Scope and arrangement
The Sara Mildred Strauss Papers document the professional life of the twentieth-century dance instructor, choreographer, producer and writer. This collection contains correspondence, biographical notes, materials related to the dance schools and professional dance groups trained by Sara Mildred Strauss, drafts and final versions of her writings, drawings, clippings and scrapbooks, and photographs of Sara Mildred Strauss, her students, and shows for which she choreographed. The majority of the material dates from the late 1920s to the 1960s and focus on her professional life, with only a small portion documenting her personal life. There are no audiovisual materials in this collection. Several photographs of buildings in Austria and Germany from 1929-1930 might be of interest to researchers.
The Sara Mildred Strauss papers are arranged in six series:
This series contains correspondence to Sara Mildred Strauss related to her personal life and various professional activities. Letters are arranged by last name, or first name if a last name is not mentioned. Letters written by Sara Mildred Strauss, her husband (I. Bear Newman), or assistants on her behalf are filed along with the sender's letters, to which they respond. Among the correspondents that can be found in this series are Grace, Princess of Monaco (box 1, folder 4), Helen Hayes (box 1, folder 4), and Sir Reginald Croom-Johnson (box 1, folder 2). Folders 8 and 9 are arranged chronologically and document the collaboration between Sara Mildred Strauss and her dancing group in California in 1937-1938. They are referred to as "Strauss Ballet" in official documents, and not "Strauss Dancers", which was the most common name her dancing groups were known as.
This series contains evidence of Sara Mildred Strauss's professional activities, primarily documenting her career as dance instructor and choreographer. It includes drafts and final copies of biographical notes provided by her or written by critics for use in school leaflets, and lists of names and contact information of several former students. There are also leaflets and announcements of instruction schools, courses and workshops that Sara Strauss organized. They include recreation courses for children (see also photographs in box 6, folders 18-19); courses conducted in Europe (see also photographs in box 6, folders 1-8; and box 9, folder 1 for a unique copy of an announcement of her first European course in 1929); announcements and invitations of events organized by Sara Mildred Strauss, or in which she participated, and repertoire notes of performances by dance groups trained by her. Finally, a proposal for the formation of "The Dance Institute of America" (1934) and a list of her professional activities in 1934-1935 can be found in this series (box 2, folder 6).
This series contains Sara Strauss's writings and drawings, as well as a draft written by her mother describing a series of trips they took together. Her writings include drafts and published articles on body posture and exercise, which Sara Strauss published in Family Circle Magazine during the 1960s. Drafts in box 3, folders 2 and 3 are complete with Sara Strauss's own sketches of posture and movement examples for each step analyzed in the articles. There are also clippings from the published version (box 3, folder 4). As they are the result of sometimes considerable editing, titles often do not correspond to those submitted by Sara Strauss, and her drawings have been replaced. This series also includes a copy of Sara Strauss's first book, The Dance and Life published in 1916, and drafts of text for Sara Strauss's book Here an Inch, There an Inch, published by Prentice-Hall in 1966. The text of another manuscript, Instant Figure Improvement for the Modern Woman, appears to be a draft of a different work, completed in ca. 1965.
Her drawings are both in color and pencil. Only a small number are dated and signed. There is also a series of several sketches of example drawings (box 4, folder 7). They are similar to those accompanying the drafts for her articles (box 3, folders 2 and 3), but not identifiably related to any text found in the collection. Finally, material from Sara Strauss's early years includes booklets from schools she attended, as well as descriptions and clippings referring to horse and carriage trips to Canada, which she took with her mother. A draft of an undated manuscript of one such trip's description by Mrs. Lehman Strauss can also be found here. Excerpts from this manuscript are quoted in the newspaper clippings.
- 1918 - 1973
This series contains loose newspaper clippings; mounted cards with clippings, announcement and invitation cards, programs, and a few photographs from Sara Mildred Strauss's dance groups. It also contains a clippings scrapbook, likely put together by Strauss herself. The clippings range from reviews and commentaries of her published works, her teaching approaches and philosophy, advertisements of her various instructional programs and courses at her dance schools, and interviews. There are also some articles on developments in American Ballet and other dance traditions. Her Living Movement Figure dolls and book Here an Inch, There an Inch are thoroughly covered in box 5, folder 3, with photographs, advertisements, announcements, order forms and reviews. Additional magazine clippings and mounted cards can be found in the oversized series.
This series contains photographs related to Sara Mildred Strauss's career as dance and movement instructor. It includes photographs from training sessions with her pupils at various locations of her School of Dance, as well as children with whom she worked. There is also a significant number of photographs from two of the three European courses she organized to Germany, Austria and France between 1928 and 1930. Many of these photographs are mounted on cards, often with captions, and depict training sessions on deck during traveling and outdoors, sightseeing trips, picnics and leisure time with her students and local instructors. This series also contains photographs from the dance numbers Sara Strauss choreographed for various performances, including Calling All Stars, Carioca, Song of the Bayou and Savage Serenade, and the motion picture Sweet Surrender; and two scrapbooks with photographs, clippings, and copies of school leaflets, probably compiled by Sara Strauss herself. They record her dance productions and School of Dance, both dated 1935. Photographs of the Living Movement Figure dolls, created by Sara Strauss in the early 1940s, are divided according to the two main uses the dolls were put, dressed in various costumes for advertisement or shop windows, and dance instruction. Finally, several photographs of Sara Strauss dancing and portraits are also included. They date from most of her adult years.
This series contains oversized clippings, photographs, and drawings by Sara Mildred Strauss and F.K. Detwiller. All drawings represent images of several female bodies in dance postures and configurations.