Scope and arrangement
The Selma Jeanne Cohen papers document the intellectual and professional career of this leading dance historian. The papers include professional and personal correspondence, materials from various organizations and conferences Cohen attended, subject files, teaching materials, writings, photographs and slides, and performance and lecture videos.
The Selma Jeanne Cohen papers are arranged in seven series:
This series is composed of correspondence from other dance historians and arts scholars, as well as family cards and birthday greetings. The professional correspondence is arranged by correspondent and by date. This system was kept by Cohen and has been retained here. The user should check both arrangements when seeking information on a specific individual or topic. For example, there may be correspondence from an individual listed in the alphabetical arrangement within the chronological arrangement if there were letters by different correspondents that Cohen wished to keep together. Topics covered in the correspondence include lectures, advice and editing of scholarly works, conference planning, and general scholarship in dance theory and history. Notable correspondents include Christena Schlundt and Francis Sparshott. Cohen mingled business with her personal relationships, and often the professional correspondence contains both scholarly and personal references within one letter. Arrangement is in two major sections, alphabetical by correspondent and chronological by date. The family cards and correspondence are placed at the end of this series.
Series II contains materials reflecting Cohen's interest in attending and participating in scholarly conferences and organizations. The materials not only contain programs and itineraries from conferences and organizational meetings, but correspondence pertaining to Cohen's participation in conferences, lecture notes, and local maps and paraphernalia. Though the bulk of the documents may have been produced by the organizations themselves, the files are kept in such a way that Cohen's level of participation within each organization can be ascertained. Arrangement is alphabetical by name of conference or organization.
The subject files contain a broad range of materials relating to Cohen's personal life and scholarly interests. Dance programs, correspondence relating to the awarding of the Bueno Prize, articles and interviews written about Cohen, subject files pertaining to areas of interest, souvenirs from her world travel, and a collection of photographs and birthday letters from her 80th birthday are all included in this series. This series also contains Cohen's collection of papers and articles by other dance historians. These articles are arranged by author and there is often more than one article by each author within a file. Occasionally, Cohen has retained correspondence regarding the writings within the files as well. Topics include European dance history, retrospectives on the work of individual choreographers, and studies of trends and developments in dance forms over time. Arrangement is alphabetical by subject.
Series IV documents Cohen's work as an educator and includes files on institutions where she was either a permanent or guest lecturer, correspondence from advisees, and recommendations she wrote for her students. The institutional files consist of contracts and lecture agreements, correspondence with university officials and other educators at each institution, and notes as to what each course or lecture session would cover. Arrangement is alphabetical by institution or subject.
Series V holds articles (both written and edited by Cohen), correspondence with publishing houses, and some material relating to her work on the International Encyclopedia of Dance, as well as her lesser known work for major encyclopedias such as the Encyclopedia Britannica and World Book. Of interest is the clear documentation of the process of editing and putting together just one encyclopedic article. Questions of layout, sources, permissions, and the editing of the encyclopedias as a whole are covered. Arrangement is alphabetical by subject or publication title.
This series includes dance history photographs and personal snapshots. The dance history photographs and slides are composed of hundreds of images of dance from copies of 18th century etchings to modern dance and Broadway productions. The slides are labeled in Cohens hand and were a part of many of her dance history lectures, both in universities and at conferences and symposiums. The personal pictures are primarily photographs of Cohen along with other historians at various conferences around the world. Images are conference shots as well as tourist-related. Arrangement is alphabetical by subject.
Series VII includes videos of dance performances, retrospectives, and lectures given by various groups at conferences, symposiums, and other venues. Examples include performances by cultural dance groups, groupings of the work of a certain choreographer such as Isadora Duncan, and lectures accompanied by dance examples. The videos are a mix of professionally produced recordings and home videos.
Inquiries regarding audio and video materials in the collection may be directed to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Audio/visual materials may be subject to preservation, evaluation and migration prior to access.