Scope and arrangement
The collection contains Belasco correspondence with actors and others, 53 scrapbooks of photographs by White Studio and Byron Studio of Belasco productions, 1898-1930, and 30 rolls of microfilm of scrapbooks of clippings, halftones, reviews, and programs, 1898-1930. It also includes a few speeches and articles by Belasco, a few legal documents, clippings about him, and other printed material. Drawings for costume designs, sets and posters for Belasco productions were removed from the Papers and placed in the Library's "Originals" files under production title.
The David Belasco papers are arranged in ten series:
- 1887-193659 folders
This series consists of letters to Belasco, letters by Belasco and third party correspondence; the bulk is letters to Belasco. Letters are from actresses including Sarah Bernhardt, Ina Claire, and Jane Cowl, as well as others trying to break into the field, playwrights including Edward Knoblock and theater colleagues including Daniel Frohman and Edward Sheldon. Topics include proposed plays, letters of introduction, and letters of thanks for various things including his souvenir edition of The Merchant of Venice. Letters by Belasco are to Eugene Brieux, Geraldine Farrar, Eugene O'Neill, Charlotte Walker, and David Warfield among others, as well as to newspaper theater critics in response to reviews. The entire series is surprisingly small, comprising ca. .25 linear feet.
- n.d.1 folder
One folder of speeches, all undated, some incomplete, includes Belasco speaking against the Theatrical Syndicate.
- 1919 and n.d.1 folder
One folder of typescripts containing biographical material on Belasco were mostly written for newspaper publication.
- 1887-19181 folder
One folder of legal documents consists of a document of copyright, a handwritten memorandum of agreement between Daniel Frohman, manager of the Lyceum Theatre and Belasco and H. C. DeMille, authors of The Wife, a sharing contract for actress Frances Starr, and material from a plagiarism suit brought against Belasco for the play Marie Odile.
- 1868-19212 folders
Programs are from the Lincoln Grammar School where the student David Belasco spoke in 1868, and from a dinner in his honor at The Society of Arts and Sciences in 1921, with the text of his speech included.
- 1922 and n.d.2 folders
Printed material written by Belasco consists of a preface to David Belasco's arrangement of The Merchant of Venice, 1922, and an essay, undated, with photographic portraits on The Return of Peter Grimm and spiritualism.
- 1884-196710 folders
Clippings consist of articles by Belasco including his serial, "My Life's Story", and articles about his work, life and death. Also included are posthumous mentions of Belasco in newspapers that were added to the collection after its arrival in the Library. Much of the material is also available on microfilm.
- 1910-19312 folders
Ephemera consists of printed hand props for The Return of Peter Grimm including letters, a telegram, circus flyers and a tulip catalog which were created to appear completely authentic though no one in the audience would be able to read them; and Belasco autographs, financial papers, forms, book plates, and a pamphlet on his art collection sold after his death.
- 1898-193053 volumes
This series consists of scrapbooks of production photographs of 44 of Belasco's shows arranged alphabetically by play title. The photographs are either by White Studio (New York, N.Y.) or Byron Studio (New York, N.Y.). Some of the scrapbooks contain the program for the production. Actors and actresses depicted in more than one scrapbook include Lionel Atwill, Blanche Bates, Ina Claire, Frances Starr, Lenore Ulric, Charlotte Walker, and David Warfield.
- 1898-193030 reels
Scrapbooks of clippings, halftones, reviews, and programs for Belasco productions were microfilmed (*ZAN-*T-279). Originals were discarded after filming.