Scope and arrangement
The personal papers of Jerome Robbins (1923-2000 and undated) primarily document his life from 1931-1998 and consist of material on his careers as a dancer, producer, and choreographer in the fields of ballet, television, Broadway theater, and Hollywood films. Some of the types of items found within this collection are account ledgers, agendas, audit lists, awards, casting documents, choreographic notes, clippings, correspondence, costume information, cue sheets, general ledgers, income tax materials / payments, journals, lighting notes, notes, photographs, production materials, programs, research, scores, sketch / collage books, tour information, and writings. However, the vast majority of the collection is composed of correspondence, production materials and writings. The few items found within this collection that postdate his life are connected to the research material collected on his life. For example, clippings and photographs concerning the performances of Robbins’ ballets until the year 2000 are within this collection (see boxes 27 and 28).
Within the ballet notes, biographical materials and production materials series, writings can be found in which Robbins expressed both the professional circumstances and his private feelings for individual events. Of specific interest are his journals found in boxes 21-24.
From the items attributed to Sonia Robbins Cullinen, Cassandra Einstein, Jesse Gerstein, Frieda Robbins, Harry Robbins, Lena Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, and the numerous files within the Personalities series, varying perspectives of Jerome Robbins’ life and work will be ascertained.
The Jerome Robbins personal papers are arranged in eight series:
- 1923 - 2000
The biographical materials found within the Jerome Robbins Personal Papers are grouped within two sub-series within this series. Sub-series 1 contains the biographical material collected by Robbins for his autobiographical work Poppa Piece, and sub-series 2 contains the remaining related biographical materials.
- 1938 - 1998
The Ballet Notes series consists of casting documents, choreographic notes, clippings, costume information, cue sheets, programs, lighting notes, photographs, scores, tour information, and research pertaining to the ballet productions danced, created and produced by Jerome Robbins. Some correspondence can be found in this series, but most can be found filed within the Personalities series.
From 2x3 Part Inventions to West Side Story Suite, this series contains items which document the varied spectrum of Robbins’ creative genius in ballet. Most of his ballets are represented within this series, but the following productions are well documented: Afternoon of a Faun, Brandenburg, The Cage, The Concert, Dances at a Gathering, Dybbuk Variations, Goldberg Variations, I’m Old Fashioned, In Memory of . . ., Ives, Songs, Opus 19 / The Dreamer, Other Dances, and Piano Pieces.
Of special interest is the correspondence from Leonard Bernstein and Oliver Smith relating to Fancy Free, the notebook concerning Arts of the Gentleman filed under A Sketch Book: A Work in Progress, and the notebooks created by Robbins for Watermill. Information for two unproduced ballets—The Will-O-The-Wisps and untitled—can also be found within this series.
- 1939 - 1999
This series contains the casting information, choreographic material (including cue notes), clippings, scores, and research notes pertaining to the motion pictures, musicals, operas, plays, television shows and workshops danced, created and produced by Jerome Robbins.
Of special interest is Leonard Bernstein’s revised score of Maria from West Side Story, the correspondence, notes and research materials for the un-produced Nijinsky motion picture project, the commemorative coins for Fiddler on the Roof, and the On the Town notes from Robbin’s meeting with Bernstein used for Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.
- 1925 - 1998
Included in this series is general correspondence, writings and varied documents from many prominent performing arts individuals, such as George Abbott, Alicia Alonso, Clive Barnes, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Todd Bolender, Lucia Chase, Aaron Copland, Oscar de la Renta, Agnes de Mille, Erté, Suzanne Farrell, Mary Rogers Guettel, Sheldon Harnick, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Kitty Hawks, Allegra Kent, Hope Kondrat, Sara Levi-Tanai, Mary Martin, Edna O’Brien, Sono Osato, Barbara Paley, Harold Prince, Chita Rivera, Anna Sokolow, Barbra Streisand, Twyla Tharp, Edward Villella, Robert Wilson, and Natalie Wood.
Correspondence and other documents from several of Robbins’ close friends such as Francis Arkin, George Balanchine, Leonard Bernstein, Richard Buckle, Betty Comden, Grover Dale, Andrew De Groat, Robert DiNardo, Robert Fizdale, Arthur Gold, Adolph Green, Barrie Irwin, Howard Jeffrey, Nora Kaye, Nancy Keith, Lincoln Kirstein, Arthur Laurents, Tanaquil Le Clerq, Milton Rosenstock, Warren Sonbert, Stephen Sondheim, and Nancy Walker span several decades and is often filled with news of the performing arts world.
Familial and romantic relations are revealed within the files for the Cullinen family, the Davenport family, Cassandra Einstein, Jesse Gerstein, Buzz Miller, Frieda Robbins, Harry Robbins, and Lena Robbins.
- 1937 - 1999
This series contains the correspondence, clippings, programs, notes, and other materials pertaining to the organizations with which Jerome Robbins was associated with throughout his lifetime that were found within this collection. Professional organizations and associations include American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Theatre, Ballets: USA, the New York City Ballet, Opera de Paris Garnier, and the Spoleto Festival.
Of interest within the New York City Ballet files is the folder entitled Ballet Ideas in which Robbins collected articles and kept notes that sparked his choreographic and directorial skills. Also of note is the information regarding the 1961 European Tour conducted by Ballets: USA under Robbins’ direction, as well as Ballet Theatre’s itineraries for 1942-1944 found within this series.
- 1940 - 1998
This series contains the account ledgers, audit list, general ledgers, income tax materials and payments found within the collection. Information on the financial impact, as connected to his varied productions can be found in this series. Of special interest is Robbins’ 1955 New York State resident status issue.
- 1955 - 1987
This series contains the scores found in collection not connected with any Jerome Robbins production. Of special interest are Robbins’ notes and doodle referencing West Side Story found on Louis Köhler’s Sonatina Album score.
- 1931 - 1998
This series contains the oversized awards, ballet / musical notes, biographical, clippings, organization and score material found in the collection.