Autographs and Archives

10 07 2012

For the last few days, I’ve been working on the arrangement of the Festival Records series in the Harper Theater Dance Festival Collection.  Most of my time today, in fact, was spent looking at old correspondence from agents and dance company members who werepart of the festival between 1965 and 1979.  The correspondence ranges from personal Christmas cards to Judith Sagan (donor and Producer of the Festival) to letters from dancers like Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Daniel Nagrin, and Alwin Nikolais.

Correspondence with Merce Cunningham

Correspondence with Alwin Nikolais

Correspondence with Alvin Ailey

Correspondence with Daniel Nagrin

























While I’ve been working on this piece of the collection, I’ve tried to brainstorm how researchers OTHER than dance historians might want to use these records and autograph hunters immediately came to mind.  Archives and Special Collections are not typically the first place that autograph seekers will run to, but they are actually a great resource for their authentication and appraisal purposes – either for something in their own collection or for a possible new addition.  Autograph collectors visiting an archive should go straight to the correspondence and manuscript series and, while not common, some archives have actually collected whole autograph collections, including those at Franklin and Marshall College, the University of Liverpool, and Brandeis University.

I’m sure autograph hunters are uber-aware of their online resources, but I thought I’d compile a few that might be useful for new hobbyists to check out (aside from my personal plug for archival researching):

The Universal Autograph Collector’s Club

eBay Memorabilia Seller’s Guide

Sports Autograph Resource and Community

Autograph Magazine

Dahoov’s Autograph Collecting

Autograph University

Note to Autograph Hunters:  feel free to let me know if you’ve used archival collections in the past or if you’re interested in learning more about how to use them for some of your future needs!




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