Scope and arrangement
The Ruth Morley Papers document the career of Ruth Morley, costume designer for theater, opera, television and motion pictures. The bulk of the materials date from Ruth Morley’s life in the United States, since her arrival as a teenager in 1941, until a year before her death in 1991; a small number of records date after her death.
The material in this collection illustrates Ruth Morley’s creative process through all the steps of a production. After reading a script, she would decide whether to undertake a show or not, and then she would meet with the director to discuss his or her vision. Although in many cases she would design all or some of the costumes for a production, she would also use materials or whole costumes purchased from retail, thrift stores or specialty theatrical vendors, especially in the case of period costumes.
This collection contains production materials, such as costume notes, sketches and swatches, costume plots and breakdowns, to-do and shopping lists, correspondence, production notes and schedules, cast and contact lists, costume photographs (on-stage or during fittings), publicity materials such as programs and clippings, contracts, billing and other financial materials related to the productions in which Ruth Morley participated. There is also a significant number of scripts given to Ruth Morley for consideration, as well as professional papers, such as research materials, photographs, photocopies and clippings containing images of costumes from different eras and regions studied by Morley in preparation for her designs, correspondence, lecture notes and other coursework materials from courses that Ruth Morley took or taught, pension and welfare information, and vendor brochures of theatrical suppliers. There are no personal records in this collection.
The Ruth Morley papers are arranged in four series:
- 1947 - 199029 boxes
This series contains costume notes, sketches, costume plots and breakdowns, correspondence, production notes and schedules, photographs, swatches, publicity materials such as programs and clippings, contracts, billing and other financial materials related to the productions in which Ruth Morley participated. It also includes research materials, mostly photographs, photocopies and clippings containing images of costumes studied by Morley in preparation for her designs. This series includes Ruth Morley’s work in opera, stage, motion pictures and television productions, such as Carmina Burana (1959), Deathtrap (1978), Death of a Salesman (1983-1985), and The Miracle Worker (1979).
- 1947 - 199027 boxes
This series contains scripts sent to Ruth Morley for consideration. They include scripts and librettos for theater plays, musicals and opera, screenplays for motion pictures and television productions, as well as a small number of screen treatments. This series includes not only scripts of productions on which Morley worked, such as The Crucible (produced in 1961), The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck (1983), or Spoils of War (1989), but also for productions in which Morley did not participate. A few scripts are annotated.
- 1925 - 20054 boxes
This series contains correspondence, lecture notes and other coursework materials from courses that Ruth Morley took or taught, pension and welfare information, and vendor brochures of theatrical suppliers. It also includes a significant number of general research images not clearly related to a specific production. They are mainly magazine clippings collected by Ruth Morley during the 1940s and 1950s.
- 1938 - 1989,10 boxes
This series contains oversized production materials and professional papers, mainly sketches, and general research clippings. The productions represented here are Café Crown (1964), The Chosen (1987-1988), Dylan (1963-1964), Here’s Where I Belong (1967-1968), In the Counting House (1962), Keep It Clean (undated), The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck (1983), Mayflower: The Pilgrims’ Adventure (1979), The Miracle Worker (1959-1961), Mussolini: The Untold Story (1984-1985), Once Around (1989), The Prince of Homburg (1977), The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1970), Twelfth Night (1957). It also includes sketches for several operas produced for the New York City Opera, such as Carmina Burana (1959), Danton’s Death (1966), The Dybbuk (1915), The Four Ruffians (1951), The Golem (1962), The Passion of Jonathan Wade (1962), Threepenny Opera (1965), and sketches for unidentified productions.