Guide to the Mary Desti Collection on Isadora Duncan, 1901-1930

Processed by Laura Clark Brown; machine-readable finding aid created by Brooke Dykman Dockter
Special Collections and Archives
The UCI Libraries
P.O. Box 19557
University of California
Irvine, California 92623-9557
Phone: (949) 824-3947
Fax: (949) 824-2472
Email: spcoll@uci.edu
URL: http://www.lib.uci.edu/rrsc/speccoll.html
© 1997
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Note

Arts and Humanities --Performing Arts --Dance

Guide to the Mary Desti Collection on Isadora Duncan, 1901-1930

Collection number: MS-P 5

Special Collections and Archives

The UCI Libraries



University of California

Irvine, California

Contact Information

  • Special Collections and Archives
  • The UCI Libraries
  • P.O. Box 19557
  • University of California
  • Irvine, California 92623-9557
  • Phone: (949) 824-3947
  • Fax: (949) 824-2472
  • Email: spcoll@uci.edu
  • URL: http://www.lib.uci.edu/rrsc/speccoll.html
Processed by:
Laura Clark Brown
Date Completed:
1997
Encoded by:
Brooke Dykman Dockter
© 1997. The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Mary Desti Collection on Isadora Duncan,
Date (inclusive): 1901-1930
Collection number: MS-P005
Collector: Desti, Mary
Extent: Number of containers: 2 boxes, 1 flat box

Linear feet: 1.25
Repository: University of California, Irvine. Library. Special Collections and Archives.
Irvine, California 92623-9557
Abstract: The Mary Desti Collection focuses on the dancer Isadora Duncan. Materials include incoming correspondence from or relating to Duncan, photographs, ephemera, clippings, programs, artifacts and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings. Mary Desti was Duncan's close friend and biographer.
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must use microfilm or photocopies of fragile restricted items in boxes 3 and 4.

Publication Rights

Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and University Archives.

Preferred Citation

Mary Desti Collection on Isadora Duncan. MS-P 5. Special Collections and Archives, University of California, Irvine, The UCI Libraries.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Albert Dukow via Professor James Penrod in 1971 or 1972.

Processing History

Preliminary processing by Special Collections staff; completed by Laura Clark Brown in 1997.

Biography

Mary Desti (1871-1931) left Chicago for Paris in 1901 with her year-old son Preston Sturges. In Paris, she met and befriended dancer and choreographer Isadora Duncan. Desti undertook various enterprises in Europe, including a cosmetic business. She frequently accompanied Duncan in her travels, and occasionally Duncan lived with her. Duncan was staying with Desti in Nice at the time of her sudden death in an automobile accident on September 14, 1927.
Following Duncan's death, Desti, a casual writer of both fiction and non-fiction, wrote a Duncan biography, The Untold Story: The Life of Isadora Duncan (New York: Liveright, 1929). Isadora Duncan's autobiography My Life (New York: Liveright, 1927) recorded events through 1921, prior to the period when she opened a dance school in Moscow. Desti intended to tell the rest of the story.

Scope and Content

The Mary Desti Collection focuses on the dancer Isadora Duncan. Materials include in-coming correspondence from or relating to Duncan, photographs, ephemera, clippings, programs, artifacts and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings. Mary Desti was Duncan's close friend and biographer. Although the majority of correspondence was received by Desti, the collection does not comprise her personal papers.
Materials are organized in three series: correspondence, printed items, and other materials. The internal arrangement within series is based on format, such as clippings and programs, and chronology. Dates are provided in the container list, when known.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

Subjects

Duncan, Isadora, 1877-1927--Archival resources.
Dance--Archival resources.
Modern dance--Archival resources.

Genres and Forms of Material

Dance programs.
Photographic prints.
Artifacts.

Occupations

Choreographers.
Dancers.

Index Terms Related to this Collection

Dukow, Albert, former owner.
Online Archive of California.


Series Description

 

1. Correspondence

Scope and Content Note

Series is organized in three subseries which are arranged chronologically. Items date from ca. 1921 to 1930. Many correspondents did not sign full names, and brackets indicate unidentified persons and conjecture by staff. The series includes two letters from Duncan to Desti expressing her need for funds to keep her dance school in operation. Other letters are addressed to Desti from Duncan's friends, including Mary Fanton Roberts, Ruth Mitchell, Mercedes D'Acosta, and French actress Lottie Yorska, all revealing aspects of Duncan's personality and business dealings during the later years of her life. Telegrams primarily express the condolences of friends to Desti upon hearing of Duncan's death.
 

2. Printed Items

Scope and Content Note

Series is organized in three subseries which are arranged chronologically. Newspaper clippings and a scrapbook of clippings (many from French, New York and European newspapers) illustrating public response to Duncan's performances and career, as well as reporting her death; items date from 1901 to 1929. A small group of programs document several Duncan performances in Europe, including her last dance recital at the Théatre Mogador in Paris (July 8, 1927) and a memorial recital danced by Maria Theresa. Items date from 1908 to 1927, and a few are undated. Other printed items include a brochure in Russian (presumably for Duncan's dance school), an article proposing a Duncan monument, and a pamphlet concerning Duncan's brother Augustin Duncan.
 

3. Other Materials

Scope and Content Note

Fragments of a dress and a shawl, reputedly worn by Duncan at the time of her death, as well as the last note she wrote before her death (reproduced in Desti's biography of Duncan). Two photographs depict Duncan alone and with young students. Other items are manuscript notes and ephemeral items.

Container List

 

1. Correspondence

 

1.1. Letters to Isadora Duncan

Box 1, Folder 1

Mary Desti (ca. 1921)

Box 1, Folder 1

William Aspinwall Bradley (1927)

 

1.2. Letters to Mary Desti

Box 1, Folder 2

Joe A. Milward (1922)

Box 1, Folder 2

Isadora [Duncan] (1925 and undated)

Box 1, Folder 3

Louis La Chard (August 5, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 3

Louis K. Anspacher (August 23, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 3

Mary [Fanton Roberts] (September 2, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 4

Juliet B. Rublee (September 10, 15, 23 and 24, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 4

Eddy [?] (September 15, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 4

Glenway W[estcott] (September 16, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 5

Elizabeth Henderson Fischer (September 17, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 5

Hottoi [?] (September 17, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 5

Marion Spigarn (September 21, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 5

Tommy S. Bradley (September 21, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 5

"Dougie" [Allan Ross Macdougall] (September 23, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 6

R. Sornin (September 25, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 6

Lottie Yorska (September 28 and 30, 1927 and undated)

Box 1, Folder 6

Jose Clara (September 29, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 7

Alice Spicer (1928 and undated)

Box 1, Folder 8

Clem[ence Randolph]

Box 1, Folder 8

Douglas Rigby

Box 1, Folder 8

H. G. S.

Box 1, Folder 8

[unidentified sender]

Box 1, Folder 9

Yvonne [?]

Box 1, Folder 9

Mario Meunier

Box 1, Folder 9

Edith S. Heald

Box 1, Folder 10

Ethel [?]

Box 1, Folder 10

Augustin Duncan

Box 1, Folder 10

Adeline Mallet

Box 1, Folder 11

Form letter from Les Amis d'Isadora (1927)

Box 1, Folder 12

[Mary Desti] to [?] (1930)

 

1.3. Telegrams

Box 1, Folder 13

Received by Desti

Box 1, Folder 13

Isadora Duncan (July 28, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 13

Paris Singer (July-September 1927)

Box 1, Folder 13

Telegrams dated September 15, 1927

Box 1, Folder 13

Adelina Mallet

Box 1, Folder 13

Dougie [Allan Ross Macdougall]

Box 1, Folder 13

Juliet Rublee

Box 1, Folder 13

Preston [Sturges]

Box 1, Folder 13

Aimée Gafitzine

Box 1, Folder 13

Cecile [Sartoris]

Box 1, Folder 13

Raymond [Duncan]

Box 1, Folder 13

Helen Freeman

Box 1, Folder 13

Telegrams dated September 16, 1927

Box 1, Folder 13

Mario Meunier

Box 1, Folder 13

Carlton Hill

Box 1, Folder 13

Christine [?]

Box 1, Folder 13

Paula [?]

Box 1, Folder 13

Ralph [?]

Box 1, Folder 13

[unidentified sender]

Box 1, Folder 13

Mercedes [D'Acosta] (September 18, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 13

Kerstrat (September 24, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 13

[Juliet] Rublee (September 24, 1927).

Box 1, Folder 13

Louis [?] (September 26, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 13

From Villaneuva

Box 1, Folder 13

To Raymond Duncan (September 15, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 13

To Ruth Mitchell (September 15, 1927)

Box 1, Folder 13

From Boncour to "famille Isadora Duncan" (September 15, 1927)

 

2. Printed Items

 

2.1. Clippings

Box 2, Folder 13

Microfilm of scrapbook of newspaper clippings (1901-1911)

Box 4, Folder 13

Original scrapbook of newspaper clippings (1901-1911)

Access Information

[Restricted due to extreme fragility; researchers must use microfilm in box 2.]
Box 4, Folder 13

Newspaper clippings from Argus de la Presse agency (photocopies for researcher use)

Box 1, Folder 14

1909-1927, January

Box 1, Folder 15

1927, September 16

Box 1, Folder 16

1927, September 17-21

Box 1, Folder 17

1927, September 22-27

Box 1, Folder 18

1927, September 28-30

Box 1, Folder 19

1927, October 1-9

Box 1, Folder 20

1927, October 10-20

Box 1, Folder 21

1927, October 21-1929 and undated

Box 3, Folder 1-6

Original clippings of photocopies in box 1, folders 14-21. (1909-1929 and undated)

Access Information

[Restricted due to fragility; researchers must use photocopies in box 1.]
 

2.2. Programs

Box 1, Folder 22

Isadora Duncan in her "Celebrated Classical Dances" at the Criterion Theatre (1908)

Box 1, Folder 22

Dionysion (1915)

Box 1, Folder 22

Metropolitan Opera House

Box 1, Folder 22

Isadora Duncan Dress Rehearsal (November 1916)

Box 1, Folder 22

Isadora Duncan (March 1917)

Box 1, Folder 22

Isadora Duncan and pupils of her school (April 1917)

Box 1, Folder 22

Isadora Duncan Dancers (April 1920)

Box 1, Folder 22

Programm der tänze, Miss Isadora Duncan

Box 1, Folder 22

Isadora Duncan walzer mit Begleitung von Orchester und Klavier

Box 1, Folder 23

Récital Listz donné par Isadora Duncan and Irakli Orbeliani (1926)

Box 1, Folder 23

Récital Isadora Duncan et Albert Wolff at Théatre Mogador (July 1927)

Box 1, Folder 23

Dance festival in memory of Isadora Duncan ... danced by Maria Theresa

 

2.3. Other Printed Items

Box 1, Folder 24

Brochure Isadora Duncan (in Russian) with illustration by Van Deering Perrin (1921)

Box 1, Folder 24

Book of verse (in Russian, 1923)

Box 1, Folder 25

"There Should be a Duncan Monument," Dance Magazine (1928)

Box 1, Folder 25

Advertisement for Isadora Duncan by José Clarã and Georges A. Denis (1928)

Box 1, Folder 25

Card for Studio d' Isadora Duncan, Nice

Box 1, Folder 25

Pamphlet concerning Augustin Duncan and play, The Breaks

 

3. Other Materials

Box 1, Folder 26

Photograph of Isadora and young students

Box 1, Folder 26

List of charges at Le Grand Hotel, Juan-les-Pins (August 1927)

Box 1, Folder 26

Printed card to Studio d'Isadora Duncan, Nice, containing (on verso) the last note written by Isadora Duncan. Reproduced as illustrations in Desti's The Untold Story, p. 278. (ca. 1927)

Box 1, Folder 26

Manuscript note with caption: "Semaine memoriale Isadora Duncan. Paris, Printemps" (1928)

Box 1, Folder 26

Photograph: snapshot of Isadora Duncan in dress given her by Desti. Inscribed by Isadora: "Thank you for the lovely dresses and shawl."

Box 1, Folder 27

Manuscript note indicating persons possessing parts of Isadora Duncan's memoirs: Madame Sartoris, Mr. Bradley, Hughes Massie, D. Nickson. Stationery has printed heading: Studio-Appartments Hotel, Paris

Box 1, Folder 27

Manuscript note on verso of blank hotel receipt

Box 1, Folder 27

Manuscript note (by Desti?) on cardboard

Box 1, Folder 27

Manuscript list of names

Box 1, Folder 27

Ephemera from restaurants in France

Box 1, Folder 28

Envelopes containing fragments of dress and shawl, reputedly those worn by Isadora at the time of her death

Box 1, Folder 28

Scarf fragment (Reputedly the scarf that strangled Isadora; published descriptions of the scarf do not coincide.)