Sarah Siddons Society Records

Sarah Siddons Society Records, 1849-2000
Dates: 1849-2000 [Bulk Dates, 1952-2000]
Size: 4.5 linear feet, 710 photographs, 73 slides
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: Archives_SSS
Provenance: The Sarah Siddons Society donated its archives to the Special Collections and Preservation Division in summer 2001.
Access: No restrictions
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Sarah Siddons Society Records [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.

Historical Note

The Sarah Siddons Society was founded in 1952 by a small group of eminent Chicago theater-goers, including Mrs. Loyal Davis, mother of future First Lady Nancy Reagan. Modeled after the fictional Society of the same name featured in the 1950 film All About Eve, the Society was named for one of England’s most prominent 18th-century tragediennes, and presented an annual award to the actress members deemed most outstanding in a production based or touring in Chicago. The first of these Actress of the Year Awards was presented to Helen Hayes for the 1952-1953 theater season, for her role in "Mrs. McThing." Awards were presented this and each subsequent year at a Gala event attended by Society members, members of the Chicago theater community, special guests, and members of the press, and continue to be presented in this fashion to the present day.

Shortly after its founding, the Society also began sponsoring scholarships for promising local drama students of the Goodman School of Drama (located first at the Art Institute of Chicago, and presently at DePaul University) and, more recently, students of Northwestern University and Columbia College. These awards, presented in the name of the Actress of the Year for each given season, provide one year of tuition for the honored student. In 1987 the Society also began to award an annual Leading Lady Award to truly Chicago-based actresses, honoring such performers as Laurie Metcalf for a role at the Steppenwolf Theater, of which she was a founding member.

In addition to presenting these awards and hosting its annual Gala, the Society has organized year-round events for its members, including opening night theater events, luncheons, theater talks, and trips, often involving members of the local and national theater community. Members also annually attend the Northwestern University Waa-Mu performance, a student musical revue.

Officially incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1960, the Sarah Siddons Society is governed by an elected President and Board of Governors. Membership is open to the public, through an annual membership fee. Past presidents include Martha Appleton, Donna Beaumont Atwater, Mrs. Loyal Davis, Thomas Gowenlock III, Camille Hatzenbuehler, Carol Horschke, Francine McCrea, Dinah Perutz, and William Zane. The current President is Mary Lou Bilder-Gold.

For additional information regarding the history of the Society and Sarah Siddons herself, see the Administrative series, Boxes 1-3.

Scope and Content

The Records of the Sarah Siddons Society have been arranged into two series:

Administrative, 1849-2000
Awards, 1952-2000 The Administrative series is arranged alphabetically by subject. The Awards series is arranged alphabetically by award title and chronologically within each award.
Photographs and slides corresponding to both series have been separated from the manuscript material and are listed at the end of the Box and Folder Inventory.

Series Descriptions:
The Administrative series spans 1.5 linear feet and includes meeting minutes, financial reports, correspondence, press releases, clippings, and other records relating to the administration of the Society. Also included are materials relating to the history of the Society and of Sarah Siddons. Of note are the 1960 Articles of Incorporation of the Society (Box 1, Folder 2) and a fairly complete run of the President’s Letter to Members from 1960 to 1992 (Box 2, Folder 2), as well as sixteen folders of materials relating to Society events, organized by year (Box 3, Folders 8-23). Researchers should note that some administrative information is found in Awards files as well; for instance, listings of Board of Directors members and Gala Awardees are often found in invitations.

Photographs corresponding to many administrative files, as well as photographs not corresponding to these files but relating to people or events not award-related, have been separated and are listed at the end of the Box and Folder Inventory.

The Awards series spans 3.5 linear feet and includes files for winners of the following awards given by the Society: Actress/Actor of the Year, 1952-2000, Leading Lady, 1987-1991, and Scholarship, 1956-2000. These files include a wide variety of materials which shed light on the winners biographically, as well as the Gala at which the award was presented and the general state of Chicago theater the year of the award. Often included are invitations, ballots, press releases, newsclippings, correspondence between the Society and the awardee, materials relating to the planning of the Awards Gala, biographical sketches, awardee publicity materials and resumes, and information relating to the production in which the awardee performed. Additional newsclippings or materials relating to the winner were often added to the files in subsequent years. Winners’ names are always provided next to the yeas for which they were honored in the Box and Folder Inventory.

All three awards were presented at the same Gala each year; researchers interested in the Gala for a given year are therefore advised to look in the winner’s file for each award given that year. Researchers interested in Scholarship Award winners are advised that the years listed for the awards correspond to the Gala at which the award was presented; they therefore reflect the time at which the Scholarship was awarded, but not necessarily the years of school for which the Scholarship was used.

At some point in the early 1990s the system of dating the awards was changed. As a result, there are no awards listed for the 1991-1992 year span. There was no actual gap in the presentation of awards, however. At all times the dating of the Awards in this collection correspond to the dates on official invitations, ballots and award statues.

Most award files have corresponding Photograph files which have been separated and listed at the end of the Box and Folder Inventory. Most photographs in these files were taken at the Gala and include images of the winner and guests at various phases of the evening, as well as headshots and other publicity shots of the winner. Most are 8x10 black and white images, professionally shot. When files include notable individuals other than the award winner, the individual is listed in brackets beside the file title in the Box and Folder Inventory.

Processed by Riva Pollard, January 2002.

Box and Folder Inventory

Box 1

Administrative, 1849-2000
1. Art Institute of Chicago, Sponsorship Certificate, 1968
2. Articles of Incorporation, 1960
3. Awardee List, Actress of the Year, updated through 1992-1993
4. Awards Gala—Ballots, Press Releases and Correspondence
Regarding, 1965-1990 and undated
5. Awards Gala—Guest Lists and Seating Charts—1973
6. Awards Gala—Guest Lists and Seating Charts—1974
7. Awards Gala—Guest Lists and Seating Charts—1975
8. Awards Gala—Guest Lists and Seating Charts—1977
9. Awards Gala—Guest Lists and Seating Charts—1981
10. Awards Gala—Mechanics (Checklist for Gala Preparation), undated
11. Bath, England, History, 1953, 1968 and undated
12. Biography, Sarah Siddons—Biographical Sketches, Clippings, Press Releases, Engraving, and Misc.
13. Biography, Sarah Siddons—"Sarah Siddons: A Tragedienne’s Rise to Fame," Masters Thesis by Brigid Duffy, 1973
14. Board of Governors Meetings, Agendas and Minutes—1965-1976 (run incomplete)
15. Board of Governors Meetings, Agendas and Minutes—1977-1996 (run incomplete)
16. Brochure (History and Membership), 2000
17. By-laws, undated
18. Correspondence—Board of Governors, 1973-1986
19. Correspondence—General, 1959-2000
20. Correspondence—Globe Theater Playhouse Trust, 1974 (Includes pamphlets)

Box 2

1. Correspondence—Re: Membership, 1971-1987
2. Correspondence—President’s Letter to Members, 1960-1997
3. Executive Committee—Correspondence and Memoranda, 1979-1983
4. Executive Committee—Meeting Minutes, 1979-1994 (run incomplete)
5. Financial Statements—1963-1981 (run incomplete)
6. Financial Statements—1982-1993 (run incomplete)
7. London/Bath Trip and Silver Jubilee Celebration—Brochure, Itineraries, Speeches, Press Releases, 1976-1977
8. London/Bath Trip and Silver Jubilee Celebration—Correspondence, 1976-1977
9. London/Bath Trip and Silver Jubilee Celebration—Clippings, 1977
10. Mailing Lists—Miscellaneous, 1978, 1986
11. Mailing Lists—Board of Governors, 1965, 1976-1993 (run incomplete)
12. Mailing Lists—General, 1975, 1977, 1989
13. Memorial Program, Thomas R. Gowenlock III, 1999

Box 3

1. News Clippings, Miscellaneous, 1954-1992 and undated
2. Northwestern University Waa-Mu Show, 1948-1993
3. Portrait Reproduction, "Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse": Correspondence, Press Releases, and Clippings Regarding, 1938-1954 and undated
4. Press Releases, undated
5. Sarah Siddons Collection, Ambassador West Guildhall
6. Sarah Siddons Statues, Clippings Regarding, 1849, 1952
7. Society History, Press Releases and Clippings, 1958-1973 and undated
8. Special Events—1969
9. Special Events—1970
10. Special Events—1972
11. Special Events—1973
12. Special Events—1974
13. Special Events—1975
14. Special Events—1977
15. Special Events—1978 (Mary Martin and Anthony Quayle Opening Night Party)
16. Special Events—1980 (Stratford Festival, Ontario, Canada)
17. Special Events—1981
18. Special Events—1983
19. Special Events—1985-1986
20. Special Events—1987-1990
21. Special Events—1987-1988 (Helen Hayes luncheon)
22. Special Events—1991-1992
23. Special Events—1997
24. Special Events—1998
25. Special Events—Undated
26. Stationary (blank), undated
27. Woodstock Opera House Restoration, 1974-1977

Box 4 Awards- Actress/Actor of the Year

1952-1953/ Helen Hayes, 1952-1968 (See also 1968-1969)
1953-1954/ Beatrice Lillie, 1954
1954-1955/ Deborah Kerr, 1955-1973
1955-1956/ Nancy Kelly, 1956-1964
1956-1957/ Shirley Booth, 1957
1957-1958/ Anne Rogers, 1954-1958
1958-1959/ Ruth Roman, 1959
1959-1960/ Geraldine Page, 1960-1986
1960-1961/ Gertrude Berg, 1961-1962
1961-1962/ Florence Henderson, 1962
1962-1963/ Julia Meade, 1963
1963-1964/ Nancy Kelly, 1964-1965
1964-1965/ Myrna Loy, 1965
1965-1966/ Carol Channing, 1966-1974
1966-1967/ Eve Arden, 1967-1968
1967-1968/ Celeste Holm, 1967-1968

Box 5

1968-1969/ Helen Hayes, 1969 (See also 1952-1953)
1969-1970/ Barbara Rush, 1970-1971
1970-1971/ Irene Dailey, 1971-1972
1971-1972/ Lauren Bacall, 1972 (See also 1983-1984)
1972-1973/ Sada Thompson, 1972-1974 (See also 1987-1988)
1973/ 20th Anniversary Gala/ Bette Davis, 1973
1973-1974/ Colleen Dewhurst, 1974-1975
1974-1975/ Angela Lansbury, 1974-1976

Box 6

1975-1976/ Julie Harris, 1974-1977
1976-1977/ Lynn Redgrave, 1977-1978 (See also 1994-1995)
1977-1978/ Cloris Leachman, 1978
1978-1979/ Jessica Tandy, 1979-1980
1979-1980/ Claudette Colbert, 1979-1981

Box 7

1980-1981/ Angela Lansbury, 1981-1984
1981-1982/ Dorothy Loudon, 1982
1982-1983/ Ann Miller, 1979-1984
1983-1984/ Lauren Bacall, 1984 (See also 1971-1972)
1984-1985/ Rita Moreno, 1985-1986
1985-1986/ Lucie Arnaz, 1986-1987
1986-1987/ Liza Minelli, 1983-1988
1987-1988/ Sada Thompson, 1987-1989 (See also 1972-1973)
1988-1989/ Lily Tomlin, 1988-1989

Box 8

1989-1990/ Ellen Burstyn, 1989-1991
1990-1991/ Loretta Swit, 1989-1992 **Due to change in award dating there is no 1991-1992 file.** 1992-1993/ Stefanie Powers, 1991-1993
1993-1994/ Bernadette Peters, 1994
1994-1995/ Lynn Redgrave, 1995 (See also 1976-1977)
1998-1999/ Brian Dennehy, 1999
1999-2000/ Heather Headley, 2000

Awards- Leading Lady
1987-1988/ Paula Scrofano, 1988
1988-1989/ Ami Silvestre, 1975-1989
1989-1990/ Laurie Metcalf, 1990
1990-1991/ Rondi Reed, 1986-1992

Box 9 Awards- Scholarship

1956-1957/ Lynda Segal, 1957
1957-1958/ Jean Borsini, 1958-1959
1958-1959/ Patricia Meler, 1959
1959-1960/ Linda Dillon, 1960-1977
1960-1961/ Geneva Bugbee, 1961
1961-1962/ Molly Wright, 1962
1963-1964/ Brigid Duffy, 1964
1964-1965/ Gretchen Oehler, 1965
1965-1966/ Lee Anne Fahey, 1967
1966-1967/ Carrie Snodgress, 1966-1967
1967-1968/ Donna O’Conner, 1968
1968-1969/ Lu Ann Post, 1969
1969-1970/ Judith Bergen, 1971
1970-1971/ Laura Davidian, 1971
1971-1972/ Susan Bradshear, 1972
1972-1973/ Krisha Fairchild, 1974
1973-1974/ Concetta Tomei, Ted Wass, 1975
1974-1975/ Mary K. Fox, Martin Levy, 1975-1976
1975-1976/ Gale Childs, Keith Fort, 1976-1977
1976-1977/ Becky Borczon, Scott Ellis, 1977-1978
1977-1978/ Cynthia Hayes, Michael Sigler, 1978
1978-1979/ Audrey LeVelle, Daniel LeMonnier, 1979-1980
1979-1980/ Ann Dowd, Bekka Eaton, 1980-1982
1980-1981/ Mark Hoebee, Tom Galantich, 1981-1982
1981-1982/ Elizabeth Smith, 1981-1982
1982-1983/ Denise Dailey-McCauley, Pamela Harden, Michelle Costello,
1983-1984/ Laura Donnelly, 1984
1984-1985/ Robert Walther, 1985
1985-1986/ Jacqueline Williams, David New, Troy DiFalco, Martin
Drobac III, 1986
1987-1988/ Jay Irwin, Jeff Still, Dierdre Waters, 1988-1991
1988-1989/ Brian James, 1989
1989-1990/ Becca Kaufman, 1990-1991
1990-1991/ Eric Saiet, 1991-1992
1992-1993/ Stacey Harris, 1993
1999-2000/ Brian McKnight, Karen Aldridge, 2000

The number of photographs in each folder is indicated in parentheses.

Photo Box 1

Atwater, Mrs. Beaumont (6)
Awards Gala Flowers (2)
Exhibit, Merle Ruskin Theater (1)
Gowenlock III, Thomas (3)
Guildhall, Bath, England (3)
London/Bath Trip and Silver Jubilee Celebration (10)
McCrea, Mrs. William (2)
Sarah Siddons Award/Statue/Painting (13)
Special Events
1980 (Stratford Festival, Ontario, Canada) (9)
1992 (Peter Ustinov) (1)
Woodstock Opera House (1)

Photo Box 2 Awards- Actress/Actor of the Year

1952-1953/ Helen Hayes (8)
1953-1954/ Beatrice Lillie (2) [Includes Dwight Green, former IL governor]
1954-1955/ Deborah Kerr (19)
1956-1957/ Shirley Booth (12)
1957-1958/ Anne Rogers (20)
1958-1959/ Ruth Roman (17)
1959-1960/ Geraldine Page (24) [Includes Rip Torn]
1960-1961/ Gertrude Berg (1)
1961-1962/ Florence Henderson (1)

Photo Box 3

1962-1963/ Julia Meade (7)
1963-1964/ Nancy Kelly (3)
1964-1965/ Myrna Loy (28) [Includes Julia Meade and Carol Channing]
1965-1966/ Carol Channing (28) [Includes Anne Rogers and Irene Dailey]
1966-1967/ Eve Arden (9)
1967-1968/ Celeste Holm (12)
1968-1969/ Helen Hayes (16)
1969-1970/ Barbara Rush (10) [Includes Irene Dailey]

Photo Box 4

1970-1971/ Irene Dailey (10 + 21 slides)
1971-1972/ Lauren Bacall (10) [Includes Irene Dailey, Jo Anne Worley, and Carol Channing]
1972-1973/ Sada Thompson (19) [Includes Alexis Smith and Don Murray]
1973/ 20th Anniversary Gala/ Bette Davis (13 + 52 slides) [Includes Burr Tillstrom, Anne Baxter, Leon Ames, and Aaron Gold]
1973-1974/ Colleen Dewhurst (14) [Includes Henry Fonda and Eve Arden; Includes painting by and photographs of artist Edward Weiss]
1974-1975/ Angela Lansbury (15)
1975-1976/ Julie Harris (12) [Includes Barbara Rush and Don Murray]

Photo Box 5

1976-1977/ Lynn Redgrave (12)
1977-1978/ Cloris Leachman (24) [Includes and Joan Fontaine]
1978-1979/Jessica Tandy (17) [Includes Barbara Rush and Hume Cronyn]
1979-1980/Claudette Colbert (11) [Includes Cloris Leachman and Rex Harrison]
1980-1981/Angela Lansbury (5)
1981-1982/Dorothy Loudon (16) [Includes Celeste Holm]
1982-1983/Ann Miller (22) [Includes Mickey Rooney]

Photo Box 6

1984-1985/Rita Moreno (15) [Includes Neil Simon]
1985-1986/Lucie Arnaz (8) [Includes Lucille Ball and Tommy Tune]
1987-1988/Sada Thompson (1)
1988-1989/Lily Tomlin (59)
1989-1990/Ellen Burstyn (11)
1990-1991/Loretta Swit (22) [Includes one signed]
**Due to change in award dating there is no 1991-1992 file.** 1992-1993/Stefanie Powers (2)
1993-1994/Bernadette Peters (1)
1998-1999/Brian Dennehy (1)

Photo Box 7 Awards- Leading Lady

1987-1988/Paula Scrofano (5)
1988-1989/Ami Silvestre (1)
1989-1990/Laurie Metcalf (1)
1990-1991/Rondi Reed (2)

Awards- Scholarship

1956-1957/Lynda Segal (3)
1957-1958/Jean Borsini (2)
1958-1959/Patricia Meler (4)
1959-1960/Linda Dillon (4)
1960-1961/Geneva Bugbee (4)
1965-1966/Lee Anne Fahey (3) [Includes Ann Sothern]
1966-1967/Carrie Snodgress (5) [Includes Eve Arden]
1967-1968/Donna O’Conner (2)
1968-1969/Lu Ann Post (6)
1969-1970/Judith Bergen (3)
1970-1971/Laura Davidian (2)
1971-1972/Susan Bradshear (2) [Includes Lauren Bacall]
1972-1973/Krisha Fairchild (6) [Includes Sada Thompson]
1973-1974/Concetta Tomei, Ted Wass (8) [Includes Colleen Dewhurst]
1974-1975/Mary K. Fox, Martin Levy (3)
1975-1976/Gale Childs, Keith Fort (6) [Includes Phyllis Diller and Julie Harris]

Photo Box 8

1976-1977/Becky Borczon, Scott Ellis (5) [Includes Mary Martin and Lynn Redgrave]
1977-1978/Cynthia Hayes, Michael Sigler (5) [IncludesEve Arden]
1978-1979/Daniel LeMonnier, Audrey LeVelle (6) [Includes Barbara Rush, Jessica Tandy, and Julie Harris]
1979-1980/Ann Dowd, Bekka Eaton (6) [Includes Claudette Colbert and Van Johnson]
1980-1981/Mark Hoebee, Tom Gallantich (4)
1981-1982/Elizabeth Smith (2) [Includes Dorothy Loudon]
1982-1983/Denise Dailey-McCauley, Pamela Harden, Michelle Costello (6)
1983-1984/Laura Donnelly (2)
1984-1985/Robert Walther (6) [Includes Laura Donnelly]
1985-1986/Jacqueline Williams (1)
1987-1988/Jay Irwin (1)
1988-1989/Brian James (4)
1989-1990/Becca Kaufman (4) [Includes Ellen Burstyn]
1990-1991/Eric Saiet (7) [Includes Charlotte Rae]
1992-1993/Stacey Harris (1)
1998-1999/Mark Ledbetter (1)

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