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© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 443
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Lillian Louise Lidman Greneker, 1895-1990
Title: Papers of Lillian Louise Lidman Greneker, 1890-1990
Quantity: .63 linear feet (1+1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 10 photograph folders, 6 folio photograph folders)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Plays, short works in prose and verse, photographs, etc., of Lillian Louise Lidman Greneker, sculptor, inventor, and writer.
Lillian Louise (Lidman) Greneker, inventor, sculptor, and writer, was born on August 27, 1895, in Savannah, Georgia. Her parents, Louise (Anderson) and William Lidman, were Swedish immigrants. When Greneker was seven her family moved to Chicago to join relatives. She attended school there and sang in the church choir. Upon her return from boarding school (Swedenborgian Theological University in Ohio), where she took piano lessons, Greneker joined a theater stock company (ca. 1918). She danced, sang, and acted well enough to receive good reviews and to land a part with a touring company, which brought her to New York City in 1919. There she met Claude Pritchard Greneker, public relations director for theater owners Lee and Jacob J. Shubert; they were married in 1921. Claude Greneker did not want his wife to continue in the theater, so Greneker devoted herself to supervising the renovation of their first house, in Mt. Kisco, New York--a task she so enjoyed that she subsequently designed, renovated, and helped build several more houses--and to an active social life.Sometime in the 1930s Claude Greneker consulted Greneker about putting up mannequins in the lobby of one of the Shubert theaters. Mannequins were then made of plaster and were extremely heavy. Greneker experimented with cellophane and papier maché. The latter material proved highly successful. She founded the Greneker Corporation to produce mannequins; it was soon selling them to leading department stores all over the world. Also in the 30s she invented FNG-R-TIP, thimbles that with various attachments can be used to paint, write, erase, manicure, crochet, and so on. During World War II, Greneker invented the "Pullcord," a disposable gas tank for warplanes and submarines, and the mannequin factory near Mt. Kisco was converted to defense work for the United States Navy.After the war Greneker took up sculpture, creating plaster and bronze portraits of many famous people and copying antiquities in Vatican stone. In 1952 she opened a workshop and gallery in an old stable (the gift of Lee Shubert) on 7th Avenue in New York. Claude Greneker died in 1949. Greneker outlived him by 41 years. She continued to improve her FNG-R-TIP invention, and apparently devoted some of this time to writing. She died at the Actors' Fund nursing home, in Englewood, New Jersey, on January 28, 1990.
These papers are divided into three sections: Personal and biographical, Writings, and Photographs.Personal and biographical (#1-5f) includes a note by Lillian Louise Lidman Greneker on being 83 years old; two letters about a proposed Display Industry honor for her; and exhibition brochures, a theater program, and clippings.Writings (#6-32) is sub-divided into Autobiographical and Other writings. In the autobiographical works, Greneker reveals much about her family life and her feelings toward her mother, father, and sister, and also her husband and their marriage. The other writings include drama and short works in prose and verse. Both categories consist of final copies and many drafts and notes. Some of the writings document Greneker's interest in psychometry, hypnotism, and telepathy.There were many duplicate drafts. The processor retained the better quality copy and, where necessary, added minor changes to it in square brackets.Photographs (#33-48) are sub-divided into three sections: Greneker, her family, and friends; Greneker houses, including exteriors, interiors, and furnishings; and Greneker sculptures, a stage set, and a cutout mounted on wood.Documents and a 16mm film about Greneker's invention of the flexible papier maché mannequin are at the Mannequin Museum Archives, P.O. Box 3640, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266.
- Box 1: 1-4, 6-22
- Box 2: 23-32