Scope and arrangement
The Brooks Atkinson papers contain correspondence, awards, personal papers, photographs, ephemera, scrapbooks, datebooks, clippings and subject files and document his life and career as a drama critic for the New York Times. The papers span the years 1904-1980. Significant in the papers is the correspondence with major figures of theater community including writers, actors, scholars and other journalist. Included in these are Sean O'Casey, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, Thornton Wilder, Robert W. Anderson, Maxwell Anderson, Clifford Odets and George S. Kaufman, to name a few.
His correspondence often contains not only incoming letters but carbon copies of his responses. This gives a wonderfully detailed look at all aspects of his personal and professional career. Many issues of the day interested and concerned Atkinson and this is revealed in depth not only in his articles and columns but also in his correspondence to his readers and friends. Prominent in his files is correspondence dealing with Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. His championship of the theater community during this period of harassment and persecution in American history can be viewed in this collection as both amazing and heroic.
Atkinson writings include diaries from his time as a correspondent in China as well as a manuscript copy of Once Around the Sun. Other items of note in the collection include his early attempts at publishing when he was a child in Massachusetts. These journals entitled, The Puritan, The Watchout, The Bay State Amateur, The Coagent, The Melrose Record and The Olympian are very rare and show his budding interest in publishing and journalism..
Other writings of Atkinson's can be found in the scrapbooks which contain complete text of articles and columns written for the New York Times and span his entire career. There are also manuscripts of other articles and other writings done by Atkinson.
Ephemera and awards are included in the collection and contain citations, photographs, honorary degrees and testimonial dinner programs. His subject files include information on topics of interest or research value and include much information about communism and the McCarthy anti-communist movement.
The Brooks Atkinson papers are arranged in eleven series:
- 1921-19808 boxes 3.36 linear feet
This series consists of correspondence, including carbon copies of Brooks Atkinson's replies, documenting Atkinson's life as a writer and theater critic. Correspondence includes letters to the editor from readers, correspondence concerning the publication of his many books and letters from actors, playwrights and other notables of the theater community commenting on reviews, as well as his opinion of plays and performances. Some of his correspondents include: Maxwell Anderson, Robert W. Anderson, S. N. Behrman, J. Edgar Hoover, George S. Kaufman, Charlotte Kesselring, Lawrence Langner, Howard Lindsay, Archibald MacLeish, Jo Mielziner, Sean O'Casey, Clifford Odets, Eugene and Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, John S. Service, Irwin Shaw, Robert G. Sherwood, Margaret Webster, Thornton Wilder, Tennessee Williams, Alexander Woollcott and Flo Ziegfeld, among others.
Of important note in the correspondence is Atkinson's political and personal perspective on the House Un-American Activities hearings. His outspoken denunciation of McCarthy and the hearings elicited positive and negative correspondence from his reading public. Another interesting section of the correspondence are the letters from Sean O'Casey to Atkinson. This correspondence spans from the 1930's until O'Casey death and illuminates the family life of O'Casey, the political and religious response to O'Casey's plays in Great Britain and Ireland and O'Casey's opinions and thoughts on his life and his work.
- 1917-19671 linear foot. (1 box
This series consists of Atkinson's diplomas, honorary degrees, awards, citations and membership certificates.
- 1909-1962.1 linear feet. ( 13 folders
This series consists of personal items including business cards printed by Atkinson when he was a child, testimonial dinner programs and a few business papers.
- 1950-1961; n.d..15 linear feet. (13 folders
This series contains articles and papers collected by Brooks Atkinson for his personal interest and reference. Of special note and interest in this series is information on the McCarthy era and blacklisting. Included is a copy of the newsletter Counterattack.
- 1917-1967.02 linear feet. (3 folders
This series contains articles by and about Brooks Atkinson.
- 1947-1973.1 linear feet. (7 folders
This series contains reviews and clippings about books written by Brooks Atkinson. Included are Broadway,The Lively Years,Once Around the Sun,This Bright Land and Tuesdays and Fridays. Also included is the review for Oriana Atkinson's book Over at Uncle Joe's.
- 1944-1950; n.d..05 linear feet. (7 folders
This series contains manuscript copies of writings by Brooks Atkinson and others. Other authors include Robert Crandell, Percy Hammond and Oliver M. Sayler.
- 1904-1916.42 linear feet. (1 box
This series contains copies of publications which Brooks Atkinson either wrote for or published during his youth. Included are copies of The Bay State Amateur, The Coagent, The Melrose Record, The Olympian, The Puritan, and The Watchout
- 1944-1950.42 linear feet. (3 volumes
This series consists of handwritten notebooks containing Atkinson's China diaries from his years in Asia during World War II, as well as drafts for Once Around the Sun.
- 1907-19763.54 linear feet. (14 volumes
This series includes scrapbooks of clippings of articles and columns written by Brooks Atkinson throughout his career. The first volume of this series contains articles and reviews written by Atkinson in the beginning of his career. Later volumes contain articles from his years as theater critic and critic at large for the New York Times
- 1945-19802.09 linear feet. (18 volumes
This series includes agenda books belonging to Brooks Atkinson and document his appointments. Often included in these volumes are phone lists and miscellaneous jottings.