Scope and arrangement
The Harold Lang papers date from 1917 to 1986 and document Lang's personal life as well as his career in ballet companies, in Broadway musicals, and as a professor of dance at California State University, Chico. The collection contains programs, clippings, correspondence, and photographs. Materials are arranged as personal files, show files, teaching files, photographs, and a scrapbook.
Personal files primarily consist of letters to Lang's mother and brother, with clippings, programs, and photographs intended to inform his family of his professional activities. Many items are annotated by Lang, providing his personal recollections about the shows or performances represented. Personal ephemera such as Lang's passport, cabaret employee identification card, and Equity card are present, as are patent documents for a telescoping dog carrier that Lang invented. Materials dating after Lang's death include obituaries, a funeral book, and letters from friends to his brother and sister-in-law Al and Lenore Lang. Interviews conducted by Helene Vandenplas with Lang about his career are enclosed with a letter of condolence from Vandenplas to Al Lang.
Teaching files date from Lang's work at California State University, Chico, and contain notes on dance exercises, course outlines, program review documents for the performing arts curriculum, departmental memos, teaching schedules, and Lang's resume. Also filed here are Lang's own writings and assignments from his undergraduate studies at California State University in the early 1970s.
Show files feature programs, clippings, photographs, fliers, cast album publicity materials, and other promotional items for Lang's ballet and Broadway productions. The files are organized by production title or ballet company, with most of Lang's performances from his debut to the late 1960s represented. Files for The Time of Your Life and Ziegfeld Follies contain mounted Al Hirschfeld caricatures of Lang and his castmates.
Photographs comprise the bulk of the collection and document both personal and professional activities. Photographic prints include headshots and publicity photographs for Broadway shows and ballet performances, and pictures of rehearsal and exercises at California State University, Chico. Headshots and formal portraits are also present from Lang's fellow actors and dancers. Many of these portraits are signed, including several by Bette Davis. Personal photographs span Lang's life, with elementary school pictures, physique modeling portraits from the 1950s, and informal shots of social gatherings throughout his adulthood. In addition to prints, the collection holds mounted stereographic slides, which depict scenes from Lang's vacations to the Virgin Islands and Southern California; casual shots of Lang and friends, including many professional dancers; and backstage scenes from Pal Joey. Some subjects and locations are identified on the slide mount.
One scrapbook covers the peak of Lang's stage career from 1949 to 1962, with publicity photographs of Lang and other actors, clippings, promotional show cards, and telegrams. Shows and companies best represented in the scrapbook are the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the New York City Ballet, Make a Wish, and Pal Joey. Loose items from the scrapbook were moved to a separate legal-sized folder. Researchers should request both boxes identified in the container list to view the scrapbook in its entirety.
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' dance research collection includes additional materials related to Harold Lang. Sound recordings, video recordings, photographs, and clippings can be found by conducting separate author and subject searches for "Lang, Harold" in the library's catalog.
The collection is arranged by subject or format: personal files, teaching files, show files, photographs, and scrapbook.