Scope and arrangement
The Irma Duncan papers document her professional and personal life from 1905 to 1977.
The entire collection is testimony to Irma Duncan's lifelong dedication to the theories, ideals, and life of Isadora Duncan.
Material is in English with some German, Russian, and French.
The Irma Duncan papers are arranged in three series:
The weight of importance and quantity in this collection lies in the correspondence series, 1905-1977 (1326 items). It traces Irma's years from first joining Isadora Duncan as a young student in 1905, to her years as a mature artist with and after Isadora until her death in 1977. The early correspondence includes letters with her own mother as well as three letters (holographs) from Isadora to Irma, and another to her adopted daughters. There are extensive runs of letters later from, and in some cases to, the other adopted daughters after Isadora's death. These include Erika, Anna, Lisa, and Theresa. Other noteworthy professional correspondents are E. Gordon Craig, Paris Singer, Augustin Duncan, and Edward Steichen. A selected index of professional correspondence is included in the register, as all letters are arranged chronologically.
The writings and memorabilia series is divided into three sub-series: those of Irma (67 items), Isadora (9 items), and other authors (28 items). Of note in the first are Irma's diaries of 1921, the year she accompanied Isadora to Moscow, and her notebook “Guide Through the Duncan System of Dancing.” Within Isadora's writings are two autobiographical holographs on her activities in 1904 and 1905, as well as her own sketch of the Moscow school uniforms. The last of the sub-series reflects the great impact Isadora had on many people who were then compelled to express it in articles and poems.