Scope and arrangement
The Helene Obolensky Papers document Obolensky's activities in the field of dance book publishing. The bulk of the collection consists of Project files which detail editorial and production matters relating to two titles published under the imprint of Helene Obolensky Enterprises, Inc. during the early 1980s, America Dances (1980) by Agnes De Mille and Nureyev (1982) by Clive Barnes. Materials in these files include clippings, contracts, correspondence, galley proofs, invoices, manuscripts, and photographs. Correspondence is almost entirely limited to professional concerns. Notable correspondents represented in the Project Files include De Mille (although she is represented by only a few items). There are also some letters from the former Diaghilev dancer and choreographer, Serge Lifar, contained in the Subject files series. The Lifar materials apparently were collected by Obolensky as part of separate efforts to publish his memoirs and to persuade Lifar to participate in a documentary on the Diaghilev era. Also of note are several snapshots of Lifar at a house party, with other identifiable Ballets Russes alumni (including Alexandra Danilova) in attendance, as well as some photographs that show Lifar at the Diaghilev exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. There also is a small set of studio portraits of Lifar taken by Max Waldman, some of them with a woman (most likely Obolensky). Oversized materials chiefly consist of production mechanicals for the Nureyev book.
The Helene Obolensky papers are arranged in three series:
- 1975 - 19943 boxes
The Project Files series is comprised mostly of clippings, contracts, correspondence, financial records, galley proofs, manuscripts, photographs, and other editorial and production files relating to two of the dance books published by Obolensky during the 1980s, America Dances and Nureyev. Since both books were generously illustrated, much of the material concerns researching and securing permissions for the many photographs used in the books. Also of interest is material regarding the marketing of the Nureyev book, which includes some snapshots of its author, Clive Barnes, as well as Rudolf Nureyev at various book signings. The Oversized Material series also includes complete production mechanicals and related galley proofs for Nureyev.
- 1910 - 19831 box
The Subject Files series primarily consists of correspondence and research materials relating to various book, film, and television projects in which Obolensky was interested. It is not clear whether or not any of these projects were completed. Of particular note is material relating to Serge Lifar. Obolensky apparently hosted Lifar when he visited the United States and sought to publish an edition of his autobiography and involve him in a documentary film project. Items include some original and copies of letters from Lifar (in Russian), as well as candid and studio photographs. All of the material that predates the 1970s is in the form of photocopies.
- 19852 boxes
The Oversized Material series contains one folder of photocopies of illustrations for a section of America Dances and extensive production materials for Nureyev.