Scope and arrangement
The bulk of this collection is radio scripts written by Edith Meiser. While she is most famous for her dramatization of the Sherlock Holmes stories, the collection contains very few of that series' scripts. In contrast the collection has complete runs for other radio shows including Island Boat (1932), Judge Priest, The New Penny (1935-36) (a story created as a vehicle for Helen Hayes), and Edward Taylor (1930) as well as a large collection of scripts from shows including Dr. Susan (1939), Bill Baker (1937), Polly Preston (1929-30), and Mysteries in Paris (1932). Some of the actors and actresses who were featured in the radio dramatizations include Helen Hayes, Agnes Moorehead, John McGovern, Alfred Shirley, William Shelbey, among others. In addition there are scripts for adaptations of A Christmas Carol, Gigi (1973), The Musical Wizard of Oz (not complete), This Wooden O, and Ah! Wilderness. Many of the scripts have handwritten notes and corrections. The collection does not include much information on her career in vaudeville, Broadway or the movies before 1930 or after the 1940s.
The rest of the collection contains various business letters and contracts between Edith Meiser and Tom McKnight's company McKnight and Jordan Inc. and sponsors such as G. Washington Coffee, General Foods Corp., House of Bourjois, Nathaniel Fisher Shoe Co. as well as the Library of Congress Copyright Agency, NBC, and various firms such as Cedric, Warwick & Cedric, and Ruthrauff & Ryan. On a more personal note there is a small collection of letters, photos, and mementos from Thomas McKnight's childhood as well as personal letters from Edith Meiser to Thomas McKnight directly after their marriage in 1927. In addition there are a few rough budgets for various productions and Edith Meiser's personal income budget.
The collection is excellent for those researching radio drama in the 1930s and 40s. The collection includes timing copies, and the business transactions necessary to air the material. It gives a researcher some insight into the social and economic issues of the day such as the value of the American dollar in the 1930s since bills, contracts, and salaries are recorded within various documents. While the collection does contain mementos from Thomas McKnight's early childhood the only substantial insight into Edith Meiser's personal life is the newspaper article in The Women's Newspaper of Princeton 1985 and her private letters to her husband Thomas McKnight months after their marriage in 1927.
The Edith Meiser papers are arranged in six series:
- 1929-194014 boxes
This series contains weekly episodes of many of the radio dramas written by Edith Meiser. Many contain annotated copies with timings and notes.
- 19731 box
Included are scripts many unproduced written by Edith Meiser. Some other scripts are included.
- 1902-19851 box
The material in this series consists of personal items of Edith Meiser and her husband Thomas McKnight. The folder on Thomas McKnight consists mainly of old letters and tokens from Thomas' early childhood. Four folders in the series are letters from Edith Meiser to Thomas McKnight just a few months after their marriage when she was traveling the vaudeville circuit. The letters show the more personal side of Edith and her relationship towards her husband. Included in the letter is a brief inventory of Edith Meiser's expenses while traveling. While there is one or two mementos of Edith Meiser's life when she was young, the rest of the material is mainly personal letters written to and by Edith in an attempt to find a proper home for her collection of Sherlock Holmes scripts. Also included are some newspaper clippings.
- 1932-1941, 19834 folders
Materials are grouped by production or major business company. The majority of the papers consist of business letters between various companies on the production of the Mr. Fortune and Sherlock Holmes. The main companies involved are: McKnight and Jordan Inc., Cecil Warwick & Cecil, Ruthrauff & Ryan and the Library of Congress Copyright Division. All the material is typed.
- ca. 1902-19404 folders
Most of the material in this series is undated and unmarked. Many of the pictures seem to be of Thomas McKnight as a young boy and are in a fragile condition. In addition are some large 8 x 11 photos that were found in a folder labeled Lawes Cast Photographs.
- 1940, 19511 box
The material in this series and has no apparent connection to other scripts, personal, or business papers. Most of the materials in this series are undated scripts.