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Eugene Olshansky photographs

Identifier: Dance-MS-Olshansky

Scope and Content of the Collection

Collection is mainly photographs by Eugene Olshansky of the Original Ballet Russe and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, taken from a prompter’s box or backstage in the 1930s and 1940s. Many performances are identified and dated, though some dates may be approximate. Also in the collection are two operatic portraits, a few personal photographs including two of Olshansky, some miscellaneous notes and the poster which accompanied an exhibition of Olshansky’s pictures at the University of Chicago in 1939.


  • Creation: 1935-1986
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1935-1941



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Eugene Olshansky photographs are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III)

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Eugene Olshansky photographs 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 Eugene Olshansky

Chicago businessman and photographer.

Eugene Olshansky attended the City College of New York, and in the 1930s he began taking pictures of ballets staged at the Metropolitan Opera House. Having gotten himself appointed as a supernumerary, Olshansky situated himself in the prompter’s box and managed to capture many performances of the Ballet Russe. In 1937 he moved to Chicago to enroll in the University of Chicago, where he received an advanced degree in chemistry in 1939. While a student, he continued to photograph dance companies that came to Chicago, including the Original Ballet Russe (i.e. the company managed by Col. W. de Basil), the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (i.e. the company headed by Leonide Massine), and the Littlefield Ballet.

Olshansky had pictures published by numerous newspapers and magazines, including the Chicago Tribune. While photography was Olshansky’s avocation, industrial chemistry was his business. He established and ran a company called Science Products, which manufactured garden pesticides. Olshansky died in 1996.


0.4 Linear Feet (1 box)


Photographs of productions staged by the Original Ballets Russes (aka the Ballet Russes du Col. W. de Basil) and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo between 1935 and 1941, taken by Chicago businessman and balletomane Eugene Olshansky. Also, two operatic portraits, a few personal photographs, and several pieces of ephemera.


Arranged alphabetically by title of ballet production, followed by portraits of two opera singers, personal photographs and ephemera.

Collection Stack Location

3a 48 11


Bequest of Eugene Olshansky, 1996.

Processed by

Virginia H. Smith, 2007.

Inventory of the Eugene Olshansky photographs, 1935-1986, bulk 1935-1941
Virginia H. 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