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Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason papers, circa 1920-1978

Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason papers, circa 1920-1978

Hervey, Wilna, 1894-1979

Actor, Painter

Collection Information

Size: 4.9 linear feet

Biographical/Historical Note

Wilna Hervey (1894-1979) was a silent film actress and painter in San Francisco, Calif. and Woodstock, N.Y. Nan Mason (1896-1982) was a painter and photographer from New York, N.Y. and the daughter of Dan Mason, a silent film actor who worked with Hervey. Hervey was most known for her role as Katrinka in the film adaptations of the Toonerville Trolley cartoon. In the 1960s, Hervey achieved success as an enamel painter. Mason became well known as a painter and photographer. Hervey and Mason were life partners.

Provenance

Donated in 2008 by Daniel Gelfand, a friend of Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason.

Scope and Contents

The collection is comprised mostly of letters to silent film actress and painter Wilna Hervey and her life-long companion painter Nan Mason from friends, colleagues, and Mason's father, Dan Mason, also a silent film actor. Also found are biographical materials, personal photographs and snapshots, Hervey's handwritten memoirs, as well as twelve folders of Dan Mason's papers.

Biographical materials include a personal narrative, notes on family history, newspaper clippings related to family, legal and financial records, and Wilna Hervey's notes on artwork.

Hervey and Mason were friends with many artists and their correspondence includes letters from artists such as Albert Heckman, Georgina Klitgaard, Manuel Komroff, Leon Kroll, Doris Lee, Fred Dana Marsh, Henry Lee McFee, William Pachner, Caroline and Paul Rohland, Andrée Ruellan, Eugene Speicher, and Dorothy Varian. There are very few letters written by Hervey or Mason, and the correspondence is mostly personal in nature. There are over 250 letters from Elsie Speicher, wife of portrait artist Eugene Speicher. Correspondence to Dan Mason has been separated and is filed in a separate series.

Wilna Hervey wrote a a number of handwritten memoirs of her days in the The Toonerville Trolley film series. She had hopes of publishing these one day and worked with writer Karin Whiteley on the project. Although her memoirs were never published, Hervey and Whiteley wrote and compiled materials for the book. Included in the Memoir Book Production series are handwritten memoirs by Hervey chronicling her years prior to and during the 1920s (many of the handwritten memoirs have been typed by Karin Whiteley). It also includes research materials, such as two typed synopses of The Toonerville Trolley scripts from Fontaine Fox's files, newspaper clippings, and playbills, seemingly intended to provide background and verification of the memoirs.

This collection also includes a few pieces of artwork: three small watercolor sketches by an unidentified artist, and a print by Edward Chavez.

Photographs are mostly snapshots of friends and family, life in Woodstock, New York and Anna Maria, Florida. Negatives originally housed in an un-postmarked envelope with a return address labeled "Betzwood Film Co.," appear to be from the filming of The Toonerville Trolley. In several of the negatives Wilna Hervey is dressed as The Powerful Katrinka, and in one negative Dan Mason is The Skipper.

The personal files of Dan Mason include letters from Hervey and Nan Mason, the bulk from their trip to Europe and North Africa in 1926-1927. This series also includes Dan Mason's own handwritten and typed memoirs, newspaper clippings, and financial records.

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

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