved of American comedians. His greatest success was as Cadeaux in ERMINIE. This operetta opened at the Casino Theatre in New York City in 1886, ran for 1256 performances, had a long run on the road and was revived in 1921 with Wilson and his co-star, De Wolf Hopper, assuming again their famous roles.
In 1889 Wilson established his own production company, Francis Wilson and Company and ran up against the Theatrical Syndicate, a trust trying to control theater bookings. Allied with other actor-managers, Wilson fought the Syndicate but ultimately surrendered. This experience led the founders of the Actors' Equity Association to ask him to serve as the first president of the organization, a post he assumed in 1913. In 1919 Wilson led the successful strike against the Producing Managers' Association in which Equity won recognition as the bargaining agent for actors. The next year Wilson retired from the presidency.
Wilson was also a writer and a lecturer, writing books on Eugene Field, Joseph Jefferson, John Wilkes Booth and Edwin Booth as well as plays including THE BACHELOR'S BABY and his own reminiscences. Except for roles in Players Club productions, Wilson made his last professional appearances in the title role of RIP VAN WINKLE and in THE RIVALS, both at the opening of the new Boston Repertory Theatre in 1925. His final appearance was in the Players Club revival of THE LITTLE FATHER OF THE WILDERNESS in 1930.
Indexes
Finding aid available in repository and on Internet: folder level control.
Connect to:
Research Call Number
*T-Mss 1999-020
View in Legacy Catalog