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Mary Fanton Roberts papers, 1880-1956

Contents and Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 11 series:

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Series 1: Biographical Material, 1912-1941, undated
2 folders
Box 1

This series contains biographical material about Mary Fanton Roberts, including the wedding announcement for her marriage to William Carman Roberts and a questionnaire and published entry about her career in
Who's Who in the East
. Also contained in this series is biographical material about William Carman Roberts, including a Naturalization Alien Registration Form, personal correspondence, notes, and a journal kept while he and Mary were on a trip to the Adirondacks with their friend Ernest Thompson Seton, founder of the Boy Scouts of America, and his wife Grace.

Series 2: Personal Correspondence, 1902-1951, undated
7 folders
Box 1

Personal correspondence includes letters between Mary Fanton Roberts and her husband "Billy" during periods of travel, and letters between Mary and her sister Belle Fanton. Also found is correspondence regarding Roberts' club activities, including P. E. N. (An International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists and Novelists), the Drama Society, and various women's clubs. Miscellaneous personal correspondence includes letters and brief notes from friends and acquaintances, many expressing thanks, replying to her invitations to visit, and condolences on the death of her husband. This series also includes two valentines to Mary from her husband. Items are arranged chronologically within each folder.

Series 3: Business and Political Correspondence, 1903-1959, undated
6 folders
Box 1

This series contains correspondence related to Mary Fanton Roberts' work and political activities, including correspondence regarding her writing and editorial work. Correspondence related to her political activities includes numerous invitations to political and war-time events, as well as letters from political and civic organizations of which she was a member, including the Women's Committee of One Hundred for Non-Partisan City Government and the Academy of Political Science. This series also contains correspondence regarding Roberts' participation in several radio talks discussing home decoration and her professional editorial work.

Series 4: Art Correspondence/Subject Files, 1898-1956, undated
0.8 linear feet
Boxes 1-2

This series documents Mary Fanton Roberts' art-related activities and memberships, as well as friendships with painters, sculptors, photographers, art patrons, art critics, and wives of artists. Folders may contain a variety of material on the subject, including letters, invitations, photographs, artwork, programs, catalogs, news clippings, and other printed material. Topics included in the correspondence range from invitations to art events, thanks for publishing articles in her magazines, accounts of travels abroad, and other general news.
Roberts was friends with many prominent artists from the early twentieth century and a small amount of their correspondence is found here, including Ashcan school artists Robert Henri, John Sloan, George Bellows, and William Glackens. Other correspondence of note is with sculptors George Gray Barnard, Gutzon Borglum, painters Ben Ali Haggin, Leon Kroll, W. Goodridge Roberts, Nicholas Roerich, and Pierre Troubetzkoy, as well as illustrator Oliver Herford. Much of the correspondence is also with the artists' wives. Additional significant correspondence is with Belle da Costa Greene, librarian for J. P. Morgan, and art writer Edward Alden Jewell. Items of note in this series include illustrated cards and letters from Edward Caswell, F. Luis Mora, and Ethel Myers, photographs of Frederic Remington and Bessie Potter Vonnoh, eleven small watercolor American Indian scenes by Edwin Deming, three etchings by John Sloan, and an essay by Gustav Stickley (located in
The Craftsman
folder). Within each folder, correspondence is arranged before other materials. Additional invitations to art related events can be found in series 7, General Correspondence.

Series 5: Dance and Theatre Correspondence/Subject Files, 1902-1953, undated
0.8 linear feet
Boxes 2-3

This series contains correspondence with actors, dancers, playwrights, theatre patrons, dance and theatre organizations and clubs, and individual theatres, as well as related materials collected by Roberts. Folders may contain a variety of material, including letters, invitations, photographs, programs and event booklets, news clippings, and other printed material.
Roberts was friends with many prominent performers from the early twentieth century and a small amount of their correspondence is found here. She wrote and published articles about dancers, actors, and other performers, but was also a great admirer and supporter of modern dance and theatre, participating in many organizations, including the Drama League of America in which she was a member of their Playgoing Committee of New York. Correspondence of note is with actors Charles "Orlando" Coburn, William Faversham, and Walter Hampden, actresses Eva Le Gallienne and Mary Shaw, playwrights Louis K. Anspacher, Cosmo Hamilton, and Percy MacKaye, dancer and artist Angna Enters, theatre patron Mrs. Samuel "Minnie" Untermyer, and Romola Nijinsky, wife of dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. Additional significant correspondence is with the "Duncan Dancers", students of Isadora Duncan, including Anna, Irma, Lisa, and others. There is also a small amount of correspondence with Isadora Duncan and her brother Augustin Duncan and his wife Margherita, as well as printed material documenting their careers as dancers and photographs of Isadora and Anna Duncan. Other items of note in this series include photographs of actress Maxine Elliott and dancer Doris Humphrey, and a small painted self-portrait of Angna Enters. Several folders of Miscellaneous Dance Files include correspondence and a large amount of printed material about individual dancers and performances.

Series 6: Literary and Music Correspondence/Subject Files, 1900-1952, undated
0.6 linear feet
Box 3

This series contains correspondence and other material documenting Mary Fanton Roberts' friendships with authors, poets, critics, publishers, singers, musicians, and colleagues. Found are letters, invitations, calling cards, programs, artwork, photographs, and news clippings. Topics of discussion include social invitations, poems and articles in the
Touchstone Magazine
, travel accounts, and general news. Correspondence of note is with poets Bliss Carman and Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, journalist Jacob Riis, theater patron Mrs. "Teuila" Salisbury Field, singers Yvette Guilbert and Marguerite Namara, author Kate Douglas Wiggin, author and "Rough Rider" Edwin Emerson, writer and entrepreneur Paris Singer, writers Ernest and Grace Seton, and author and good friend Lloyd Osbourne, stepson of Robert Louis Stevenson. Also found are photographs of authors Theodore Dreiser, Edwin Emerson, and Bliss Carman, handwritten poems by Theodore Goodridge Roberts, and a lithograph portrait of author John Masefield.

Series 7: General Correspondence, 1898-1946, undated
0.4 linear feet
Boxes 3-4

General correspondence includes invitations, programs, calling cards, and thank you notes regarding general social and club events. Researchers should note that there is some overlap with the above series. Items are arranged alphabetically by person or organization.

Series 8: Writings, 1915-1926, 1952, undated
3 folders
Box 4

Writings include a draft of an autobiographical essay written by Mary Fanton Roberts that was intended to become a published memoir. Also found in this series are guest lists and notes concerning events she was hosting as well as typescripts of several poems by Dorothy Gostwick Roberts, who wrote under the name Gostwick Roberts, and was a niece of William Carman Roberts. Items are arranged in chronological order within each folder.

Series 9: Printed Material, 1899, 1909-1947, undated
0.3 linear feet
Boxes 4-5

Printed material documents Mary Fanton Roberts' writing career and social activities. Found here are various art exhibition catalogs, trade bulletins for the
House and Garden
magazine written by Roberts as the merchandise editor, magazines containing articles written by Roberts, news clippings, an article on Deadwood, Montana, blank postcards, and clippings of published poetry. Poetry is arranged alphabetically by author, all other items are arranged chronologically within each folder.

Series 10: Photographs, 1880-circa 1943, undated
0.2 linear feet
Box 5

Photographs include personal photographs of Mary Fanton Roberts, her family, and friends as well as autographed portraits given to her. Photographs of actors and actresses include portraits of theater actresses such as Leslie Carter and Mildred McLeod as well as photographs of scenes from plays. Also found here are photographs of nude male models taken by photographer Nickolas Muray. Other items in this series include three framed portraits of Roberts's mother, Isabelle Annable Fanton, and several tintype portraits which include individuals and groups of young men and women. All are unidentified, but two of the young women often photographed may be Mary and her sister Belle. Miscellaneous photographs of people include portraits and snapshots of family and friends, many of them are unidentified and may be photographs of Roberts. One item of note is a photograph of the artist John Twachtman. Also in this series are photographs of various places, including the Roberts house in Waterford, Connecticut and stereo cards of street scenes in Deadwood, South Dakota, where Roberts lived for a period of time as a child. Researchers should note that series 4, 5, and 6 also contain photographs, filed with the appropriate person or subject heading.

Series 11: Artwork, 1906, undated
3 folders
Box 5

Artwork includes a small pencil portrait of Mary Fanton Roberts by John Butler Yeats, and other small drawings of people and animals by unidentified artists. Also found are four hand colored book illustrations of unknown origin.

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.