Scope and arrangement
The Katherine Wolfe Papers primarily document her work on an unpublished dance history book, The Concert Dance, begun during the summer of 1942 and completed in 1960. Research files contain clippings, programs, publicity materials and notes relating to performers, choreographers, companies, and other topics chronicled in the book. As a significant component of her research and writing process, Wolfe conducted at least one interview with most of the individuals discussed in volumes two, three, and four of the book and sought and received their input on her manuscript, incorporating those suggestions or corrections into the final version. The majority of the correspondence is of a professional nature and relates primarily to the development of the book. While the list of correspondents reads like a who's who of early to mid-twentieth century modern dance, among those contributors with whom she carried on a lengthy correspondence are Mary Wigman (with whom Wolfe had studied in the 1930s and to whom she would continue to send care packages in Germany after the war) and long time friend Eleanor King. In addition to some probable earlier drafts of sections of the manuscript, the collection includes a photocopy of the entire 1960 typescript of The Concert Dance. The collection provides a unique perspective on twentieth century American theatrical dance, chiefly composed just before the national dance boom that increased federal funding soon would promote. It also contains some material that may be of interest to researchers of Seattle dance and educational history, including numerous programs of early (and often obscure) local performances, as well as many copies of official Seattle Public Schools communications (Wolfe frequently typed her research notes on the verso of extra mimeographed leaves).
The Katharine Wolfe papers are arranged in three series:
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The majority of the letters in the Correspondence series are from those individuals whose work is discussed in The Concert Dance. Frequently included with the letters is a carbon copy or original typescript of the portion of the manuscript about that individual, returned with annotations or corrections. Among those respondents who provided detailed comments on sections of the manuscript are Franziska Boas, Valerie Bettis, Angna Enters, Jean Erdman, Eve Gentry, Hadassah (through her husband, Milton Epstein), Pauline Koner, Juana de Laban, Alwin Nikolais, Pearl Primus, Jan Veen, and Mary Wigman. In addition to her commentary on the book, there is extensive correspondence from Eleanor King, who also was a long time friend of Wolfe's. At the end of the series is one folder containing photocopies of several of Wolfe's annual Christmas letters to her friends (she often typed her notes on the back of these and other mimeographed leaves from her office), which partially document her work on the book and other activities.
- Sub-series 1 – The Ballet (Volume 1), 1912-1966 and undated
- Sub-series 2 – Modern Dance: Beginnings in Germany (Volume 2), 1926-1964 and undated
- Sub-series 3 – Modern Dance in America (Volume 3), 1926-1972 and undated
- Sub-series 4 – Ethnic Dance and Dance Mime in America (Volume 4), 1926-1969 and undated
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The Research Materials series consists of files Wolfe kept on choreographers, dancers, companies, and other topics. Folders typically contain clippings, programs, and publicity materials, as well as her mainly typewritten notes. Wolfe frequently compiled quotes from reviews and made summaries and translations of books or articles. Of particular interest are notes she made from the interviews she conducted with many of the subjects treated in the finished book. The series has been arranged into four sub-series based on the final organization of the book; a few of the performers covered do not appear in the version of the manuscript contained in the collection. Letters and returned manuscripts found in these files or elsewhere in the collection have been moved to the Correspondence series. At the end of the series are six folders of miscellaneous research materials that may or may not have been directly connected to the book.
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The Writings series contains a few different, possibly earlier drafts on various subjects that were incorporated into the final version of The Concert Dance manuscript, as well as a photocopy of the completed 1960 typescript that was supplied by the Seattle Public Library, where it was deposited (Special Collections, University of Washington also holds a copy).