MsC 558

Iowa Author

  Manuscript Register


Collection Dates: 1932 -- 1964
2.5 linear ft.

This document describes a collection of materials held by the
Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420
Phone: 319-335-5921
Fax: 319-335-5900

Posted to Internet: January 1998

Acquisition Note: This collection was donated to the University of Iowa Libraries by Merle Armitage from 1962 -- 1966.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Photographs: Box 4 and oversized flat

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

Copyright:  Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on "Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials"

Use of Collections: The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Table of Contents

Biographical note

Scope and contents

Box 1 Accent on Life -- Book catalogs

Box 2 Book catalogs -- Correspondence, 1962

Box 3 Correspondence, 1963 --- Look Magazine materials

Box 4 Los Angeles Light Opera Association -- "Wonderous Days of Youth"

Oversized Flat Saint Andrew's Priory at Valyermo -- Merle Armitage books

Biographical Note

Merle Armitage (1893 -- 1975) was born near Mason City, Iowa, on his father's cattle ranch/farm. Self-educated, he began his varied career as a civil engineer for the Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient railroad. He next worked as a designer of sets and costumes in the theatre world of New York City. From designing he moved on to become an impresario, managing the concert tours of many leading performers. His clients include such artists as: John McCormack, Mme. Schumann-Heink, Alice Nielson, Will Rogers, Martha Graham, and Igor Stravinsky. He co-founded the Los Angeles Grand Opera Association in 1924, and served as its general manager for eight seasons. From 1933 to 1939 he was manager of the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles. There he presented Leopold Stokowski in 1937, and George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in 1938.

Armitage was, at one time, president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts and art director of Quick and Look Magazine. He was a book designer and author, with over one hundred books to his credit. Many of the books he wrote and/or designed were concerned with the artists, composers, and performers with whom he was associated.

Scope and Contents

The papers of Merle Armitage consist of 2.5 linear feet of manuscripts, dating from 1932 -- 1964. Arranged alphabetically, the subject files include typescripts and galley proofs for such works as Accent on Life and George Gershwin: Man and Legend. There are also biographical materials, book and exhibition catalogs containing Armitage items, photographs, scrapbooks, and documents related to his military service. The correspondence folders date from 1933 to 1964 and include letters from Lucius Beebe and Gardner Cowles.

The University of Arizona at Tucson also has six linear feet of Armitage material, dating from 1947 to 1964. However, the largest gathering of his papers may be found at the Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.

Box 1

Accent on Life by Merle Armitage:

Printer's typescript. (4 folders)

Miscellaneous pages of original manuscript which were retyped for clearer reading.

American Institute of Graphic Arts. Brochure.

Artwork by Merle Armitage. Miscellaneous/unidentified. See also framed artwork in vault.

Biographical material.

Book catalogs containing Armitage items

1932 -- 1946.

Box 2

Book catalogs containing Armitage items (cont.)

1947 -- 1948.

1950 -- 1951.

1956 -- 1962.

"Book Tradition" by Merle Armitage, 1955.

"Cato's Statue"

"Charles L. Wagner and a Sense of Direction" by Merle Armitage, 1963.

"Claude Debussey, Mary Garden and Me" by Merle Armitage. First Draft, Dec. 20, 1962.

Clippings, 1953 -- 1975.


1933 -- 1949. Including letters from: Elsa Maxwell, H.H. Giles, Louis Danz, Ansel Adams, Adolph Bolm, Rockwell Kent and Gardner Cowles.

1950 -- 1959. Including Letters from: Fleur Cowles, Gardner Cowles, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Leopold Sokowski.

1960 -- 1961. Including Letters from: Lorin Maazel, John F. Kennedy, Louis Danz, Lucius Beebe, Gardner Cowles and Witter Bynner.

1962. Including Letters from: Brett Weston, Dorothy Parker, Rosario Mazzeo, Lucius Beebe, Gardner Cowles and Witter Bynner.

Box 3

Correspondence (cont.)

1963 -- 1964. Including Letters from: Witter Bynner, Leo Rosten, Rockwell Kent, Lloyd Wright, Lucius Beebe and Edith Head.

Undated. Including Letters from: Lucius Beebe, Fleur Cowles, Lorin Maazel, Edward L. O'Brien and Stanton Macdonald-Wright.

Divorce related correspondence, 1964 -- 1965.

Debussey. Art work mock-ups by M. Armitage.

Exhibit Catalogs. Designed by or to promote Armitage.

"Frank Lloyd Wright: An American Original." The Texas Quarterly. Spring 1962, pp. 85 -- 90.

"Galli Curci and the Road to Fame" by Merle Armitage.

George Gershwin: Man and Legend by Merle Armitage:

Printer's Typescript, with revisions and layouts of title page and


Galley proof.

Revised galley proof, with proof of endpaper design.

"The Islandian World of Austin Wright" by Merle Armitage, 1957.

Look Magazine materials, 1948 -- 1951.

Box 4

Los Angeles Light Opera Association. Dummy of the 25th anniversary program designed by Armitage.

Magazine Show, 1950.

Material relating to Armitage's military service, 1941 -- 1949.

The Merle Armitage Books in the William Andrews Clark Library.

Miscellaneous published articles by or about Armitage, 1947 -- 1962.

National Cyclopedia of American Biography. Entry on Armitage. Negative photostat.

"On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe!" by MerleArmitage.


Programs from Armitage's career as an impresario, 1924 -- 1940.

Promotional materials for books written or designed by Armitage, and books about Armitage.

Saint Andrew's Priory at Valyermo, by Merle Armitage. Mock- up.

Saint Francis by Merle Armitage. Manuscript and mock-up.

Spanish Folk Songs of New Mexico, 1928.

Spanish Folk Songs of the Southwest, forward by Merle Armitage.



Published copy.

Stravinsky by Merle Armitage. Cover design mock-up and photo.

"The Ubiquitous Book, in Our Time" by Merle Armitage.

Wine and Food Society of Southern California. Brochure, 1958.

"Wonderous Days of Youth" by Merle Armitage.

Oversized Flat

Saint Andrew's Priory at Valyermo. Mock-ups.

Merle Armitage books



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