Scope and arrangement
The Emeline Roche Collection (1815-1988) consists of the Emeline Roche Papers (1815-1988) and the Jane Cowl Papers (1884-1949). The collection came in two installments: first after 1950 from Emeline Roche, the rest after her death from her executor and friend, Henry Grady.
The Roche Papers include correspondence, manuscripts, contracts, financial records, personal papers, photographs, scrapbooks, clippings and memorabilia, set, costume and lighting designs, drawings and renderings, original artwork and extensive research files.
The largest part of the Roche Papers consists of professional work files and related production designs and research materials. There are almost no personal materials such as biographical documents, personal papers, ephemera or correspondence. The papers are rich in materials relating to the role of professional women in the theater after World War I through the mid-fifties. However, with the exception of records relating to her personal interest in Jane Cowl, no materials exist that document the last four decades of Emeline Roche's life.
The collection includes drafts of chapters from a proposed biography on Ms. Cowl to be written by Frank P. Morse. Not only are there detailed annotations by Emeline Roche, but, in addition, a series of letters between Ms. Roche and Mr. Morse further clarifies important aspects of Ms. Cowl's life and theatrical career. Other writings by Jane Cowl's friends round out a picture of the famous actor, director and author whose theatrical career spanned nearly half a century.
The Jane Cowl Papers contain a large collection of materials documenting her professional career and personal life. The papers contain extensive personal and professional photographs. Included are tintypes of Jane Cowl and her mother, as well as photographs of her husband, Adolph Klauber.
The Cowl Papers also contain a large number of theatrical scripts, including a promptbook for Romeo and Juliet, which Ms. Cowl directed and starred in, presentation copies of Lilac Timeand Romeo and Juliet, as well as other promptbooks and annotated scripts. Ms. Cowl initially wrote under the pen names of C. R. Avery and Alan Langdon Martin, as well as crediting male aliases Theodore Charles and Reginald Lawrence as co-authors of her plays. The papers also include a number of holographic and typewritten drafts of radio scripts, lectures and articles.
However, the Jane Cowl Papers contain no letters between Ms. Cowl and her husband, almost no personal correspondence from friends, and little correspondence from theatrical associates, with the exception of materials relating to Jane Cowl's work with the Stage Door Canteen in World War II. The bulk of the personal correspondence about Ms. Cowl is found in the papers of Emeline Roche. Another major weakness in the papers is the shortage of financial and other business records.
The Emeline Clark Roche Collection is arranged in eleven series:
- 1935-1988.8 linear feet (2 boxes)
The bulk of the series consists of Ms. Roche's business correspondence and other documents relating to the organizations with which she was affiliated including the Stage Door Canteen and the United Scenic Artists. The second largest number of files contains correspondence with theatrical friends, including Aline Bernstein.
- 1924-19512.2 linear feet (5 boxes)
Professional work files include production files containing programs, newsclippings, costume plots and swatches, set and light designs, contracts, correspondence, scripts, financial documents and other materials. Files document the performances of Angna Enters and Ruth Draper. The series clarifies Ms. Roche's working relationships with Jane Cowl and other actors and theater personnel, including Aline Bernstein, Agnes Morgan, Lee Simonson and Helen Arthur.
- 1815-19555.7 linear feet (11 boxes)
Research files are arranged by topic, often further sub-divided by date and country of origin, and contain brochures, color prints, etchings, catalogs, postcards, sketches, research notes, drawings, articles, correspondence, clippings, blueprints and photos. Many folders are cross-referenced to other research materials. The files are particularly strong in the subject areas of architecture and costume design. Included are original English colored engravings of costumes (1815-1830), German colored costume plates from Der Bazar(1880-1898), and colored European costume prints of the 1880s. The series also contains a holographic letter from Queen Mary (1924) found in Box 14, Folder 16 about Queen Mary's Doll House and many cabinet cards and other 19th century photographs.
- 1915-19503.1 linear feet (2 boxes)
This series includes a scrapbook of the 1938 Ann Arbor Dramatic Season containing clippings on Jane Cowl in Rain from Heaven. There are also personal and professinoal photographs of the staff of The Actor-Managers, Inc., photos of Aline Bernstein, Helen Arthur and a set of rotogravures of Geraldine Farrar in Cecil B. DeMille's production of Joan of Arc. Also included in the series are clippings about Jane Cowl. Ephemera includes Ms. Roche's 1927 union card and World War II documents consisting of certificates of appreciation and Stage Door Canteen materials.
- 1922-195810.3 linear feet (12 boxes)
This series includes watercolors, drawings and other original artwork by Emeline Roche and Angna Enters. The series also contains many black and white photographs of set designs, production renderings, sketches, working drawings, plans and elevations, blueprints and tracings, lighting plots and color costume and set designs.
- 1938-1988.4 linear feet (1 box)
The series includes letters to Ms. Roche from Jane Cowl's associates, such as Jane Murfin, with reminiscences about her life and career, plans for her memorial service, and discussions about the purchase of her possessions at auction and their subsequent distribution to friends.
A number of documents shed light on Ms. Cowl's career and personal history. The most extensive of these consists of correspondence about a proposed biography of Jane Cowl with working draft chapters. The biography was to be written by Frank P. Morse who first met Ms. Cowl when she was seventeen. Emeline Roche provided extensive comments on the contents of the chapters based on her own research. Ms. Roche and Mr. Morse entered into a series of letters providing detailed information on Jane Cowl's life and colleagues.
- 1934-1949.4 linear feet (1 box)
This series is divided into personal and business correspondence. The personal correspondence includes letters by Jane Cowl, as well as correspondence from employees and friends. The business correspondence focuses on Jane Cowl's World War II involvement with the Stage Door Canteen and the American Theatre Wing War Service Inc.
- 1912-19434.2 linear feet (10 boxes)
This series contains radio and stage scripts, many hand annotated. Also included are promptbooks and presentation volumes of her best known productions with autographs, photos and other ephemera. This series is particularly valuable for a study of the performing arts in the first half of the twentieth century.
- 1929-1951.25 linear feet (1 box)
In addition to her work as a playwright, Jane Cowl lectured and wrote on topics ranging from meetings with famous people like President Coolidge to autobiographical stories and articles. This series includes manuscripts, typescripts and copies of articles relating to her work. Many items are holographic or contain written annotations and notes.
- 1884-19492 linear feet (4 boxes)
This series contains personal papers including copies of her marriage certificate, research notes about her date of birth, many personal photographs of her as a child and adult, ephemera and clippings about her professional career and travels. Oversized material suitable for exhibition include magazine covers featuring Jane Cowl and related program materials.
- 1907-19423.3 linear feet (3 boxes)
This series contains scrapbooks about Jane Cowl's performances in Antony and Cleopatra(1924), Easy Virtue(1926), First Lady(1936-1937), and Punch and Julia(1942). There is also a personal scrapbook of her first trip to Europe with her husband in 1907 containing mementos, photographs and letters. The scrapbooks are a good source of documentation for notable events in her career and life.