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   Eleanor Robson Belmont Papers 1851-1979.

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Eleanor Robson Belmont Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

Abstract

Belmont (1878-1979) was an American actress and a prominent public figure. The collection includes correspondence, subject files, and personal materials.

At a Glance

Bib ID:4079125 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Belmont, Eleanor Robson, 1879-1979.
Title:Eleanor Robson Belmont Papers 1851-1979.
Physical description:33 linear ft (ca. 11,500 items in 37 boxes, 159 volumes, 1 oversize folder, & 1 oversize box).
Language(s):In English
Access: This collection has no restrictions. The following boxes are located off-site: Boxes 15-37. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

Selected materials cataloged; remainder arranged. The collection is arranged into four series:

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Description

Scope and Content

Correspondence, manuscripts, and papers reflecting Belmont's associations in the theatrical, musical, philanthropic, and social worlds. There are ten letters from Theodore Roosevelt, ten from George Bernard Shaw, twenty-two from Israel Zangwill, fifteen from Frances Hodgson Burnett, fifteen from Edith Wharton, and nine from Herbert Hoover, as well as letters from Anatole France, Mary Austin, Stephen Vincent Ben'et, Nicholas Murray Butler, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight David Eisenhower, Clyde Fitch, Harriet Ford, John Galsworthy, Ellen Glasgow, Yvette Guilbert, Amy Lowell, Archibald MacLeish, Edgar Lee Masters, John J. Pershing, Arthur Wing Pinero, William Howard Taft, and William Butler Yeats. In addition to the manuscripts of Mrs. Belmont's own writings, among them her autobiography FABRIC OF MEMORY, the collection contains a manuscript of Anatole France's "La Petite Ville de France" and a typescript of George Bernard Shaw's "Democracy and THE APPLE CART." There is also a considerable body of correspondence, scopecontents and reports of the organizations with which Mrs. Belmont was associated, including the American Shakespeare Festival Foundation, Educational Dramatic League, Metropolitan Opera Association, Motion Picture Research Council, and the Red Cross.

Series I: Correspondence, 1851-1980

The Correspondence is divided into Cataloged (1851-1979) and Arranged Correspondence (1908-1980.) The cataloged material is arranged individually by last name, then by date. The arranged material consists of general and family correspondence arranged alphabetically, then by date.

Subseries I.1 Cataloged Correspondence, 1851-1979

The cataloged correspondence reflects Mrs. Belmont's associations with the theatrical, musical, philanthropic, political and social worlds. Included are letters from Anatole France, Winthrop Ames, Mary Austin, Stephen Vincent Benet, Rudolph Bing, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Nicholas Murray Butler, Calvin Coolidge, John Foster Dulles, Dwight David Eisenhower, Clyde Fitch, Kirsten Flagstad, Harriet Ford, John Glasworthy, Ellen Glasgow, Yvette Guilbert, William Averell Harriman, Herbert Hoover, Henry Cabot Lodge, Amy Lowell, Archibald MacLeish, Edgar Lee Masters, John J. Pershing, ARthur Wing Pinero, Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, George Bernard Shaw, William Howard Taft, and Israel Zangwill.

Subseries I.2 Arranged Correspondence, 1908-1980

The arranged correspondence consists of general correspondence, especially greeting cards. Mrs. Belmont was close to her husband's extended family and there is a good deal of correspondence from various Belmont relatives.

Series II: Subject Files, 1904-1979

The subject files relate to the Belmont family and Mrs. Belmont's philanthropic causes. There are extensive files on August Belmont's estate which have information on the New York Subway, the Belmont racing stables, and the several properties. Other files reflect Mrs. Belmont's interest in Belmont genealogy and her pride in the Belmont connection to Commodore Perry. There is extensive documentation on the organizations with which Mrs. Belmont was associated including the American Shakespeare Festival Foundation, the Metropolitan Opera Association, the Community Service Society, Unemployment Relief, and the Red Cross. There are also files related to her theatrical life including a file on George Bernard Shaw, Israel Zangwill, and Frances Hodgson Burnett. Included are drafts of her speeches, her autobiography, and her play, In the Next Room . The files are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Series III: Personal and Biographical, 1906-1975

This series contains awards and honors, mementoes, photographs, articles and clippings on Mrs. Belmont. There are clippings, cards, and letters on her 100th birthday celebration as well as documentation on her death in 1979.

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Using the Collection

Partially Offsite

Access Restrictions

This collection has no restrictions.

  The following boxes are located off-site: Boxes 15-37. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

      offsite requestMore information and link to off-site request form

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Eleanor Robson Belmont Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Finding aid available in repository and online.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Cataloged 04/04/89 Christina Hilton Fenn

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion June 26, 2009 Finding aid written in English.
    2009-06-26 File created.
    2012-09-13 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Photographs.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Actresses.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
American Red Cross.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
American Shakespeare Festival Foundation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Austin, Mary.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
BeneĢt, Stephen Vincent, 1898-1943.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Burnett, Frances Hodgson, 1849-1924.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Butler, Nicholas Murray, 1862-1947.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Charities.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Educational Dramatic League.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Fitch, Clyde, 1865-1909.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ford, Harriet, 1868-1949.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
France, Anatole, 1844-1924.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Galsworthy, John, 1867-1933.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Glasgow, Ellen Anderson Gholson, 1873-1945.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Guilbert, Yvette, 1865-1944.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lowell, Amy, 1874-1925.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Masters, Edgar Lee, 1868-1950.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Metropolitan Opera (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Motion Picture Research Council.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Motion picture industry.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Music--United States--Societies, etc.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Opera--United States--Societies, etc.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Pershing, John J. (John Joseph), 1860-1948.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Pinero, Arthur Wing, Sir, 1855-1934.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Theater--United States--Societies, etc.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wharton, Edith, 1862-1937.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Zangwill, Israel, 1864-1926.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biogprahical Note

Eleanor Robson Belmont, actress socialite and philanthropist was born December 13, 1878 in Wigan Lancashire England to an actress mother and a musician father. Her father died when she was very young and her mother Madge Carr Cook remarried to the actor Augustus Cook immigrated to America. Eleanor was educated in American boarding schools after which she joined her mother Madge Carr Cook in the San Francisco-based Frawley Stock Company. She quickly graduated to starring roles while touring with the company. In 1900 she moved to New York where she was signed by the impresario George Tyler of Liebler and Company. She was a sensation acclaimed for her beauty her sweet rich speaking voice and her natural manner. Her greatest hit was Israel Zangwill's Merely Mary Ann in 1903. While playing the role in London, she captivated George Bernard Shaw who wrote Major Barbara for her. She was never able to play the part she inspired due to contractual obligations, but she continued to be a popular draw starring in Nurse Marjorie (1906), Salomy Jane (1907), and Dawn of Tomorrow (1909). In 1910, she left the stage to marry the banker, August Belmont.

After marriage, as she tells us in her autobiography Fabric of Memory , life became a "world of horses, polo, social events, new friends, civic interests, and farming." She supported her husband's pursuits including the Belmont racing stables, the construction of the New York Subway, and the Cape Cod Canal. Both Belmonts actively took part in the war effort in World War I. Mrs. Belmont was appointed to the American Red Cross and she courageously traveled dangerous waters to personally inspect the Red Cross overseas effort. After the war, she helped develop the peacetime American Red Cross.

Mrs. Belmont was widowed in 1924 but continued to be active in philanthropic causes. During the Great Depression, she raised funds with the Women's Committee of the Central Emergency Unemployment Relief Agency devoting special attention to the needs of the single working woman. When World War II broke out Mrs. Belmont again served the war effort through the Red Cross.

Mrs. Belmont maintained her interest in the theater. In 1931, she co-wrote and produced a play In the Next Room . Her theatrical fame and her training as an actress had contributed to her success as a fundraiser, and the performing arts remained one of her causes. She was especially fond of the Metropolitan Opera Company. In 1933, she became the first woman to sit on its Board of Directors. She founded the Metropolitan Opera Guild in 1935 as a permanent vehicle for raising money and as a basis of support. She lived to see the Opera emerge from the precarious financial predicament in which she found it to become a thriving, well-supported, well-attended institution.

Mrs. Belmont died at the age of 101 in 1979. On her hundredth birthday, December 13, 1978, she had told the New York Times that, "the secret to long life is no diet no special care nothing like that. It's doing what you want and doing it happily."

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