Scope and arrangement
The La Meri Papers contain a wide variety of materials that document aspects of the personal life and professional career of this well-known ethnic dance specialist and writer. Although the collection includes an assortment of personal and professional papers that cover La Meri’s school years and early experiences as a performer, the bulk of the collection consists of original manuscripts of La Meri’s poetry and prose writings. Some of these works were published under her real name, Russell Merriwether Hughes. There is virtually no material in the collection relating to La Meri’s touring days as a dancer or her many years as a teacher and presenter of ethnic dance in New York City. Of particular interest are the photographs, which consist mainly of snapshots covering the period of her two retirements, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and San Antonio, Texas. Also included in the collection are the numerous condolence letters sent to her companion, William Adams, as well as leaves from a scrapbook of obituary notices compiled by Adams.
The La Meri papers are arranged in three series:
- 1912 - 1992
The Personal and Professional Papers series contains a wide range of material covering La Meri’s school years until the time of her death. Materials that date after her death include condolence letters sent to her companion, William Adams, as well as obituaries collected by Adams, the obituaries of another friend, and a program for a tribute in her honor. Of special interest are La Meri’s early letters to her mother. Photographs in this series mainly document her later years in retirement in San Antonio, Texas; a few images that date from an earlier period may be found in the Oversized Materials series.
- 1924 - 1983
The Writings series is comprised of numerous manuscript drafts and typescripts of La Meri’s poetry and prose. Although there are a few dance-related writings among the prose selections, this material chiefly consists of fiction and dramatic works. Many of the items are signed under La Meri’s real name, Russell Merriwether Hughes. Also included are Spanish translations of La Meri’s poems. Many of the manuscripts are highly fragile and should be handled with care.
- 1927 - 1982
The Oversized Materials series primarily consists of photograph albums, but also includes an early contract, a diploma, as well as original artwork most likely used in connection with publicity. One of the albums documents La Meri’s first retirement in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Another album contains one leaf with several images dating from the 1930s and 1940s.