Scope and arrangement
The papers of Margaret Barker consist of personal papers, family papers, diaries, datebooks, correspondence, including letters from family, friends and business associates, legal and financial documents, writings, programs, scripts, photographs, scrapbooks, and ephemera relating to productions in which she appeared, directed or produced.
The personal and family papers provide an in-depth insight into Ms. Barker’s life and work. The personal papers contain Ms. Barker’s datebooks and diaries, including a journal of her dreams. Financial papers include bank statements for trusts, personal bills, receipts, income ledger sheets, and papers for several theatrical investments. Her personal files span much of her life—from the Bryn Mawr School she attended as a girl in Baltimore, to her pension statements from Actors’ Equity Association, and relate to many aspects of her life—homes, notebooks, recipes, sketches, theater memorabilia, and travel, to name a few. Family papers are rich in correspondence, especially from Ms. Barker’s parents, but also from other family members. The papers of the Barker and Halsey families date back to the early 1800s and include a letter from the Baron de Stael to T.T.Wilder.
Correspondence consists largely of letters from friends, admirers and business associates in the 1930s. Some of Ms. Barker’s more notable correspondents include Alan Baxter, Harold Clurman, Katharine Cornell, Clifford Odets, and Jerome Robbins. The Group Theatre papers offer an insider’s perspective on its productions and activities, including several of its summer sessions, from 1931 until 1937, when the Group reorganized and Ms. Barker was no longer a member. The organization series’ papers consist of newsletters, correspondence, fliers, booklets, and advisory board materials for groups with which Ms. Barker was personally or professionally involved. Scripts and production materials are also contained in the files for the Analytical Psychology Club of New York, Inc. and the Cosmopolitan Club for which Ms. Barker directed productions.
Productions comprise the largest part of the papers and contain scripts, correspondence, contracts, programs, production materials, and ephemera largely for shows in which Ms. Barker appeared. Color of Darkness and L’Ete, produced by Ms. Barker, and A Moonlit Dome, written by Ms. Barker, are the best-documented productions. Color of Darkness and L’Ete include financial and casting materials as well.
Her writings consist of plays, short stories, poetry, non-fiction, and speeches. None of these writings appear to have been produced or published, with the exception of the concert reading of A Moonlit Dome at the Shirley Broughton Studio in 1962. Scripts received by Ms. Barker range from works by unknown playwrights to authors such as S.N. Behrman, Max Frisch, Arthur Kopit, and Megan Terry.
As with the papers, the production photographs make up the largest part of the Photographs series. Photographs in the collection include informal, personal and professional portraits of Ms Barker and of her family. There are informal photographs of the Group Theatre summer sessions. Organization photographs consist mostly of the productions Ms. Barker did for the Analytical Psychology Club of New York, Inc. and for the Cosmopolitan Club.
Two scrapbooks document Ms. Barker’s work in the summer of 1941 at the Hilltop Theatre in Maryland and her production of The Color of Darkness in 1963. (The latter, oversized scrapbook contains only eight pages of material.) Oversized materials are an unidentified piece of music and the British publication, Band of Hope Review (1865).
The Margaret Barker papers are arranged in eleven series:
- 1800-19866 boxes 7 folders
The datebooks reflect Ms. Barker’s personal and professional engagements and are in her own handwriting. Diaries and dream journals offer insight into Ms. Barker’s reflections on her life and activities. Included in the financial papers are bank and pension fund statements, receipts, checks, and materials relating to theatrical and publishing projects in which Ms. Barker invested. The largest sub-series is Personal Files, A-Z. It contains material on various topics, such as Ms. Barker’s homes, recipes, travel, personal projects, clippings on her and others, and theatrical memorabilia. Also included are some papers relating to Halley Erskine and Ann Macfarlane, Ms. Barker’s companions.
- Sub-series 1: Datebooks, Diaries and Dream Journals, 1925-1982
- Sub-series 2: Financial, 1930-1984
- Sub-series 3: Personal Files, A-Z, ca. 1800s-1986
- 1800 - 19825.5 boxes
This series contains correspondence to and from Ms. Barker’s family, as well as the papers of the Barker and Halsey (Ms. Barker’s mother’s maiden name) families. The family papers span several generations. Included in the Barker Family Papers are letters from prominent early 20th century physicians to Dr. Lewellys F. Barker, Ms. Barker’s father. The Halsey Family Papers contain materials from the Wilder and Haines families, Ms. Barker’s maternal ancestors. The bulk of this series consists of correspondence from Ms. Barker’s parents to her, with her mother’s letters being the more numerous. These letters provide much information on Ms. Barker’s career, especially in the 1930s.
- Sub-series 1: Family Correspondence, 1916-1982
- Sub-series 2: Correspondence from Margaret Barker to Family, ca. 1920s-1980
- Sub-series 3: Barker Family Papers, 1893-1977
- Sub-series 4: Halsey Family Papers, ca. 1800s-1960
- 1930-19394.6 boxes
This series contains letters from Ms. Barker’s friends and professional associates, about both personal and business matters. Much of the correspondence dates from the 1930s.
- Sub-series 1 - General, 1926-1988
- Sub-series 2 - Individuals A-Z, 1928-1969
- Sub-series 3 - Correspondence from Margaret Barker, 1926-1985
- 1930 - 19892.5 boxes
This series consists of correspondence, programs, scripts, publicity materials, notebooks, financial papers, production materials, contracts, and clippings relating to the origins and productions of the Group Theatre. The bulk of the material is from 1930-1936, the years of Ms. Barker’s participation. The 1983 program and reunion, “NYU Salutes the Group Theatre 1931-1940,” and the materials relating to the American Masters television documentary, Broadway’s Dreamers: The Legacy of the Group Theatre, comprise the later papers in this series.
- Sub-series 1: Correspondence, 1930-1988
- Sub-series 2: Papers, 1930-1983
- Sub-series 3: Productions, 1931-1989
- Sub-series 4: Ephemera, 1931-1939; 1983-1989
- 1927 - 19873 boxes 4 folders
The series contains correspondence, minutes, invitations, programs, membership booklets, newsletters, production materials, scripts, seminar materials, financial papers, card files, contracts, and clippings. The files represent organizations with which Ms. Barker had a long relationship, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, the Analytical Psychology Club of New York, Inc., and the Cosmopolitan Club. Of particular note is an autobiographical speech Ms. Barker gave for Alcoholics Anonymous. Her productions for the Analytical Psychology Club of New York include a marionette play, Maybelline, or, Everybody’s Shadow (1970) and their annual holiday programs. Papers relating to these productions, as well as articles for the club’s Bulletin are contained in the files. Her productions for the Cosmopolitan Club, such as The Enchanted by Jean Giraudoux (1970) are also documented.
Also included are organizations of a professional nature, such as Actors’ Equity Association, ANTA, the American Shakespeare Festival, Circle Repertory Company, the Eugene O’Neill Center, Hilltop Theatre, Hunterdon Hills Playhouse, Manhattan Punch Line, the Mirror Theatre, Southampton Playhouse, Studio Workshop Theatre, and the Williamstown Theatre. The files for Studio Workshop Theatre, founded in 1938 by Ms. Barker with Felicia Sorel and Frank Westbrook, include a prospectus, teaching notes, accounting ledgers, card files, and correspondence. Jerome Robbins was a student at Studio Workshop Theatre. At the Hunterdon Hills Playhouse in Jutland, New Jersey, Ms. Barker produced a summer season that included All the Way Home by Lynn Riggs (1948) with Helen Thompson. However, there are only a few administrative items in the papers about the theater. A photograph of Ms. Barker at the playhouse is filed in the Photographs series.
Ms. Barker served on the Board of Advisors of the Off-Off Broadway theater company, Manhattan Punch Line, from 1979-1982 and the files include minutes, budgets, sample contracts, notes by Ms. Barker, publicity materials, and programs for the organization. The Williamstown Theatre files include papers documenting Ms. Barker’s attempts to develop a resident season for the company in Baltimore in the mid-1960s.
- 1928 - 198612.75 boxes
This series contains correspondence, scripts, prompt scripts, programs, production and publicity materials, financial papers, notes, contracts, sketches, and clippings for which Ms. Barker acted either as producer, actor, or director. Papers for the production, Rooms, by Stanley Mann, for which Ms. Barker was associate producer, are filed with the General sub-series.
- Sub-series 1: Color of Darkness, 1962-1964
- Sub-series 2: L’Ete, 1966-1973
- Sub-series 3: A Moonlit Dome, 1961-ca. 1962
- Sub-series 4: General, 1928-1986
- 3 boxes
Some of Ms. Barker’s manuscripts are handwritten. There is no indication that any of the works in this series were produced or published. Two versions of “Home by Dark,” a short story by James Purdy, are filed at the end of the writings.
- Sub-series 1: Plays, 1928-1970 and n.d.
- Sub-series 2: Short Stories, 1940-ca. 1960 and n.d.
- Sub-series 3: Poetry, ca. 191-?-1980
- Sub-series 4: Non-fiction, ca. 1945-1960
- Sub-series 5: Speeches, 1935-1966
- 1938 - 19412 boxes
This series consists of stage plays probably sent to Ms. Barker, but also contains sides for unidentified plays for which no production information is available. Included is an early version (ca. 1965) of Hothouseby Megan Terry. Later versions of the play are filed in the Productions series. Other scripts of note are Love Storyby S.N. Behrman (1938), Don Juan, or, The Love of Geometryby Max Frisch (ca. 1962), The Investigationby Peter Weiss, Good Help Is Hard to Find, a one-act play by Arthur Kopit (ca. 1981), Tangoby Slawomir Mrozek, translated by Nicholas Bethell and Tom Stoppard (ca. 1960s).
- 1920 - 19823.75 boxes
The photographs document a number of aspects of the collection: Personal, Portraits, Family, Individuals, Group Theatre, Organizations, and Productions. The arrangement parallels the organization of the papers. Productions form the largest part of the series. Papers containing personal information for L’Ete company members are filed at the end of this series.
- Sub-series 1: Personal, ca. 1920s-1982
- Sub-series 2: Portraits, ca. 1920s-1980s
- Sub-series 3: Family, ca. 1800s-1975
- Sub-series 4: Individuals, 1884-ca. 1940
- Sub-series 5: Group Theatre, 1931-1935
- Sub-series 6: Organizations, 1948-1986
- Sub-series 7: Productions, 1928-1982
- 19632 folders
This series consists of two scrapbooks: one for the Hilltop Theatre, Ellicott City, Maryland and one for Ms. Barker’s production of Color of Darkness. The Hilltop Theatre scrapbook contains clippings, a photo of Ms. Barker, and correspondence for the theater’s nineteenth season in 1941. Productions included are Love from a Stranger by Frank Vosper, Divorçons by Victorien Sardou and Emile de Najac, Biographyby S.N. Behrman, The Night of January 16thby Ayn Rand, and Private Lives by Noel Coward. The Color of Darkness scrapbook contains eight pages of clippings and a production brochure. It is filed with the oversized material.
- n.d.1 -11" x 15" box
The oversized materials consist of three items: an unidentified music manuscript, the May 1, 1865 issue of Band of Hope Review, an illustrated London publication and the Color of Darknessscrapbook.