Scope and arrangement
The Olive Reeves-Smith Papers span the years 1879 to 1964 and consist of personal papers, writings, correspondence, contracts, photographs, programs, clippings, scrapbooks, and sheet music. Her professional life is represented by the clippings, programs, photographs, and contracts. While the correspondence contains a few business letters, most of it is of a personal nature. Her writings consist primarily of poems, and the sheet music give evidence of her musical writings, both songs and lyrics.
The papers also document the careers of her own actor family and that of her second husband. There are numerous clippings on her mother's thespian efforts, as well as those of her sister-in-law Vera Fuller Mellish. All the materials on her second husband, Harold Irving Fuller (whose stage name was Fuller Mellish, Jr.), are collected into one series. A scrapbook of clippings on his career arrived in loose pages. The materials on Fuller Mellish, Jr. which span the years 1905 to 1936 also include numerous photographs from his stage and film career and a small number of personal papers. The materials on her father, Harry Reeves-Smith, include two printed volumes, Peg O' My Heart by J. Hartley Manners (1913), Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines by Clyde Fitch (1902), and some photographs. These volumes are extra-illustrated with photographs, letters, telegrams, clippings, and even a playbill pasted onto various leaves.
The Olive Reeves-Smith Papers are arranged in nine series:
- 1902-1962.2 linear feet
Consists of biographical materials, poetical writings, song lyrics, the text of her biographical entry in the 1948 edition of World Biography, press releases and a handwritten verse drama by Alexander Frank titled Olive and Tannhauser dedicated to and about Olive Reeves-Smith. The biographical material includes childhood reports from musical school, a seven-page typewritten autobiography with revisions in Olive Reeves-Smith's hand, ticket stubs, and portions of typescripts. Her poetical writings reflect her musings on her native land, Manhattan, the state of humankind, war, unemployment, her relationship with her second husband, and the theater.
- 1896-1964.4 linear feet
The correspondence is primarily of a personal nature. The smaller contingent of business letters includes answers to inquiries about parts (e.g., George S. Kaufman, Vinton Freedley). There are a few letters regarding auditions and contractual matters and expressions of gratitude for her participation in various events from Actors' Equity. Notable correspondents include Ralph Bellamy, Leo G. Carroll, Mary Boland, George Cukor, Moss Hart, Cole Porter, and Hassard Short. There are a large number of telegrams including some addressed to Vera Fuller Mellish, and many pieces of ephemeral notes. The latter includes gift and greeting cards, thank you notes, and calling cards.
- 1914-1956.2 linear feet
The contracts while not comprehensive represent her career from Whiteoakswith Ethel Barrymore, to Easy Virtue with Constance Bennett, various productions of Bloomer Girl, Sabrina Fair, Guys and Dolls and Show Boat. These contracts were all with Actors' Equity Association. Her work with CBS Television is represented by two contracts. The third division of miscellaneous contracts includes an early engagement under her short-lived stage name of "Olive Branch," some broadcasting work, a part in Edward My Son for George Cukor, and an agreement as an extra player in a television series.
- 1942 and undated.3 linear feet
The photographs are divided into pictures of family members and miscellaneous personal photographs. The former includes black and white photos of her sister Elsie, her father's boat, her aunt Betty, her cousin Rachel, and her sister Alma's husband, Clifford Bailey-Hick. Photographs of herself, her husband, father, sister-in-law, and production photographs have been removed and added to the Theatre collection's photographic files. A series of autographed photographs have also been removed and integrated into the photographic files.
- 1879-1962.5 linear feet
Consists primarily of newspaper clippings and reviews of productions in which she appeared. They are divided into folders by decades from the 1920s to the 1960s. A separate folder contains clippings about appearances by family members: her father Harry Reeves-Smith, her mother Ella Strathmore, and her sister-in-law Vera Fuller Mellish.
- 1900-1948.4 linear feet
Two of the scrapbooks formed the original donation documenting her father's career; they are published volumes of Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines by Clyde Fitch (1902) and Peg O' My Heart by J. Hartley Manners (1913). Letters, photographs, clippings, and even playbills have been pasted onto the front and back covers and individual leaves. An inner pocket on the back end-leaf of Peg O' My Heart contains photographs, a letter from J. Hartley Manners, a calling card, and miscellaneous clippings. A third scrapbook consists of clippings on Olive Reeves-Smith's early appearances from Buddies to Three Live Ghosts, an autographed playbill, letters, a telegram, and miscellaneous photographs.
- 1961 and undated.1 linear feet
Consists of songs of which both lyrics and music are by Olive Reeves-Smith. Some are dedicated; one to Basil Rathbone, another to George M. Cohan. All are handwritten, and one is an original. Also included are songs by R. Fred Kelley and Raymond Hubbell with the composers' autographs. Includes an unidentified handwritten score with lyrics.
- 1919-1961.9 linear feet
Consists of programs for productions in which Olive Reeves-Smith appeared. These have been divided into single-leaf playbills and programs, autographed souvenir programs, and a bound volume of programs from 1931 to 1955. With the exception of the single-leaf playbills, most of the programs are autographed, sometimes by the entire cast and creative personnel. The playbills document her early works from 1919 to the mid 1930s, while the programs constitute a good representation of the range of her career.
- 1905-1936.2 linear feet
Consists of contracts, clippings, personal papers, photographs, and programs concerning the life and career of Olive Reeves-Smith's second husband, Fuller Mellish, Jr. Most of the clippings seemed to have been pages detached from a scrapbook.