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Anne Wiggins Brown papers

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

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Anne Wiggins Brown papers, 1935-2002 | Amistad Research Center

By Elizabeth Berra

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Collection Overview

Title: Anne Wiggins Brown papers, 1935-2002Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Brown, Anne Wiggins (1912-2009)

Extent: 4.17 Linear Feet

Arrangement: Collection arranged by format and then chronologically.

Date Acquired: 11/01/1991. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: African Americans - Norway, African American singers, Americans - Foreign countries, Gershwin, George, 1898-1937, Gershwin, Ira, 1896-1983, Haiti - History - Revolution, 1791-1804 - Drama, Matheus, John Frederick, 1887-1983, White, Clarence Cameron, 1880-1960

Forms of Material: Correspondence, Moving images, News Clippings, Photographs, Scrapbooks, Sound recordings

Languages: English, Norwegian, French

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The papers of Anne Wiggins Brown document her career as a singer, producer and stage director which spanned five decades. Brown was the original "Bess" in George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. The papers include personal and professional correspondence, photographs, financial records, musical scores, playbills, posters and other collected publications. A large majority of the collection is newspaper clippings.

The correspondence dates from 1935 until 1998. The earliest correspondence is predominately fan mail relating to Brown's performance in Porgy and Bess and other various concerts. Highlights included personal letters between Brown and Ira Gershwin. Although some personal correspondence is included in the collection, specifically between Brown and her third spouse Thorleif Schelderup, the majority is business correspondence pertaining to Brown's concert engagements.  Biographical data is included in the collection through newspaper clippings. The clippings document Brown's professional highlights, her marriage to Schelderup, the birth of her daughter Vaar, her relationship with eldest daughter Paula, and her life living in Norway.

Brown's business dealings are documented through engagement contracts, financial statements, press releases and legal documents. Among the items included in legal documents are Brown's passport and Actors' Equity Card. Programs, playbills, reviews and criticisms document Brown's performance career. Programs and playbills include the original Porgy and Bess playbill from 1935 and various performance programs spanning from 1935 to 1969. Reviews and criticisms highlight Brown's performances both foreign and domestic from 1948 to 1953.

Many documents specifically pertain to Porgy and Bess. The original 1935 production and subsequent revival productions are documented through photographs, newspaper clippings, playbills, posters and personal writings. Among the personal writings is a twenty-page, hand written account by Brown of her experience with Porgy and Bess.  Additionally, the collection includes the 1998 Library of Congress publication "The Gershwins And Their World" highlighting Porgy and Bess among Gershwin's other works. Documents from Brown's acceptance of the Peabody Award in 1998 include a transcript and audiocassette of her acceptance speech, correspondence, programs and newspaper clippings. Also of note is a typescript of scene outlines for "Ouanga: The Story of a Negro Opera" by John F. Matheus and Clarence Cameron White, which is set in 1804 during the Haitian Revolution.

Audiocassettes include original cast recordings of Porgy and Bess and St. Louis Woman, Brown's 1995 National Public Radio interview entitled "Two Divas Across The Atlantic" and Brown's 1998 Peabody Award acceptance speech. A videocassette recording of the Norwegian documentary "Anne Brown: The Golden Voice" (Benedikte Minos Film, 2002) is also included.  Personal scrapbooks date from 1935 to 1947 and highlight Brown's domestic and foreign performance career through newspaper clippings, programs and photographs. Posters from Brown's foreign performances spanning from 1942 to 1969 are also included.

Biographical Note

African American soprano Anne Wiggins Brown was best known for creating the role of "Bess" in the original Broadway production of George Gershwin's folk opera Porgy and Bess in 1935. In addition to her Broadway career, Brown was an accomplished radio and concert singer, and teacher. Brown's career spanned five decades, during which she toured the United States, Europe, and the world. During her late thirties, Brown attained Norwegian citizenship and moved to Oslo, Norway, where she resided until her death in 2009.

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Brown was born on August 9, 1912, to Dr. Harry F. Brown and Mamie Wiggins. One of four girls, Brown grew up surrounded by music, frequently listening to the recordings of Caruso, Melba, and Schumann-Hank. Convinced of her daughter's talent, Wiggins encouraged Brown to audition for the Peabody Conservatory. After garnering positive feedback for her audition, Brown was ultimately denied admission because of her race.

In 1928, at the age of sixteen, Brown was accepted into the prestigious Institute of Musical Art at the Julliard School in New York City. While at Julliard, Brown studied opera and vocal technique under Lucia Dunham. Although still faced with racial stricture, Brown felt she was able to escape some of the South's strict racial codes while living in New York City. Brown received her diploma in voice in 1932 and her artist's diploma in 1934.

Prior to her graduation from Julliard, Brown requested an audition for Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. Brown's initial audition was so successful she was immediately introduced to members of the production team, including Gershwin's brother Ira, director Rouben Mamoulian, and librettist Dubose Heyward, and was subsequently offered the role of "Bess." Porgy and Bess opened on September 30, 1935, at the Colonial Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts and moved to the Alvin Theatre on Broadway on October 10, 1935. Brown played "Bess" for all one hundred and twenty four performances of the Broadway run.

Brown maintained a close working relationship with Gershwin, appearing in his London production of the musical Blackbirds and his 1945 film Rhapsody in Blue.  Throughout the 1940s and 1950s Brown performed nationally and internationally, predominately in Europe. Brown frequently stated that she left the United States because of persistent racial prejudice. After World War II, Brown and Todd Duncan, the original "Porgy" in Porgy and Bess, reprised their roles at the Royal Opera in Copenhagen.

In 1948, Brown married Norwegian ski jump champion Thorleif Schjelderup and established permanent residence in Norway. Schelderup was Brown's third marriage. In 1951 Schelderup and Brown had a daughter named Vaar. Brown also had a daughter named Paula from her second marriage to Dr. Jacob Petit. Although Schjelderup and Brown later divorced, Brown and her daughters remained in Norway.

In the 1960s, Brown began her teaching career at the National Theatre School in Norway. During her time at the school, Brown directed a production of Porgy and Bess in France. The production was comprised of African American principles and a white French chorus. Brown continued coaching privately in Norway until the 1990s.

In 1998, the Peabody Conservatory, which had denied Brown admission seventy years earlier, awarded her the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America. Among her other awards are Honorary Citizen of New Orleans (1991), Honorary Citizen of Baltimore (1999), and the Norway Council of Cultures Honorary Award (2000). Brown died on March 13, 2009, at the age of ninety six in Oslo, Norway.

Subject/Index Terms

African Americans - Norway
African American singers
Americans - Foreign countries
Gershwin, George, 1898-1937
Gershwin, Ira, 1896-1983
Haiti - History - Revolution, 1791-1804 - Drama
Matheus, John Frederick, 1887-1983
White, Clarence Cameron, 1880-1960

Administrative Information

Repository: Amistad Research Center

Accruals: Original donation received in 1991. Accruals received in 1997, 1998, and 2004.

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Copyright to these papers has not been assigned to the Amistad Research Center. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Physical Access Note: Preservation copies of news clippings are available.

Acquisition Source: Anne Wiggins Brown

Acquisition Method: Gift

Appraisal Information: Collection documents career of singer and actress Anne Wiggins Brown.

Related Materials:

William Warfield papers

Carol Brice papers

Camilla Williams papers

Larney Goodkind oral history interview

Preferred Citation: Anne Wiggins Brown papers, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, LA

Processing Information: Collection processed by Elizabeth Berra, January-March 2010.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Box:

[Box 1],
[Box 2],
[Box 3],
[Box 4],
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Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Correspondence, 1935-1945Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Correspondence, 1946-1947 MarchAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Correspondence, 1947 May-1949 JulyAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Correspondence, 1949 August-DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Correspondence, 1950 January-MayAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Correspondence, 1950 June-AugustAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Correspondence, 1950 September-NovemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Correspondence, 1951 January-AugustAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Correspondence, 1951 September-DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: Correspondence, 1952 April-1953 OctoberAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: Correspondence, 1954 February-1956 FebruaryAdd to your cart.
Folder 12: Correspondence, 1964 November-1966 DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Correspondence, 1967 January-1968 JanuaryAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Correspondence, 1968 February-JuneAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: Correspondence, 1968 July-AugustAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Correspondence, 1968 September-1969 JulyAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: Correspondence, 1976 October-1980 FebruaryAdd to your cart.
Folder 18: Correspondence, 1996 April-1998 JulyAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: Correspondence, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 20: Correspondence, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 21: Legal documents: passports and equity card, 1942-1952Add to your cart.
Folder 22: Financial statements, 1948-1949Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Photographs, 1936-1940Add to your cart.
10 items
Folder 24: Photographs, 1950-1991Add to your cart.
9 items
Folder 25: Invitations, 1946-1998Add to your cart.
Folder 26: Engagement contracts, 1942 July-1943Add to your cart.
Folder 27: Engagement contracts, 1944 March-NovemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 28: Engagement contracts, 1945 February-1946 MarchAdd to your cart.
Folder 29: Engagement contracts, 1946 December-1968 DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 30: Press releases: Morini Management, 1942-1947Add to your cart.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Programs and playbills: U.S. performances, 1935-1941Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Programs and playbills: U.S. performances, 1942-1947Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Programs and playbills: U.S. performances, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Programs and playbills: Foreign performances, 1944-1951Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Programs and playbills: Foreign performances, 1952-1969Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Programs and playbills: Foreign performances, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Reviews and criticisms: English translations, 1950-1952Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Reviews and criticisms: English, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Reviews and criticisms: Foreign, 1948-1950Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Reviews and criticisms: Foreign, 1950 March-1952Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Reviews and criticisms: Foreign, 1953Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Reviews and criticisms: Foreign, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Reviews and criticisms: Foreign, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Repetoire, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: Writings by Anne Wiggins Brown, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: "Porgy and Bess": Program, fact sheet, etc., undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: "Porgy and Bess": Casting and Staging, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 18: Translations: Lyric texts, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: Playscript theatre copy: Ouanga: The Story of A Negro Opera, 1939Add to your cart.

Libretto by John F. Matheus; Music by Clarence Cameron White

Setting is Haiti, 1804

Folder 20: Publication: Bluebird, 1942Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Publication: The Gershwins And Their World, 1998Add to your cart.
Folder 22: Peabody Award: Program and speech, 1998 MayAdd to your cart.
Folder 23: Peabody Award: Newspaper clippings, 1998 March-MayAdd to your cart.
Folder 24: Peabody Award: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1998 March-MayAdd to your cart.
Folder 25: Miscellaneous, undatedAdd to your cart.
Box 3Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1936-1938 FebruaryAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1938 March-1941 JulyAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1941 September-1942 AprilAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1942 April-1943 MarchAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1943 April-DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1944Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1945 January-FebruaryAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1945 March-DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1946 January-1947 DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1948 March-AprilAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1948 MayAdd to your cart.
Folder 12: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1948 June-SeptemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1948 October-DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1949 February-DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1950 January-JulyAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1951 January-OctoberAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1951 November-DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 18: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1952 January-NovemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1953 February-1955 NovemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 20: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1956 February-1957 NovemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 21: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1958 January-1966 MayAdd to your cart.
Folder 22: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1967 January-1968 DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 23: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1969 January-1976 OctoberAdd to your cart.
Folder 24: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), 1978 April-1991 NovemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 25: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 26: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 27: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 28: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 29: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 30: Newspaper clippings (photocopies), undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 31: Newspaper clippings (photocopies) without originals, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 32: Newspaper clippings (photocopies) without originals, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 33: Newspaper clippings (photocopies) without originals, undatedAdd to your cart.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Newspaper clippings, 1936-1938 FebruaryAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Newspaper clippings, 1938-1941 JulyAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Newspaper clippings, 1941 September-1942 AprilAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Newspaper clippings, 1942 April-1943 MarchAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Newspaper clippings, 1943 April-DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Newspaper clippings, 1944Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Newspaper clippings, 1945 January-FebruaryAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Newspaper clippings, 1945 March-DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Newspaper clippings, 1946 January-1947 DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: Newspaper clippings, 1948 March- AprilAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: Newspaper clippings, 1948 MayAdd to your cart.
Folder 12: Newspaper clippings, 1948 June-SeptemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Newspaper clippings, 1948 October-DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Newspaper clippings, 1949 February- DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: Newspaper clippings, 1950 January-JulyAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Newspaper clippings, 1951 January-OctoberAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: Newspaper clippings, 1951 November-DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 18: Newspaper clippings, 1952 January-NovemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: Newspaper clippings, 1953 February-1955 NovemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 20: Newspaper clippings, 1956 February-1957 NovemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 21: Newspaper clippings, 1958 January-1966 MayAdd to your cart.
Folder 22: Newspaper clippings, 1967 January-1968 DecemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 23: Newspaper clippings, 1969 January-1976 OctoberAdd to your cart.
Folder 24: Newspaper clippings, 1978 April-1991 NovemberAdd to your cart.
Folder 25: Newspaper clippings, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 26: Newspaper clippings, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 27: Newspaper clippings, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 28: Newspaper clippings, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 29: Newspaper clippings, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 30: Newspaper clippings, undatedAdd to your cart.
Box 5Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Magazine clippings, 1944-1948Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Magazine clippings, 1953-1964Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Magazine clippings, 1985-1996Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Magazine clippings, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Magazine clippings (photocopies), 1945-1953Add to your cart.
Item 1: Scrapbook, 1935 March-1941Add to your cart.
Green cover: Newspaper clippings and programs
Item 2: Scrapbook, 1941 June-NovemberAdd to your cart.
Beige cover: Newspaper clippings and programs
Box 6Add to your cart.
Item 1: Scrapbook, 1946Add to your cart.
Tan cover: Foreign clippings with some translations
Item 2: Scrapbook, 1946-1947Add to your cart.
Green cover: Foreign clippings with some translations
Item 3: ECNBPW Ohio portfolio cover, 1976Add to your cart.
Box 7Add to your cart.
Item 1: Videocassette: Anne Brown, The Golden Voice (Benedikte Minos Film), 2002Add to your cart.
Item 2: Audiocassette: Porgy and Bess, Original Cast, (Broadway Gold MCA Classics), 1940Add to your cart.
Item 3: Audiocassette: St. Louis Woman, Original Broadway Cast, (Capitol Records), 1946Add to your cart.
Item 4: Audiocassette: Two Divas Across The Atlantic, (National Public Radio), 1995 FebruaryAdd to your cart.
Item 5: Audiocassette: Anne Wiggins Brown, Peabody award speech, 1998 May 23Add to your cart.
Box 8Add to your cart.
Note: Posters housed in oversized map case
Item 1: Poster: Porgy and Bess, Det Kongelige Teater, 1947 November 29Add to your cart.
Item 2: Poster: Porgy and Bess, Ville de lyon, 1968-1969Add to your cart.
two copies
Item 3: Poster: Biennale di Venezia XVI Festival, 1953 September 8Add to your cart.
Item 4: Poster: Internazionale di Musica Contemporanea, undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 5: Poster: The Jumping Frog of Calavera Country, undatedAdd to your cart.
two copies
Item 6: Poster: Opera, Stockholm, 1947 December 14Add to your cart.
Item 7: Poster: Claude Perrier, undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 8: Poster: Porgy and Bess, Monumental Cinema, undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 9: Poster: Porgy and Bess, Fonodisco Haliano Trevisan, undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 10: Poster: United States Treasury Department citation, 1942 June 4Add to your cart.
Item 11: Poster: Porgy and Bess, Theatre des Arts, undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 12: Poster: Porgy and Bess, Theatre Capitole, 1966-1967Add to your cart.

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