Extent: 1.75 cubic feet
Rachel Crothers was born on December 12, 1878 in Bloomington, Illinois. She graduated from the Illinois State Normal School. When she was 19, Crothers moved to New York to pursue an acting career. She attended the Stanhope-Wheatcroft School of Acting where she wrote and directed one-act plays for her fellow students. In 1906, her first full-length production appeared on Broadway. The Three of Us was well received and for the next 37 years, Crothers wrote or directed over 30 plays for the Broadway stage. Many of her plays toured the country, and she is generally considered one of the most successful American playwrights working before World War II.
Crothers’s plays primarily focus on the roles of women in American society and her characters often grapple with the double standard imposed by attempting to balance the pursuit of a career and the concern of domestic duties. Major works include A Man’s World (1910), Ourselves (1913), Mary the Third (1923), When Ladies Meet (1933), and Susan and God (1937). Susan and God was the last play by Crothers produced on Broadway, it is her biggest success and most revived work. Crothers began directing her own work on Broadway with the 1921 production of Nice People. When not writing and directing, Crothers was active with charity relief organizations. She founded the Stage Women’s War Relief Fund during World War I and the Stage Worker’s Relief for unemployed actors during the Depression, and she was one of the organizing members of the American Theatre Wing. In 1939, Eleanor Roosevelt presented her with the Chi Omega National Achievement Award for her contributions to the arts.
Crothers never married or had children. She retired to Connecticut and lived with her longtime companion Eula Seeley Garrison until Garrison’s death in 1951. Crothers died at her home on July 5, 1958. She was 79 years old.
Scope and Content
The bulk of the collection consists of manuscripts or typescripts for 13 works by Rachel Crothers, some of which have never been produced on Broadway and have no known publication history. Other materials include the autobiographical sketch “The Box in the Attic,” drafts of speeches and articles written by Crothers, and awards and citations presented to her. Two folders of correspondence include congratulatory letters and telegrams from her theatrical peers and from fans of her work. Scrapbooks collect clippings and reviews of productions in New York and on tour around the United States. A published version of her speech on the occasion of receiving Chi Omega National Achievement Award is included as is a published volume on family genealogy owned by Crothers.
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