Research Catalog

Jean Erdman papers

Jean Erdman papers, 1925-2001 (bulk 1935-1996)
Erdman, Jean.
Supplementary Content
Finding Aid

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Box 1Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 1Offsite
Box 2Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 2Offsite
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Box 4Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 4Offsite
Box 5Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 5Offsite
Box 6Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 6Offsite
Box 7Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 7Offsite
Box 8Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 8Offsite
Box 9Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 9Offsite
Box 10Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 10Offsite
Box 11Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 11Offsite
Box 12Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 12Offsite
Box 13Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 13Offsite
Box 14Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 14Offsite
Box 15Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 15Offsite
Box 16Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 16Offsite
Box 17Mixed materialPermit needed (S) *MGZMD 170 Box 17Offsite
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Additional Authors
36 linear feet (66 boxes)
  • Clippings.
  • Correspondence.
  • Financial records.
  • Leaflets.
  • Lecture notes.
  • Negatives (photographic)
  • Photographs.
  • Posters.
  • Press releases.
  • Programs.
  • Scores.
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Scripts (documents)
  • Slides.
Access (note)
  • Permission required.
Terms of Use (note)
  • Materials may not be photographed or photocopied without permission of the copyright holder.
Source (note)
  • Campbell, Jean Erdman
Biography (note)
  • Born in 1916, American dancer, choreographer, and teacher Jean Erdman, had a lengthy and singular career.
Indexes/Finding Aids (note)
  • Collection guide available in repository and on internet.
Call Number
(S) *MGZMD 170
  • 84647458
  • 84647458
Erdman, Jean.
Jean Erdman papers, 1925-2001 (bulk 1935-1996)
Permission required.
The Jean Erdman papers document the professional life of Jean Erdman. Materials date from the late 1930s to the mid-1990s, and cover the early stages of her career as well as productions created during her later endeavors at the Theater of the Open Eye. This collection contains correspondence, production materials, academic papers, office files, financial and legal papers, scrapbooks, publicity materials, and photographs. Teaching materials, lesson plans and research notes on technique reflect her role as an instructor at several colleges and universities. Her role as choreographer and artistic director of the Theater of the Open Eye is also amply documented through production and publicity materials. Production materials in particular include a wide range of correspondence, research and choreographer's notes, scripts, scores, projection slides, stage and lighting plans for the performances created by Erdman. Publicity materials, such as clippings, programs, leaflets, posters, and scrapbooks complete the picture of Erdman's career. Interesting highlights of the Production series include comprehensive technical stage direction sheets, in which all concurrent elements of a performance are drawn together in a large graph. Research materials, correspondence with The Society of Authors (as representative of the Joyce Estate), and the abundant materials documenting the development of The Coach with the Six Insides, including numerous drafts of the script, may be of particular interest to scholars of James Joyce. The collection also includes a significant number of photographs, slides and negatives from the majority of Erdman's productions. Also included are limited materials related to Erdman's husband, Joseph Campbell, mostly resulting from their collaboration within the Theater of the Open Eye. This collection contains almost no materials related to Jean Erdman's personal life.
Terms Of Use
Materials may not be photographed or photocopied without permission of the copyright holder.
Born in 1916, American dancer, choreographer, and teacher Jean Erdman, had a lengthy and singular career. A native of Honolulu, she had an interest in ethnic dance forms early on, but she began her formal dance instruction at Sarah Lawrence College. Her career as professional dancer began in 1938 as a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company, and in the same year she married Joseph Campbell, a professor at Sarah Lawrence College and noted mythologist. In 1943, Erdman began her solo career. Soon afterwards she founded her own company, and, in 1948, she started the Jean Erdman School of Dance. The period from the 1940s to the 1960s was a time of intense activity. During these years, she choreographed and performed her own works in New York City and throughout North America. She also conducted several world tours. At the same time, she developed associations with several academic institutions, including the University of Colorado, Bard College, and New York University. Throughout her career, she created numerous solos, as well as group dances, often joining forces with visual artists and composers who produced works specifically for these collaborative pieces. Some of the noted composers and designers with whom Erdman collaborated include John Cage, Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, Louis Horst, Paul Jenkins, Ezra Laderman, Peter Max, as well as Teiji Itō, with whom she worked closely for several years, and who was a vital member of the Theater of the Open Eye. Erdman also often worked closely with Campbell; her most celebrated production, The Coach with the Six Insides (partly inspired by Campbell's research), was a turning point in her career. Based on James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, the success and royalties she received from this piece gave her the means to open her own theater and fulfill her artistic vision with much greater freedom than before. Certainly this is evident in the prolific creativity of the 1970s. In 1972, Erdman and Campbell founded the Theater of the Open Eye, which became the venue for many of Campbell's talks and seminars. Erdman served as the artistic director of the Theater of the Open Eye for fifteen year and was responsible for several productions, including Moon Mysteries, Paul Gaugin in Tahiti, and The Shining House. After the death of Campbell in 1987, Erdman moved back to Honolulu.
Collection guide available in repository and on internet.
Connect to:
Dance teachers.
Added Author
Cage, John.
Campbell, Joseph, 1904-1987.
Cowell, Henry, 1897-1965.
Harrison, Lou, 1917-2003.
Horst, Louis.
Itō, Teiji.
Jenkins, Paul, 1923-2012.
Laderman, Ezra.
Max, Peter, 1937-
Erdman, Jean. Coach with the six insides.
Theater of the Open Eye.
Research Call Number
(S) *MGZMD 170
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