Scope and arrangement
Burnside possessed a treasure trove of memorabilia from the Hippodrome: full color designs and production files from the musical spectacles highlight and comprise the bulk of the collection. The designers whose artistry is featured are Will R. Barnes, Marguerite O'Kane Conwell, Marie Cook, Mark Lawson, Katharine Lovell, Cora MacGeachy, Robert McQuinn, William Henry Matthews, Gladys Monkhouse and Carl Wilhelm.
The collection includes choreographic notes and diagrams, promptbooks, production files and portions of Burnside's dramatic writings. Also, Lambs Club papers, rental business records, theatre administration files and scrapbooks.
The collection also contains a portion of producer Charles Dillingham's office correspondence, as Dillingham was Burnside's business partner for 16 years. A few of producer Charles Frohman's files are also included here. (The Frohman's files were in Dillingham's possession at the time of Frohman's death in 1915.) Burnside's correspondence makes it clear that he had an accumulation of materials given to him by Dillingham for safekeeping and that some of these materials were from the Charles Frohman offices.
Note: An essay dated October 1971, entitled "The Burnside Mystery: The R.H. Burnside collection and the New York Public Library" may be found here in box 1 folder 1. It details the inclusion of the Frohman material in the Burnside collection and Dillingham's role in assembling the material.
Approximately 100 plays by Burnside as sole or co-author are cataloged separately in the Library's online catalog. Search R. H. Burnside as "author."
See also: the Burnside Tally Sheets in the Music Division, call number JPB 83-49; Burnside's correspondence in the Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division, call number W89-A377; and a separate Charles Dillingham collection, call number W92-A179.
The R. H. Burnside collection is arranged in eleven series:
- 1909-19524 boxes
This series includes items from Burnside's personal files. The writings here are non-dramatic: articles looking back on his time at the Hippodrome and thirty years of working on Broadway as well as descriptions of works penned by Burnside and his wife Kathryne. Includes documentation of his affiliation and activities with the Lambs Club and other clubs, a few files of correspondence, Christmas cards, juvenilia and other ephemera.
Folders 1 and 2 contain some information regarding the acquisition of this collection.
Note: the full play manuscripts and typescripts written by Burnside may be found in Series II: Production files.
- 1893-193411 boxes
Includes promptbooks, annotated manuscripts, handwritten scenarios, cast lists, actors' measurements, costume plots, property plots, rudimentary light plots, ground plans with stage directions, pencil drawings, rehearsal notes, schedules, and programs. Some files do not include author's name or production information.
All venues are in New York City unless otherwise specified. Burnside staged benefits for medical and religious charities that were often presented at the Hippodrome Theatre. Files from these benefits are included at the end of the series.
- 1912-1930 and undated33 boxes
Burnside used a small circle of designers for his entertainments, collaborating most often with Will R. Barnes. Other costume designers represented here are Marguerite O'Kane Conwell, Marie Cook, Katherine H. Lovell, Cora MacGeachy, Robert McQuinn, William Henry Matthews, Gladys Monkhouse and [Carl] Wilhelm.
For the chorus and ballet numbers, Burnside recycled patterns, sequences, visual ideas and displays. Themes featured annually in the chorus pageants include flowers, animals, toys, colors, states, nations, patriotism, city scenes, pastoral gatherings, occupations and historic figures. An example of Burnside's notes for a scene reads: "Eight flower girls (assorted)." As time went on, the costumes for the ballets and pageants were pulled from stock which were grouped by such names as "Colorland," "Melodyland," "Historical Pageant," "Toyland Ballet," "Flower Chorus," Egyptian Ballet," etc. As a result, many design sequences for the ensemble are not tied to a particular show, but were likely used in several productions. Costumes are sometimes paired in "boy and girl" sets.
This series contains costume designs only. Please see Series XI: Oversized material for set designs.
See Series II: Production files for playwright's name and production information. Productions that are not listed in Series II have production information listed here.
These designs measure approximately 14" x 11" and are in full color.
- 1903-1946 and undated4 boxes
These records document, primarily, the administration of the Hippodrome and Globe Theatres. The series includes correspondence, casting and personnel files, publicity material, financial and legal records, research files and ephemera.
- 1923-1929 and undated1 box
Materials and documents pertaining to Burnside's theatrical rental business, including stationery, logo, catalogues, fees, inventories of materials for rent.
- 1924, 1928 and undated1 box
This series contains both personal and professional photographs. See also the scrapbooks in Series VII, which include extensive photo documentation of Burnside's life and career.
- 1904-19266 scrapbooks and 3 bound volumes (9 boxes
Includes one personal scrapbook of family photographs (box 55), one bound volume of Burnside's production notes and staging patterns (box 58), one scrapbook of production photographs (box 63) and five scrapbooks of clippings and programs.
- 1915-1934 and undated1 box
Charles Dillingham (1868-1934) collaborated with Burnside on twenty-two shows, from 1912-1928. Burnside was at the bedside when Dillingham died.
These Dillingham records arrived as part of the Burnside collection. Additionally, some twenty cartons of Dillingham's correspondence and business records came to the Library as a separate acquisition shortly after Dillingham's death. See the Charles B. Dillingham papers, call number W92-A179, in the Manuscripts and Archives Division.
- 1892-19332 boxes
- 1921-1952 and undated1 box
- 1912-1926 and undated8 boxes
Includes primarily set designs. Also oversized photographs, publicity material, ephemera, and Wilhelm's costume designs.