Scope and arrangement
The Elizabeth Swados papers date from 1972 to 2016, and chronicle Swados' theatrical career, along with her work as a writer, poet, illustrator, and educator. The collection consists primarily of handwritten manuscripts and subsequent typed drafts and revisions, which reveal Swados' writing process and the manner in which her productions and publications were conceived.
The bulk of the collection details Swados' work writing, directing, and composing music for theatre productions. The Theatre and Music files contain sheet music, song lyrics, background research, and scripts, as well as a small amount of memorabilia, which includes posters and programs. These files document productions which were performed, as well as works in progress. Swados did much of her composition work by hand, writing out full music scores and lyrics, or annotating typed scores and scripts. Most files hold multiple iterations of a single production, and contain Swados' edits and notes on her work.
The Writing files consist of manuscripts and notebooks that hold drafts of Swados' novels, non-fiction, short stories, and children's books, as well as many incomplete and unpublished works. These files contain the manuscripts for three of her published works, Dreamtective, Hey You! C'mere: A Poetry Slam, and Walking the Dog. There are also drafts of an unpublished memoir called, Secrets: A Memoir and a work of fiction titled The Legal Age for Grieving. There are thirty notebooks present which contain various untitled drafts, notes, and stories. Files related to Swados' novel, Flamboyánt, are found with the Theatre and Music materials, and contains draft scores and scripts of an early version of the novel which was devised as a theatrical production titled, Flamboyánt: A Play in Two Acts.
The Poetry files include the manuscript and proofs for Swados' single published book of poetry, The One and Only Human Galaxy, individual poems that were published in anthologies and poetry journals, and numerous drafts of unpublished poems. Swados created an alphabetical list of her poetry, and arranged some of her printed poems alphabetically by title. Additionally, there is a computer file called, "Poetry A-Z," in which poems are listed alphabetically, color coded, and annotated to indicate if and where they were published. There are also sixty-six notebooks and journals present, which are often partially full and contain many untitled and incomplete drafts.
The Illustrations files consist of Swados' drawings and sketches, some of which appear in her published books. The original drawings for My Depression, which include Swados' annotations and an art log, are held in Box 76. There are also some unpublished children's books, which were hand drawn and bound by Swados, as well as fifteen notebooks of sketches.
Research and Instruction files contain an assortment of background research, materials from the courses Swados taught at New York University, and items from workshops she led at the Rowe Center in Western Massachusetts. The research files found here were not filed with a particular work or production, and it is unclear if the materials informed Swados' future work, or were utilized in conjunction with the courses she taught. Included is annotated printed matter related to research on Janis Joplin, as well as items pertaining to grant applications with the Covenant Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. There is also a small selection of letters written to Swados from elementary school children regarding her play, Revolting Rhymes.
Swados composed music and occasionally sought to adapt her work for film and television. The collection holds a small selection of these materials, most notable being the proposal for the film treatment of My Depression.
Files are arranged alphabetically by title. Untitled materials are arranged chronologically. Swados' file titles were preserved when present.