Archives in the News


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It isn’t often that an archivist gets public recognition for her work, so double cheers to Jane Pritchard for being awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours lists for 2014. Pritchard, who is currently the Curator of Dance for the Theatre & Performance Collections, Victoria & Albert Museum, previously served as archivist for Rambert Dance Company, English National Ballet, and the Contemporary Dance Trust. She also is the author of a recent book on Anna Pavlova and organized the colossal Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes exhibition at the Victoria & Albert (2010) and the National Gallery of Art (2013).

In another nod to the past, you can read her article on the Diaghilev exhibition in the Winter 2010/2011 issue of Performance!.

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As recently reported, the Woody Guthrie Archives will be moving to a new purpose built facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to be financed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation.  The new center, a former warehouse, which is currently being renovated, is expected to open in 2013.  New York’s loss is Oklahoma’s gain.

Today’s New York Times reported on the acquisition of “memorabilia” relating to Off Off Broadway venue, Caffe Cino, including the 1966 program for “Dames at Sea” pictured below:Image

Carl Van Vechten photograph of Paul Taylor in George Balanchine's 'Episodes'

The Paul Taylor Dance Company announced officially today that its archives are now available to the public. The collection includes Foundation records consisting of 95 cubic feet of archives backlog and over 60 cubic feet of personal papers and artifacts from Mr. Taylor’s former West Village home.

Finding aids to the collection and other information is available online at the PTDC site and also discoverable on ArchiveGrid. The preservation project was funded through a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission.

Congratulations to all!  I look forward to digging around more on the site once my login is authenticated.

Image credit: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, LOT 12735, no. 1085 [P&P]

A. Gardel postcard for Fête du Narcisse in Montreux, Switzerland (1928)

In what makes an interesting side note and a nice addendum to the article on the Diaghilev exhibition in the Winter issue of Performance!, history was made recently when the first known film of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company was identified by Victoria & Albert Museum Dance Curator, Jane Pritchard, after she was directed to it by Susan Eastwood of the London Ballet Circle.  The 1928 festival footage, which had been posted on the British Pathé historical archive Web site, includes a brief rehearsal (one hopes) clip, which is believed to show Serge Lifar and the company in a sequence from Les Sylphides. Diaghilev, of course, was adamant about not allowing his company to be filmed, which makes this discovery all the more exciting.

Can spring really be far off now?

In the meantime, you can view the clip for yourselves here.

Image credit:  Digital ID” Fel_018135_RE, ETH Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv

I really thought I already had written a blog post about this great project developed under the auspices of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, but it still must be sitting in my ever-expanding pile of good intentions.  At any rate, I must say that I have been enjoying the NPR radio series about the  4,000 hours or so of audio recordings made by Life magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith at the New York City loft space he rented at 821 Sixth Avenue between the years 1957 and 1965.   I also am delighted to discover that the Project has now sprouted a book and a blog, and, soon, an exhibition at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts!

In addition to documenting the sounds of now-legendary jazz artists in their prime and the changing New York cityscape, Smith also recorded those other kinds of cats in the loft that tried to keep the vermin at bay.  Sadly, the Jazz Loft Project Web site does not yet include any cat recordings (you can hear a fragment on one of the radio broadcasts), but  they do provide a lovely image of a solitary cat on the site’s “Primary” slide show (no. 24) for your viewing pleasure.

I guess they’re not too concerned with marketing to librarians and archivists at this point.

33 Variations set

33 Variations set

I’m sure many have heard about Jane Fonda’s return to the Broadway stage in Moisés Kaufman’s 33 Variations.  The play is about a terminally ill musicologist who is desperate to uncover insight to Beethoven’s creativity by visiting the Beethovenhaus in Bonn where she can research Beethoven’s sketches for his Diabelli Variations.

What has gone unmentioned in the reviews is Derek McLane’s set.  To underscore the protagonist’s obsession with working in the archive of the Beethovenhaus, he has created a proscenium of nearly 200 Hollinger boxes.  (Sometimes the backdrop is also of mounds of Hollinger boxes.)  For this set, McLane has been nominated for a Tony Award.

What a great way to expose the ordinary Broadway viewer to the world of archives!

(In the picture above, furtively taken during curtain calls, you can see the leads at the bottom, from left to right:  Colin Hanks, Samantha Mathis, and Jane Fonda.  Boxes by Hollinger.)

For those of us concerned with outreach, this is a great way to introduce the user to the world of archival work.

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