Scope and arrangement
The Otto Harbach papers include correspondence, business papers, scripts, scores, lyrics, personal papers, photographs and printed matter documenting the life and work of this American librettist and lyricist. The collection also reflects the history of the American musical theater during the years that Harbach was most active, from 1908 through the 1930's.
Correspondence is mainly between Harbach and his relatives in Salt Lake City, and later with his son William. Letters from friends and colleagues are few in number, but contain some interesting letters from Arthur Hammerstein, Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Kern and Carl Sandburg. The collection is particularly strong in covering the business aspects of Harbach's work with contracts, copyright, and royalty information for many of his works. Scripts form the largest series and include copies of most of Harbach's works. The scores are mainly for Hayfoot-Strawfoot (music by Jerome Kern) and Counter Melody (music by Peter De Rose) and are notable for the holographs that make up part of the scores for Hayfoot-Strawfoot. There is also a good collection of photographs, including family, colleagues, ASCAP events, and friends and a selection of production photos. Personal papers include genealogical information, writings other than scripts, ephemera and a long oral history interview conducted by William Harbach shortly before his father's death. Unfortunately, there is no real documentation of Harbach's long involvement with ASCAP.
The Otto Harbach Papers are arranged in eight series:
Correspondence includes family correspondence and general correspondence. Although this series contains the bulk of the correspondence in the collection, individual letters can be found in other series (notably business papers) and are noted in the appropriate series descriptions.
Business papers include contracts, copyright records and royalty statements.
- 1904-19846.1 linear feet (14 boxes)
The scripts files which are mainly typescripts and photocopies of scripts also include two holograph scripts, The Firefly and Kid Boots. Two works which have a considerable amount of material in the collection are Choose Your Partners and Roberta.
Choose Your Partners (approximately 2 boxes) is a play based on a story by Edward Boykin with music by Peter De Rose. The same story had served as a basis for Hayfoot-Strawfoot which Harbach had written with Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein. That play never opened in New York, and Kern and Hammerstein both removed themselves from the production, leaving Harbach free to use the story and his lyrics for the new work with Peter De Rose. Choose Your Partners was revised many times, but never produced. It was also known as April Was Singing, Born In April, Bugles In April, Counter Melody, Hands Off and Meet Miss April. For filing purposes all the scripts have been filed under Choose Your Partners, although the title pages do vary. [Scores for Choose Your Partner are filed under Counter Melody.]
The files for Roberta (1 box) include several versions of the script, a prompt book and a copy of the story Gowns by Roberta, by Alice Duer Miller, upon which the play was based.
Among other titles represented in the scripts files are The Cat and the Fiddle, Golden Dawn, The Lady in the Window ( also may have been known as The Lavender Lady), Sunny, Susi, Desert Song, June Love, No More Blondes, The O'Brien Girl, Up in Mabel's Room, Wildflower, and You're in Love.
- ca. 1912-19481.7 linear feet (3 boxes)
Scores are primarily for Hayfoot-Strawfoot, music by Jerome Kern (also known as Gentlemen Unafraid) and Counter Melody, music by Peter De Rose (also known as Choose Your Partners; see Scripts for information about this play). The scores for Hayfoot-Strawfoot include several Kern holographs and a set of printed scores. Most of the scores for Counter Melody are printed, but a few are signed by the arranger Arthur Davis. In addition, there are several miscellaneous holograph scores and a folder of photocopied scores for various Harbach works.
- 1907-1933.5 linear feet (1 box)
The lyrics series is made up of typescript lyrics by Harbach, arranged by play title. Although most of the folders are dated, these dates refer to the production date; the actual documents were probably typed at a later date. Two folders of unsorted lyrics (not identified by production; some are not titled) include several holographs.
Personal papers include biographical information, ephemera, writings, genealogical papers, a scrapbook, material related to the memorial services for Harbach and a few legal and medical papers.
The photographs include family pictures, photographs from Knox College and Whitman College, portraits of Harbach and others, pictures of Harbach with friends and colleagues, autographed portraits, and production photos, documenting many aspects of Harbach's personal life and work.
- 1910-1990.5 linear feet (1 box)
Printed matter includes clippings and printed material relating to Harbach's life and career. The clippings are mostly articles about Harbach, with a small folder devoted to articles on Rudolf Friml. Several files devoted to revivals of Harbach's works also include clippings in addition to programs. Two folders include printed matter and clippings from Knox College. A file of descriptions of Harbach plays copied from "The Best Plays of...") may prove useful to researchers in identifying and dating his work.