Scope and arrangement
This collection consists of the personal and professional papers of American theatrical producer Oscar Serlin. The Family and Personal records are composed primarily of correspondence and photographs of Oscar Serlin and his family members, including his wife, mother and father, and children as well as a small amount of other topical files kept by Oscar Serlin regarding his personal life. This series also contains files about Brookbox (the Serlin family estate), vacations, presents and wills.
The Production Files document Oscar Serlin's stage productions (and potential productions), most notably, Life With Father, the production for which he is most well-known and its sequel, Life With Mother. These files contain scripts, contracts with theaters, actors, and for film, television and radio rights; financial records pertaining to the productions; clippings, programs, and other press; correspondence; photographs, and other items related to the productions. A few general production files not related to any specific show are also present.
The Professional Files contain files related to Oscar Serlin's business activities, unrelated to specific stage productions, including his business correspondence; assorted topical, financial, and administrative files relating to his production companies; and plays submitted to Serlin to be considered for production.
The Oscar Serlin papers are arranged in three series:
- 1940-1960s11 boxes
The personal files are arranged in one alphabetical run, either by name or by subject.
- 1890s-196131 boxes
The bulk of this series focuses on Serlin's most famous production, the record-breaking hit Life with Father, and its sequel Life with Mother. Other productions are covered here as well, but these two are represented much more extensively. All production files may include such materials as contracts, publicity materials, scripts, financial records and correspondence. The files on the two major productions also contain cast lists; biographies; negotiations with Actors Equity; costume, property and set inventories and designs (including oversized paintings). The Production Files are arranged alphabetically by show title.
- 1931-195824 boxes
This series has been arranged into four categories, Correspondence, Financial Files, Subject Files, and Submitted Plays. The Subject files contain information kept by Serlin on various topics, some related to his business and show production activities and others concerning cultural interests and organizations that occupied Serlin's life after his retirement. Some correspondence is present in these files, but files are comprised mostly clippings, brochures, financial records, notes, inventories, and other informational items. These provide a valuable historical record of cultural life in New York in the 1940s and 1950s. Serlin's financial ventures, including Oscar Serlin Associates, Oscar Serlin Productions and the Oscar Serlin Trustees are also represented here. The alphabetical run of Submitted Plays includes works by notable authors such as Kurt Vonnegut and William Carlos Williams.