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Katharane Edson Mershon papers

Identifier: Dance-MS-Mershon

Scope and Content of the Collection

Small collection consisting of a letter to the elderly Mershon, three written studies of her theories on Buddhism, “I Ching”, and her own philosophy of life. Also, photographs of Mershon, both dancing and informal, and a few of other mostly unidentified people.


  • Creation: 1895-1986



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Katharane Edson Mershon papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Katharane Edson Mershon 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 Katharane E. Mershon

California dancer and dance ethnographer.

Born in 1892, Mershon was the daughter of a musician, Charles Farwell Edson, originally of Chicago, and a prominent political activist, Katherine Philips Edson. Her mother was an important figure in California’s Progressive Party in the early twentieth century, influential on behalf of woman suffrage and industrial and social reforms for women.

Katharane did not follow her mother’s political and social path, but instead became a dancer. She and her first husband, Harry Gray, toured the United State as a professional ballroom dancing team. She later joined Serge Oukrainsky and Andreas Pavley in Chicago for ballet training, and after divorcing Gray, she married Jack Mershon. Her life was long and full. Among many experiences, she lived in Bali, absorbing the dance rituals there, traveled in Europe and Angkor Wat, danced in Vienna and Paris, taught ballet at the University of California, and administered the Denishawn School.

Mershon developed theories on dance and psychology, expressing her idea that there was much to be done in a field she called “corrective psychology”. She eventually wrote a book on Balinese dance and culture entitled Seven Plus Seven, published in 1971.

Katharane Edson Mershon died in Tarzana, California in 1986.


0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)


Small collection consisting of one letter to California dancer and dance ethnographer Katharane Edson Mershon, a few writings on Eastern philosophy and “I Ching”, and photographs, both of Mershon and of miscellaneous, mostly unidentified people.


Arranged by type of material.

Collection Stack Location

3a 48 11


Gift, Adele De Angelo, 2002.

Processed by

Virginia Hay Smith, 2009.

Inventory of the Katharane Edson Mershon papers, 1895-1986
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