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Call No.: MC 535; T-332; DVD-5; MP-52; Phon-44
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Izola L. (Izola Louise) Forrester, 1878-1944
Title: Papers of Izola L. Forrester, 1844-2005 (inclusive), 1883-1944 (bulk)
Quantity: 31.65 linear feet (68 file boxes, 3 folio boxes, 1 card file box) plus 4 folio+ folders, 49 photograph folders, 3 folio photograph folders, 17 slides, 2 glass plate negatives, 1 daguerreotype, 2 audiotapes, 2 DVDs, 18 motion picture reels, 1 phonograph record, 5 objects, and electronic records
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Papers of Izola L. Forrester, child actress and writer.
Izola Forrester was born November 15, 1878, in Pascoag, Rhode Island. Her mother was Ogarita "Rita" Booth, a stage actress who believed herself to be the daughter of John Wilkes Booth, and used his last name. Her father was George Wallingford Hills, a Harvard College student. They never married. Ogarita Booth was briefly married to William Ross Wilson before marrying Alexander Henderson, who was a director of musicals and light operas. They had two children, Beatrice Henderson Clutts Colony (1885-1961) and Charles Henderson (1886-1888). Forrester often acted on stage with her mother, but for periods of her childhood, she lived with her maternal grandmother, Izola Martha Mills, her cousin, Hanson Pike Gilman, and with George and Harriet Forrester. Following Ogarita Henderson's death on April 12, 1892, Izola Forrester went to live permanently with the Forresters, who formally adopted her on January 6, 1893.On October 28, 1899, Forrester married Reuben Merrified, a painter for Ringling Brothers Circus. They spent the early years of their marriage in Chicago before moving to New York City. The family also spent time in Canterbury, Connecticut. The Merrifields had five children: Arthur (1901-1983), Rita (1903-1921), Richard "Dick" (1905-1977), Beatrice (1906-1907), and Dorothy (born 1908). In 1913, Forrester left Merrifield to marry author, screenwriter, and playwright, Mann Page; they had three children, Izola (1914-2004), Marjorie "Peg" (born 1916), and Rosamond "Ros" (born 1918).Forrester was a prolific writer whose articles appeared in magazines including Ainslee's, Munsey's Magazine, Red Book Magazine, and The Young Churchman. She also wrote several books for young girls including Those Preston Twins, Rook's Nest, The Girls of Bonnie Castle, and "Us Fellers", as well as the series featuring Polly Page and the Greenacre Girls. In 1937, she wrote This One Mad Act: The Unknown Story of John Wilkes Booth and His Family, in which she defended her belief that Booth was her grandfather. Forrester also wrote several silent movie screenplays including, The White Moth and a Café in Cairo.In 1940, Forrester and her family moved to Keene, New Hampshire. She died on March 6, 1944.
The collection is arranged in nine series:
- Series I. Izola Forrester and Mann Page
- Subseries A. Izola Forrester biographical and personal
- Subseries B. Mann Page biographical and personal
- Subseries C. Izola Forrester and Mann Page correspondence
- Series II. Izola Forrester and Mann Page writings
- Series III. Booth material
- Subseries A. General
- Subseries B. Gail Merrifield Papp
- Series IV. Izola Martha Mills
- Series V. Ogarita Booth
- Series VI. Arthur Merrifield and family
- Series VII. Richard Merrifield
- Series VIII. Other family and friends
- Series IX. Photographs, oversized, audio-visual, and memorabilia
- Subseries A. Photographs
- Subseries B. Oversized
- Subseries C. Audio-visual
- Subseries D. Memorabilia
The collection contains biographical information, diaries, scrapbooks, personal and business correspondence, published copies and drafts of writings by Forrester and Page, genealogical research materials, photographs, ephemera, and other materials. Members of the Forrester family foldered materials and created folder headings prior to the collection's arrival at the library. Those headings were maintained by the archivist who subsequently arranged the files. Additional information provided by the archivist appears in square brackets. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany.Series I, IZOLA FORRESTER AND MANN PAGE, 1879-1998 (#1.1-17.16), includes biographical information, diaries, scrapbooks, correspondence between Forrester and Page, letters from Forrester's and Page's families and friends, business correspondence, and other materials. It is arranged in three subseries.Subseries A, Izola Forrester biographical and personal, 1894-1949 (#1.1-4.12, E.1), contains biographical writings, diaries, address books, and scrapbooks. Also included are many clippings that were of interest to Forrester, but which contain no mention of her. Of particular interest among these clippings is a series of articles written in 1917 by Grace Humiston concerning the vulnerability of young women in the work place, while walking alone at night, and in romantic relationships. A web site created by Forrester's family in honor of Forrester is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection service (WAX); searchable archived versions of the web site will be available through this finding aid in 2010. Files are arranged with biographical materials first, followed by the remaining files in chronological order.Subseries B, Mann Page biographical and personal, 1903-1998 (#4.13-6.1), includes an obituary, will, list of plays, theater programs, materials relating to his years as a student at the Episcopal High School of Virginia, and a family history. Files are arranged chronologically.Subseries C, Izola Forrester and Mann Page correspondence, 1879-1967 (#6.2-17.16), contains correspondence between Forrester and Page, letters from Forrester's and Page's families and friends, and business correspondence. The letters between Forrester and Page reveal their affection for each other as well as their frustration with their economic situation due to slow sales of their writings, particularly their screenplays. Family correspondents include Forrester's biological father, George W. Hills, who claimed that until Forrester wrote to him, he did not know of her existence, and Richard F. Merrifield, Forrester's younger son. Topics in Richard F. Merrifield's letters include his father, Reuben Merrifield, who lived with him; his philosophies on life, particularly fidelity; his marital problems; and his writing career. There are several folders of correspondence concerning a mine in Arizona that was owned by Katherine Harris. Forrester used to read to Harris' mother in Chicago and the two women became friendly. Following her mother's death, Harris moved to rural Arizona to live with her brother, who owned several mines. The files contain letters from Harris asking Forrester to purchase goods for her and to handle business correspondence and to meet with people concerning the mine. When Harris died, Forrester inherited the mine and investigated the viability of hiring someone to work the mines for her before eventually selling the land. Business correspondence includes information about Forrester's and Page's writing incomes as well as their personal financial transactions. Files are arranged with correspondence between Forrester and Page first, followed by an alphabetical arrangement of letters from family members and friends, and an alphabetical listing of general correspondence files.Series II, IZOLA FORRESTER AND MANN PAGE WRITINGS, 1896-1982 (#18.1-51.7), contains published copies and drafts of newspaper and magazine articles, plays, and screenplays. Also included are reviews and ideas for stories. Stories were written for both juvenile and adult publications. Many of the stories written for adult audiences focus on romantic situations. Well represented in this series is the book This One Mad Act: The Unknown Story of John Wilkes Booth and His Family, in which Forrester defended her belief that Booth was her grandfather. When easily identifiable, the author and date of the work has been included in the folder title. In many cases, it is not clear if works were written by Forrester, Page, or as collaborations between the two. Files are arranged alphabetically by publication, followed by an alphabetical listing of story titles, and related materials.Series III, BOOTH MATERIAL, 1844-2005 (#51.8-57.13), contains materials relating to the Forrester family's efforts to learn whether or not Ogarita Booth was John Wilkes Booth's daughter, and includes correspondence with researchers, correspondence between family members, marriage and death records, pension records, transcription of Izola Martha Mills' diaries, and other materials. It is arranged in two subseries.Subseries A, General, 1847-2005 (#51.8-56.15), contains correspondence with researchers, marriage and death records, pension records, transcriptions of Izola Martha Mills' diaries, and other materials relating to the Forrester family's efforts to learn whether or not Ogarita Booth was John Wilkes Booth's daughter. Materials in this subseries were designated as Booth materials by the Forrester family. Files are arranged alphabetically.Subseries B, Gail Merrifield Papp, 1844-2005 (#56.16-57.13), contains letters, Booth research, Abraham Mills' seaman's certificate, George Forrester's church confirmation certificate, and a scrapbook created by Mann Page. Correspondents include Izola Forrester, Richard Merrifield, Gail Merrifield Papp, Alonzo Mills, and Ogarita Booth. Materials in this subseries were donated by Gail Merrifield Papp and contained a detailed inventory separate from the rest of the collection. Files are arranged alphabetically.Series IV, IZOLA MARTHA MILLS, 1869-1887 (#57.14-59.1), contains a scrapbook created by Mills, a poetry book inscribed to Mills from Rosalie Booth, a book of Mills' poetry, and four of Mills' diaries. The diaries chronicle Mills' marriage to Edwin Bates. Many entries describe an incident where Bates went missing for several weeks and was believed dead. Mills writes of her anguish over Bates' death and her joy when Bates returns and tells of his near-death illness that kept him from returning home. Throughout the collection, Mills was referred to by several versions of her name, including Martha Mills; Izola Martha Mills was the most common version. Materials are arranged alphabetically.Series V, OGARITA BOOTH, 1866-1901 (#59.2-59.4), contains scrapbooks of theatrical memorabilia, playbills, and theatrical programs. Letters from Booth to her brother, Harry Stevenson, can be found in Series VIII, Other family and friends. Items are arranged alphabetically.Series VI, ARTHUR MERRIFIELD AND FAMILY, 1911-1977 (#59.5-61.6), includes from Izola Forrester and Mann Page to Arthur and Betty Merrifield and their two sons, Donald and Peter. Arthur and Betty's letters include news about family members and often contain descriptions of trips they took along the California coastline in their recreational vehicle. Folders are arranged alphabetically.Series VII, RICHARD F. MERRIFIELD, 1917-1978 (#61.7-64.13), contains letters from family members and copies of stories written by Merrifield. Family correspondents include Izola Forrester, Arthur and Betty Merrifield, Donald Merrifield, Richard Noel Merrifield, Gail Merrifield Papp, Izola Allen, Peg Colony, and Rosamond Putnam. Forrester's letters detail her philosophies on many topics, including literature and marriage. She includes news about her other children and her grandchildren. Several letters mention their poor financial situation and her poor health. She also offers her son advice on his often unhappy marriage to Emma and his attraction to his second wife, Gladys. Letters from Donald Merrifield chronicle his years in the seminary and later, as president of Loyola Marymount University. Writings include samples of Merrifield's poetry and copies of his "Monadnock Journal" articles. Correspondence folders are arranged chronologically, followed by writing files, which are arranged alphabetically.Series VIII, OTHER FAMILY AND FRIENDS, 1860-1998 (#64.14-68.19), includes correspondence among several members of Forrester's family, including, Robert and Madeline Joslyn, Dorothy Merrifield, Emma Merrifield, Gladys Merrifield, and Harry Stevenson. Stevenson's files include letters from his sister, Rita Booth, which contain family news and accounts of her theater work with her husband, Al Henderson. There are also letters from family friends and several sketches by unidentified artists. Files are arranged alphabetically.Series IX, PHOTOGRAPHS, OVERSIZED, AUDIO-VISUAL, AND MEMORABILIA, 1866-2004 (#PD.1-PD.55, 69FB.1-69FB.8f, F+D.1-F+D.4, 70FB.1m, 71FB.1m, Phon-4.1, T-332.1-T-332.2, MP-52.1-MP-52.18, DVD-5.1-DVD-5.2, 72CB.1, Mem.1-Mem.2), contains candid and portrait photographs; oversized publications, playbills, and artwork; DVDs, reel-to-reel home movies, audiotapes, and ephemeral items. It is arranged in four subseries.Subseries A, Photographs, 1866-1950 (#PD.1-PD.55), contains portraits and candid photographs of Izola Forrester, Mann Page, Ogarita Booth, Izola Martha Mills, Forrester's children, other members of Forrester's family, and people connected to the Booth-Mills story. Also included are photographs removed from other files in the collection.Subseries B, Oversized, 1891-1937 (#69FB.1-69FB.8, F+D.1-F+D.4), contains oversized publications, playbills, artwork, writings by Forrester, a scrapbook by an unidentified creator containing cartoon clippings, etc. Folders are arranged by size, from smallest to largest.Subseries C, Audio-visual, 1937-2004 (#Phon-4.1, T-332.1-T-332.2, MP-52.1-MP-52.18, DVD-5.1-DVD-5.2), contains interviews with Izola Forrester about This One Mad Act; an interview with Forrester's daughters about Canterbury, Connecticut; Arthur and Betty Merrifield's home movies; a DVD of a tour of Izola Allen's house; and a DVD of a memorial service for Forrester's daughter, Izola Page Allen. Items are arranged by format.Subseries D, Memorabilia, 1908, n.d. (#70FB.1m, 71FB.1m, 72CB.1, Mem.1-Mem.2 ), contains a scarf pin owned by John Wilkes Booth; the contents of Ogarita Booth's theatrical trunk, including material scraps, a bracelet, and clothespins; a box of Izola Forrester's hair; an award won by Mann Page; and other objects. Items are arranged alphabetically.
Donors: Rosamond Page Putnam, Marjorie Page Colony, and Gail Merrifield PappAccession number: 2005-M178Processed by: Johanna CarllThe following books by Izola Forrester have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library Book Collection:
- The Dangerous Inheritance or The Mystery of the Tittani Rubies, 1920
- The Door in the Mountain, 1932
- The Girls of Bonnie Castle, 1900; inscribed "To Mother and Father, with Zola's love, October 29, 1900."
- Greenacre Girls, 1915
- Jack O'Lantern, 1927
- Jean of Green Acres, 1917
- Kit of Greenacre Farm, 1919
- The Polly Page Camping Club, 1915
- The Polly Page Motor Club, 1913; includes inscription "To Rosamond [Putnam], the great daughter of a great mother, with love and respect. Dave [Putnam], October 15, 1946."
- The Polly Page Ranch Club, 1911
- The Polly Page Yacht Club, 1910
- Rook's Nest, 1901
- The Secret of the Blue Macaw,1936
- This One Mad Act: The Unknown Story of John Wilkes Booth and His Family, 1937
- Those Preston Twins, 1910
- "Us Fellers", text by Izola L. Forrester, Pictured by B. Cory Kilvert, 1907The following item was transferred to the Schlesinger Library Periodicals Collection:
- The Woman's Viewpoint, February 1926The following items were returned to the Forrester family:
- Acme Library Standard Biography, 1880; inscription "Hatti Page" on inside cover.
- Unidentified book cover with inscription "Mann Page University of Va."
- American Actor Series: The Elder and Younger Booth, by Asia Booth Clarke, 1882
- Beige shawl belonging to Izola Forrester
- The Cosgrove Report: Being the Private Inquiry of a Pinkerton Detective into the Death of President Lincoln, by Nicholas Cosgrove, 1979
- Fables of Aesop; inscribed "Mann Page-from his mother, June 18, 1874."
- Images of America: Burrillville, by Patricia Zifcock Mehrtens, 1996
- Katy of Catoctin or The Chan-Breakers, by George Alfred Townsend, 1959
- The Letters and Notebooks of Mary Devlin Booth, edited by L. Terry Oggel, 1987
- The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies: Being an Account of the Hatred Felt by Many Americans for President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and the First Complete Examination and Refutation of the Many Theories, Hypotheses, and Speculations Put Forward since 1865 Concerning Those Presumed to Have Aided, Abetted, Controlled, or Directed the Murderous Act of John Wilkes Booth in Ford's Theater the Night of April 14, by William Hanchett, 1983
- Lust for Fame: The Stage Career of John Wilkes Booth, by Gordon Samples, 1982
- The Mad Booths of Maryland, by Stanley Kimmel, 1940
- Manalive, by G.K. Chesterton, 1912; inscribed, "Zola to Mann, Christmas 1912," "Mann, I was reading this when I first met you--Love Z., 1929, Santa Monica, Cal."
- Murdering Mr. Lincoln: A New Detection of the 19th Century's Most Famous Crime, by Charles Higham, 2004
- Page Family Bible containing genealogical information (photocopy in collection)
- Prince of Players: Edwin Booth, by Eleanor Ruggles, 1953
- A True History of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln and of the Conspiracy of 1865, by Louis J. Weichmann, 1975
- The Unlocked Book: A Memoir of John Wilkes Booth by His Sister Asia Booth Clarke, 1938
- Why Was Lincoln Murdered?, by Otto Eisenschiml, 1937
- Wilkes Booth Came to Washington: The Story of the Confederate Intrigues that Sent Booth to Murder Abraham Lincoln--and the Government's Century-old Cover-up, by Larry Starkey, 1976
- Windfall of Inherited Treasures, by Betty Carney Taussig, 1983