Scope and arrangement
The majority of the collection contains material relating to Walter Terry’s professional career as a writer. This includes written and photographic works, which encompass a large quantity of research material. The work is separated into four major categories: choreographers/dancers, dance companies/festivals, film and television, and history of dance. The papers demonstrate Terry’s intimate relationship with choreographers/dancers and dance companies/festivals. Most noteworthy are the papers of Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis, of whom Terry shared a lifelong friendship. These contain intimate diary entries by St. Denis with personal correspondence, which may give insight into the Shawn-St. Denis relationship. The professional correspondence between Shawn and Terry illustrate the success of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. The collection also contains material on August Bournonville, the Danish choreographer, and the August Bournonville Centennial. Within the research material, there is a detailed biography of Bournonville with notes, and photographs. Terry’s love of dance is reflected in his professional papers. Although most of the lectures and laboratories are outlines, his notes on choreographers/dancers, dance movements, and other dance topics, illustrate the work Terry devoted to promoting dance in the United States. The collection also consists of personal and professional correspondence, ephemera, and Terry’s personal papers. Within these papers are Terry’s cryptography diploma, corporal appointment certificate, enlisted report and honorable discharge certificates from his service in World War II.
The Walter Terry papers are arranged in eight series:
- 1921 - 1982, undated12 Boxes
Walter Terry’s correspondence covers a large amount of professional material, particularly between choreographers, dancers, and dance companies. His most notable correspondents include Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis, and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Within the files, there are many choreographers, dancers, dance companies, and many international correspondents that sought to promote dance in America. This series also contains correspondents to Terry from his mother, sister, brother, and friends of the family.
- 1913 - 1978, Undated4 Boxes
This series includes material relating to Terry’s childhood, college and army career. It contains certificates, diplomas, a diary, educational material, essays/stories, photographs, and reading materials. Within the series there can be found Terry’s grade school French and English grammar exams and stories, which illustrate his creative and imaginative style of writing. The photographs contain intimate family portraits, childhood portraits, and a picture of Terry in Egypt during WWII. There are 2 boxes of ephemeral material: a certificate and pin from the Sons of the Revolution and some leather wallets.
- 1935 - 1982, undated19 Boxes
Terry’s Professional Papers are sorted to showcase his work as an adjudicator, juror, lecturer, and teacher. Although most of the papers within this series are outlines in typescript, this series does illustrate the work Terry devoted to promoting dance to the community. He would often hold lectures at the 92nd Street Y with guest choreographers and dancers, such as Erik Bruhn, Alicia Markova, Maria Tallchief, and Igor Youskevitch. Most of these lectures would explore changes in dance forms in a question and answer format.
- 1906 - 1982, undated37 Boxes
The Written Material series covers Terry’s career as a dance critic for the: New York Herald Tribune, the New York World Journal, and the Saturday Review, as well as his career as a freelance journalist and writer of many dance reference books. There includes a large amount of research material within the four sub-series categories: choreographers/dancers, dance companies/festivals, film & television, and history of dance. The research material contains biographies, clippings, notes, photographs, programs, and publicity material. Among his many papers, his work about Isadora Duncan is noteworthy. The materials relate to his non-fiction works are Isadora Duncan: Her Life, Her Art, Her Legacy and The Legacy of Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis. There contains a journal by Dance Perspectives on her work, photographs, and even an historical record of the Elizabeth Duncan School.
- 1893 - 1981, undated34 Boxes
This series demonstrates one of three sources of reference material Terry kept for his use. The photographs are arranged similarly to the four sub-series under written material. The materials are in print, negative, and slide form. Among the choreographers & dancers sub-series are materials related to Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis, which contain rare photographs, as well as their early solo performances. Shawn’s collection contains portraits with Norma Gould, Hazel Wallack, and Martha Graham.
- 1808 - 1982, undated4 Boxes
The bulk of this series includes clippings and dance journals, which Terry used as reference material for his writing. The papers were separated from his written material and photographs, but served the same purpose as the research material found within series IV and V. Includes an appendix and a few bibliographies. The Materials related to the Danish ballet and the Danish choreographer August Bournonville are noteworthy mentions.
- 1945 - 1982, undated10 Boxes
This series includes artwork, bulletins, posters, and programs.
- 1909 - 1982, undated13 Boxes
Separated into personal and professional sub-series, the oversized materials encompass several important dance materials. Most notable is the manuscript of Terry’s biography Alicia Alonzo and her Ballet Nacional de Cuba: An Illustrated Biography. There are also two original 19th century programs, some music scores, and several posters.