- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
- Find Related Materials
Collection Description & Creator Information
This collection consists primarily of the papers of William Seymour (1855-1933) that he created and collected throughout his lifelong involvement in the theater as an actor, stage manager, and director. The majority of Seymour's papers include correspondence with various prominent actors, directors, stage managers, and producers of the period, and numerous production-related materials, such as playscripts and promptbooks, notes, diaries, scene sketches, sheet music, ephemera and memorabilia among others. The scope is principally Seymour's connections with the New York, Boston, and New Orleans stage, though other cities are also represented. There is also some family correspondence; articles and essays that Seymour authored about his career and the theater more broadly; newspaper clippings; and a few personal documents.
Other Seymour and Davenport family members, particularly those who were prominent theater figures, such as Fanny Davenport (1850-1898), are also represented in the collection through correspondence, production materials, ephemera, and newspaper clippings.
- Custodial History:
Many materials that had been part of William Seymour's original collection, including papers, artwork, and objects related to New York City theatrical productions, were presented to the Museum of the City of New York in 1936 as Seymour's oldest daughter, May Davenport Seymour, was the curator of the Museum's Theater Collection.
The correspondence that forms part this collection was transferred from the Theater Collection to the Manuscripts Division in July 1950 (AM 14099).
- Archival Appraisal Information:
During 2015 reprocessing, materials relating to the acquisition of the collection in 1936 were removed and added to the collection file. Also, non-related materials with definitive provenance were removed from the collection to be integrated into collections of the same provenance or made into separate collections.
Since this collection was acquired in 1936, many materials, particularly photographs, playbills, playscripts, artwork, and objects, have been dispersed and integrated into form-based collections within what was the Manuscripts Theatre Collection as well as the Rare Books Theatre Collection, for example, the 19th-century Playbooks Collection (TC023) that's currently described in the Princeton University Library catalog, and the Graphic Arts Collection.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
The collection is open for research.
- Conditions for Reproduction and Use:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
- Credit this material:
Sta-Ste; William Seymour Family Papers, TC011, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Firestone LibraryOne Washington RoadPrinceton, NJ 08544, USA(609) 258-3184
- Storage Note:
- Firestone Library (mss): Box 23
- Boston Museum (1847-1903)
Boston Museum and Gallery of Fine Arts
Abbey, Schoeffel & Grau
Varieties Theatre (New Orleans, La.)
Tremont Theatre (Boston, Mass.)
Davenport, Edward Loomis, 1815-1877
Davenport, Fanny, 1850-1898
Frohman, Charles, 1860-1915
Seymour, James William Davenport, 1895-
Seymour, May Davenport, 1883-1967