Research Catalog

Bessie Schönberg papers

Bessie Schönberg papers, 1932-1997 and undated.
Schönberg, Bessie.
Supplementary Content
Finding Aid

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30 Items

StatusContainerFormatAccessCall NumberItem Location
Box 30Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 30Offsite
Box 29Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 29Offsite
Box 28Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 28Offsite
Box 27Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 27Offsite
Box 26Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 26Offsite
Box 25Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 25Offsite
Box 24Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 24Offsite
Box 23Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 23Offsite
Box 22Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 22Offsite
Box 21Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 21Offsite
Box 20Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 20Offsite
Box 19Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 19Offsite
Box 18Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 18Offsite
Box 17Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 17Offsite
Box 16Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 16Offsite
Box 15Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 15Offsite
Box 14Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 14Offsite
Box 13Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 13Offsite
Box 12Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 12Offsite
Box 11Mixed materialSupervised use (S) *MGZMD 124 Box 11Offsite


Additional Authors
Varley, Dimitry.
33.5 linear ft. (30 boxes)
The collection includes Bessie Schönberg's personal documents, professional and personal correspondence, information on her teaching, directing, performing, lecturing, and writing, appointment books, financial and medical papers, interviews, writing by others, and print materials collected by Schönberg. There is extensive personal correspondence with her husband Dimitry Varley and Schönberg's family. Includes papers and correspondence with dance institutions with which she had long or formative experience including the Bennington College School of the Dance, Connecticut College School of Dance/American Dance Festival, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Dance Theater Workshop, Dancing in the Streets, Jacob's Pillow, and The Yard.
  • Correspondence.
  • Interviews.
  • Personal and professional papers of dance educator Bessie Schönberg, 1932-1997.
Indexes/Finding Aids (note)
  • Finding aid available in repository and on internet.
Call Number
(S) *MGZMD 124
  • 163571421
  • 163571421
Schönberg, Bessie.
Bessie Schönberg papers, 1932-1997 and undated.
Location of Other Archival Materials
The bulk of the papers relating to Ms. Schönberg's years as Director of the Dance Program at Sarah Lawrence College were separated from this collection after Ms. Schönberg's death. They are available to researchers at the Sarah Lawrence College Archives and are comprised of some ten linear feet of material including correspondence, institutional records and photographs.
Born in Hanover, Germany, Dec. 27, 1906, Bessie Schönberg was the daughter of American born Rose MacGrew and the German engineering student Alexander Schönberg. The family moved often as MacGrew pursued a career in opera but the effort was abandoned apparently due to illness and MacGrew left the family to return to the United States. When Bessie's father was called into active service in World War I, she and her sisters were left in the care of Gertrude Bierschenk, a young woman who had been originally hired as her mother's companion. At age nineteen, encouraged by her father and at the invitation of her mother, Bessie moved to Eugene, Oregon to pursue university studies. It was there she was able to pursue the study of dance, an activity of which her father had disapproved. Initially dissatisfied with the teachers, her attitude changed when Martha Hill joined the University of Oregon faculty in 1927. In 1929, Schönberg followed Hill to New York City to pursue her studies. Hill arranged for her to meet Martha Graham and soon Schönberg joined the Graham company, performing in the original casts of Primitive mysteries and Heretic. Schönberg's performing career was cut short by a knee injury. During this same period she met her future husband, Dimitry Varley and they married in Jan. 1934. Martha Hill invited Schönberg to be her assistant at Bennington College's School of the Dance, teaching there from 1933-1941. In 1941, she was appointed chairperson of the Sarah Lawrence College Dance Department, a position she held until 1975. She developed long-term relationships with many key institutions in the field of modern dance including the American Dance Festival, Jacob's Pillow, and Dance Theater Workshop. In honor of her contributions to the field, the New York Dance and Performance awards given annually by Dance Theater Workshop were dubbed the "Bessies". She remained an advisor, friend, and teacher until her death in 1997.
Finding aid available in repository and on internet.
Gift: Estate of Bessie Schönberg
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Finding Aid
Dance teachers.
Local Subject
New York Dance and Performance Awards.
Added Author
Varley, Dimitry.
Research Call Number
(S) *MGZMD 124
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