Scope and arrangement
The majority of the Aronson collection is set designs, followed by production materials and scripts. Professional Papers (Series I) and General Research (Series VII) contain materials not directly associated with specific productions. Most of the other series – Scripts, Programs, Clippings, Production Materials, Designs, Elevations & Blueprints, and Oversized Materials - are organized by production name. They illustrate Aronson's thought and work processes from beginning to end. Production Materials and Designs include Aronson's early work for the Jewish theater, a particularly interesting time in his career and unique to this collection. Amongst the designs for groundbreaking productions like The Diary of Anne Frank (1955) and Cabaret (1966), there is evidence of concepts that were eventually discarded like the Art Nouveau version of Follies (1970) and preliminary screens tried out in Company (1970). Production Materials boasts research materials for Orpheus Descending (1957) recommended to Aronson by Tennessee Williams himself. Lisa Aronson's notes throughout provide additional information, and she also had a hand in constructing Boris Aronson's scrapbooks. Aronson's writings (in Series I) allow Mr. Aronson to speak directly about his work, including his short book about Marc Chagall, a friend of Aronson's whose work inspired his designs for Fiddler on the Roof (1964). There is virtually no personal material in the collection.
The Boris Aronson papers and designs are arranged in nine series:
- 9 boxes
Professional Papers contain documents not directly related to Aronson's theatrical designs. Art includes catalogues of paintings and drawings by Aronson as well as photographs of a mural he did for the Unser Theater. Awards & Recognitions contains mainly invitations to awards ceremonies that Aronson attended, including when he received his last Tony award (1976). The majority of Biographical Materials is information for, and drafts of, Frank Rich's biography of Aronson: The Theatre Art of Boris Aronson. Conferences & Committees includes Aronson's report on his 1965 cultural exchange trip to Moscow. Correspondence includes letters from Harold Clurman, Elia Kazan, and Hal Prince. Throughout Aronson's life his art and designs were exhibited internationally, two of the most notable exhibitions that are represented in this series are his 1947-1948 show at the Museum of Modern Art (called Painting with Light) and a particularly thorough post-mortem exhibit at the Katonah gallery (1989). Financial and legal items include contracts and grant applications. There are transcripts of interviews with Aronson discussing his designs and collaborations. Finally, Aronson's writings include his short work on Marc Chagall, a personal friend whose work inspired the designs for Fiddler on the Roof (1964).
- 1938-2000; undated13 boxes
Rarely do Aronson’s scripts contain annotation or multiple drafts. Notable exceptions are The Diary of Anne Frank, Dreyfus in Rehearsal, J.B., and Zorba.
- 1911-1977; undated3 boxes
Programs spans Aronson's entire career - from his early work in Yiddish theater to his final works in theater and dance (Pacific Overturesand Baryshnikov's The Nutcracker).
- ca.1929-1990; undated2 boxes
Except for the final three "General" folders, Clippings pertain to and are organized by specific productions. Clippings that concern Aronson's artwork outside the theater are part of the files in Series I.
- 1926-19581 box
Scrapbooks were constructed by Aronson (and his wife) and only cover the first half of his career. They are not sequential, with years overlapping not only with each other, but with the two large scrapbooks (1924-1932, 1932-1935) in the Oversized Material series (Series IX).
- undated3 boxes
General research is not identified with a particular show but rather organized by subject (for example, German Woodcuts or Tattoos). It is mainly reproductions of artwork and some photographs.
- ca.1924-1978; undated3 boxes
Production materials, organized by show. Includes: research (including research photos); notes on shows (including those to directors.); photographs of sets; prop lists.
- ca. 1923-1976; undated112 boxes
- ca.1923-1986; undated6 boxes