Dean Diggins Papers
Scope and Content of the Collection
Material regarding the career of tap dancer Dean Diggins, including class notes when studying with Paul Draper, clippings, photographs, programs, publicity items, and two scrapbooks relating to the Mattison Trio. Also extensive choreographic notes for dances Diggins composed for classical music, including Morton Gould’s Concerto for Tap Dancer and Orchestra. Audiovisual material consists of a VHS tape of the Mattison Trio appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show and Diggins dancing to classical selections, plus two audio cassettes of those classical pieces.
- Creation: 1956-1995
- Diggins, Dean (Person)
Materials are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The Dean Diggins Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).
Conditions Governing Audiovisual Access
Audiovisual recordings in this collection have not been digitized and are unavailable for use at this time.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Dean Diggins 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.
Biography of Dean Diggins
American tap dancer.
Born in Hampton, Iowa, Dean Diggins, the son of a music teacher, began dance lessons at an early age, and by the time he was a teen-ager he was giving dance lessons and operating two dance studios. During a stint in the army he performed for Special Services, and after discharge he moved to Chicago to study at the Stone-Camryn School. From Chicago he settled in New York, where he learned from and worked closely with Paul Draper, the inventor of ballet tap.
In 1957, Diggins formed the Mattison Trio with Guy Tanno and Dorothy Matthews, a balletic tap group that toured for ten years, performing regularly on television and in nightclubs and summer theaters. Then Diggins made a career change, earning a doctorate in psychology and going on to teach at Brooklyn College until he retired to Kittery, Maine. However, he did not retire from dancing, and in 1989 he performed Morton Gould’s Concerto For Tap Dancer and Orchestra with the Houston Symphony at the symphony’s 75th Anniversary concert. Diggins continued to perform, broadening his repertoire by applying balletic tap choreography to other classical works, including compositions by Bach, Handel, Haydn and others. He also wrote several books, one a manual for tap teachers entitled “Tap Technique,” which ends with exercises taught by his mentor, Paul Draper.
0.4 Linear Feet (1 box)
Material regarding Diggins’s career as a tap dancer and teacher, including class notes while studying with Paul Draper, plus clippings, photographs, programs, publicity items and scrapbooks relating to his ten years as a part of the Mattison Trio. Also, his choreographic notes for tap routines composed for classical music and audio and video tapes of some of those dances.
Arranged alphabetically by type of material, with audiovisual items at the end.
Collection Stack Location
3a 48 6
Gift of Dean Diggins, 1996.
Virginia Hay Smith.
Genre / Form
- Photographs -- 1951-2000
- Programs -- 1951-2000
- Scrapbooks -- 1851-1900
- Dance -- Study and teaching -- Illinois -- Chicago
- Male dancers
- Manuscripts, American -- Illinois -- Chicago
- Inventory of the Dean Diggins Papers, 1956-1995
- Virginia Hay Smith
- Language of description
- Script of description
- 08/17/2011: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.