Scope and arrangement
The Leigh Whipper Papers, 1861-1963, n.d. reflect his life as an actor, writer and celebrity. The collection consists of PERSONAL PAPERS, CORRESPONDENCE, CONTRACTS, WRITINGS AND TYPESCRIPTS, PLAYSCRIPTS, PROGRAMS and a SCRAPBOOK.
The Leigh Rollin Whipper papers are arranged in seven series:
Among the series are items belonging to Whipper, his father and his wife. Leigh Whipper's own material in this file includes three autograph books, 1928-1942, and membership cards, 1937-1943. The autograph books contain both signatures and notes from friends and colleagues, including Buckwheat, Sterling Hayden, Roland Hayes, Rose McClendon and Fred MacMurray. The membership cards pertain to some of the clubs and association to which Whipper belonged, such as the Colored Actors and Performers Association, Colored Thomas Jefferson Club, Inc., Rhythm Club and Turf Club. The papers of his father include a copy of a speech he delivered before the South Carolina House of Representatives, a description of his pension plan and deeds for land he had purchased. A Power of Attorney authorizing Lillian Whipper to dispose of the property of her deceased mother, is also included in this file.
The majority of the series is comprised of letters and telegrams of congratulations on the opening of shows and movies and in honor of the reception held for Whipper in 1961. Correspondents of note include William C. Handy, Jacob K. Javits, Louis J. Lefkowits, Hattie McDaniel, Bayard Rustin and Ed Sullivan. This incoming correspondence has been arranged alphabetically by sender's last name and chronologically therein. The collection includes very little outgoing correspondence. There is a letter to his brother, telegrams to his wife and children and a letter to Eddie Cantor. The outgoing letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent's name following the incoming correspondence.
The series relates to Whipper's association with the Twentieth Century Music Corporation and his services as an actor in the play Medicine Show.
The series includes poems, sketches, and song lyrics by Whipper or written with the collaboration of others. There are also typescripts, articles, song lyrics and poems by other authors, some of whom are anonymous. Whipper's writings relate to his work in the theater and consist mostly of lyrics that have been used in plays in which he performed or lyrics written for commercial use. The writings of other artists pertain mostly to Whipper. Included is a thin volume of verse and reminiscence by Romeo L. Dougherty dedicated to Whipper. The typescripts reflect the breadth of the material with which Whipper was involved. Among the typescripts is one entitled We's Risin': a story of the simple life in the souls of black folk, a musical comedy by Porter Grainger and Leigh Whipper. Some of the typescripts have handwritten annotations. The Writings and Typescripts are arranged alphabetically by title within three files: those by Whipper, those by other authors and anonymous items.
The series consists of typescripts of the parts Whipper performed in different plays. Of particular note are the roles he played in Aristophane's Lysistrata and Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.
The series is divided into two categories: programs of Whipper's performances and programs relating to other artists. Each group of programs is arranged in chronological order.
- 1887-1938, n.d.
Contains clippings, programs and photographs that highlight Whipper's illustrious career. There are also photographs of Whipper's family.