Scope and arrangement
The Doris Humphrey Collection, by virtue of its size and contents, is a remarkable historical record with one of America's great original artists as central focus. Rarely do the papers of an individual document his entire life from birth to death. The Humphrey papers, covering a period of 147 years (1811-1958), record not only the life of a great modern dance pioneer but provide glimpses into the lives of her nineteenth-century ancestors, her parents, husband, son, friends, and associates. Miss Humphrey's life and career delineate the development of the American modern dance in the first fifty-eight years of the twentieth century. This in itself is an American saga.
Nearly three-fourths of the collection consists of her personal correspondence with her parents, Horace and Julia Humphrey. In these as well as in the series of letters to her husband, Charles Francis Woodford, her friends May Walker, Pauline Lawrence, and Helen Mary Robinson, and other relatives, friends, students, and associates, the impact of her creative leadership and artistry on the American dance is revealed. Miss Humphrey is shown as a woman clearly devoted to her family, her friends, and, by extension, to mankind, as well as to her art. Her desire to create dances is apparent in letters as early as 1913, soon after her graduation from high school. A simultaneous development is the growing dependence of others on her. To teach and produce dances for whatever meager remuneration in order to suport the great financial burden she assumed and at the same time to maintain the highest artistic standards in her company, Miss Humphrey had to draw upon personal resources of energy, intelligence, and stabiliity that were outstanding in their depth. In later years, forced into premature retirement from the stage by crippling arthritis, then faced with conflicting responsibilities of home and career, artistic crises, and the continuous battle with debilitating illness, she relied more than ever on her indomitable will and selfless dedication to the dance.
From the correspondence emerges a portrait of a woman of extraordinary strength and courage; with a sharp wit, keen perception, and intellectual gifts; a woman whose compassion and nobility were demonstrated in her works and her way of life. The correspondence, delineating her daily experiences as an artist and a woman, provides a dramatic insight into her growth and development.
In the correspondence, similar patterns of relationships and events develop from generation to generation. The romances of Moses H. Wells and Emily M. Taylor (Doris Humphrey's maternal grandparents), Horace B. Humphrey and Julia Ellen Wells (her parents), and Charles Francis Woodford and Doris Humphrey are the central relationships around which revolve the alliances and romances of numerous relatives and friends. The marriage of Pauline Lawrence and José Limón is one of these. The central familial relationships are the Horace-Julia-Doris Humphrey family and the “Leo”-Doris-Humphrey Woodford family. Close and enduring friendships evolve between Julia Humphrey and May Walker, Doris Humphrey and Pauline Lawrence, and Doris Humphrey and Helen Mary Robinson. Thus the history of four decades of American dance is chronicled from an unusually intimate prospect, in the setting of American life during World War I, the twenties, the Depression, World War II, and the fifties.
Manuscript materials other than correspondence constitute approximately one-tenth of the collection. The major portion of these are notes, drafts, and holograph and typescript copies of essays, articles, and major published works by Doris Humphrey. Included are the manuscripts of The Art of Making Dances,her unfinished autobiography published as “New Dance” in Dance Perspectivesand later as the first part of Selma Jean Cohen's Doris Humphrey: An Artist First,and “Dance Drama,” an essay written for Walter Sorell's The Dance Has Many Faces.Of primary interest, however, are Miss Humphrey's unpublished writings including notes and notations for a number of her dances, and chapter drafts for an unpublished book on modern dance written with her husband, Charles Francis Woodford.
The personal and business records within the collection, although less complete, are of interest primarily because they provide information about the management of the Humphrey-Weidman Company and Studio by Pauline Lawrence. The greater portion of these records fall into the period 1940-42. Included are correspondence, contracts, itineraries, and financial notes and statements. Also of interest is correspondence between Doris Humphrey and representatives of the William C. Whitney Foundation, especially Anna Bogue. These letters relate to Miss Humphrey's attempts to subsidize her company and to establish a permanent home for it in New York City. Her involvement in efforts to organize the various groups working in modern dance in the 1930s is reflected in a group of correspondence, financial statements, and business notes of the Dancers' Association (later the American Dance Association), ca. 1936-37.
The last section of the Doris Humphrey Collection is a small group of miscellaneous materials which are illustrative of certain aspects of Doris Humphrey's life and career represented elsewhere in the collection. Early schoolwork includes grammar school writings, a notebook, and a sketchbook, and copies of the magazine of the Francis Parker School from which the young Doris graduated in 1913. These issues of the Recordercontain articles which reveal her gift for verbal expression. The career of Mary Wood Hinman, gymnastic and folk dancing authority and Doris' very early teacher, is recorded in materials entitled the “Swedish book” and include a notebook, pamphlet, correspondence, photographs, and articles. The Shaker materials included here consist of clippings, articles, playscripts, a scenario for a projected historical film on the Shakers, correspondence from Eleanor King and Michael Meyerberg, and a portion of dance notation for a remounting of the work, ca. 1940. Also included here are three notebooks containing notes on dance composition by Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman.
A summary of events reflected in the correspondence in the Doris Humphrey Collection follows.
The correspondence begins with a letter of June 1888 from 22-year-old Julia Ellen (Nelly) Wells to her dear friend and confidante, Mary (May) D. Miller (C1)
References such as “(C1)” and “(M108)” are to folders in the collection.
In January, Horace B. Humphrey wrote a letter to his distant relative the Rev Moses H. Wells, in Northfield, Mass. In the letter is an account of Horace's life up to that point, written to recommend himself as a correspondent to his young cousin Julia, a student and teacher of music in Boston (C2). The Rev Wells apparently approved Horace's request, because a correspondence between Mr Humphrey and “Nell” Wells began in February. The distant cousins found a great deal to discuss including subjects such as the origins of Julia's nickname, “Nell,” Horace's passion for bicycling, the Chicago World's Fair, the vices and virtues of living in Chicago and Boston, and music and art. These letters consistently reveal the wit, charm, and intelligence of their authors. Both Horace and Julia were the offspring of ministers, descendants of a long line of New England clergymen, but, while expressing a profound belief in Providence, they chose to remain outside the conventional church-going public.. Julia was clearly charmed by her bright, somewhat impetuous, older cousin (who enjoyed bike-riding, while she chose to remain indifferent to “fads even to the Kodak and Delsarté system”) but she flirted with him in her own reserved way: “I suppose you are my `dear' cousin Horace,” she responded to his address to her by the same term. Thus began what can be referred to as the “Dear Cousin... letters.”
The permission of Mr Charles Humphrey Woodford to print previously unpublished quotations from Doris Humphrey's letters in this article is gratefully acknowledged.
In their discussions of art and life, Horace and Julia gave vent to some of their most personal opinions and feelings. On the subject of the mechanical vs the fine arts, Julia pronounced: “I would rather earn even a precarious livelyhood by means of an art which it is even a pleasure for me to pursue and by which it would be one of my dearest ambitions to influence people than to double my present gains by devoting myself to any one of a dozen mechanical arts...” (C33). So grew their mutual confidence, trust, and affection. In August, Horace journeyed East to visit his “Dear Cousin Julia.” There, Horace proposed, and a wedding was planned for January 1892. Horace's love for Julia poured forth in twelve letters written in five days as he traveled by train back to Chicago. In his eagerness, Horace requested that the wedding be held a month earlier than planned; Julia held to the date originally selected. For the rest of the year the correspondence, filled with talk of marriage and plaans for the future, continued on a daily basis. Between February 1891 and January 1892, they exchanged approximately 330 letters.
On January 14 1892 Horace B. Humphrey and Julia Ellen Wells were married in North-field, Mass, by the Rev Moses H. Wells. The couple returned to Chicago and passed the first three years of marriage without incident. Horace continued his work at the Chicago Herald,with one abortive attempt to find work in New York in the summer of 1894. In a letter to May Miller, Horace wrote that “Bessie [his sister] says, `I believe Horace and Julia have more fun than any married people I ever saw,' and I guess she's right” (C70).
In February 1895 Julia became pregnant, and, on October 17 1895, “a new woman,” Doris Batchellar Humphrey, was born (C86).
The following fall, Emily M. Taylor Wells died, and her daughter Julia traveled east to Hinsdale, NH, for the funeral and to settle the estate.
A major transition in the life of the Humphrey family occurred when Horace decided to take over the management of the Palace Hotel in Chicago. A transient, theatrically oriented clientele patronized the Palace Hotel, and Julia was deeply concerned with the prospect of living among these people, especially in view of the influence such a life might have on her young daughter, now dubbed “Dolly.” After a period of adjustment to the new surroundings of the hotel, Julia admitted to “Auntie May” that things were working and managing a hotel had its interesting features, “butto bring her [Doris] up an unaffected little girl is going to be a mighty task and I think I shall fail. I am convinced she will runaway and join the circus and become a professional bareback rider or acrobat. Such an inveterate climber I never saw and her continual watchword is `upity.' I can't write the things she says because written words give you no idea at all of her pronunciaation which is strikingly original” (C91).
Julia was convinced that the only salvation for Doris would be a trip east to Dummerston, Vt, to visit her “Auntie May.” There, she could “learn from nature” far from the “paraphernalia of our complicated civilization.” Doris' frequent poor health was due, Julia asserted, to the “beastly Chicago climate,” and she grew determined to get Doris out of the city. For the next several years, Julia saw to it that Doris spent her summers away from Chicago and the Palace Hotel.
In August 1898 Julia and Doris made their first trip to Dummerston. Julia believed the experience was beneficial to Doris; although the child still suffered bouts with illness, she seemed to be generally in better health back in Chicago. Julia perceived special qualities in her daughter. Doris was asked to be in the wedding of the Humphreys' friends Mae Cooke and Gordon Taylor, and in her report of the affair, Julia told May that “Doris of course was ravishing as usual, and as usual in an emergency bore herself with great distinction” (C107).
For the summer of 1899, Doris was sent to stay with her parents' friend Mrs E. P. Blickensderfer, “Auntie B,” in Iowa. Julia confessed to May that Doris was missed: “we shan't settle down to live until Doris comes home in the fall. In fact she seems to be the mainmast of this ship, although we never have realized it as much as now” (C107). In another letter Julia mused, “Doris makes me wonder what perplexities are storing up for her mother some years later. One this [sic] is certain. Her mother's life will be neither monotonous nor uneventful” (C108).
The summer of 1900 was spent at a resort at Lake Harbor, Mich, where Julia played the piano in return for room and board for herself and Doris. Horace stayed at home managing the hotel. Doris seemed to thrive in her summer surroundings; Julia noted that “the children dance here a great deal and she [Doris] distinguishes herself as you may imagine” (C119).
While the siege of Peking and William McKinley's presidential campaign made front page news, Doris Humphrey began her education at the Francis Parker School, where her teacher forecasted that she would be a “very ambitious & very dependable child.” The “advanced theories” of education endorsed by the school must have encouraged the child's natural inquisitiveness, because by March 1901 Doris was “beginning to demand to learn tunes on the piano. I wouldn't be surprised,” Julia conjectured to May, “if she learned to read notes before she does words” (C135).
Doris often perplexed Julia. Horace, on the other hand, was all “wrapped up” in Doris, and Julia noted with some envy that “they understand each other perfectly. She really is bewitching. I don't think she is as pretty as she used to be but there is an unmistakable air of high-bred-ness and daintiness which is irresistible. Did I tell you,” she asked May, “that in kindergarten they told Bess [Sauter] they never had a child with so fine a mind as she. I'm afraid I shan't make of her all she is capable of. Wouldn't it be dreadful to warp and dwarf her” (C135).
Green Lake, Wisc, was the summer home for Doris and her mother in 1901. Once again Julia played the piano in a musical group at a resort hotel, and Doris was the object of much attention—too much, perhaps, Julia felt. “[Doris] has a warm little heart though she isn't specially demonstrative. She usually thinks it a bore to hug and kiss being expected to bestow a great deal of it indiscriminately, and she has so much love for her all the time and gets so much attention from everybody that she doesn't have a very warm appreciation of her benefits” (C137). In any case, it was obvious to Julia that Doris was a very special child with an active imagination, a good sense of color, fine dexterity, and a love for music and dancing. Her great fear was that, in the act of raising Doris, she would “meddle” the “experiment” (C138).
Doris' music lessons continued, but she grew restless with them and lacked concentration. Julia felt that “Doris's apparent inability to apply her mind seems serious.” She admitted to May, however, that “I know I am very severe with her and perhaps I expect too much” (C150). A year later, Doris was displaying increased self-reliance and obedience. “There is the making of something fine in Doris,” Julia wrote to Horace from Green Lake in 1903, “though I am not yet quite sure what—She is improving this summer, and is, on the whole a very good girl. Her hopeless procrastination seems to be her worst fault” (C160).
In the summer of 1905, once again at Green Lake, Doris cared less than ever about her music lessons. Julia reported to May, now Mrs A. C. Walker and living in Farley, lowa, that “she [Doris] told me yesterday that she doesn't care to listen to ordinary music but likes the `mysterious kind' like the beginning of the Rhinegold.... They have been having the Rhine legends in school and she has learned a good many of the Wagner themes” (C186). Despite Doris' lack of enthusiasm for her music lessons, she progressed rapidly in school. Julia was particularly pleased with a notebook Doris had compiled (Z1).
Though music lessons continued, Doris' displeasure with them was somewhat tempered by her dancing classes, which she took great pleasure in. Late in April the dancing class “finished in a blaze of glory... in a fancy dress party,” Julia explained to May. “Doris went as Tinker Bell the fairy in `Peter Pan' which she saw a few weeks ago. Her costume was a fluffy little affair of white gauze and silver tinsel over pink, long angel sleeves and fluttery pink ribbons. A yellow wig and spangled crown completed the outfit and a bunch of little silver bells hung on ribbons were fastened to her dress and tied on her arms.... She was quite in her element and she certainly is a graceful little dancer” (C207). Such diversions as dancing class were “rigorously denied” Julia when she was Doris' age, “but I hope Doris is going to get them in better proportion,” she told her friend. Doris' attention to her music was disproportionate to her other interests, and when Doris was sent to Auntie May's in Iowa that summer, Julia confessed in exasperation that “if you can make anything of her music or keep her consecutively at anything I'll be glad to hear it, I can't. Mrs. Webster [her teacher] says she scatters too much—`has too many points of contact with the world to do the best in any one line' is the very diplomatic way she puts it” (C207).
Doris' music, dancing, schooling, and self-reliance continued to develop. To subsidize her music lessons, she sold subscriptions to the Ladies Home Journal(C217). At 14, Doris had entered high school and had definite opinions. Doris valued her correspondence with Auntie May and confided in her. In the summer of 1910, Doris traveled east to visit her Uncle Herb and Aunt Mira Humphrey in Waquoit, Mass, where, she wrote to Auntie May, “I feel all the time `que le [sic] vie est belle' ” (C229).
The correspondence becomes quite sketchy for the years 1911 through 1914—only 21 letters represent these four years. Although the actual details are few, the marvelously candid letters from Doris to Auntie May portray the impressions of Doris' life. In a letter written in October 1911 Doris described the events of a formal dance—“The Fable of the Young Lady and how she Became Recognized in Society.” She also told Auntie May that she was now taking three dancing lessons a week, including an acrobatic class and a class with gymnastic and folk-dancing expert Mary Wood Hinman (C235). The following year Doris wrote of having seen Pavlova dance “The Swan,” and she (Doris) was now giving private lessons at Miss Hinman's, teaching McDowell's “To a Wild Rose” to one of her students (C237).
In 1913, Doris began to demonstrate her interest in the dance. At a “White Fete” at Hull House in Chicago in February of that year, Doris danced three solos. In June she graduated from the Francis Parker School, which she celebrated by attending a round of parties and shows, all of which she described to Auntie May with great wit and vitality. “It's a gay life—n'est pas [sic]?” she mused. At that time, Doris was teaching the tango, performing with Albert Carroll, and making a dancing tableau from the Rubáiyátwith Lehman music (C239). Although there are no letters representing the events of Doris' life between February 1913 and her graduation, it is known that under the sponsorship of the Santa Fe Railroad she and Julia toured the Midwest for the benefit of the railroad employees. Julia played piano. Doris danced. Two letters to Auntie May, one written in September, the other in December, complete the 1913 correspondence. In the fall,, Doris began work on a Christmas pageant-pantomime to “Christmas Morn,” a musical narrative by Burgmeier. Horace, having long since given up management of the Palace Hotel, was now involved in commercial photography, an occupation he followed more for personal fulfillment than lucrative return. To supplement the family income, Doris began teaching her own dancing classes to Oak Park society, with Julia as her accompanist. Pavlova was still an inspiration, and Doris was planning another dance pantomime for the spring (C239). Six letters written to Auntie May in 1914 reveal Doris' increasing desire to give up teaching to devote full time attention to creating her own dances, but more than her livelihood depended upon her now successful dancing classes (C240).
The collection contains no correspondence for 1915-16. The letters resume in July 1917, with correspondence from Julia and Horace to Doris, who had gone on Mary Wood Hinman's advice to study at Denishawn, the institution of dancing founded by Ruth St Denis and Ted Shawn, in Los Angeles, Calif. The Humphreys' letters are responses to Doris', which are not in the collection, and they discuss the possibilities of Doris' return to Oak Park to set up a branch of Denishawn there or in Chicago. Late in the summer, Julia discussed the possibility of Doris' staying with Denishawn a while longer to gain some experience in vaudeville performances. At the end of August 1917 Doris had decided to make a short trip back home, and then she returned to Denishawn early in 1918 (C242-43). A letter from Doris that first summer at Denishawn, written August 21, to Auntie May, describes her impressions of Denishawn, an Orpheum show, and meeting Ian Wolfe, Ruth St Denis, and Ted Shawn (C245).
The following summer, Doris was an active member of Denishawn. Included in the hectic Denishawn schedule were rehearsals for Spirit of the Seaand The Light of Asia,dancing in a film at the Lasky Studio, performing at war benefits, and plans for tours. Doris admitted to Auntie May that she was “beginning to enjoy life.” But in the midst of this artistic fulfillment, she was making another discovery: “I confess that I have a preference for the artist who looks like a businessman—or at least who doesn't wear his hair long and rave about life and art at the least provocation. Anything but a mushy man” (C245). A letter from Denver, Colo, written in late November describes Denishawn on tour “doing two a day on Orpheum time.” In the repertoire are Theodora, “4 Greek dances,” Debussy's Second Arabesque,a dance to Gluck's Orpheus, Sunrise, Rama,and a “semi-Spanish dance with Betty [Horst].” Ruth St Denis was planning an independent act, and Louis Horst, Betty Horst, Edna Malone, and Pearl Wheeler were with the company (C245).
A year later, Doris, now 24, began to experience periods of despondency. Disappointed in her personal life, weary of constant touring, and feeling that “the money is positively not worth the agony,” Doris still refused to return to the “drudgery” at home. She asked Auntie May to forgive “this erratic scrawl which mirrors pretty well, I'm afraid the dark-blue with-purple-streaks existence of your Doris” (C246).
In January 1920 Doris described a new dance she had created with a five-yard scarf of China silk, her famous Scarf Danceto Chaminade's Valse Caprice.In September of the following year, Doris was on the vaudeville circuit with her own group, one of whose members was Pauline Lawrence (C248). And, a year later, Doris, Pauline Lawrence, and Betty May were at the Outdoor Players Camp in Peterborough, NH. They were joined there in August by Doris' mother (C249-50).
The correspondence lapses once again from 1923 through 1924. In January 1925 Julia wrote enthusiastically to May that Denishawn was planning to make a grand tour of the Orient. In March Doris wrote to Julia convincing her mother to go with the company on the Oriental tour (C254). Doris' arguments were persuasive, for in August 1925 Julia wrote to Horace from on board the S.S. President Jefferson. Thus begins a unique account of the entire Denishawn 1925-26 Oriental Tour through the detailed and perceptive letters of Julia (27 letters, 264 pages) and Doris (18 letters, 113 pages). These letters, written to Horace, May Walker, and Ethel Moulton (the former Denishawn dancer who took over Doris' school in Oak Park to form the Humphrey-Moulton School of Dancing), constitute an invaluable chronicle of a significant event in American and international dance history (C258-63).
The Oriental Tour was also important for the personal lives of all those who participated in it. Relationships were strengthened, altered, or lost. Julia, now called “Mamasan” by Doris, and considered a part of the company, did wardrobe work for the dancers and shared Doris' salary. Her letters to Horace, however, confess that she felt lonely and left out of Doris' life. Indeed, Doris was enjoying great success throughout the tour, and attracting a number of admirers. She spent most of her free time with Pauline Lawrence and Charles Weidman, a newer addition to the company. When Doris sprained her ankle during “Straussiana” in January 1926, Charles carried Doris everywhere for a week (C260). With Doris so involved with others, Mama-san grew less happy and as early as February 1926 made plans to return home. She left in May, and the rest of the tour was reported by Doris to both her parents. Soon after Mama-san's departure, Doris wrote that Ted Shawn was planning a New York Denishawnn, and she would probably be among the teachers there. Doris had been encouraged by Ted Shawn and Ruth St Denis to create dances while on tour, and the prospect of returning to teaching was a dismal one: “in order to enjoy the pleasure of creating I'll probably have to earn a living by reaching, which is the very thing I hate to do” (C261). As the tour drew to a close, there was talk of more tours in the future, a prospect equally distasteful to Doris, now almost 32 years old. Her real desire was to stay in New York where she could “create the ballets and numbers I have dreamed of for so long” (C261).
Soon after their return from the Orient, the Denishawn company embarked on another series of one-night-stands across the United States. Doris found the tour interminable, but the thought of the Greater Denishawn proposed for New York disturbed her even more. “My fear,” Doris confessed to her parents, “is that such a tremendous organization will either swamp me, or I will be required to work for the good of the institution to a greater extent than I want to” (C266). Her desire to turn her attention more completely to choreography was too strong to be suppressed, and thoughts of leaving Denishawn entered her mind. (Martha Graham had already left under censure.)
Throughout the summer of 1927, Doris longed to create “a good thick juicy beef-dancesteak that I can chew on hard.” Her own theories began to develop, including one that “any idea can be danced, symbolically or otherwise.” From this idea grew the concept of her color ballet, “Color Harmony.” In explaining this idea to her parents, she admitted that she was so tired of “dinky little dances & decorative or character or cute ballets, that I've gone to the extreme of abstractness I guess” (C267).
Doris chose not to go on the Follies tour with Ruth St Denis, and stayed in New York to concentrate on creating dances. Among the pieces she worked on were Scriabin's Pathetic Study,Debussy's Valse plus que lente,Rosenthal's Papillon,and Bach's Air for the G String—a melody she had onto since her childhood (C268).
The inevitable break with Denishawn is documented in 20 letters (90 pages) written by Doris to her parents in 1928. These events are the last described by Doris in her reminiscences, left unfinished at her death (M102). It was the success of her new dances performed at concerts that increased Doris' confidence and the Shawns' displeasure. Their differences seemed irreconcilable as early as March. Writing to her parents from Westport, Conn, in June , Doris explained her difficulties with the administration of Denishawn: “... if your aim is a smooth-running organization, there must be a head to run it, and obedience from its members. Which would be all well and good for me if it were merely a business, but it happens to be that and more. More important to me than any organization, is the dance, and more important than loyalty is sincerity—which I have always believed, but only this winter have come to know and realize. So that's how we stand—he [Ted Shawn] demanding compromise, and I&—(with Pauline & Charles) refusing.... This is a crisis really, if we cannot agree on a plan, we'll be separated in the fall—and if we are that will be a great adventure for us” (C270). It was at a heated Board of Directors meeting at Greater Denishawn in late June that the break was made complete. Doris, Charles Weidman, and Pauline Lawrence had been working together since their return to New York, and together they found a new studio at 9 East 59th Street and began classes. The strain of the break from Denishawn was great. Nevertheless the new studio opened in October and the first concert was planned for the end of the month. Doris' new pieces included Sarabandeand Life of the Bee.She was moving in the direction of ensemble pieces. “The group,” she wrote, “is the flowering of the dance” (C271). The two years following the return from the Orient were both tiring and traumatic for Doris. She was on the brink of a new stage in her life, and she did not face the future with unbridled confidence: “I am a social outcast,” she confided to her parents, “and it is simply impossible for me to keep up, both as a person and as an artist—maybe other people know how to do both—I don't” (C271).
Fourteen letters to Horace and Julia Humphrey describe the activities of Doris, Charles, and Pauline during 1929. Doris continued to create dances and concluded that “art—commonly thought to be a pastime—is after all really a disease” (C274). In order to support themselves, Doris and Charles continued their classes at the studio, with Pauline as accompanist. The number of concerts increased—stadium concerts for Irene Lewisohn, Hunter College and Community Church concerts, and engagements in Philadelphia and Lake Placid, NY—and Doris recorded the details of and reactions to these performances in her letters. New works included Water Study, Air Study, Grieg Concerto,and Life of the Bee,all considered “first class” by John Martin, dance critic of the New York Times.In July, Doris wrote of plans for a three-week season to be shared by herself and Charles Weidman, Martha Grahham, and Tamiris in the fall, the first cooperative effort by the second generation of American modern dance. This was later named the Dance Repertory Theatre. Doris vacationed at Ogunquit, Maine, with Pauline Chellis, a dance teacher from Boston, during August. In September, Doris was back at work on her plans for the season with Graham and Tamiris, a project greatly in need of funds. With the onset of the Depression, Doris was less affected by her dismal financial prospects than she was by the internal struggles which had her “groping” to find an individual style of dance (C275). At the same time, she was looking for “strong and vivid” personalities for her group. A complete record of the approach she used to attract dancers, with a description of what she and Charles intended to do with their groups, is written in a letter draft to Letitia Ide, one of the earliest Humphrey-Weidman dancers (C280).
The first weeks of January 1930 were devoted to performances of the Dance Repertory Theatre. The performances were successful, but the survival of her group depended on securing future engagements. Dates in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Cleveland were arranged; possible performances at the Hollywood Bowl and the Munich Dance Congress, however, fell through. The Humphrey-Weidman dancers were given the opportunity to appear in Norman Bel Geddes' production of Lysistrata.Doris also found a job for her actor-friend Ian Wolfe in this production. She and Charles, meanwhile, performed in a League of Composers' production of Schönberg's Die Glueckliche Hand,on the same bill with Massine's Le Sacre du Printempsfeaturing Martha Graham.
In April, Horace was incapacitated by a stroke, and Doris' support was needed more than ever. Although she was unable to see them frequently, Doris tried to send her parents an amount of money each month. Her income continued to be based on teaching and a steady flow of engagements for Charles, herself, and the group. That summer, for an exclusive society garden party in Newport, Doris created a mock-heroic 18th-century-style ballet, which was a great success (C278). In the fall, Doris described to her parents an interest in doing a dance on Shakerism and another on women (C278). The next Dance Repertory season was a major project for the fall, and Doris spent a great deal of time attending meetings for modern dance organizations—the Dance Repertory Theatre, the Concert Dancers League, and the Council for the Dance. Along with her Christmas wishes she sent Horace and Julia a film she had taken of her dancers.
With the 1931 correspondence, an increase in the number of letters from outside correspondents reflects the growing complexity of Doris Humphrey's life. Doris related in her letters to Horace and Julia her continuing struggle with her theories of dance composition as well as her activities in teaching, composing, and dancing in concers in Cleveland. Washington, and in New York at the Neighborhood Playhouse, Irene Lewisohn's stadium concers, and another Dance Repertory Theatre season. A series of lecture-demonstrations presented at the New School for Social Research brought Humphrey-Weidman dancing to another portion of the public (M1-11; M31-74; M87-92). In May Doris, Charles, and Pauline, a weary triumvirate, decided to take separate vacations before the onslaught of classes and concerts in August. Charles visited a wealthy patron in Westport, Pauline sailed for London, and Doris set off for the West Indies.
Doris' letters to her parents during the trip reveal a more relaxed and contented Doris. She found the life style, the architecture, and the native dancing interesting. The unexpected pleasure of the trip, however, was her meeting an officer on the S.S. Dominica. She and Charles Francis Woodford, “Leo,” as Doris called him, fell in love, and, after her return from the West Indies, she reported to Horace and Julia that she had “last but not least acquired an English man who is one of the better specimens of the human race. By acquired I mean that he will probably be a permanent addition to my scheme of things in one capacity or another” (C284). The announcement came as a surprise to her parents and an annoyance to Charles and Pauline. There was no cause for alarm as far as Doris was concerned. “I'm not thinking of marrying him,” she assured her parents, “don't believe in it” (C284).
Following her return to New York, there bega a steady flow of letters from “Leo,” a keenly intelligent man, deeply in love with Doris (C290-91). There are only two letters from Doris to Leo dated 1931 in the collection, but most likely some of the correspondence in the “Undated Correspondence” (C732-36) is from this period. Despite the blossoming of Doris' love, she reveals in her letters her continuing dedication to her art and family responsibilities. A new round of classes, concerts, and rehearsals began. Money was scarce; Doris felt she had to support herself and her parents; Julia was now ill. The letters show a situation steadily worsening.
The events of Doris' life in 1932 are chronicled in 45 letters to Horace and Julia. During that year she choreographed Pleasures of Counterpointand Dionysiaques.In February Doris received a letter from Portia Mansfield eliciting her interest in a summer teaching post at the Perry-Mansfield Camp in Steamboat Springs, Colo (C324). In May Doris auditioned her Shakersand Water Studyfor a Shubert revue entitled Americana,and they were accepted. Doris considered this important recognition; it was also pleasant to have some steady employment for her dancers. Doris and Leo thought they would like to have a child, and finally decided it would be best to get married. In a letter to her parents, in a postscript, she announced: “I forgot to mention that Doris Humphrey married Charles Francis Woodford on June 10th, 1932 in Morrisville Pennsylvania. This information to be used as you see fit. D.” (C302). After staging dances for Carmenand Aïdawith Charles and Eleanor Frampton in Cleveland, Doris set off for her first summer at Perry-Mansfield. Her time there was disturbed by news that Nikolais Semenoff, a Russian teaching ballet in Cleveland, had killed himself by wading into Niagara Falls shortly after Doris had staged the dances for the Cleveland operas. Letters from Pauline, Charles, Leo, Julia, and Eleanor Frampton discuss the event, and assure Doris that she had had nothing to do with it. In the fall, the financial plight of Julia and Horace grew worse, and they moved to Dummerston, Vt, to share lodgings with Auntie May. A delightful insight into the personality of Charles F. Woodford is provided by his letters to his new in-laws, Horace and Julia Humphrey (C327-28).
Although there are no references to the event in her letters, Doris Humphrey became pregnant in 1933. At this time, Doris was more seriously concerned with developing her theories of dance than ever before. In the process, she involved Leo. She began writing a book of theory with him, a project which is recorded in the letters for more than five years. The final product is seen in part in a number of chapter drafts in the collection (M108-09).
Doris' connection with the legitimate stage continued after the success of Americana,when Hall Johnson asked her to stage dances for Run Little Chillun.The native dancing Doris saw in the West Indies must have proved helpful for this task (M146). At the same time, she and Charles were approached to stage and perform in dances for a Theatre Guild production of Molière's The School for Husbands.Two major projects were being planned concurrently by Charles and Doris. Charles was at work on a full-length production of Candide;Doris planned a major work, Orestes.Another major production, however, was the birth of Charles Humphrey Woodford on July 8 1933. Although the letters from Doris are filled with her activities which seemed never to stop (she performed a month later), her son was the subject of a part of every one until the year she died. Julia was a pparticularly interested grandmother, and, later, Doris' friend Helen Mary Robinson appreciated Doris' son as her major creation.
The fall brought many changes. Doris' teaching assignments extended to the Dalton School; a nurse was employed for the baby; and a large apartment was rented to house Doris, Leo, “Pussy” (the name given the baby by his nurse), Pauline, Charles, and José Limón, a member of Humphrey-Weidman gaining increasing notice. With money he earned for staging the dances for the highly successful As Thousands Cheer,Charles bought a large farm in Blairstown, NJ.
In early 1934, Doris visited her parents in Dummerston, taking their young grandson. Horace was by now very ill. “Your father is wrapped up in thoughts of you,” wrote Julia the year before (C340). On March 17 1934, he died. Julia remained in Dummerston until May, when she visited Doris in New York before returning to Oak Park to rejoin Ethel Moulton at the school she and Doris had started twenty years before.
Doris continued to teach, dance, and choreograph; Rudepoemaand Exhibition Piecewere two outstanding works created at this time. That summer Doris vacationed at Charles's farm, a haven that became a life-restorer for some years to come, and then went on in late July for the first session of the Bennington School of the Dance. There are no letters to Doris Humphrey in the collection regarding the first summer at Bennington; Doris' own letters describe her first impressions (C353).
With the fall came more connections with Broadway shows and a performance of Doris' Orestesat Carnegie Hall. While Charles found a success in Life Begins at 8:40,Doris tangled with the producers of Revenge with Music.Although Doris left the show, her dancers could not afford to. The uncertainty of the Group's staying together motivated Doris and Charles to draw up a “new plan” for the Humphrey-Weidman Group, a copy of which she sent to her mother for comments (C354). Doris and Charles faced the new year with the possibility of the loss of the company they had worked so long to build.
In January and February 1935 the Humphrey-Weidmans toured the United States from Toronto to Texas, the first tour by a modern dance company on such a scale. In February Doris and Charles presented nine dances for a production of Gluck's Iphigenia in Aulisat the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, a project Doris had mentioned in letters of August 1934. Iphigeniawas a great success—though Doris felt it could have been better (C371)—but the tour was not. In addition to financial losses, the tour had started off with the loss of several members. Letters from Ernestine Henoch, Ada Korvin, Katherine Litz, Debby Coleman, Hyla Rubin, Francis Reed, and Gail Savery presented various reasons for not going on tour and/or leaving the group. In her personal life, Doris was receiving letters from Leo which alternated between solicitous support and perplexed resentment of her art and career. In March Leo was in the hospital for minor surgery and Doris was off to Boston. Upon her return, Leo was out of the hospital, and Doris was offered a job teaching at the YM-YWHA at 92nd Street and Lexington Avenue in New York City. Leo was able to get a vacation for himself, Doris, and “Pussy” in Bermuda in June. In July Leo sailed for South America, and Doris went to a second Bennington session. There she created the first part of a major work entitled New Dance.Idealizing the harmony and individuality possible in a perfect state, the work was a great success. In view of the disappointments Doris had experienced in the first half of the year, this work must have expressed her innate faith in herself and her artistic theories.
A letter to Anna Bogue, secretary of the Elmhirst Committee, is an example of Doris' first attempts to gain subsidies for her group (C375).
The events of 1936 are represented by an unusually small amount of material. This is unfortunate, because in this year Doris created her great work With My Red Fires,the last section of the New Dancetrilogy, at Bennington. There are no letters to Julia for the Bennington period; that summer Doris invited her mother to care for “Pussy” at Bennington. One letter to Leo describes Doris' preliminary thoughts for Red Fires,then called “Romantic Tragedy” (C390).
In January 1936 Doris wrote to her mother of attempts to gain foundation support for a system of dance notation she had devised (M106). Reports of the success of Theatre Piece,the second part of New Dance,and the beginning of a Dance Project of the Federal Theatre Project, part of the WPA, are also found in these letters. On the home front, a new nurse, Marga Hein, took the place of her sister, Lisa Alida, in caring for Pussy.
While Leo was at home with a broken ankle since November 1936, and becoming a “modern dance expert,” the Humphrey-Weidmans were planning a tour of the Midwest in late February. “Charles and I try,” Doris wrote to her mother, “to convince the rest of America that the modern dance is something too” (C396). The tour took them to Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas, in two weeks. The southern United States was on the itinerary for March. Concerts and performances of Candide,remounted for the Federal Theatre Project, and trips to the Weidman farm filled the months preceding Doris' fourth summer at Bennington.
Doris returned to Perry-Mansfield in August, and this year she took along her son, with Marga. There are interesting glimpses of life in Steamboat Springs in letters from Doris to Julia and Leo that August (C397, C398). In September Doris enrolled Pussy at Friends Seminary, where Doris taught in return for her son's tuition. In November Doris was composing The Race of Life,inspired by James Thurber, and Charles worked on the Happy Hypocrite.Plans for an eight-week tour of the United States were in progress, with Pauline working on the booking (R1-7, R16).
From January to April 1938 the Humphrey-Weidman Company made a transcontinental tour across the United States and back. There are no letters from Doris to Julia for this period, but nearly 20 letters to Leo reveal Doris' impressions. The success of the tour was in no small part due to Pauline's planning. In May Doris, Leo, and Humphrey (no longer “Pussy”) made a trip to Bermuda (C405). Back in June, Doris thought it was ironic that she received the Dance Magazine Award for group choreography for To the Dance,which was premiered as a curtain raiser in Bloomington, Ind, on the 1937 tour. At Bennington, Doris created her stirring and austere Passacaglia(C405). Humphrey went along for another summer at Steamboat Springs, which Doris did not enjoy because of some unsatisfying teaching sessions. The fall brought increased pressures from Julia's reports that the Humphrey-Moulton School was losing money continually, from the Humphrey-Weidman deficits, and from conflicts between home and career.
A three-week tour of the Northeast, which started off 1939, preceded those to the South, Midwest, and California. From Rock Hill, SC in February, Doris wrote to her mother about the problems of touring so long. She was still on tour in San Francisco in the beginning of May, when Doris wrote to Julia of her plans to visit Oak Park on her return East, to vacation on the farm with Leo and Pussy, and of her fears that war would break out.
Doris sent Pauline ahead to California with Humphrey, with a stop to visit Mama-san planned. Doris was scheduled to teach at Greeley, Colo, then Mills College (where Bennington had been placed for one summer), and then Perry-Mansfield. En route with Pumba (his pet name for Pauline), Humphrey became quite ill. Reassuring letters from Pauline allayed Doris' fears somewhat (C433).
While at Greeley, Doris made the acquaintance of a woman who became her indispensable friend. Doris reported her first impressions of Helen Mary Robinson to both Julia and Leo, and to both it was clear that Mrs Robinson had made a deep impression on Doris (C424, C426). Before Doris' arrival at Mills College in California, Pauline wrote Doris her detailed opinions of the situation at the displaced Bennington (C433).
Returning to New York in the fall, Doris found that the school was maintaining the studio financially, and the lack of WPA projects decreased opportunities to perform. Thus she increased her efforts to gain subsidies for the studio (R9). In August Leo his job rather than go to England when there was a chance of a European war breaking out. This financial loss was temporarily offset by an advance Doris received for her book on theory of dance. In November Doris premiered her Square Dances,a suite of light-hearted dances she felt would be popular, and she was right.
In the midst of discussing winter concerts, a teachers' course, Christmas, and Humphrey's first report card, Doris mentioned to Julia that she had fallen down stairs in Lynchburg, Va, on her last tour. Although there seemed to be no serious effects, it was to have consequences for the rest of her life (C442). That summer there was no Bennington for Doris. Martha Graham was in residence in 1940, and it was to be Doris' turn the following summer. Doris was kept informed of events at Bennington, however, by Pauline who attended the session (C457). In September Doris went to the Hay Sanitorium in the Poconos. Leo felt she had had a beneficial rest, but she returned to activities soon after. There was a November tour in which Doris tried out her new work, Song of the West.This work and several others, including Charles Weidman's On My Mother's Side,were in the repertoire for the first season of the Humphrey-Weidman Studio Theatre, the realization of Dooris' goals for a permanent home for the company, which opened on December 26 1940.
The Studio Theatre was a success, but financial difficulties were far from over. Ethel Moulton had decided to close the Oak Park studio, meaning Julia would be out of work. Doris encouraged her to seek government aid, which proved slow in coming. For quite some time, tensions had been mounting on 10th Street, in the apartment which had housed the same six people for seven years. José had left, and Doris felt that a whole new start was necessary. While planning to move her residence, she also had to think of a project for Bennington. Everything seemed trivial in light of the world situation, but she finally decided on Decade—the history of the Humphrey-Weidmans in their first ten years—“the general theme being the struggle of a pioneer art in a world geared to profit” (C470).
A month earlier, Julia had reminded Doris of her pioneer heritage: “That, my dear, is where you, the pioneer, descendant of pioneers, come in. Never think I would have you otherwise. I'm proud of it and insofar as I had a share in transmitting that strain I can still believe my own life not altogether a failure” (C475). In September the Woodfords moved to 145 East 22nd Street. Pauline had departed for the West Coast to meet José; they were married on October 3 1941. Leo was then working for the United Fruit Company and located mostly in New Orleans. From Denver, Hay presented her opinions on everyone and everything in Doris' life through 60 letters written in one year. They were no doubt a source of enjoyment and consolation for Doris, and a means of gaining perspective (C483-91).
After the entry of the United States into World War II, Leo was away and out of touch with Doris for extended periods of time. She wrote to Hay of her feeling of loss. With her unique insight and wisdom, Hay responded: “I didn't like that `overboard with a piece of drift wood to cling to.' Leo wouldn't like it either. Yousaid physical presence wasn't necessary to a relationship. You will say that I am idealistic, but it is the feeling that nobody cares that makes the ship sink and throws you in the water. You are the Apple of countless people's eyes and every breath you draw and every activity you engage in and every thought you have matters, not only to the Eyes, but to mankind in general. You must be lonely and depressed, I know, but you couldn't be overboard because your ship can't sink—you have built it too well” (C515).
There was no Bennington that summer, and only Charles took the company on tour in October. For the second season of the Studio Theatre, Doris prepared an all-Bach program with José, who had returned from California. The program included Choral Preludes, Partita,and José's Chaconne.There is one letter extant from Doris to Leo for 1942. Because of the wartime situation which led to all mail being read by officials, Leo destroyed Doris' letters rather than have them bandied about. Only six letters from Doris for 1943 have survived. Four letters to Julia are primarily concerned with her visit East on Doris' invitation. One letter to Leo written in October announced that Doris and Humphrey had moved to 132 East 16th Street. The last letter is to John Martin, New York Timescritic, in reaction to his unfavorable review of her all-Bach program (C533). On the other hand, every aspect of Doris Humphrey's life and her family, friends, and acquaintances is reflected in the letters of Helen Mary Robinson, totaling some 200 pages (C541-47).
Among the subjects discussed in Hay's letters is Doris' increasingly poor health. The pain in her leg and hip became quite unbearable. The last work choreographed by Doris in which she herself danced was Inquest.Only one letter and one postcard, both to Hay, represent Doris' correspondence for 1944. The success of Inquestis recorded in the letters of Leo, Julia, Hay, and many miscellaneous correspondents. There are also letters of Humphrey Woodford that he wrote to his mother from camp in North Haven, Maine, during July 1944. Hay traveled east to be with Doris during the summer, and they went together to Black Mountain, NC, where Doris participated in a dance seminar. Upon her return to Denver, Hay continued to provide Doris with consolation and support. In November Doris and Charles were asked to choreograph the dances for a revue, Sing Out, Sweet Land,which provided Doris a temporary diversion.
One brief letter to Julia, ill and in a nursing home, constitutes the Doris Humphrey correspondence for 1945. The letters of Leo and Hay reveal that Doris was disheartened and depressed because of her infirmity and inactivity. In October Julia Humphrey died, and, in a way, so did Doris Humphrey's past. Doris then had to look ahead.
Ten letters to Hay, the only Doris Humphrey letters for 1946, show the gradual revival of her spirit. Early in the year she had been very depressed, and had seriously contemplated moving, or retiring, to the suburbs. But José, who had returned from the service at the end of 1945 and was involved in forming a company to perform at Bennington in July, asked Doris to rehearse some works for his group. In the meantime, Doris had been asked to choreograph a work celebrating the centennial of the Mormon settlement of Utah. She considered undertaking the Promised Valleyproject, but finally gave it up. For José, however, she created Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejiasas well as The Story of Mankind.These works were repeated at Jacob's Pillow to great acclaim. There is much praise for José in Doris' letters (C600), an admiration he reciprocated in his letters to her (C605).
Doris' plans to move to the suburbs became more indistinct as her new career developed. With Leo away since November 1946, she had to keep working in New York. Besides her teaching and rehearsing for José, she taught for Charles while he was on tour, was appointed head of the YM-YWHA Dance Department, and accepted an engagement at a resort at Green Mansions, NY, where she could both compose and have a vacation for herself and Humphrey. Two abortive involvements in 1947 were the Theatre Guild's proposal of a series of “ballet plays” which Doris would help to judge (C618), and an offer from Lucia Chase for Doris to stage one of her works for Ballet Theatre (C616). Doris' significant accomplishment in choreography in 1947 was Day on Earth.During these years, Doris wrote many letters to Hay which were a source of support and consolation following her friend's divorce.
There are no personal letters from Doris Humphrey in the correspondence for 1948. Leo was still away with the United Fruit Company, and, through his letters to Doris, a view of her activities for that year can be ascertained. She choreographed a work to Bartók music, entitled Corybantic,which was premiered at the Connecticut College School of the Dance in New London, Conn, a dance festival modeled on Bennington with many of the same participants. In a letter written in November, Hay responded to the news that Doris had applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship to write her book on choreography. A number of letters from Walter Sorell refer to an article Doris wrote for his book The Dance Has Many Faces(C638). The essay was entitled “Dance Drama” (M103-05). Doris' increased involvement in all fields of the dance is reflected in some 40 letters from people such as Lionel Nowak, Charles Weidman, Margaret Lloyd (in regard to her book The Borzoi Book of Modern Dance),Eve Gentry, Eleanor King, Janet Collins, Mary Wood Hinman, and Gertrude L. Lippincott. In March 1949 Doris Humphrey was notified of her appointment as a Guggenheim Fellow (C650). At New London that ssummer, she choreographed Inventionto an original score by Norman Lloyd. That same summer José Limón choreographed his Moor's Pavane.Doris became, in effect, a part of the Limón Company.
In the fifties decade the Limón Company was establishing an international reputation. In the correspondence, Doris was a recipient of news on the travels of the Limón Company. In April 1950 the Limón Company went to Paris with the Ruth Page Company. José reported the varied reactions of the French audiences to the company (C660). That fall, José was invited to Mexico to stage works at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes. Humphrey visited the Limóns in Mexico City in December.
Six letters to her son from this period reveal a new emphasis. Although she discussed the progress of her Night Spellat Connecticut College in 1951, she wrote more as a mother than as an artist, especially in this year when Humphrey entered Lafayette College. In the fall of that year, Doris was asked to become a member of the dance faculty at the Juilliard School of Music, under the direction of Martha Hill. In December Doris joined José on his return trip to Mexico.
The final six years of correspondence tell much about the last professional and private years of Doris Humphrey. In a letter written to Humphrey (Weidman?) in July 1952, Doris described her developing composition to Mozart's Fantasy and Fugue in C Major and Fugue in C Minor(C676). Reflections on her time in Mexico, activities at Juilliard, and the lack of improvement in her painfully crippling illness fill the letters to Hay. In these last years Doris wrote with a more mellowed tone, a relaxed candor, especially with Hay, and a dry wit giving the impression in her letters that she could weather even the roughest storm.
In April 1953 Doris choreographed her spirited Ritmo Jondo,for José and his company, and at Connecticut she composed Ruins and Visions.For his junior year, Humphrey went to Hull, England, to study. While he was away, Doris needed an operation on her hip; Leo was fortunately home to take care of her (C686).
In March 1954 Doris received the Capezio Award, for her leadership in modern dance. That summer she choreographed Felipe el Loco.In October the Limón Company toured four cities in South America under the aegis of the State Department, and José reported his impressions and the troupe's triumphs on the tour (C694). That fall the founding of Juilliard Dance Theatre gave her much pleasure, she reported to Humphrey. She choreographed the Rock and the Springfor that group in April 1955. Shortly before she was to leave for New London, Doris was hospitalized with acute pains in her legs. A week later, she was at Connecticut College on crutches, but was able to choreograph Airs and Graces.When she returned for the fall, she and Leo moved to the Ruxton Hotel, on 72nd Street, where she would not have to climb stairs.
Doris reported to Hay in March 1956 that her legs were “alright,” they got her around, and “that's all I ask of them” (C707). She described her feelings about Juilliard and her concerts there: she found difficulties, but there were the “magnificent ones... like José, most of his company, and Martha Hill” (C707). In April she choreographed Dawn in New Yorkand Theatre Piece No. 2.Humphrey had entered the Navy Officers Training Program some time after graduating from college. Doris also served on the International Exchange Program of ANTA and received thanks from UNESCO and the State Department for her participation in programs in May 1956 (C711). Descent into the Dreamwas choreographed for the Juilliard Dance Theatre in January 1957. That summer at New London Doris choreographed Dance Overture.In August she sailed for Europe to accompany the Limón Company on tour. Leo joined her there. She came home early, ahead of the company, but before her return she lectured for the British Dance Notation Society, on December 1. “I'm delighted that you'll be around the day I return,” she wrote to Humphrey on November 26, “—it all worked out right for once” (C714).
1958, Doris' last year, was spent in almost constant illness. Never wasting time, however, she finished her book on choreography, entitled The Art of Making Dances(M93-96). She soon began writing her reminiscences, which were left unfinished (M97-102). Doris' last letter, dated December 12 1958, is to Hay. Although she was perfectly aware of the gravity of her illness, there was no trace of resignation in her writing. As she had rearranged her life when she could no longer dance herself, but had to dance through Jose, his company, and other dancers, she now planned another approach toward life—through the pen and the phone. In that last letter to Hay, there is no good-bye, rather more plans, a subdued anger, and disbelief “that this has happened to me” (C721).
Six folders of letters and cards of condolence to Charles F. and Charles H. Woodford, upon the death of Doris Humphrey on December 29 1958, are found in C726-31.
The Doris Humphrey collection is arranged in six series:
The correspondence of the 19th-century ancestors of Horace, Julia, and Doris Humphrey is grouped by year. Each folder contains one year's correspondence, excepting two folders which represent 1819. The items are arranged chronologically within each folder.
The major correspondence, beginning with the courtship of Doris Humphrey's parents, Horace B. Humphrey and Julia Ellen Wells (Humphrey), and ending with condolences upon Miss Humphrey's death, evolves into a complex chronological pattern. In order to maintain clarity and a maximum of consistency, the collection is grouped by year. Within each year, the correspondence is broken down into subgroups by correspondent according to an arrangement established at the beginning of the series. The only major readjustment occurs in Correspondence 1917, when Doris Humphrey becomes the major correspondent.
The correspondents in this series are classified into three types: Major correspondents; Minor correspondents; Miscellaneous correspondents.
The Major correspondents classification includes Doris Humphrey and only the members of her immediate family—her parents, Horace B. Humphrey and Julia Humphrey, her husband, Charles F. Woodford, and her son, Charles H. Woodford.
Minor correspondents are those who, within any given year, wrote two or more letters of relative importance to Doris Humphrey (DH) or to another major or minor correspondent. Among the most frequently represented correspondents in this group are Mary Walker, Charles Weidman, Pauline Lawrence, José Limón, Ian Wolfe, Helen Mary Robinson, Eleanor Frampton, and Eleanor King. The arrangement is always alphabetical.
Miscellaneous correspondents are those who, within any given year, wrote one (perhaps two) letters which are more meaningful when included within the total picture presented by the miscellaneous correspondence than when placed separately as minor correspondents. The arrangement is chronological.
From 1891 to 1898, the letters of HBH to JH (see the Key to Abbreviations preceding the Folder List below) are always listed first and arranged chronologically. These are followed by the JH to HBH correspondence, then HBH to minor and miscellaneous correspondents, JH to minor and miscellaneous correspondents, and, finally, miscellaneous items.
Beginning in 1899, DH is a recipient of correspondence in the collection. In 1904, she becomes a major correspondent, and her letters follow those of HBH and JH. In 1917, DH becomes the major correspondent. Thereafter:
- Letters byDH precede all other correspondence. These letters are arranged first to major, then minor, then miscellaneous correspondents.
- Letters toDH are arranged by correspondent according to the established precedent, i.e., major correspondents (JH, HBH, CFW, CHW), minor correspondents (arranged alphabetically), and miscellaneous correspondents (arranged chronologically).
- Correspondence to major correspondents is arranged in the order (after 1917): letters to JH; letters to HBH; letters to CFW; letters to CHW. Within these groups of letters to each major correspondent, the arrangement is in the order: letters from major to major correspondents; letters from minor to major correspondents (alphabetically); letters from miscellaneous to major correspondents (chronologically).
- Correspondence to minor correspondents is arranged alphabetically by surname of the recipient. Each of these groups is arranged in the order: letters from major to minor correspondents; letters from minor to minor correspondents (alphabetically); letters from miscellaneous to minor correspondents (chronologically).
- Correspondence to miscellaneous correspondents is generally found under the Miscellaneous heading at the end of each year's correspondence.
Following Correspondence 1958 is Correspondence 1958-59 (C726-31), a subseries of condolences to CFW and CHW upon the death of DH. They are arranged alphabetically with one folder for condolences from unidentified persons.
Last in the Correspondence series is a subseries of undated letters arranged according to the established order of arrangement and, within those groupings, by estimated dates for the letters included.
The manuscript series is arranged into subseries by name of the author of the written material, and further subdivided, when necessary, under broad subject headings. The folders within each subgroup are arranged alphabetically by title. Most titles have been taken from the manuscripts themselves; bracketed titles indicate those which have been supplied by the compiler of this guide.
In the subseries Miscellaneous Manuscripts, items are grouped under broad subject headings and arranged alphabetically by author (if known) or title. Folders M162-65 contain notes by Pauline Lawrence which were added after the bulk of the manuscripts had been arranged.
The records series is grouped into four subseries with broad subject headings—Dance Management: Humphrey-Weidman Company; Dance Management: Associations; Financial Business; Personal Business: Doris Humphrey. Each of these subseries is subdivided into more specific subject headings, and folders are arranged by type of material (e.g., correspondence, contracts, financial statements, tax returns, etc.) or by the name of an organization.
The miscellaneous series is comprised of five small subseries of materials arranged in a basically chronological order: Doris Humphrey (Schoolwork); Swedish Book (Materials relating to the career of Mary Wood Hinman); Shaker Material; Notebooks; Memorabilia.