Norman Bel Geddes Theater and Industrial Design Papers, 1873-1964 (bulk 1914-1958).


Geddes, Norman Bel, 1893-1958. Norman Bel Geddes Theater and Industrial Design Papers, 1873-1964 (bulk 1914-1958).

Norman Bel Geddes Theater and Industrial Design Papers, 1873-1964 (bulk 1914-1958).

The voluminous papers of Norman Bel Geddes document his industrial design and theater work in equal measure and, frequently, in great detail. Most of the collection (the Industrial Design and Theater Files series) pertains either to theatrical productions staged or designed by Bel Geddes, or to design projects undertaken on behalf of corporate clients. Coverage ranges from a single folder to hundreds of items. The collection also reveals the contributions and perspectives of Bel Geddes' clients and collaborators, in particular the photographers Francis Bruguière, Maurice Goldberg, and Frances Waite whose photographs and negatives are found throughout the collection. Bel Geddes designed, produced, or directed more than one hundred dramas, spectacles, marionette plays, musical comedies, motion pictures, and operas, working with Max Reinhardt, Winthrop Ames, Robert Edmond Jones, the Yale Puppeteers, Ringling Brothers, and others. Bel Geddes also designed television studios for NBC in the 1950s, but his most elaborate (albeit unrealized) architectural designs were for the buildings and grounds of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. The theater segment of the collection includes models, renderings, drawings, scripts, scores, production record books, photographs, publicity, correspondence, programs, legal documents and contracts, specifications, and source data. From the 1920s to the 1950s Bel Geddes designed cars, stoves, cigarette cases, and other objects for a diverse clientele that included Chrysler, General Motors, IBM, and the Toledo Scale Co. His industrial design work is documented with correspondence, proposals, presentation books, contracts, research data, budgets, estimates, specifications, drawings, models, and publicity materials such as clippings and photographs. In addition, files for most projects from the 1930s and 1940s include job diaries and photographic record copy books. The Office and Clipping Files contain correspondence with prospective clients, contracts, information about plays Bel Geddes considered producing, directing, or writing, articles by and about Bel Geddes, and information about exhibitions of his works. Also included are a large number of clippings arranged by subject, and other sources of design ideas such as manuscripts of plays and pictorial and graphic materials. The Personal Files document Bel Geddes' personal life, from the cars and homes he owned to travel and family matters. Included are hundreds of letters from authors, architects, journalists, actors, designers, directors, and photographers. Family correspondence is extensive, particularly between Norman and his fourth wife Edith Lutyens Bel Geddes. Family photographs and professional photographs of Bel Geddes are present. Other files document Bel Geddes' overseas offices and residences during the 1950s. Numerous books and commercial sound recordings received with the collection were withdrawn and cataloged in the Ransom Center Library. Bel Geddes' films and noncommercial audio recordings were transferred to the Film Collection and to Ransom Center Sound Recordings.

569 document boxes,103 oversize boxes, 48 models, 7 bound volumes, 99 flat file drawers, 36 framed/oversize items, 29 rolled items, ca. 2,000 sound recordings (ca. 400 linear feet).

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