Scope and arrangement
This collection extensively covers the professional career of Margaret Anglin, who performed primarily from 1889 to 1936. Materials include correspondence both from other theatrical professionals and fans; production files which include marked scripts, notes, clippings, contracts and publicity; images of Margaret Anglin at work, and general scrapbooks documenting her career.
The collection reflects the development of Anglin's career and the degree of respect she commanded in the theater world. Later scripts are more heavily marked with her own suggestions, especially as she gained renown as a producer and director. Anglin's strength at promoting her interests and her work is evident throughout her materials -- she writes to the New York Times when she is displeased with what they print about her, she negotiates her own contracts, and keeps up a steady stream of social obligations. As her standing grows, young actors write to her for advice -- by the 1920s theater companies are offering to hold private dress rehearsals for her to solicit her opinion on a specific production. Later letters contain inquiries about possible public appearances, as well as acquaintances looking to catch up and asking after her health.
Notable items in this collection include correspondence with impresarios, such as producer David Bales and fellow performers Mary Pickford, Alfred Lung and Lynn Fontana; many detailed hand marked production scripts; and several production sketches attributed to Hildreth Meiere.
The Margaret Anglin papers are arranged in four series:
This series contains Anglin's personal and professional correspondence. While a portion of the correspondence is sorted by name, the bulk of the material is arranged by date. The material ranges from notes from friends and professional acquaintances, to fan mail from both theater aficionados and people from rural areas who had heard Anglin's radio performances. Other materials include telegrams arranging travel and contract negotiations, playwrights suggesting their work, and Anglin requesting translations of foreign language pieces. In the 1920s there is a great deal of correspondence regarding Anglin's radio work. This work helped make her a household name and exposed her to fans who never could see legitimate theater. There is some correspondence to her husband Howard Hull, but generally these pertain to Anglin or address them as a couple. At the end of this series is a selection of "freak" letters, containing odd, intense and often sexual fan mail that Anglin received during the height of her popularity.
Notable correspondents include David Belasco, Mary Pickford, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, and Anglin's close friend and fellow actress Minnie Fiske.
The production files contain programs, notated scripts, business correspondence, contracts, notes and other materials relating to the specific productions that Anglin both starred in and often produced or directed. This series includes both general production files and files from Anglin's Greek plays. The material includes correspondence and contracts to and from her lawyers and managers as well as her husband Howard Hull, who worked closely to support Anglin in her work. The richest material in these files are the prompt scripts, with Anglin's notes as to how scenes are to be played, entrances made, and dramatic pauses given.
The Greek plays files within this series reflect much of the same kind of material contained in the general production files, but show Anglin exerting a higher level of creative control over her work. In the first two decades of the 20th century Anglin became noted for producing and starring in Greek tragedies that focused on women, including Medea and Electra. The Greek plays files include correspondence, posters, scrapbooks, programs, and Anglin's notes regarding the individual productions. The correspondence from these files demonstrates Anglin's skill at all aspects of theater -- she was involved in nearly every detail of her Greek productions, from casting to directing, starring and producing. This series also includes several sketches attributed to Hildreth Meiere.
This series includes sketches, paintings, and other images produced of Anglin at work, often for use in publicity. These include pencil and ink drawings, caricatures, and photo headshots and assorted production shots. Of note is a caricature by Merle Johnson.
This series contains a set of scrapbooks that document Anglin's many touring productions and some of her extended engagements in New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. These include publicity materials and clippings from publications from across the country. Additional scrapbooks associated with specific productions can be found in Series II, Production files.