Description and Access


ziziI’m certain I’ve remarked before on the mingled sensations of regret/relief I feel from being forced (due to time constraints) to subscribe to the Archives & Archivists listserv in digest form, rather than in direct mode.   It’s definitely a trade-off.

You may imagine my surprise this morning when I eyeballed the digest listings and discovered a brief thread started yesterday by an inquiry from a photo archivist who could not identify the subject of an autographed photograph, a scan of which he posted, as being  Zizi Jeanmaire.  While I was saddened (and even more saddened that the question originated from Indiana University, where Jeanmaire’s former colleague, Violette Verdy, is a distinguished member of the faculty) that anyone was unfamiliar with the work of Mlle. Jeanmaire, it was an honest question.   More dismaying were the dubious sources that were cited in response.

Might I humbly put in a plug for the SAA Performing Arts Roundtable’s own listserv as your one-stop source for thoughtful responses (and excellent referrals) to questions relating to performing arts and archives?

Be that as it may, it was pleasant to be reminded of Jeanmaire in the midst of all the professional musings and announcements.  To New Yorkers of a certain age, Zizi undoubtedly is best known for her role as the flighty ballerina in the film, Hans Christian Andersen (1952).  That film, which was frequently shown (over two nights!) during the holidays (although which holiday I would be hard pressed to remember), was relentlessly promoted by WPIX through repeated showings of its trailer.  But her long and varied career, of course, encompassed the worlds of ballet, cabaret, and the Broadway stage, as well as film.

The above partly-identified publicity photograph from the NYPL Digital Gallery site, may well be for her 1954 Broadway clunker, The Girl in Pink Tights (choreographed, incidentally, by Agnes de Mille).  I don’t think I will go back and listen to the cast album, but I was inspired to check out one of our library’s copies of Black Tights.  Une tempête dans un verre d’eau.

Image credit: NYPL Digital ID TH-23695

Clara a Bravura, Hale scrapbook

Clara a Bravura, Hale scrapbook

The Fall 2008 issue of Performance! is now available here.

This edition’s “Reports from the Field” include two articles on some new digital byways.

Amy McCroy and Beth Kattelman of Ohio State University discuss their contributions to  a new statewide initiative that used open source software to develop an EAD finding aid creation tool and a new site, OhioLink finding aid repository, to host finding aids to be contributed by institutions of all stripes and sizes.  Included on this site are the finding aids for several collections with performing arts content (unfortunately, OSU hasn’t yet made any digital images from these collections, which include The Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance From Burlesque to Clubs, available online).

Bunyan Webb, NCSU University Archives Photograph Collection

Bunyan Webb, NCSU University Archives Photograph Collection

In another piece, North Carolina State University MLIS student (and archivist-in-training), Marcellaus Joiner, shares the unexpected challenges he confronted  in identifying individuals in performing arts-related images on a digitization project in which he participated and also weighs in on the pros and cons of going the extra mile to provide enhanced access to such images in a MPLP world.

This was the first issue of the newsletter to be distributed exclusively via the official SAA Performing Arts Roundtable listserv.  If you didn’t receive yours by e-mail, please check to see if you are one of the (currently 123!) names listed on the member/participant roster.  If not, please sign up.  It just takes a few seconds and it’s all free!

Image credits: (top) Clara a bravura, Image Z27 from the Hale Scrapbook, Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library

(bottom) Publicity photograph of Bunyan Webb, circa 1967, North Carolina State University Archive Photograph Collection

The connection to performing arts archives seems to grow ever more tenuous in these posts, but Ephemeral Archives felt we must salute Brian May on the occasion of his official installation as the fourth Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University yesterday.

Does this mean that the LJMU Special Collections and Archives will collect even more actively in the area of performing arts? Collections they already have processed include: the England’s Dreaming Punk Archive, Everyman Theatre Archive (some of which is digitized) and Frankie Vaughan Archive.

It also gives us another excuse to gratuitously link to another YouTube video.

Today’s New York Times contains a substantial story promoting the New York Public Library’s recent acquisition of papers relating to the theatrical career of actress Katharine Hepburn. Also included on the Times site is an extensive selection of photographs and documents from the collection available as a slide show.

The Hepburn papers will be available to researchers at the Billy Rose Theatre Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts by February 2008, with a full slate of public programs scheduled to coincide with the opening of the papers. The complete NYPL press release can be found here.