Scope and arrangement
The Jean Erdman Papers document the professional life of Jean Erdman Campbell, a twentieth-century dancer, choreographer, and dance instructor. Materials cover Erdman's entire career, from her early studies and works in 1937 until the mid-1990s. The collection consists of professional correspondence; production materials and academic papers; publicity materials, such as clippings, press releases, leaflets and posters, scrapbooks, and programs; as well as administrative, financial and legal papers. Teaching materials, lesson plans and research notes on technique reflect her role as dance instructor and faculty member at several colleges and universities. Erdman also published several short articles that reveal her interest in the direction of American Modern Dance as well as dance traditions of cultures worldwide. For several decades Erdman toured extensively, both on her own and in group performances, throughout North America as well as overseas in Europe, India and Japan. As part of these tours Erdman performed her own choreography and gave lecture-demonstrations, master classes or longer workshops. A large part of the academic papers and correspondence series bare evidence of the arrangements behind these extensive tours, as well as Erdman's performances within New York City. Erdman's role as choreographer and later on as artistic director of the Theater of the Open Eye is also amply documented through production and publicity materials. Production materials in particular include a wide range of correspondence, research and choreographer's notes, scripts, scores, projection slides, stage and lighting plans for the performances created by Erdman. Publicity materials, such as clippings, programs, leaflets, posters, and scrapbooks complete the picture of Erdman's career. Interesting highlights of the Production Series include comprehensive Technical Stage Direction sheets, in which all concurrent elements of a performance are drawn together in a large graph, where they can be seen at a glance. Research materials, correspondence with The Society of Authors as representative of the Joyce Estate, and the abundant materials documenting the development of The Coach with the Six Insides, including numerous drafts of the script, may be of particular interest to scholars of James Joyce. The collection also includes a significant number of photographs, slides and negatives from the majority of Erdman's productions. The administrative side of Erdman's responsibilities is reflected in the correspondence; office files; and financial and legal papers, which include a sizeable section on fundraising efforts. Also included are limited materials related to Erdman's husband, Joseph Campbell, mostly resulting from their collaboration within the Theater of the Open Eye. This collection contains almost no materials related to Jean Erdman's personal life.
The Jean Erdman papers are arranged in ten series:
- 1939 - 200110 boxes
This series contains correspondence with Jean Erdman's and Joseph Campbell's colleagues and friends, covering every aspect of Erdman's professional life as teacher, choreographer and performer, dance instructor, college faculty member and artistic director. A large part of this correspondence was carried out by several people who wrote on her behalf, such as administrative assistants and secretaries, tour agents, lawyers, and also her husband. Such letters are filed together with Erdman's own letters, under the name of the recipient or outside organization. Apart from personal comments in business letters, there is no purely personal correspondence in this collection.
- 1943 - 199210 boxes
This series is divided into two sub-series: Early Works, and Theater of the Open Eye, reflecting the two major phases of Erdman's career. Materials in this series include choreographer's and production notes; scripts, librettos and scores; music cues; costume and set designs; lighting plots and cues, including those for slide projection, a feature that appears in a number of Erdman's productions. The series also includes materials that amply illustrate Erdman's background work on her productions, such as correspondence, research notes and materials; notes on early thoughts and ideas; as well as rehearsal schedules, ticket lists and box office statements.
- 1937 - 20006 boxes
This series documents the academic aspects of Erdman's career as dance instructor at her own studio and as faculty member or guest lecturer at several Colleges. It includes a significant number of notes on exercises and technique from her first steps as dance student herself, and throughout her teaching career. Three early notebooks, in particular, are of importance in disclosing Erdman's formative thoughts on her approach to modern dance (Box 27, folders 1-3). This series also includes copies of several short articles Erdman wrote on Modern Dance and foreign dance traditions; notes from conference participation; and a list of titles included in Erdman's personal book collection.
- 1942 - 198910 boxes
This series contains financial and legal materials from the early steps of Erdman's career through the Theater of the Open Eye. It includes correspondence, contracts, royalty statements, budget lists and fundraising materials, as well as payroll, insurance and tax documents, retail receipts and invoices, bank and salary statements. Biographical and professional information provided by Erdman in the various proposals and their drafts, located in the fundraising materials, may be of particular interest and enhance the biographical materials found in the Publicity Series (Box 40, folders 2-5).
- 1938 - 19881 box
This series contains promotional form letters, contact lists, activity schedules and tour arrangement correspondence spanning Erdman's entire career, as well as meeting minutes and vendor information used by the Theater of the Open Eye. Awards and Honors won by Erdman can also be found here.
- 1925 - 19939.5 boxes
This series contains clippings; leaflets and posters; interview transcripts; press releases and quotes, as well as a number of Press Books (intended for publicity purposes) and Press Manuals (intended for the use of publicists). Some publicity materials for Joseph Campbell, including fliers for his seminars, and a few issues from a newsletter produced by the Theater of the Open Eye can also be found here. A list of all of Erdman's productions, in chronological order and often with a list of contributors can be found among the biographical materials (Box 40, folder 5).
- 1962 - 19671.5 boxes
This series contains several scrapbooks dating from Erdman's early years (Box 65, folders 1-7), and others dedicated to the performances of The Coach with the Six Insides in the U.S.A. as well as on tour. Three cartoon scrapbooks give a humorous insight to the personalities of and relations among the members of the Theater of the Open Eye.
- 1935 - 19914 boxes
This series contains programs from Erdman's performances from the beginning of her career and through the prolific productions of the Theater of the Open Eye. There is also a significant number of souvenir programs from performances that Erdman attended, a large part dedicated to East Asian, and Japanese in particular, arts reflecting her ongoing interest in the culture of the region.
- 1938 - 19918 boxes
This series contains photographs of Jean Erdman and her colleagues, both as a solo dancer and as part of the Theater of the Open Eye. A significant part of the series is dedicated to photographs from Erdman's productions, both during performances and studio and rehearsals. This section is divided into early works and Theater of the Open Eye, reflecting the same division in the Production Series. Contact sheets and several projection slides used in select performances can also be found here. No personal photographs are found in this collection.
- 1930s - 19914 boxes
This series contains oversized production and publicity materials, scrapbooks and photographs.