Scope and arrangement
Nelson’s career as a performer, which encompassed singing in cabarets, acting in theatre, film and television, and appearing in commercials, is documented with scripts, photographs, publicity materials, artwork, and sheet music. There are scripts for films Nelson appeared in, such as The Sound of Music, Doctor Doolittle, and The Other; and the television special The Ghost of Thomas Kempe. Also included is a copy of The Sound of Music: The Making of America’s Favorite Movie, (1993), in which some of Nelson’s personal photographs were reproduced, inscribed by the author. A mounted photo collage illustrates Nelson’s extensive work in television commercials. There is a painting (with fabric swatches) of Nelson’s costume for The Golden Apple, and a notebook of Nelson’s sketches of her fellow actors in the musical The Baker’s Wife. There are many photographs of Nelson performing in night clubs and on stage, as well as production shots from films. Her live cabaret performances are documented with flyers, clippings, and posters for cabaret engagements; a photograph of various cabaret performers; and a silhouette drawing of Nelson singing into her microphone. Nelson’s career as a recording artist is represented by album covers and liner notes from solo albums and cast albums on which she performed. There is also sheet music for several songs by the composer Bart Howard. Materials collected and created by Nelson during her performing career may also be found in the scrapbooks.
Nelson’s writing career is documented with scripts, outlines, sheet music, and artwork. There are scripts for projects such as A Pocket Filled with Dreams, Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, The House of the Seven Lively Hearts, and Tahoe: The World of Temple Jones. In addition to scripts, photographs and flyers also document Sleeping Beauty; and slides of color animation renderings document The Happy Prince. Also contained here are scripts, photographs, programs, and notes from the 1984 performance piece Nelson adapted from her book, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk. There is sheet music from musical projects with songs by Nelson, such as The Happy Prince, and Debbie Reynolds and The Sound of Children; as well as individual songs by Nelson, including “Make a Rainbow,” the song performed by Marilyn Horne at President Clinton’s inauguration. There are drafts of two poetry collections, Lost, and The We of Us, which Nelson wrote with Howard Lee. Nelson was constantly working on new projects on her own or with collaborators like Hal Hackaday, Andrew Burnstine, and Scott and Vivian Holtzman. These proposed projects, which are documented here with outlines, proposals, notes of ideas, and sometimes with script excerpts, song lyrics, and sheet music, include The Adventures of Greta Goose; The Third By-Line…Barrington; Claudia Claus; Cucumber, the Second; Granny; It’s in the Star; Kosmo Kat; The Last Two Weeks in August (Outline); Look Out for Harriet; a Micheline Musselli Pozzo di Borgo biography; Paper; Picadilly Pickle; The Prank, Rockefeller Center; See as the Children See; There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk Musical; Waltons Idea; Wanderguy; and The Wizard That Was. Materials collected and created by Nelson in her writing career may also be found in the scrapbooks.
Personal materials document Nelson’s private life and her career in general. Biographies, interviews, clippings, headshots, resumes, and personal photographs of Nelson with friends and colleagues are present. Her achievements are documented with certificates, photographs, flyers, and invitations from awards ceremonies; and a thank you letter from Bill Clinton. Also contained here is a commemorative volume of facsimiles of letters from the Columbia Records president and producer Goddard Lieberson, who Nelson worked with many times during the 1950s.
Most of Nelson’s correspondence contained here consists of cards and letters written to her during the 1980s and 1990s, including get well cards and birthday cards from 1989 to 1990, signed with first names only. Nelson’s correspondents from 1995 included fans and friends like Jerry Herman, Burt Bacharach, Julie Andrews, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and Sheldon Harnick. Their letters often include praise for her book, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk and her album, This Life; as well as general life and career updates. A folder of 1975 correspondence between Nelson and Howard Lee documents a dispute they had over the copyright to the song “Half a Love is Better than None,” and also contains a copy of Lee and Nelson’s 1970 collaboration “The We of Us.” There is one folder of contracts and business correspondence. Nelson kept many letters sent to her by fans from 1977 to 1994.
Nelson’s scrapbooks, arranged by topic, contain photographs, flyers, adds, programs, clippings, and correspondence. The scrapbook “Honors Received” documents the performance of Nelson’s song “Make a Rainbow” at the 1992 Clinton inauguration; her being made a charter member of the organization Women in Film: The Legacy of Women in Film and Television 1992; her being named a Distinguished Utahn in 1996; and her receiving the 1996 Backstage Bistro Awards Lifetime Achievement Award. The scrapbook “Books, Songs, Musicals” documents Nelson’s performing and writing career from 1963 to 1997, with materials created and collected while she worked in cabaret, in the show Demi-Dozen, and while she wrote the book and the subsequent performance piece, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk. There are also photographs, flyers, and articles covering Nelson’s 1997 MAC Award-winning song: “As I Remember Him.” The two scrapbooks entitled “Film” cover Nelson’s early life, college years, and the beginning of her career in the film industry; as well as The Sound of Music, Doctor Doolittle, The Trouble with Angels, The Other, All My Children, and various commercials. These also contain photographs, publicity materials, and autobiographical notes Nelson wrote on the filming of The Sound of Music. The scrapbook “Stage” covers Nelson’s theatre career from 1953 to 1978, with photographs, programs, flyers, and clippings she collected while appearing in The Golden Apple, The Baker’s Wife, and Apollo and Miss Agnes.
This collection is arranged in the following groups: Performance Materials, Writings, Personal Files, and Scrapbooks.