Scope and arrangement
The Jane Dransfield papers (1892-1957, bulk 1908-1956) document Dransfield’s work as a writer and lecturer, her study of drama, and her professional relationships. The papers consist of correspondence, clippings, programs, promotional materials, writings, and a small number of photographs. The collection also holds a 1927 portrait of Dransfield by Stella Bowen.
Much of the correspondence concerns the publication and production of Dransfield’s plays, poetry, and articles. Correspondence contains rejection and acceptance letters, letters regarding payment and royalties, arrangements for speaking engagements, and reactions to Dransfield’s plays, poetry, and lectures. Letters touch on personal topics as well as professional. Correspondents include actor Henrietta Crosman, Ford Madox Ford, and Stuart Walker. Some correspondence is located in dedicated correspondence files, but it can also be found throughout the collection.
Material related to Dransfield’s plays consists of handwritten, typewritten, and published scripts; notes; clippings; programs; promotional materials; and correspondence about scripts and productions. Dransfield’s playwriting process is documented through drafts, outlines, synopses, and research and background materials. Two plays about New York history, The Romance of Melrose Hall and The Thistle Finch (also titled Van Tienhoven) are particularly well-represented, with story notes, research materials, and revised and draft scripts. The script for Melrose Hall was reworked under several titles, including Betty Shipton and Het Dorp (The Town). Dransfield often worked on plays about historical figures; the papers contain notes and research materials for unfinished plays about Benedict Arnold, Elizabeth Fry, and Henry IV, among others. A completed script about Stephen Foster is present. The collection includes published scripts for The Lost Pleaid and Joe, A Hudson Valley Story.
Drafts and clippings of Dransfield’s poetry, articles, reviews, and other writings are present, as well as her research and background materials. Among the subjects that Dransfield researched and wrote about are American women playwrights, poetic drama, David Vardi and his production of The Dybbuk, and artists Stella Bowen and John Wenger. Dransfield’s reviews for The Saturday Review of Literature from 1928 to 1930 are held in a scrapbook. An English translation of Marie Lenéru’s Les Affranchis is also present, along with correspondence regarding Dransfield’s intention to translate it.
Lecture material consists of correspondence, research notes, and promotional materials. Lecture subjects include poetic drama and contemporary trends in American playwriting.
Dransfield’s notebooks contain research for articles and lectures, notes from classes that she took, personal reminders, personal journal entries, and notes and dialogue for plays.
There is a small amount of material related to the Drama Committee of the Poetry Society of America, mostly concerning the William Lindsey prize and the 1925 prize winner, The Little Poor Man. Poetry Society bulletins are also present.
Some documentation of Dransfield’s family life and of her activities outside of writing and lecturing can be found in her correspondence and notebooks. The collection holds two personal scrapbooks: a Vassar College scrapbook containing letters, programs, invitations, and other memorabilia, and a scrapbook on David Belasco that contains letters, telegrams, programs, and clippings. The Belasco scrapbook also holds a 1925 article Dransfield wrote in defense of “the Modern Woman” and bobbed hair. Other scrapbooks chiefly contain clippings and letters about Dransfield's work, and articles and reviews she wrote.
Materials are arranged in three categories: Correspondence; Scrapbooks; and Writing, Lectures, and Professional Activities. Writing, Lectures, and Professional Activities are further divided into four categories: General, Notebooks, Plays, and Poetry Society of America. General materials are unsorted, and include some papers related to Dransfield's plays and Poetry Society membership.
When present, previously assigned NYPL catalog numbers are noted in the container list.