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Ellen Goldsmith papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Goldsmith

Scope and Content of the Collection

Primarily photographs of opera singers, dancers and celebrities, (many of which are signed professional studio portraits), and countless snapshots, mostly of performers and performances taken backstage at the Civic Opera House. The rest of the collection consists of a small group of autographed dance and theater programs, some of Goldsmith’s artwork and writings, miscellaneous memorabilia including scrapbooks of dance clippings and snapshots, toe shoes signed by Royes Fernandez, and two commemorative scarves. Also correspondence, which includes twenty-four letters from opera star Sesto Bruscantini and his wife, three items from Boris Christoff and two from Tito Gobbi, plus a few other incoming cards and letters.

Some of the important opera individuals represented are Sesto Bruscantini, Boris Christoff, Franco Corelli, Evans Geraint, Nicoli Ghiaurov, Tito Gobbi, Alfredo Kraus, Birgit Nilsson, Leontyne Price, Renata Tebaldi, Theodor Uppman, Jon Vickers, Leonard Warren and Mario Zanasi. Among dancers are Alicia Alonso, Alexandra Danilova, Andre Eglevsky, Royes Fernandez, Frederic Franklin, Stanley Holden, Nora Kaye, John Kriza, Ruth St. Denis, Igor Youskevitch and George Zoritch. A few of the photos of celebrities, some of which are autographed, include Leonard Bernstein, Theodore Bikel, Danny Kaye, Eartha Kitt, Liberace, Marcel Marceau and Edward G. Robinson.

Subjects of snapshots taken by Goldsmith include members of the Ballet Guild of Chicago, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the Chicago Opera Ballet, the New York City Ballet and the Royal Ballet.


  • Creation: 1933-2007



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Ellen Goldsmith papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Ellen Goldsmith 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 at

Biography of Ellen Goldsmith

Ballet and opera fan, employee of Chicago’s Civic Opera House.

Ellen Goldsmith (known as “Teddy”) was born in 1926, having arrived in the United States in 1938. She was a long-time resident of the Hyde Park area of Chicago and graduated from Hyde Park High School. Among other jobs, during the 1960s and 1970s Goldsmith ran the coat check concession at the Civic Opera House, home of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. An enthusiastic supporter and devotee of the Chicago ballet and opera scene, back-stage work afforded her opportunities to form friendships with world-renowned performers and allowed her to develop an interest in photographing them at work and play.

Goldsmith’s deep love of opera led her to learn Italian, to vacation in Italy and to correspond with several singing stars. She was an indefatigable collector of opera, ballet and cinema-related materials, which included clippings, programs, and a large accumulation of studio photographs, many of them autographed. She was also an amateur artist and writer.

Goldsmith died in May 2007.


3 Linear Feet (7 boxes)


Large collection of photographs relating to the ballet, opera and cinema, dating from the 1940s through the early 1970s, amassed by Ellen (Teddy) Goldsmith, backstage worker at the Civic Opera House, home of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Many of the photographs are professional portraits of opera stars and ballet dancers – many autographed – and hundreds of personal and backstage snapshots. Also, a group of photos of movie stills, popular celebrities and performers, plus a small amount of correspondence, memorabilia and signed theatrical programs, some Goldsmith drawings and writing, two scarves and a pair of ballet slippers.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Photographs - Opera Singers, 1940-1989
Boxes 1-2
Series 2: Photographs - Lyric Opera of Chicago, 1962-1971
Box 3
Series 3: Photographs - Dancers, 1940-2007
Box 4
Series 4: Photographs - Dance Companies, Celebrities, Miscellaneous, 1933-1969
Box 5
Series 5: Dance Scrapbooks, 1961-approximately 1968
Box 6
Series 6: Correspondence, Works and Memorabilia, 1963-1990
Box 7

Collection Stack Location

1 20 3


Gift, Steven Baruch, 2009.

Processed by

Virginia Hay Smith, 2009.

Inventory of the Ellen Goldsmith papers, 1933-2007
Virginia Hay Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States