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University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Marjorie Whitney Prass Papers 1927-2008

© 2012 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary

Title:

Prass, Marjorie Whitney. Papers

Dates:

1927-2008

Size:

104 linear feet (49 boxes, 1 over-size folder)

Repository:

Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.

Abstract:

This collection contains papers, photographs, costumes and ephemera belonging to Marjorie Whitney Prass, an alumna of the University of Chicago and an avid dancer. The bulk of the collection is comprised of over 200 pieces of costume clothing, accessories and props. The majority were made for Prass by her mother, Mathilde Muller Whitney, for performances at the University of Chicago. The collection also includes choreography notes and programs from dance performances in Chicago from the 1930s through the 1980s.

Information on Use

Access

Box 48 contains student material and is restricted for 80 years. The rest of the collection is open for research.

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Citation

When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Prass, Marjorie Whitney. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Biographical Note

Marjorie Whitney Prass was born on Sept. 11, 1918. She began dancing as a child, and by nine was performing in recitals. She also played the piano, and in the eighth grade was chosen to perform in a Chicago Symphony Orchestra educational outreach concert. Prass grew up in Riverside, IL, and in 1935 entered the University of Chicago. She was active in dance and theatrical performances at the University, most notably the Mirror Review, an annual women's dance revue. It was begun as an answer to the all-male Blackfriars musical comedy troupe.

While at the University, Marjorie met future husband Norman W. Prass. He was an avid photographer, and many of the photographs of Marjorie in costume and dancing were taken by Norman. Most of the costumes in the collection were made by Marjorie's mother, Mathilde Muller Whitney.

Prass graduated in 1941, with a degree in History. She and Norman eventually moved back to Riverside, where she lived for most of the rest of her life. Prass remained an active member of the Chicago Dance Council and the Dance for Victory Committee, and an active patron of Chicago dance and theatrical performances. She died on April 8, 2009.

Scope Note

This collection contains papers, photographs, costumes and ephemera belonging to Marjorie Whitney Prass. Most of the paper part of the collection consists of programs from dance performances in Chicago but there are also choreography notes for many dances, and a series of photographs of Prass. The bulk of the collection, though, is comprised of over 200 pieces of costume clothing, accessories and props. There are both theatrical and dance costumes, many of them ethnic or folk costumes. The collection also contains parts of costumes, scarves, shoes, headpieces, hair flowers, and other accessories, as well as castanets, bells, and tambourines. The majority of the costumes were made for Prass by her mother, Mathilde Muller Whitney, for performances at the University of Chicago. Most items date from the 1930s and 1940s, with most costume pieces from the 1930s.

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:

http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/spcl/select.html

Chicago Drama Performances. Index, 1839-1955

Playbill and Program. Collection, 1843-1979

Subject Headings

INVENTORY

Series I: Papers

This series includes personal papers of Marjorie Whitney Prass, including many pages of choreography notes and instructions for various dances. There are also numerous newspaper clippings (most of them pictures of dancers and movie stars), and many dance and theatre programs, almost all of them from performances in Chicago. Most items date from the 1930s and 1940s.

Box 1    Folder 1

Letter from American Legion, 1934

Box 1    Folder 2

Ticket Stubs, Movie Flyer, 1935, 1937

Box 1    Folder 3

College Coursework and Notes, 1936, 1938, 1939, undated

Box 1    Folder 4

University of Chicago Campus Map, undated

Box 1    Folder 5

Alumni Foundation Donation, Magazine, U of C Magazine, 1948, 1958, 1959

Box 1    Folder 6

Dance Instructions and Choreography, Notes, 1940, undated

Box 1    Folder 7

Dance Instructions - Conga, circa 1940

Box 1    Folder 8

Dance Instructions – "Short Course on Spanish Dancing," undated

Box 1    Folder 9

Dance Articles – Literary Digest, 1932, 1933

Box 1    Folder 10

Chicago Dancer Newsletter, 1940-1942

Box 1    Folder 11

Dance Index: The Soviet Ballet, Flyer, 1943

Box 1    Folder 12

Newspaper Clippings, Marjorie Whitney, undated

Box 1    Folder 13

Newspaper Clippings, Dancers, 1936, undated

Box 1    Folder 14

Newspaper Clippings, Dance Articles and Reviews, undated

Box 1    Folder 15

Newspaper Clippings, Movie Stars, 1929-1931

Box 1    Folder 16

Newspaper Clippings, Nina Rosa Stars, 1930

Box 1    Folder 17

Newspaper Clippings, Non-Dance Related, 1937, undated

Box 1    Folder 18

Newspaper Clippings, Prass's 90th Birthday (photocopy), 2008

Box 1    Folder 19

Programs – Marjorie Whitney, 1927-1940

Box 1    Folder 20

Programs – Mirror Revue, 1937, 1939

Box 1    Folder 21

Programs – University of Chicago Events, 1946, 1947, undated

Box 1    Folder 22

Dance Programs – Alvarez and Soriano, 1939-1941

Box 1    Folder 23

Dance Programs – Carmen Amaya and Gypsy Dancers, 1942, undated

Box 1    Folder 24

Dance Programs – American Ballet Caravan, 1939

Box 1    Folder 25

Dance Programs – American Ballet Theatre, 1968, 1969

Box 1    Folder 26

Dance Programs – Antonio and Ballets de Madrid, 1968

Box 1    Folder 27

Dance Programs – La Argentina, 1934-1935

Box 1    Folder 28

Dance Programs – Argentinita, undated

Box 1    Folder 29

Dance Programs – Ballet Repertory Company, 1944, undated

Box 1    Folder 30

Dance Programs – Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, 1934-1954, undated

Box 1    Folder 31

Dance Programs – Ballet Theatre, 1943-1954

Box 2    Folder 1

Dance Programs – Ballet Theatre National Tour, 1942-1946

Box 2    Folder 2

Dance Programs – Bayanihan Philippine Dance, 1964

Box 2    Folder 3

Dance Programs – Vytautas Finadar Beliajus, 1935

Box 2    Folder 4

Dance Programs – Gabriel Cansino, 1941

Box 2    Folder 5

Dance Programs – Chicago Folk Festival, undated

Box 2    Folder 6

Dance Programs – Agnes de Mille and Company, 1940

Box 2    Folder 7

Dance Programs – Devi-Dja and her Bali-Java Dancers, 1939, 1944, circa 1950

Box 2    Folder 8

Dance Programs – Katherine Dunham, 1938-1945

Box 2    Folder 9

Dance Programs, Flyers, Article – Gladys Hight School of Dancing, 1949, undated

Box 2    Folder 10

Dance Programs – Martha Graham, 1936

Box 2    Folder 11

Dance Programs – Jose Greco, 1952

Box 2    Folder 12

Dance Programs – Hanya Holm and Company, 1940

Box 2    Folder 13

Dance Programs – Harkness Ballet, 1969

Box 2    Folder 14

Dance Flyer – Hatfield, Parkin, Kravitsky, undated

Box 2    Folder 15

Dance Programs – Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, 1937

Box 2    Folder 16

Dance Programs – Roberto Iglesias Ballet Espanol, 1960

Box 2    Folder 17

Dance Programs – Joffrey Ballet, 1970

Box 2    Folder 18

Dance Programs – Joors European Ballet, 1936

Box 2    Folder 19

Dance Programs – Harald Kreutzberg, 1936, 1937

Box 2    Folder 20

Dance Programs – Markova and Dolin, 1945

Box 2    Folder 21

Dance Programs, Flyer – Clarita Martin, 1939

Box 2    Folder 22

Dance Programs – "Musical Americana" Revue, 1954

Box 2    Folder 23

Dance Programs – Mata and Hari, 1953

Box 2    Folder 24

Dance Programs – The Polish Ballet, undated

Box 2    Folder 25

Dance Programs – Ruth Page and Bentley Stone, 1939, 1941, undated

Box 2    Folder 26

Dance Programs – Rosario and Antonio and Company, 1945

Box 2    Folder 27

Dance Programs – Radio City Music Hall (Astaire/Cherise), 1953

Box 2    Folder 28

Dance Programs – Royal Danish Ballet, 1980

Box 2    Folder 29

Dance Programs – Sadler's Wells Ballet, 1949-1950

Box 2    Folder 30

Dance Programs – Saidenberg Symphonietta, 1940

Box 2    Folder 31

Dance Programs – Trudi Schoop and Comic Ballet, 1936

Box 2    Folder 32

Dance Programs – Uday Shan-Kar and Hindu Dancers, 1933-1952

Box 2    Folder 33

Dance Programs and Flyer – Mia Slavenska, 1944

Box 2    Folder 34

Dance Programs – Student Recitals, 1950, 1954, undated

Box 2    Folder 35

Dance Programs – Olga Valentine, Woman's Symphony Orchestra, 1936

Box 2    Folder 36

Dance Programs – Miscellaneous Ballet, 1937, 1938, 1951, undated

Box 2    Folder 37

Theatre Program – The Playgoer Magazine, 1928, 1930

Box 2    Folder 38

Theatre Program – Nina Rosa, 1930

Box 2    Folder 39

Theatre Program – Three Wise Fools, 1936

Box 2    Folder 40

Theatre Program – O Say Can You Sing? 1936

Box 2    Folder 41

Theatre Program – Frankie and Johnny et al., 1938

Box 2    Folder 42

Theatre Program – Mamba's Daughters, 1939

Box 2    Folder 43

Theatre Program – Guest in the House, 1943

Box 2    Folder 44

Theatre Program – Kiss and Tell, 1943

Box 2    Folder 45

Theatre Program – Carmen Jones, 1945

Box 2    Folder 46

Theatre Program – Up in Central Park, 1946

Box 3    Folder 1

Theatre Program, Clipping – Grand Kabuki, 1969

Box 3    Folder 2

Theatre Program – Idiot's Delight, undated

Box 3    Folder 3

Theatre Program – I'd Rather Be Right, undated

Box 3    Folder 4

Theatre Program – Lookin' at Life, undated

Box 3    Folder 5

Theatre Program – Countess Maritza, Swedish Film Flyer, undated

Box 3    Folder 6

Theatre Program – The Great Waltz, undated

Box 3    Folder 7

Music Program – Manuel and Williamson Harpsichord Ensemble, 1941

Box 3    Folder 8

Music Program – Faust, 1942

Box 3    Folder 9

Music Program – Don Cossack Chorus, 1945, undated

Box 3    Folder 10

Music Program – Tannhaeuser, 1946

Box 3    Folder 11

Music Program – Andres Segovia, 1964, 1970

Box 3    Folder 12

Music Program – Semiramide, 1971

Box 3    Folder 13

Music Program – Marian Anderson, undated

Box 3    Folder 14

Miscellaneous Programs, undated

Series II: Photographs

This series contains photographs of Marjorie Whitney Prass in costume, and a few of her in performance. There are several portrait and graduation photographs as well, and a set of pictures of her husband, Norman Prass. An avid photographer, Norman took most of the pictures of Marjorie.

Box 3   Folder 15

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Peter Pan Costume

Box 3   Folder 16

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Flamenco Costume, 1933

Box 3   Folder 17

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Sun Costume, 1936

Box 3   Folder 18

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Folk Costume, 1936

Box 3   Folder 19

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Flamenco Costume, 1936

Box 3   Folder 20

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Oriental Costume, 1940

Box 3   Folder 21

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Peacock Flamenco Dress, 1940

Box 3   Folder 22

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Spanish Veil, 1940

Box 3   Folder 23

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Indian Costumes, 1940, 1943

Box 3   Folder 24

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Theatre Costumes, 1940, undated

Box 3   Folder 25

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Short Black Costume, undated

Box 3   Folder 26

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in White Beaded Costume, undated

Box 3   Folder 27

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Theatre Costume, undated

Box 3   Folder 28

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney in Pointe Shoes, undated

Box 3   Folder 29

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney Dancing, undated

Box 3   Folder 30

Photographs – Dance Performances, undated

Box 3   Folder 31

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney (Portraits), 1938, 1940

Box 3   Folder 32

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney Graduation and Miscellaneous, 1936, 1941, undated

Box 3   Folder 33

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney and Norman Prass, Picnic, 1944

Box 3   Folder 34

Photographs – Norman Prass, circa 1938-1944

Box 3   Folder 35

Photograph – Eleanor Muller, undated

Box 3   Folder 36

Photographs – Dancers, Autographed, 1934, undated

Series III: Costumes

This series contains dance and theatre costumes, costume components and accessories, most worn or used by Marjorie Whitney Prass. Subseries 1 contains actual articles of clothing, with dresses and complete costumes coming first in the arrangement. Most of the ensembles described as costumes are folk or ethnic costumes. There are also several children's costumes. These are followed by individual pieces (blouses, skirts, scarves, etc.), bodysuits and bloomers. Subseries 2 contains accessories and props, including headpieces, fabric flowers, shoes, fans, castanets, tambourines, and bells. Subseries three contains fabric scraps, sewing notions and unfinished projects.

Subseries 1: Costume Clothing

Box 4

Yellow dress with ruffles, flower print, undated

View image of costume.

Box 5

Red satin dress: shirtwaist, skirt, undated

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Box 6

Purple gown, detached lace collar, undated

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View image of costume, part 2.

Box 7

Coral satin gown, undated

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Box 8

Pink gown with black lace, undated

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Box 8

Blue linen dress, undated

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Box 9

Mauve satin slip dress, undated

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Box 9

Pink/Lavender lyrical dance or slip dress, undated

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Box 10

Black satin long gown, black sequined fingerless gloves, sequined hair bow, undated

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Box 11

White ruffled dress: top with peplum, long skirt, undated

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Box 12

White satin costume: beaded bodice, beaded long skirt, sequined headpieces, undated

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Box 13

Gold lamé and sequin dress, gold sequin headpiece, undated

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Box 14

Short black velvet dress, undated

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Box 15

Pierrot costume: jacket, pants, hat, undated

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Box 16

Sun and moon costume: gold bodysuit, gold dress, sun and moon sequin headpieces, circa 1936

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Box 17

Peter Pan costume: vest, shorts, sash, feathered hat, undated

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Box 18

Belly dance costume: harem pants, vest, kerchief, headpiece, ankle or wrist bells, undated

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Box 19

Green Indian costume: green skirt and sari, gold choti top, undated

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Box 20

Blue Indian costume: blue satin skirt, gold lamé choti, blue hat, chiffon veil with gold trim, detached pendants from veil, circa 1940

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Box 21

Chinese costume: blue silk robe and pants, orange hat, undated

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Box 22

Hula costume: grass skirt, grass wristlets, paper leis, undated

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Box 23

Peacock dress: black velvet flamenco dress with underskirt, bolero, hat, circa 1940

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Box 24

Flamenco costume: bodice with attached scarf, ruffled skirt, black Spanish veil with flower, circa 1936

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Box 25

Flamenco costume: red and white satin dress, satin hat, circa 1933

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Box 26

Hungarian costume: blouse, skirt, kerchief, apron, undated

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Box 26

Paisley "Gypsy" costume: shirtwaist, skirt, Japanese bloomers, kerchief, undated

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Box 26

European folk costume: peasant blouse, red velvet Renaissance bodice, small embroidered lace bib apron, headpiece with fruit, circa 1936

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Box 27

Child's purple butterfly costume: suit and cap, purple net wings, mauve patterned wings, undated

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Box 28

Child's gold-trimmed dress, undated

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Box 28

Child's clown costume: orange and black clown suit, cone hat, undated

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Box 29

Child's paper costume: yellow crepe paper dress and hat, undated

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Box 30

Oriental costume pieces: gold lamé head pieces, vest, shoulder piece, waistbands, undated

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Box 30

Felt folk costume pieces: two felt vests, two hats, belt, small pouch/purses -- one blue set, one green, undated

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Box 30

Two black velvet vests, one detached coin in envelope, undated

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Box 30

Orange cotton bodice, undated

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Box 31

Blouses and tops: belly dancer top, lavender sheer blouse, white bodice, two sheer European peasant blouses, Mexican peasant blouse, undated

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Box 31

White organza apron, undated

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Box 31

Black collar, undated

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Box 32

Short cape, ivory silk with crystals, undated

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Box 33

Two green skirts, matching Japanese bloomers, undated

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Box 33

Black ruffled skirt, undated

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Box 34

Bolero jackets: purple brocade with sash, brown taffeta with belt, circa 1940

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Box 34

Wraps: eight scarves, one shawl, one handkerchief, undated

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Box 35

Petticoats, one yellow, one pink, undated

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Box 36

Undergarments: three bodysuits, one pair pantaloons, 11 pairs Japanese bloomers, one pair child's bloomers, undated

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View image of costume, part 15.

Subseries 2: Accessories and Props

Box 37

Pastel accessories: two satin muffs, lavender headpiece, pink bonnet, undated

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Box 37

Two floppy summer hats, undated

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View image of costume, part 5.

Box 38

Crepe paper watering can and headband, undated

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Box 39

Assorted accessories: stockings, hairnets/snoods, glass tussy-mussy, eye masks, black and purple belt, hatpin, black silk cap with sequins, pearl appliqué ornament (unfinished), 2 cakes of black make-up, loose coins from trim, earring dangles, all undated

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View image of costume, part 9.

Box 40

Large Oriental-style hair comb, undated

Box 40

Gold headband, undated

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Box 40

Fabric corsages and hair flowers, undated

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Box 41

Premade fabric flowers, wire poinsettias, fabric leaves, ribbon corsages, undated

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Box 42

Percussion: One set ankle or wrist bells, two sets of Indian Nautch Girl bells, one pair small maracas, one large single maraca, one pair castanets, two pairs finger cymbals, undated

View image of costume, part 1.

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Box 43

Tambourines: two smaller, one large, one with ribbons, undated

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Box 43

Fans: one large painted Japanese fan, one small Japanese fan, one paper fan/ad for Old Spice, undated

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Box 44

Shoes: red Indian sandals, two pairs of black pointe shoes, pink pointe shoes with shoe covers, undated

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Subseries 3: Scraps

Box 45

Unfinished Projects: blue bodice, gold veil, wings, black trimmings, white bloomers, undated

Box 46

Scraps: ribbon, bows, pom-poms, monogram letters, appliqué, scraps of fabric, large unused fabric pieces, undated

View image of costume.

Series IV: Oversize

This series contains oversize paper items, including posters, newspaper clippings, costume patterns, and a large class reunion photograph.

Oversize   Folder 1

University of Chicago Class of 1939, Panoramic Photograph, 1989

Box 47   Folder 1

Velos and Yolanda – Clippings and Flyer, 1933-1935

Box 47   Folder 2

Photographs – Marjorie Whitney dancing, 1938, undated

Box 47   Folder 3

Clippings, circa 1939, undated

Box 47   Folder 4

Costume Patterns, 1942, undated

Series V: Restricted

This series contains restricted student material. It is restricted for 80 years.

Box 48   Folder 1

Student Material, 1944