Scope and arrangement
The A. J. and Carrie Balaban papers are comprised of family papers, and some business records. The correspondence and photograph albums form the bulk of the collection. Carrie Balaban was the recipient of the earliest correspondence. Between 1908 to 1917, she received many letters from her brother Ben Myers, who had moved to Tyler, Texas. A typed transcription (not complete) is available. The correspondence also holds contemporary accounts of World War II. The Balabans' daughter Cherry, a USO entertainer, wrote frequently to both parents during World War II. Stationed in Florida, her letters indicate that she entertained the troops in Florida and in the Caribbean. Files from her USO tour include memorabilia, notes, skits, photographs, and a travel kit. Other non-family World War II material includes letters from friends and acquaintances that describe Europe's (mostly England's) wartime conditions. One poignant letter from the American Outpost in Great Britain, dated August 21, 1943, requests a small contribution, explaining that the American colony stayed through the blitz and lived with the British through the war. The most significant correspondents were Peter Bayes (a Captain in the U. S. Army stationed in Germany and France, and the son of Nora Bayes), Naomi Chanell, Poldi Long, and Hilary F. Page. Several of the letters have envelopes indicating the contents have been opened and examined by postal censors.
The general correspondence includes congratulatory telegrams about A. J. and Carrie's wedding and the birth of their first child, and a letter to A. J. from Carrie before their marriage. The collection also holds two audio recordings of Carrie Balaban. An enclosed letter with one recording from Frances Levine mentions the good that Carrie is doing for the "Foundation" (unspecified). Inquiries regarding audio materials in the collection may be directed to the Billy Rose Theatre Division (firstname.lastname@example.org). Audio materials will be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access.
One of the personal and professional highlights for the Balabans was the publication of the authorized biography of A. J. Balaban entitled Continuous Performance by Carrie Balaban (1942). The files for this publication contain letters, reviews and related materials. The family also created two scrapbooks mostly relating to the publication and a signed limited edition of the book. The collection also focuses on Christian Science. The correspondence holds information about Carrie's dedication to the church, to which she converted from Judaism in 1912. Both she and A. J. were eventually elevated to spiritual practitioners, and remained active supporters of the church. Additional information about Christian Science can be found in correspondence from friends.
The photograph albums offer the most complete visual documentation of the Balaban family over the decades. The photograph albums include images of both A. J. and Carrie Balaban from youth to adulthood, and chronicles their lives together after marriage. Photographs show their three children--especially their daughters Ida Joy and Cherry--at play, at school, at special events, and with their parents. The photograph albums also include the grandmothers and other relatives. While the Balabans lived in Geneva during the 1930s, they were photographed in Geneva and on travels throughout Europe. Additional photographs of the Balabans are located in the loose images. These files also include photographs of Ethel Leginska, the British pianist and composer; vaudeville entertainer Sophie Tucker; and a photograph album dedicated to the theatrical career of Nora Bayes, with whom the Balabans had a close relationship.
Balaban & Katz records contain little documentation of A. J. Balaban's professional career. The files are mostly business records, printed matter and photographs. The remaining material includes a memory book for A. J. Balaban's funeral and a tribute book presented to him before he left for New York.
This collection is arranged by name and/or subject.