Research Catalog

Chamberlain and Lyman Brown papers

Title
Chamberlain and Lyman Brown papers, 1849-1961.
Author
Brown, Chamberlain.
Supplementary Content
Finding Aid

Items in the Library & Offsite


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Vol/DateFormatAccessStatusCall NumberLocation
Box 1Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 1Offsite
Box 2Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 2Offsite
Box 3Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 3Offsite
Box 4Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 4Offsite
Box 5Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 5Offsite
Box 6Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 6Offsite
Box 7Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 7Offsite
Box 8Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 8Offsite
Box 9Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 9Offsite
Box 10Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 10Offsite
Box 11Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 11Offsite
Box 12Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 12Offsite
Box 13Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 13Offsite
Box 14Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 14Offsite
Box 15Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 15Offsite
Box 16Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 16Offsite
Box 17Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 17Offsite
Box 18Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 18Offsite
Box 19Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 19Offsite
Box 20Mixed materialSupervised useRequest*T-Mss 1961-002 Box 20Offsite

Details

Additional Authors
Description
  • 351.25 lin. ft. (851 boxes and additional items)
  • 104 reels of microfilm
Subjects
Genre/Form
  • Autographs (manuscripts)
  • Clippings.
  • Printed ephemera.
  • Financial records.
  • Legal records.
  • Correspondence.
  • Photographs.
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Scripts (documents)
Access (note)
  • Collection is open to the public. Library policy on photography and photocopying will apply. Advance notice may be required.
Location of Other Archival Materials (note)
  • Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Biography (note)
  • Theatrical casting agents, producers, and writers, brothers Chamberlain and Lyman Brown were born in Hartford, Connecticut in the 1890s of a prominent New England family. Chamberlain, the elder of the two brothers, was educated at Harvard and while there he began a career as an actor. He formed his own stock company and became an owner and manager of a theater in Lowell, Massachusetts while still in his teens. Chamberlain also had begun collecting posters as a young child and this collecting habit escalated to include autographs, photographs, and programs. He also subscribed to many theatrical periodicals, thus forming the basis of what became an extensive collection. By 1913, Chamberlain had come to New York and performed in The Yellow Jacket at the Fulton Theatre, as well as in vaudeville. He also had begun working as a press representative and soon opened his own company, which his brother Lyman also joined. Chamberlain, who died in 1955, discovered and represented many stars of theater, radio, and film during his career. Among those performers he claimed to have discovered were: Clark Gable, Helen Hayes, Alfred Lunt, and Rudolph Valentino. Brown agency clients included Ruth Chatterton, Miriam Hopkins, Fritzi Scheff, and Spencer Tracy. Lyman Brown became a co-owner of the Chamberlain Brown Agency and worked primarily casting summer stock productions throughout the United States and Canada. He died in 1961.
  • In addition to their agency activity, the Brown brothers made numerous and financially disastrous attempts at producing.
Call Number
*T-Mss 1961-002
OCLC
166295003
Author
Brown, Chamberlain.
Title
Chamberlain and Lyman Brown papers, 1849-1961.
Restricted Access
Collection is open to the public. Library policy on photography and photocopying will apply. Advance notice may be required.
Summary
The Chamberlain and Lyman Brown papers consist of approximately 351 linear feet and contain business and personal correspondence, legal and financial papers, over 600 scrapbooks, production materials, clipping files, scripts, and photographs which cover the history of the entertainment industry from the end of the nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth century. The bulk of the collection spans more than a fifty year period beginning in 1903 and ending in 1959. Much of the material pertains to Chamberlain Brown and his activities from his early career as an actor to his death in 1955. The collection also includes theatrical materials collected by the brothers, consisting of autographs and ephemera from many nineteenth and early twentieth century performers. Many actors and actresses, both famous and unknown, are represented in the collection through correspondence, clippings, or other material, including Ethel Barrymore, Mrs. Leslie Carter, Clark Gable, Edward Everett Horton, Clare Boothe Luce, Rosalind Russell, and Barbara Stanwyck, as well as dancers Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Also included in the collection is correspondence from producers, directors, and managers such as George M. Cohan, Lee Shubert, and George Cukor. Extensive correspondence from stock company managers and professional associations, particularly Actors' Equity Association, also exist in the files. Chamberlain Brown's correspondence with World War II servicemen, as well as with incarcerated men, is also included in the collection. A number of family and personal papers are included, including a handwritten note from the brothers' maternal grandfather, General Samuel Emery Chamberlain, as well as material relating to actress and singer Fritzi Scheff.
Biography
Theatrical casting agents, producers, and writers, brothers Chamberlain and Lyman Brown were born in Hartford, Connecticut in the 1890s of a prominent New England family. Chamberlain, the elder of the two brothers, was educated at Harvard and while there he began a career as an actor. He formed his own stock company and became an owner and manager of a theater in Lowell, Massachusetts while still in his teens. Chamberlain also had begun collecting posters as a young child and this collecting habit escalated to include autographs, photographs, and programs. He also subscribed to many theatrical periodicals, thus forming the basis of what became an extensive collection. By 1913, Chamberlain had come to New York and performed in The Yellow Jacket at the Fulton Theatre, as well as in vaudeville. He also had begun working as a press representative and soon opened his own company, which his brother Lyman also joined. Chamberlain, who died in 1955, discovered and represented many stars of theater, radio, and film during his career. Among those performers he claimed to have discovered were: Clark Gable, Helen Hayes, Alfred Lunt, and Rudolph Valentino. Brown agency clients included Ruth Chatterton, Miriam Hopkins, Fritzi Scheff, and Spencer Tracy. Lyman Brown became a co-owner of the Chamberlain Brown Agency and worked primarily casting summer stock productions throughout the United States and Canada. He died in 1961.
In addition to their agency activity, the Brown brothers made numerous and financially disastrous attempts at producing. Kept (1926), at the Comedy Theatre, was Chamberlain Brown's initial Broadway production. The Brown brothers' first stock company in the metropolitan area was at the Greenwich Theatre in Connecticut. Under the auspices of the Chamberlain Brown Players (also known as the L. Chamberlain Brown Players), between 1929 and 1930 they presented over thirty plays. The company would hold subsequent summer seasons at other locations with varying degrees of success through the mid-1930s. Beginning in 1926, Chamberlain also hosted radio programs discussing the theater or presenting talent on various New York stations. He also embarked upon a number of professional activities that dovetailed with the agency business, including founding membership clubs, as well as initiating several unsuccessful publications. Perhaps because of an inability to evolve professionally with the changing times, or owing to Chamberlain Brown's lifestyle, the Brown agency floundered, despite family financial support for the brothers. Chamberlain declared bankruptcy in 1934 and was the defendant in numerous lawsuits for collection of funds spanning several decades.
Location of Other Archival Materials
See also Chamberlain and Lyman Brown theater diaries (*T-Mss 2002-010) in the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Connect to:
Occupation
Press agents.
Theatrical producers and directors.
Theatrical agents.
Added Author
Brown, Lyman.
Barrymore, Ethel, 1879-1959.
Carter, Leslie, Mrs., 1862-1937.
Chamberlain, Samuel E. (Samuel Emery), 1829-1908.
Cohan, George M. (George Michael), 1878-1942.
Cukor, George, 1899-1983.
Gable, Clark, 1901-1960.
Horton, Edward Everett.
Luce, Clare Boothe, 1903-1987.
Russell, Rosalind.
St. Denis, Ruth, 1880-1968.
Scheff, Fritzi, 1879-1954.
Shubert, Lee, 1873?-1953.
Shawn, Ted, 1891-1972.
Stanwyck, Barbara, 1907-1990.
Actors' Equity Association.
Chamberlain and Lyman Brown Theatrical Agency.
Research Call Number
*T-Mss 1961-002
*ZAN-*T213 [microfilm]
MWEZ+ n.c. 23238
*ZC-293 [microfilm]
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