Scope and arrangement
The Artur Michel Papers primarily document the professional concerns of the dance critic and scholar after he settled in New York. Michel's activities in his new home centered on his efforts to complete, translate, and publish a comprehensive book on the history of theatrical dance, Der Tanz auf der Bühne: Geschichte des Theatertanzes seit der Renaissance. Two bound copies of the finished German manuscript of this unpublished work, as well as an English translation of some sections, are available in the collection. In addition to research materials Michel gathered in writing his book and other publications, the collection includes correspondence, photographs, clippings, programs, publicity materials, and original writings that document a broad spectrum of the rich German dance scene during the 1920s and early 1930s, a period in which Michel worked as a journalist in Berlin. Notable correspondents from this time include La Argentina, Yvonne Georgi, Valeska Gert, Raden Mas Jodjana, Harald Kreutzberg, Lizzie Maudrick, Niddy Impekoven, Rudolf von Laban, Gret Palucca, Oskar Schlemmer, Mia Slavenska, and Mary Wigman. Michel's work as a reviewer for the New York-based, German-language newspaper, Aufbau, also gained him access to many figures in contemporary American dance, including Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey, and Helen Tamiris. Although the collection contains no material that deals directly with Michel's experiences under the Nazi regime, researchers studying Jewish refugees from Germany or the German émigré community in New York may be interested in his immigration documents, correspondence with the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, and Aufbau-related materials. Other research interests of Michel's that are well represented in the collection include ballet history (particularly in Italy and the Romantic era), folk dance (especially in Austria, Germany, and Spain), and social dance forms.
The Artur Michel papers are arranged in four series:
- 1899 - 19872 boxes
The Correspondence series contains letters, postcards, greeting cards, and other materials, primarily of a professional nature. Much of the correspondence dates from Michel's time in New York, but also includes some earlier items. There are three folders of family correspondence, which include postcards from Michel's parents, as well as items that postdate his death, such as condolence letters sent to his sister and documentation of a later effort made by his niece to get the manuscript for his book translated and published. In addition to letters from a wide range of dance notables, the collection includes communications from artists, such as Emil Orlik and Kurt Werth, as well as scholars, including Walter Toscanini and Else Lasker-Schüler. Photographs found with the letters have been moved to the Photographs series, as noted in the container list.
- 1832 - 194611 boxes
The Research Materials series is comprised of clippings, notes, programs, and additional items assembled by Michel in preparation for his reviews and scholarly writings. Michel, who was multilingual, was inconsistent in his use of language for categorizing his files; in general, English terms have been supplied in the container list, except in a few instances for those terms which are more frequently identified by their original language in English usage (for example, basse danse), and some German concepts, for which no straightforward English equivalent could be found. Major subjects covered include ballet, court dance, folk dance, and modern dance; particularly dance in Germany during the 1920s and early 1930s. An item of special interest is a printed German libretto from 1832 for a ballet with Fanny Elssler. The majority of the materials are in German (and Michel took many of his notes in shorthand), but there are some items in English, French, Italian, and Spanish. Also interspersed throughout several of the folders are carbon copies of typescripts of Michel's reviews, most likely done for Aufbau. Many of the materials in this series are fragile and require careful handling.
- 1903 - 19444 boxes
The Photographs series consists of two main groups: Dancers and dance groups, which contains mainly publicity photographs and postcards of individual dancers or companies, and Reproductions, which is comprised of prints and negatives of graphic materials acquired by Michel for research and study purposes, or to be included as illustrations with his publications. There is also one box with six lantern slides, probably used to accompany lectures. Of special interest are candid shots (either sent to, or including, Michel) from Yvonne Georgi, Harald Kreutzberg, Raden Mas Jodjana, Gret Palucca, Mia Slavenska, and Mary Wigman.
- 1907 - 19473 boxes
The Writings series contains drafts, manuscripts, and printed editions of many of Michel's works for publication. Included are drafts of individual chapters and two complete versions of his unpublished book, Der Tanz auf der Bühne. The majority of the material is in German, with a few items that have been translated into English; there is one article in Czech. Also of note is a selection of clippings of Michel's articles written for various German newspapers, between 1907-1931; some of these items appear under the pseudonym, Artur Grote.