Scope and arrangement
The Alix Williamson Papers primarily contain documents related to Williamson's publicity business. This information is centered on her clients, rather than the firm's operations, of which there are few records. A highlight of the collection is Williamson's writing projects, with unpublished examples in the General Professional Papers series, and published columns in the Scrapbooks series. The majority of materials date from 1939-1996, which represents her most active years; there is only one item from her college days - a draft of an article for the school paper and accompanying notes, and no earlier personal data. Williamson began working on her memoirs towards the end of her life, but there is only one folder that is clearly part of this effort (in General Professional Papers). The note "ABW book" appears on some items found throughout the collection, and may refer to her wish to include it in either her memoirs, or more likely, a scrapbook.
There are many photographs in the collection, primarily in the Client Files, but also portraits of Williamson in Series I, and enlarged images in the Oversized Materials series. The photographs are often in the form of contact sheets, negatives, or slides; individual portraits or group shots are not prevalent except for certain clients.
The Alix B. Williamson papers are arranged in five series:
- undated1.88 linear feet (4.5 boxesArrangement: Alphabetical by type
This series documents the full range of Williamson's professional activities, and the personal information found here is often business-related. Many folders complement other parts of the collection, such as the set of contracts between Williamson and her clients. Of note are articles and essays written by Williamson, and her business venture during the 1950s with cocktail napkins depicting humorous scenes from popular operas. Family-related materials are found primarily in Box 3, folders 6 and 7.
- 1918 - 200127.31 linear feet (65.5 boxesArrangement: Alphabetical by client
The Client Files series comprise the bulk of the collection, and covers more than sixty years of the New York music scene, as well as other localities. There were four types of clients she represented - vocalists, musicians, performance groups (from small chamber settings to large orchestras), and music organizations. Many clients' files include correspondence, often only from one side, and back-and-forth exchanges between Williamson and a particular client rarely exist. In other cases, such as the Trapp Family Singers, the majority of the file is photographs or other printed matter. This series also offers much insight into Williamson's business practices. For example, she did not hesitate to pursue legal recourse if a client did not meet the financial obligations set out in their contract (each of these files note the incident). In general, the materials for each client maintain Williamson's original order; the broad category that she called printed matter is frequently broken down into more specific folders. Please note that the set of files labeled "combined" was how Williamson organized those letters or press releases that referred to more than one client (although many items focused on one client in particular).
- 1928 - 19954.59 linear feet (11 boxesArrangement: Alphabetical by type
This series contains all of the materials Williamson used for research. Some of it is client-oriented, such as the address card file that she used when sending out press releases or other promotional tools. Much of the series, however, does not have a clearly defined purpose. In particular, the artist files that date from the early 1980s consists of materials that came from other press agents. It is likely that one of Williamson's clients, the Chamber Music Society, considered these artists as potential guests, and she saved this information for reference. Also of interest are the notes, many of which are in Williamson's hand, and match some of her writings found in Series I.
- 1938 - 200124.12 linear feet (18 boxesArrangement: Alphabetical by client
The scrapbooks in this series are records of Williamson's accomplishments as a press agent. Newspaper clippings are the dominant material found here, some of which are pasted onto the book's pages, and others that are loose. Many of these loose clippings are found under the category "Early Clients," a broad term used by Williamson to describe the first ten-fifteen years of her work. Note the difference between this term and "Multiple Clients," which was used to describe those scrapbooks featuring more than one client, but in distinct sections. In addition, many of the clippings duplicate those found in the Client Files series. The scrapbooks include programs and other documentation such as note cards listing interviews. This series also has two folders of personal scrapbooks that contain published articles by Williamson, or about her, as well as documenting programs she participated in.
- 1955 - 19964 linear feet (2 boxesArrangement: Alphabetical by type
The oversized materials found here further document the clients Williamson worked with. There is also artwork from the mid-1950s for her personal business venture with cocktail napkins that depicted humorous scenes from popular operas.