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   Margaret Brenman-Gibson Papers, 1940-1999 [Bulk Dates: 1963-1981]

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Margaret Brenman-Gibson Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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

Summary Information

Abstract

Margaret Brenman-Gibson was a Harvard professor of Psychiatry. In 1981, she published a biography of American playwright Clifford Odets, entitled Clifford Odets - American Playwright: The Years from 1906-1940. Brenman-Gibson and her husband, William Gibson, also a playwright, lived and worked in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The collection consists of Brenman-Gibson's research files for her work on the Clifford Odets biography. It contains chronological notebooks, which outline each year of Odets' life, as well as correspondence, interviews, and interview transcripts with friends, relatives, and acquaintances of Odets. The collection also contains copies of correspondence, diaries, and notes from Odets. A small portion of the collection consists of personal correspondence between Brenman-Gibson, William Gibson, and Clifford Odets.

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#1635
Bib ID:6797567 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Brenman-Gibson, Margaret.
Title:Margaret Brenman-Gibson Papers, 1940-1999 [Bulk Dates: 1963-1981]
Physical description:18 linear ft. (18 record containers)
Language(s):In English
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

Material is arranged into three series:

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Description

Scope and Content

The collection consists of Margaret Brenman-Gibson's research files for her biography on American playwright, Clifford Odets, entitled Clifford Odets - American Playwright: The Years from 1906-1940. Brenman-Gibson constructed detailed chronologies of Odets' life, taken from his various diaries, notes, and correspondence. These chronological notebooks form the basis for the collection. She also, in the course of her research, copied a good deal of Odets' personal papers: correspondence, diaries, notes, plays, and screenplays. The files she created when applying for grants while writing and researching the biography are represented in the collection. Additionally, Brenman-Gibson performed interviews with numerous friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and family members of Odets. Both her notes on the interviews and the tapes of the interviews can be found in the collection. Additionally, she corresponded with many of her interviewees, including Marlon Brando, Harold Clurman, Sammy Davis Jr., Elia Kazan, Lee and Paula Strasberg, and Luise Rainer. The correspondence in the collection primarily relates to the biography, and includes permission agreements. There is a small section of personal correspondence between Margaret and her husband William Gibson with Clifford Odets during the 1950s as well as with the Gibson's and Odets' son and daughter, Walt and Nora, after his death in 1963.

Series I: Research Files for Clifford Odets-American Playwright: The Years from 1906-1940 , 1940-1999

Series I: Research Files consists of Brenman-Gibson's research files for her biography on the American playwright, Clifford Odets entitled, Clifford Odets - American Playwright: The Years from 1906-1940. It contains chronological notebooks, which are basic summaries of Odets' life taken from his own diaries and correspondence, as well as interviews Brenman-Gibson conducted during the course of her research with Odets' family, friends, and acquaintances. Also found in Series I is the correspondence Brenman-Gibson had with various people related to Odets. Additionally, summaries, transcripts, and audio of the interviews are found in Series I. There are her files for grants in which she applied to conduct her research. There is significant material copied from Clifford Odets papers. This includes his diaries, correspondence, and notes. Rough drafts for Volume II of Brenman-Gibson's biography, which she never published, are also in Series I.

Subseries I.1: Chronological Notebooks

Subseries I.1: Chronological Notebooks consists of the notebooks that Brenman-Gibson compiled during the course of writing her biography on Clifford Odets. The notebooks outline each year of Odets' life; the overviews provided by Odets' own original correspondence, diaries, and notes, but also from interviews Brenman-Gibson conducted with Odets' family, friends, and acquaintances. Odets' secretary, Virginia Rowe, worked with Brenman-Gibson during the course of her work on the biography. She provides her own recollections and summaries for each chronological notebook. The notebooks begin with an "early chronology", summarizing Odets' childhood, and then follow yearly from 1924-1963, the year Odets died. There are also notebooks entitled, "Aftermath", which trace the years following Odets' death.

Subseries I.2: Correspondence, 1963-1989

Subseries I.2: Correspondence contains the correspondence Brenman-Gibson had with people related to her work on the biography. Included here are letters from Odets' longtime friends and acquaintances: Stella Adler, Marlon Brando, Harold Clurman, Aaron Copland, Helen Deutsch, Alfred Hitchcock, Elia Kazan, Paula and Lee Strasburg, among numerous others. Much of the correspondence is carbon copies of Brenman-Gibson's outgoing letters, however, there are original letters from her correspondents. There is a section of the correspondence securing permissions to quote for her book from various people. The correspondence ranges in date from 1963-1989.

Subseries I.3: Grants, 1957-1980

Subseries I.3: Grants contains the files that Brenman-Gibson kept which document her application for grant funds to conduct her research on the Clifford Odets' biography. There are application materials for such funds as American Association of University Women, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Institute for Mental Health. The grant files range in date from 1957-1980.

Subseries I.4: Interviews, 1963-1985

Subseries I.4: Interviews contains the summaries, transcripts, and audio of interviews Brenman-Gibson conducted while researching for her biography on Clifford Odets.

Subseries I.5: Clifford Odets Materials (copies of), 1940-1963

Subseries I.5: Clifford Odets Materials (copies of) contains copied material from Odets' original papers. Found here are copies of Odets' correspondence from 1961-1963, copies of his appointment books and diaries from 1940-1963, as well as notes he wrote for various productions, including: Mafia Man, North Star, Only the Young, Strange Hunt, and Two Agents.

Subseries I.6: Original Worksheets, 1970-1975

Subseries I.6: Original Worksheets consists of handwritten notes by Brenman-Gibson taken during the course of her work on the Odets' biography. These worksheets range in date from 1970-1975.

Subseries I.7: Reference Files, 1950-1968

Subseries I.7: Reference Files is a general filing system Brenman-Gibson kept, which contains articles and notes on art, artists, creativity, and the theater.

Subseries I.8: Research Files, 1961-1979

Subseries I.8: Research Files are files of notes that Brenman-Gibson kept on each of Odets' plays, screenplays, and television shows.

Subseries I.9: Rough Drafts, 1970-1975

Subseries I.9: Rough Drafts contains early drafts of Volume II of Brenman-Gibson's biography on Clifford Odets. The drafts cover the years 1940-1944.

Subseries I.10: Themes, 1959-1969

Subseries I.10: Themes is a section of research files that Brenman-Gibson kept, which document her developing ideas on themes for the Clifford Odets biography. She delves into ideas such as creativity, psychoanalysis, sex, and relations that Odets' had with men, women, and his family and children.

Subseries I.11: General Files, 1946-1999

Subseries I.11: General Files is an assortment of files that did not fit in with the previous subseries. It consists of administrative and financial files, as well as logistics related to a trip that Brenman-Gibson took to California in 1965 to conduct research for her biography. There are two folders with material related to Odets' friend, Harold Clurman. Several files contain material from Virginia Rowe, who was both Odets' secretary, and later an assistant to Brenman-Gibson. Additionally, there are articles, clippings, notes, and notebooks. One of the notebooks is entitled, "Birdseye" and offers a broad summary of Odets' life.

Subseries I.12: Rolodex

Subseries I.12: Rolodex consists of Brenman-Gibson's rolodex of index cards. The index cards document the people with whom Brenman-Gibson conducted interviews as well as their correspondence.

Series II: Personal Correspondence, 1953-1993

Series II: Personal Correspondence is a small series consisting of correspondence Margaret Brenman-Gibson had with Clifford Odets. It contains letters that Brenman-Gibson wrote to Odets, as well as the letters between her husband, William Gibson and Odets. There are original letters from Odets to Brenman-Gibson and her husband as well. Also included here is correspondence between the Gibson's and Odets' two children, Nora and Walt. The correspondence between Odets and the Gibson's ranges in date from 1953-1963, while the letters between the children is later from 1967-1993.

Series III: Nuclear Weapons Activism, 1985-1987

Series III: Nuclear Weapons Activism is a small series of material related to nuclear weapons activism that Brenman-Gibson engaged in during the 1980s. There are transcripts of interviews she did with two men: Peter Hagelstein and Lowell Wood. Additionally, there are audiocasettes of interviews she conducted with various people.

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Using the Collection

Offsite

Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days 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

This collection has no restrictions.

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); Margaret Brenman-Gibson Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Finding aid in repository; folder level control.

Selected Related Material -- at Columbia

Clifford Odets Papers, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University

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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

Papers processed October 2012 Adrien Hilton

Finding Aid written 10/25/2012 Adrien Hilton

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion October 26, 2012 Finding aid written in English. Finding aid adheres to that prescribed by Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    2012-10-26 xml instance created by Adrien Hilton

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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
AudiocassettesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
CorrespondencePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
NotebooksPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Research (document genres)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Brando, MarlonPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Brenman-Gibson, MargaretPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Clurman, Harold, 1901-1980PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Davis, Sammy, 1925-1990PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dramatists, American--20th century--BiographyPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gibson, William, 1914-2008PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Group Theatre (U.S.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Odets, Clifford, 1906-1963PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Odets, WaltPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rainer, Luise, 1910-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Strasberg, LeePortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Margaret Brenman-Gibson was a Harvard professor in the department of Psychiatry. In 1982, she became the first woman to be appointed as a full professor. Brenman-Gibson was the first non-physician from any discipline to receive full clinical as well as research psychoanalytic training in America. She is considered the first psychologist. Brenman-Gibson also had a deep interest in nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear power. She picketed and protested in numerous places, including Los Alamos. William Gibson, the husband of Margaret was an American playwright and novelist. The couple married in 1940. Shortly thereafter, Brenman-Gibson took a job as psychoanalyst at Stockbridge, Massachusetts and William published his book, The Cobweb, which was set in a psychiatric ward. In addition to her work on hypnosis and hypnotherapy, and her interest in nuclear weapons, she was also the biographer of American playwright Clifford Odets. Odets and the Gibson's were friends, as the correspondence between them reveals.

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