Scope and arrangement
The Morrie Ryskind papers cover the years 1911 to 1985. The collection includes financial papers, contracts, writings, scripts with Ryskind's handwritten notes and edits, and newspaper clippings. There is only one box of correspondence, almost all of which is dated pre-1950. Although there are newspaper clippings and a few letters regarding Ryskind's involvement with the House Un-American Activities Committee Hearings, there is no official correspondence to or from the House Committee, nor are there letters to or from the Motion Picture Alliance, a conservative Hollywood group, whose members included Ryskind, Adolphe Menjou and Robert Taylor. The bulk of the collection is the scrapbook series which includes 31 microfilmed scrapbooks. Most of the items are clippings concerning stage and screen productions, as well as Ryskind's published poetry and newspaper columns. The scrapbooks also contain numerous rejection letters Ryskind received in the early stages of his career.
The Morrie Ryskind papers are arranged in seven series:
- 1911-19341 box
This series contains diaries kept while Ryskind was a student at Columbia University; and a partial typewritten journal kept during the decade between 1923 and 1934.
- 1918-19851 box
The letters are divided into general correspondence; business letters written in conjunction with specific productions/scripts; and correspondence with Columbia University regarding his attempts to secure his degree, and his tenure as a lecturer in the Journalism School. The general and business correspondence includes letters from Groucho Marx, Mary Pickford, Ira Gershwin, George Kaufman, and Katherine Dunham.
- 1922-197210 boxes
Included in this series are Ryskind's stage and screen scripts, as well as newspaper and magazine articles he wrote. There is also a box of miscellaneous skits which consist of fragments of skits that are undated and sometimes untitled; and two folders of songs Ryskind wrote for various productions. Most of the film scripts can be traced through successive drafts. A majority of the scripts have handwritten edits and notes by Ryskind. The numbering system is Ryskind's.
- 1925-19285 folders
Contains contracts regarding specific productions/scripts; employment with various movie studios; copyright renewals; and royalties.
- 7 folders
Includes a speech made by Ryskind at a Beverly Hills Republican dinner honoring his wife, Mary Ryskind, at which Ronald Reagan was the guest speaker; Columbia exams and papers; papers relating to the Lowenfels Case in which Ryskind and his collaborators were accused of plagiarizing Of Thee I Sing; and comments made in 1995 by Ryskind's sisters about his autobiography, I Shot an Elephant in My Pajamas.
- 1914-19225 folders
Columbia University publications including The Jester, The Jester Book of Light Verse, and a Columbia yearbook with Ryskind's picture.
- 1914-197032 vols. (available in 10 reels of microfilm)
The scrapbooks contain Ryskind's published poetry and articles including the columns "The Conning Tower," "Shadow Box," "Stage Coach" and "The Morrie Ryskind Column"; newspaper clippings about specific stage productions and films; as well as numerous rejection letters from publishers regarding his poetry during the 1920's. Scrapbooks have been rearranged by date rather than by Ryskind's number system.
Scrapbooks are available in microfilm only.