Research Catalog

Fern Helscher papers

Fern Helscher papers, circa 1910-1971.
Helscher, Fern.
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StatusVol/DateFormatAccessCall NumberItem Location
Box 1Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 1Offsite
Box 2Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 2Offsite
Box 3Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 3Offsite
Box 4Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 4Offsite
Box 5Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 5Offsite
Box 6Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 6Offsite
Box 7Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 7Offsite
Box 8Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 8Offsite
Box 9Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 9Offsite
Box 10Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 10Offsite
Box 11Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 11Offsite
Box 12Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 12Offsite
Box 13Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 13Offsite
Box 14Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 14Offsite
Box 15Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 15Offsite
Box 16Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 191 Box 16Offsite


Additional Authors
8 linear feet (16 boxes)
  • Correspondence.
  • Diaries.
  • Photographs.
  • Travel documents.
Source (note)
  • Estate of Fern Helscher
Biography (note)
  • Fern Helscher (1901-1974) was a publicist and booking agent, who, through her long association with Ted Shawn and his circle, was instrumental in helping to increase the popularity of dance in general and in making dance an acceptable profession for men in the United States.
Indexes/Finding Aids (note)
  • Collection guide available in repository and on internet.
Call Number
(S) *MGZMD 191
  • 122898414
  • 122898414
Helscher, Fern.
Fern Helscher papers, circa 1910-1971.
The Fern Helscher papers are comprised of correspondence, diaries, photographs, and travel materials that document her life from 1933 to 1971. Helscher's professional career as a publicist and business manager in the 1930s and 1940s was important because of her vital contribution to the phenomena that was Ted Shawn, whose related documents and photographs comprise a substantial portion of the collection. The clients series covers numerous members of the Jacob's Pillow faculty, including Argentinita, José Limon, La Meri, and Joseph H. Pilates. Helscher also represented Barton Mumaw, lead dancer of Ted Shawn's company and Shawn's partner. Among the Mumaw materials are a handwrittten biographical outline and an autographed program from his Carnegie Chamber Music Hall debut in 1941. Other popular dance artists that were represented by Helscher and included in the collection are Grace and Kurt Graff, Gladys and Reginald Laubin, and Arthur Mahoney and Thalia Mara. Notable among the Jacob's Pillow materials are the rations and regulations in the School subseries, which allow a glimpse of what life was like for a student at Jacob's Pillow during the Second World War. Photographs feature personal pictures of Helscher from the 1930s to the 1960s, and a larger set of dance related images. Noteworthy among these dance photographs are candid shots of individuals at Jacob's Pillow (including Anton Dolin, Alicia Markova, Bronislava Nijinska, Ruth St. Denis, and Walter Terry) and numerous images of Shawn's company in performance, as well as solo performances by Mumaw and Shawn. There are a noticeable number of years missing from Helscher's diaries and very little by way of biographical information, especially during her pre-Shawn years. Also absent are materials that might shed definitive light on her personal relationships.
Fern Helscher (1901-1974) was a publicist and booking agent, who, through her long association with Ted Shawn and his circle, was instrumental in helping to increase the popularity of dance in general and in making dance an acceptable profession for men in the United States. Born in Robstown, Texas, she graduated from Southwestern University in 1917 and first met Ted Shawn in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1928. In 1933, Helscher began work as the press agent and booking manager for Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers coordinating and generating publicity on behalf of Shawn as an individual artist, as well as for his company. Her close working relationship with Shawn extended into the 1940s when she assumed the position of business manager for Jacob's Pillow, the dance festival and school established by Shawn in Lee, Massachusetts. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s Helscher would promote the work of many dance artists, including José Limon and Barton Mumaw. She also traveled extensively throughout her life, most notably on a tour of the Middle East and Asia with New York State businessman Edward T. Clark to promote the concept of World Government. Helscher was returning from a tour of islands in the Indian Ocean and West African countires at the time of her death.
Collection guide available in repository and on internet.
Connect to:
Arts administrators.
Concert agents.
Press agents.
Added Author
Argentinita, 1898-1945.
Clark, Edward T., 1898-1960.
Dolin, Anton, 1904-1983.
Graff, Grace Cornell.
Graff, Kurt.
La Meri, 1898-1988.
Laubin, Gladys.
Laubin, Reginald.
Limón, José.
Mahoney, Arthur.
Mara, Thalia.
Markova, Alicia, Dame, 1910-2004.
Mumaw, Barton, 1912-
Nijinska, Bronislava, 1891-1972.
Pilates, Joseph H. (Joseph Hubertus)
St. Denis, Ruth, 1880-1968.
Shawn, Ted, 1891-1972.
Terry, Walter.
Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers.
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.
Research Call Number
(S) *MGZMD 191
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