Scope and arrangement
The Frederick O'Neal Papers document the theatrical, labor and civic activities of this actor and labor leader, with emphasis on the 1940s through the 1990s. The collection consists primarily of personal papers, correspondence files, his speeches and addresses, writings, and information about the theatrical productions in which he appeared, in addition to scripts. There are also research material about the 19th century African-American actor, Ira Aldridge and files pertaining to the many organizations with which O'Neal was associated.|||The Personal Papers series, 1914-2001, encompasses resumes, interviews, news clippings and other printed material. Most of the correspondence is with the many organizations with which he had long-standing relationships as a board member, contributor, or in some other capacity. Much of the general correspondence includes invitations to various conferences, panels and lectures, and to events and gatherings held by politicians.|||The Speeches and Addresses series, 1960's-1990 contains the speeches and research material O'Neal used to prepare the speeches. Most of the topics he dealt with concern African-American contributions to American theater, racial discrimination in American theater, and the progress of integration in the theater and trade unions. The series Writings, 1930-1987, consists of published articles along with drafts and research material for the articles O'Neal wrote about black actors in the United States, American labor unions and actors, labor unions in Israel, the role of the arts in American society, and a series of articles regarding integration in the theater.|||The Theatrical Career series, 1928-1991, includes productions in which O'Neal was involved, i.e. dramatic reading, films, plays, radio, sound recordings and television. Of interest are correspondence and reviews for the film version of "Anna Lucasta." Material for the many plays O'Neal produced consists variously of play scripts, correspondence, programs, reviews, budget, agreements, and for American Negro Theatre (ANT) productions, a scrapbook. There is a significant amount of information devoted to the ANT production of "Anna Lucasta," as well as the productions in England and Scotland (1947-1948) . This series contains playbills and programs for a variety of productions in which O'Neal was featured as well as for lectures that he gave nationwide, 1928-1991. Scripts, 1948-1969, primarily by such African-American playwrights as Owen Dodson, Gertrude Jeannette, George Norford, and Shauneille Perry, as well as white playwrights form part of this series.|||The Ira Aldridge Research Material series, 1955-1992, pertains to research O'Neal and several scholars conducted that resulted in publications. The material includes correspondence between O'Neal and the scholars, research material, and a manuscript or the actual publication, when available.|||The Organizations series, 1925-1991, contains files devoted to theater and arts organizations, including the Afro-American Guild of Performing Arts, the American Negro Theatre, the Catholic Actors Guild, the Founding Committee for the Establishment of the American Negro Theatre (1962-1967), the Harlem Cultural Council and the Negro Actors Guild. Labor organizations with which he was intimately involved include the Actors' Equity Association. Equity files, 1946-1982, pertain to efforts to integrate black actors in New York and Washington, D.C. productions (1950's), integrating hotels for actors in traveling productions, and blacklisting of actors in the 1950's. Files reflect O'Neal's AFL-CIO vice presidency from 1969-1989 and his position as chairman of its Civil Rights Committee. He also maintained files for the African-American Labor Center, and from 1950-1957 during the period O'Neal was a board member, there are correspondence and press releases condemning AWARE, Inc., a group formed to combat communism in the entertainment world that assisted blacklisted performers by publicly defending them. Files document some of O'Neal's long association as president of the AFL-CIO affiliate, the Associated Actors and Artistes of America (the 4A's), the primary association of trade unions for performing artists in the United States. The Cultural and Civic Organizations material, 1952-1992, contains O'Neal's files for organizations that are neither theatrical nor labor-oriented, for which he served as a board member or in some other capacity; many of the organizations pertain to Africa and to African Americans.