TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary of the Collection

Administrative Information

Biography of Alice Gerstenberg

Scope and Content of the Collection

Organization

Selected Search Terms

Container List

Series 1: Outgoing Correspondence, 1913-1971

Series 2: Incoming Correspondence, 1913-1965

Series 3: Works

Series 4: Miscellaneous, 1903-1968

|

Inventory of the Alice Gerstenberg Papers, 1903-1971


The Newberry Library
Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610-7324
USA
Phone: 312-255-3506
Fax: 312-255-3646
E-Mail: specialcolls@newberry.org
URL: http://www.newberry.org

Machine-readable finding aid encoded by Lisa Janssen, 2003.

©2001.


Descriptive Summary of the Collection

Creator Gerstenberg, Alice
Title Alice Gerstenberg Papers
Dates 1903-1971
Extent 3.5 linear feet (6 boxes and 1 oversize box)
Abstract Correspondence, works and miscellaneous material reflecting Gerstenberg's activities in Chicago's social and cultural life in the first half of the 20th century, in particular her involvement with local theater.
Language Materials are in English.
Repository Newberry Library, Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections
Collection Call Number Midwest MS Gerstenberg
Collection Stack Location 3a 39 7

Administrative Information

Cite As

Alice Gerstenberg Papers, The Newberry Library, Chicago.

Provenance

Gift of Alice Gerstenberg, 1965; additions, gift of Syracuse University. Library, 1971.

Processed by

Amy Nyholm, 1965; Virginia H. Smith, 2001.

Acknowledgements

This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Access

The Alice Gerstenberg Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum (Priority II).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Alice Gerstenberg Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Return to the Table of Contents


Biography of Alice Gerstenberg

Chicago actress, playwright, and activist in the Little Theatre movement.

Alice Gerstenberg was born in 1885, the only child of a wealthy Chicago couple, Erich and Julia Weischendorff Gerstenberg. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1907 and then returned to Chicago where she spent many years involved with drama and the theatre.

A pioneer in the world of Little Theatre, Gerstenberg was one of the original members of the Chicago Little Theatre, which was founded by Maurice Browne in 1912, and in 1921 she and Annette Washburne started the Chicago Junior League Theatre for Children. Her most significant contribution to the theatre was in being founder, producer and president of The Playwrights' Theatre of Chicago, 1922-1945. She was active in the Alice Gerstenberg Experimental Theatre Workshop in the 1950's and the Alice Gerstenberg Theatre in the 1960's.

As a playwright, Gerstenberg wrote mostly rather experimental one-act plays, many of which featured women in the lead roles. These plays were modest in scope, appropriate for both amateur and professional staging, and many were popular in local schools, drama workshops and small theaters around the country. Her most enduring play is "Overtones," an early (1915) psychological one-act drama, which was said to have foreshadowed Eugene O'Neill's dual personality device.

Gerstenberg never married; she died in 1972.

Return to the Table of Contents


Scope and Content of the Collection

Much of the collection consists of correspondence, primarily incoming from friends and associates of the theatre world. There are typescripts of a number of her plays, printed materials ranging in content and subject matter from her Bryn Mawr days to her interest in the Spiritualist movement, many playbills, clippings, a few photographs, and two large scrapbooks commemorating her theatrical career.

Narrative descriptions of the subject matter, types of material, and arrangement of each series are available through the organization section of the finding aid.

Return to the Table of Contents


Organization

Papers are organized in the following series:

Return to the Table of Contents


Selected Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Newberry Library's public catalog. Researchers desiring additional materials on a particular topic should search the catalog using these headings.

Names

  • Browne, Maurice, 1884-1961
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Chatfield-Taylor, H. C. (Hobart Chatfield), 1865-1945
  • Donahey, William, b. 1883
  • Dreiser, Theodore, 1871-1945
  • Ferber, Edna, 1887-1968
  • Fisher, Dorothy Canfield, 1879-1958
  • Fuller, Henry Blake, 1857-1929
  • Gale, Zona, 1874-1938
  • Gerstenberg, Alice
  • Hazelton, George Cochrane, 1868-1921
  • Masters, Edgar Lee, 1868-1950
  • Monroe, Harriet, 1860-1936
  • National League of American Pen Women
  • Rice, Wallace, 1859-1939
  • Sheaffer, Robert Faust
  • Society of Midland Authors
  • Webster, Henry Kitchell, 1875-1932

Subjects

  • Autobiography - Women authors
  • Chicago (Ill.) - Intellectual life - 20th century
  • Chicago (Ill.) - Social life and customs
  • Correspondence - United States - 1901-1950
  • Correspondence - United States - 1951-2000
  • Dramatists - Illinois - Chicago
  • Little theater movement - Illinois - Chicago
  • Manuscripts, American--Illinois--Chicago
  • One-act plays, American - Illinois - Chicago
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks, American - 1901-1950
  • Scrapbooks, American - 1951-2000
  • Spiritualists
  • Theater - Illinois - Chicago - History - 20th century - Sources
  • Women authors, American - 20th century
  • Women dramatists, American - 20th century

Return to the Table of Contents


Container List

Series 1: Outgoing Correspondence, 1913-1971

The outgoing correspondence is a small collection of letters, mostly to staff at the Newberry Library.
Arranged chronologically.

Box Folder Contents
1 1 Letters, 1913-1971

Series 2: Incoming Correspondence, 1913-1965

Incoming correspondence is letters from friends, colleagues, organizations, and publishers, mostly concerned with the theater. Correspondents include Maurice Browne, Hobart C. Chatfield-Taylor, William Donahey, Theodore Dreiser, Edna Ferber, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Henry B. Fuller, Zona Gale, George Cochrane Hazelton, Edgar Lee Masters, Harriet Monroe, Wallace Rice and Henry Kitchell Webster.
Arranged alphabetically.

Box Folder Contents
1 2 Aberdeen - Arthur
1 3 Aldis
1 4 Alexander - Apfel
1 5 Art Institute - Authors League of America
1 6 Babcock - Bayliss
1 7 Beach - Bissell
1 8 Blackstock - Brown
1 9 Browne - Buxton
1 10 Camp - Chatfield-Taylor
1 11 Chicago Historical Society - Christy
1 12 Clark - Coward McCann Inc.
1 13 Cox-McCormack - Cuttone
1 14 Dangerfield - Donahey
1 15 Doran - Doyle
1 16 Dreiser - Dyrenforth
1 17 Eddy - Errol
1 18 Faithorn - Ferber
1 19 Fergus - Fisher
1 20 Fiske - Fox
1 21 Fraker - Freer
1 22 French - Fuller
2 23 Gale - Gering
2 24 Gerstenberg Family
2 25 Gibbons - Goodman
2 26 Gottschalk - Griswold
2 27 Hackett - Hazelton
2 28 Healy - Hinde
2 29 Hobbs - Hornblow
2 30 Hough - Hume
2 31 Illinois - International Play Service
2 32 Jacobs - Junior League
2 33 Kampp - Kendall
2 34 Kiernan - Kinkaid
2 35 Kippen - Kirkland
2 36 Klinefelter - Kyle
2 37 Lackage - LeGallienne
2 38 Leggett - Little, Brown & Co.
2 39 Longmans, Grreen & Co. - Lytton
2 40 Mabie - McIlvaine
2 41 MacVeagh - Massie
2 42 Masters - Meyer
2 43 Midwestern Writers' Conference - Mitzi
2 44 Moneak - Murfey
3 45 National League of American Penwomen - National Society of Arts and Letters
3 46 National Spiritualist - National Thespian
3 47 Nearing - Noyes
3 48 O'Hara - Otterstrom
3 49 P.E.N. - Perkins
3 50 Permain - Porter
3 51 Post - Quick
3 52 Ramsey - Repertory Theatre of Boston
3 53 Rice - Richberg
3 54 Roberts - Rutland
3 55 St. Mary's - Scott
3 56 Sergel - Shipman
3 57 Sievers - Smith
3 58 Society of Midland Authors
3 59 Sontesby - Speransky
3 60 Stager - Starrett
3 61 Stephenson - Swartz
3 62 Taft - Theatre Workshop
3 63 vanThiel - Thorne
3 64 Thorpe - Thorne
3 65 Upham - Viles
3 66 W.L.S. - Weaver
3 67 Webster - Wetten
3 68 White - Worrall
3 69 Yama Farms Inn - Young

Series 3: Works

Consists of copious autobiographical notes written in 1950 and 1965, a copy of the report of Gerstenberg's dreams which she sent to the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University in 1954, a typescript of "A Trip to Mexico" (1941), and typescripts or mimeographs of six of her plays.
Arranged alphabetically.

Box Folder Contents
4 70 Autobiographical notes, 1965
4 71 Autobiographical notes: Dreams reported to Duke University
4 72 Autobiographical notes: "A Trip to Mexico"
4 73 Autobiography told in a series of letters, 1950
4 74 Play: "Across the River"
4 75 Play: "Concordia"
4 76 Play: "Lake Front"
4 77 Play: "London Town"
4 78 Play: "On the Beam"
4 79 Play: "Port of Chicago"
4 79a Play: "Pot Boiler, The"

Series 4: Miscellaneous, 1903-1968

A collection of mementos and material saved by Gerstenberg which includes Bryn Mawr-related items, greeting cards, playbills, pamphlets and periodicals, three large theatrical photographs and several family photographs, some spiritualist publications, and miscellaneous memorabilia.
Arranged alphabetically by subject matter and type of material.

Box Folder Contents
5 80 Bryn Mawr Material, 1905-1967
5 81 Bryn Mawr Songbook, 1903
5 82 Bryn Mawr Yearbook, 1907
5 83 Directories
5 84 Greeting Cards, 1956-1964
5 85 Institut Litteraire et Artistique de France
5 86 Mementos, n.d., 1903-1957
6 87 Pamphlets and Catalogs
6 88 Periodicals, 1939-1948
6 89 Periodicals 1956-1966
6 90 Photographs: Alice Gerstenberg and her parents
6 91 Photographs: "Overtones" (play), 1916
6 92 Playbills, n.d.- 1930
6 93 Playbills, 1933-1968
6 94 Robert Faust Sheaffer material
6 95 Spiritualism Publications
7 Scrapbooks (two), ca. 1907-1968