Opera Advertisements- Part 1

Hidden away in the last few unprocessed folders of the Seymour Collection hid some of the most beautiful opera advertisements this archivist has ever seen first-hand. The full-color advertisements range in size from a small 4×12 inch flyer to an enormous 77×40 inch poster. Archiving the flyers typically follows the same process as any other paper item, so long as there is no damage to the flyer. However, the large posters prove more difficult. Paper items should always be stored as flat as possible, but an item over 6 feet in length proves trickier. Archival drawers are often the solution for large items, however even those are only so big. Honestly, I am not totally sure what we are going to do with this giant poster yet. It is seriously massive, and to complicate matters further, it is also pretty fragile.  Even an archival drawer would not provide enough space to lay the poster flat. Stay tuned next week….. hopefully we will have a solution then!

Until then though, enjoy these significantly more manageably-sized flyers for the operas: Iris, Madam Butterfly, Giovanni Gallvrese, and La Figlia Di Iorio.

opera posters001.jpg

opera posters002.jpg

opera posters003.jpg

opera posters004.jpg

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

In the early 1960s, Irving Wallace began writing his novel The Man, which placed a black man as the
President of the United States long before former President Obama even imagined
himself in politics. The novel sold exceedingly well staying at the number one
spot on the New York Times bestseller
list for months on end.

Many interested parties, including Sammy Davis Jr.,
considered purchasing film rights to the novel. Ultimately Paramount Pictures
made the motion picture starring James Earl Jones as “The Man” and several
other stellar actors as his supporting cast.

theman.jpg

How did Irving Wallace manage a convincing presidential
character as his main protagonist? Well, nine weeks before John F. Kennedy was
assassinated, Wallace was able to spend time in the White House working with
Kennedy in order to research his novel. JFK was a major influence on Wallace
while writing the novel, but so were other figures in history. The cover page
Wallace wrote to one of his early manuscript drafts includes the following
epithet:

 One of the author’s prized possessions is an
original autographed manuscript, written firmly with pen on cheap ruled paper,
signed by a former Negro slave who became a great reformer, lecturer, writer,
adviser to Abraham Lincoln, United States Minister to Haiti, and candidate for
Vice-President of the United States on the Equal Rights Party in 1872. The
manuscript reads as follows:

“In a composite Nation like ours,
made up of almost every variety of the human family, there should be, as before
the Law, no rich, no poor, no high, no low, no black, no white, but one country,
one citizenship, equal rights and a common destiny for all.

“A Government that cannot or does
not protect the humblest citizen in his right to life, Liberty and the pursuit
of happiness, should be reformed or overthrown, without delay.

Frederick
Douglass

“Washington D.C. Oct. 20. 1883”

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Archiving Pro Tip: Erasing

Hopefully it should be no surprise that paper is made up of pulp derived from fibers of wood (or sometimes other fibrous materials such as grasses or cotton). These fibers are layered and pressed in a way that means each fiber is positioned in its own unique direction. Keeping this in mind, there is actually a trick when erasing a mistake made with pencil. While a lot of people may move their eraser quickly side to side, or up and down, this is not the most efficient way to erase. The best way is to move your eraser in a circular motion, both clockwise and counter-clockwise. By moving the eraser around in this manner it shifts the fibers of the paper in all directions, which means all of the tiny little fibers can be fully massaged by eraser! Be sure to try this trick next time you need to make a quick correction!

Desperately Seeking…Rights?

During his editing exchanges with his editors and publisher,
Irving Wallace was sent the following clipping from the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

 personals.jpg

The clipping is from an unknown date, though it would have
been sometime in 1970-1973 while he was working on The Fan Club.  Apparently
Wallace had reason to create a mock personal ad for his book. One of Wallace’s
editors on the project sent him the clipping as a model and suggesting that
Wallace needed to change the size of the font he was using for the heading. So,
in this particular exchange, the content of the clipping was completely
irrelevant and yet what happens to be in this particular clipping is truly
fascinating and could easily serve as inspiration for the latest mystery
thriller.

The first personal ad reads:

My 1st, 4th,
5th, 9th, & 14th amendment rights have
been violated. For an unexplained reason I have been subjected to overt &
covert physical surveillance, undercover intelligence gathering, maintainance [sic] of files & dossiers,
intimidation & harassment. I urgently need public intervention to
investigate as I cannot afford legal costs to protect my rights. Eleanor
Hemstreet, 213/361-5361.

The first sentence would make a great opening for a mystery
thriller. I can just imagine all kinds of interesting possibilities of what was
happening here. Of course, there is always the possibility that whoever took
out this personal ad was imagining these things for any number of reasons. But
what if she wasn’t?

It is a wonder Mr. Wallace did not pick up on the content of
this personal ad and write his own story about it. From the work of his that I
have seen thus far, including research notes and observations, he found
inspiration in pretty much everything. He was keen to observe people when he
was looking to flesh out characters for his novels.  Sometimes I find his research notes to be more
interesting than the novel he produced from them (sorry Irving!).

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Brother of the Alpha Kappa Lambda

On September 7th, 1914, John Laurence
Seymour became an initiated member of the Alpha Kappa Lambda Fraternity. Founded
as a national fraternity on April 22, 1914, Seymour became an early inductee of
the organization. UC Berkley would be the Fraternity’s only chapter until 1921
when their Gamma chapter was founded at the University of Illinois
Champaign-Urbana. Today AKL boasts 39 chapters and colonies, 1,064 active
members, and 26,187 alumni members.

Seymour frequently made contributions to the
Fraternity’s publication The Logos.
He wrote a poem for the first issue of the The
Logos
, originally called the Diamond,
in January of 1915. In the November 1926 edition, Seymour provided the opening
article, “Opera and Life”, followed by a second part titled “Opera in the
United States” in the June 1927 edition. Seymour contributed again in May of
1929 with a piece titled, “Some Interesting Spots in France.” Finally,
Seymour’s accomplishments were highlighted and applauded in the February 1926
edition by a former Senior Grand President of the Fraternity.

Below is a copy of Seymour’s original initiation
certificate.

AKL001.jpg















For more information about Alpha Kappa Lambda
Fraternity, be sure to visit their website: http://akl.org/

Archiving Pro-Tip: Folder Numbering

An important part of archiving is folder
numbering. Each folder is given a number based on its position within a box. So
for example, the 5th folder in box 2 would be labeled, “folder 5,
box 2.” During the early phases of processing a collection, it can be tempting
to label a folder as soon as it is full and placed in a box. However, the best
time to number folders is toward the end during the process of creating a
folder list. 

Frequently, when archival collections are taken in
by an institution, items within that collection are not organized in any
particular order. In order to make the collection as accessible as possible to
researchers, some kind of order needs to be made of the collection. This means
dividing the collection into a few different series that intellectually make
sense. Common series groupings include biographical information,
correspondence, and photographs. Each collection is unique, as is each
archivist, so series titles and groupings vary from collection to collection.
Series can change throughout the processing stage depending on what items the
archivist discovers.

Oversized or oddly shaped items are another factor
to take into consideration while folder numbering. Even though intellectually
the oversized items may belong to the correspondence series, they will not fit
into the same size box as the other items. These items will be pulled and
placed in a separate oversize box. However they will remain in order with the
rest of the series item on the actual folder list. The folder list will notate
the separated location.

All of these factors affect what a folder is
numbered, and that is why the numbering process should not begin until the
creation of the folder list. Otherwise, you may have to renumber your folders
multiple times, taking up precious archival time.  

More paper please!

When you’re a best-selling author publishing in the 1960s –
1980s, you can get a lot of editing help. At least you can if you’re Irving
Wallace. While processing the series based on his book titled The Fan Club, I noted at least 3 editors
working with Wallace at different stages. To begin, after he finished an
original draft, he went back through it, his wife Sylvia went through it, and
usually Wallace would hire an editor or have his secretary retype changes for
him. Once the manuscript underwent several rewrites and he felt it was ready
enough, he’d send it along to the publisher who would then send his manuscript
to one of their freelance editors (or in house if they had them).

Over time, Wallace got to where he liked the rapport he
developed with particular editors and types of revisions or edits they would
recommend. As it happened, the one he requested to work with (again) at Simon
and Schuster was living in Mexico at the time. The reason I mention that is
because some of her cover letters to Wallace often included apologies for lack
of regular access to resources like paper. flyerpile.jpg

Apparently his favorite editor was out of paper again. When
her editing suggestions arrived for Wallace’s review, they were written on what
he called “flyers.” Each flyer was 4″ wide and varying height. They ranged from
½ and inch to 5″ in height depending on how much the editor wrote. As it turns
out, each little strip of paper was piece of scrap paper made from the large
manila envelope in which one of Wallace’s drafts had undoubtedly arrived. This
was, of course, in the 1970s before the advent of home computers or the
Internet so editing work might be shipped all over the world between editors,
agents, and authors.flyersingle.jpg

That the editor painstakingly wrote out each line that
required a suggestion is quite labor-intensive. But for every “flyer” the
editor included, Wallace also carefully reviewed it then considered his
response. Often he would converse back and forth through the mail with his
editors arguing for specific spellings or turns of phrase. Other times he would
simply take their suggestions and incorporate them into the next rewrite.

If ever a student thought they could continue going through
life with the written-the-night-before paradigm and still be successful, they
need only look to someone like Irving Wallace. In each of his book projects he
details between 6-10 rewrites before the publisher ever sees it. Then there’s a
process of at least 3-7 more drafts with changes and suggestions of his various
editors. Additionally, Wallace’s beloved wife read every project with aplomb
and enthusiasm, which would bring about another revision. Even at the stage of
page proofs, Wallace would incorporate another 3 or 4 sets of revisions. I
guess if you want to be a best-seller, that’s the kind of work ethic you need
to have.

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Getting to know you…

Irving Wallace was an incredibly prolific writer. Think Tom
Clancy or Robert Ludlum and you get the idea. As I’ve continued processing the
collection, I’ve learned some interesting things about Wallace’s writing style,
his techniques, and his process. I’ve also gained a pet peeve or two about his idiosyncrasies.

A few things I’ve learned in the last few weeks – Irving
Wallace was either VERY interested in the topic of sex or he was VERY interested
in making money with his work and knew that sex sells. Okay, it’s probably a
combination of those things, but it seems
like he’s always using sex as a major theme of his work. Last week I wrote
about Victoria Woodhull, an exceptional woman who pushed back at the roles available
to women during her era and even ran for president. But because she was
outspoken about her positive opinions of sex, Wallace labeled her the
prostitute who ran for president. There was a lot more about the other women in
the collection Nymphos and Other Maniacs
as well. Promiscuous women make for good stories seemingly. As another example,
in The Celestial Bed, Wallace’s story
revolves around a man and woman who have sex with their clients to teach them
intimacy and help them resolve their issues. I haven’t actually read the book,
but that’s the gist I sussed from working with it. Wallace hit on a theme that
worked and kept with it I think.

Another thing I learned about Wallace, like the theme of
sex, he never seemed to mind reusing techniques that got a publishing contract.
After placing numerous revisions of the manuscript for The Celestial Bed into new acid-free folders, I have now read
pretty much the first paragraph of every chapter of the book. They all use the
same formula. When (person’s full name) did (this thing: woke up, got to work,
whatever), s/he had no idea that (this thing) would happen. It seems a bit cliché,
but it works! Over and over I found myself wondering who was this cat Wallace
was talking about and why didn’t he or she know that was going to happen. As a
matter of fact, how did that happen in the first place? See what he did there?
It’s called hooking the reader. Wallace did it well even if formulaically.

A last thing I’ve come to appreciate about Wallace in the
last few weeks is just how well he understood his audience. As I’ve insinuated
above, he knew his reader, but he even understood his other audiences. On each
and every copy of his manuscripts I’ve worked with, Wallace has a little note
attached explaining to the archivist and the researcher what this particular
draft is about. He usually states how many revisions there were before the
first draft that went to the agent or publisher to see if they wanted to buy
it. Or how many more revisions were involved after he got that contract. One manuscript I processed today was a
draft copy for his wife to review. I cannot fathom it, but apparently she
reviewed and edited every single manuscript he wrote. He always took her
suggestions into account when revising. It astounds me that one or two years
later, sometimes more, Wallace can still remember what every draft was about.
Sometimes he cranked out entire books in a mere three months’ time all while
working on other projects along the way. All of these things I appreciate, but
even Irving Wallace can’t escape pet peeves.

My pet peeve with Wallace? Paper clips. Lots and
lots and lots of paper clips. Mind you by now they’ve been replaced by
archive-friendly plastic clips, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason for
them. Why Irving?! Why did you bundle this set of pages together? And why didn’t
you leave any inscriptions about them like you do about the drafts? Sometimes
pages are bundled across chapters, sometimes within chapters. Sometimes he
bundled huge swaths of papers (30-50 sheets at a time), while others he might
choose to clip a mere three pages together. Was this where he stopped reading
that day doing revisions? Was this where he stopped writing that day? Maybe,
but who knows. It’s a little thing, but then pet peeves mostly are, right?

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Do you know Victoria Woodhull?

v_woodhull.jpg

In The Nympho and Other Maniacs: The Lives, the Loves and the Sexual Adventures of Some Scandalous and Liberated Ladies Irving Wallace wrote a series of biographies about sensational women. In “Book Three: The Rebel As a Scandal” Wallace featured Victoria Woodhull as “The Prostitute Who Ran For President.” But do you know who Victoria Woodhull was? She was quite a remarkable woman.

Victoria Woodhull (1838 – 1927) has her own biography on the History Channel’s website and is featured in the National Women’s Hall of Fame. On their website they claim that Woodhull was “a passionate campaigner for social justice who combined deep belief in Spiritualism, radical views on achieving equal rights for women, advocacy of divorce law changes, birth control, working people’s rights, and tax reform as her platform for change.
She was the first American woman to address Congress and the first to run for the office of President of the United States.” Tidbits I’ve read about Woodhull suggest that she certainly had no end of lovers, but there’s nothing to indicate she made a vocation of her sex or that she sold it.

I wonder if Mr. Wallace may have misunderstood her advocacy for what she called free love.
Unlike the “free love” of our hippie parents or grandparents who lived (and loved) their way through the 1960s, Woodhull’s call for free love was more akin to equality–to the end of racism in many ways. The History Channel noted that in one of Woodhull’s speeches she claimed, “I want the love of you all, promiscuously. It makes no difference who or what you are, old or young, black or white, pagan, Jew, or Christian, I want to love you all and be loved by you all, and I mean to have your love.” While the use of the word “promiscuously” here was often taken to mean sexually, it is quite likely that Woodhull used it as an ill-chosen synonym for the word “freely” or “equally.” After all, though she was quick to spot and take advantage of an opportunity, her education did not begin until age 8 and only lasted sporadically for about three years.

Irving Wallace certainly thought she meant it sexually, however. In John Leverence’s Iriving
Wallace: A Writer’s Profile
, Wallace said of his book, “I am writing about individual women of the recent past who, whether by plan or by accident, wittingly or unwittingly, refused to accept any simplistic biological definition of female as mere childbearer and the second best of the sexes.” He went on to explain more about the women he profiled in Nympho
and Other Maniacs
placing Woodhull among his rebels. Apparently openly discussing sex during the Victorian era while declaring women have a right to decide what happens with their bodies and calling for birth control and better divorce laws made her a prostitute in Mr. Wallace’s eyes. I wonder who else he profiled among the “uninhibited ladies” in his “magnificent tour de force“?

Remembering “Grammable” Food

Unquestionably, Instagram provides a space for users to share photos of amazing memories. One particularly popular category of photos shared on the platform revolves around food. Users often seek out meals or snacks simply because they know the food will create a “grammable” photo. But how did people remember these “grammable” meals prior to the invention of Instagram? For John Laurence Seymour, it was by recording the meals in his diaries. From the years 1928-1982 Seymour wrote in his journals meticulously. In his daily entries, he nearly always recorded the weather, kept track of what operas and other theatrical shows he saw with his mother, and notated various meals and snacks he ate. Typically, his mother Rose (whom he affectionately called “Rosie”) would be the chef or baker behind the corn chowders or banana cakes notated on the diary pages. Seymour would often notate picking fruit, such as oranges, nectarines, or apricots, and the next day would write about the upside down cake Rosie made out of the fresh harvest. 

Below are 3 excerpts from Seymour’s 1933 diary. Each entry highlighting a Rosie specialty, such as chicken dinner, plum upside down cake, and duck served alongside Birthday Cake!
bday cake and duck001.jpg
plum upside down cake001.jpg
chicken dinner001.jpg