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MC 743; T-482; Vt-255

Albee, Gloria, 1931- . Papers of Gloria Albee, 1910-2008 (inclusive), 1970-2006 (bulk): A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

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Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College


Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from the Radcliffe College Class of 1957.

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 743; T-482; Vt-255
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Albee, Gloria, 1931-
Title: Papers of Gloria Albee, 1910-2008 (inclusive), 1970-2006 (bulk)
Date(s): 1910-2008
Date(s): 1970-2006
Quantity: 13.76 linear feet (33 file boxes) plus 4 folio folders, 1 folio+ folder, 10 photograph folders, 8 audiotapes, 2 videotapes.)
Language of materials: Materials in English and Spanish.
Abstract: Journals, correspondence, plays, speeches, coursework, and video- and audiotapes of socialist, feminist, and playwright Gloria Albee.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 2000-M19, 2011-M67
The papers of Gloria Albee were given to the Schlesinger Library by Gloria Albee between January 2000 and April 2011.

Processing Information:

Processed: July 2013
By: Susan Earle, with the assistance of Emily Underwood.

Conditions Governing Access:

Access Restrictions: #30.10-33.15 (41 folders) and #FD.1 are closed until January 1, 2020. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in most of the papers created by Gloria Albee is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Albee retains copyright for the printing or performance of her plays; following her death, copyright for the printing or performance of her plays is to be held by the Hunter College English Department. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Gloria Albee Papers, 1910-2008; item description, dates. MC 743, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

SEPARATION RECORD

Donor: Gloria Albee
Accession number: 2000-M19
Processed by: Susan Earle
Published pamphlets, journals, etc. have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library's Feminist Poetry Collection.
The following item has been removed from the collection and transferred to Schlesinger Library's Women's Newsletter and Periodical Collection:
The following items has been removed from the collection and transferred to Schlesinger Library's Printed Materials Division:
The following items have been removed from the collection and offered to Widener Library:
The following item has been removed from the collection and offered to Harvard's Fine Arts Library:
The following items have been removed from the collection and offered to Hunter College's archives:

BIOGRAPHY

Gloria Albee was born in Brockton, Massachusetts, on April 26, 1931, the daughter of Earl Frederick and Rita Cole Albee. Her brother Earl Frederick "Fred" Albee Jr. was born in 1936. Her father died of tuberculosis in 1937. The family lived on welfare until World War II, when Rita began working at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts. In 1945, she began working as a typist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and continued working there until her retirement. Albee and her brother moved to Holbrook, Massachusetts, in 1943, to live with their maternal grandmother. Albee and her mother had a difficult relationship; Rita would beat her when she received low grades in school. In 1946, concerned about her mother's reaction to her latest grades, Albee ran away, originally planning to visit her grandmother in Ohio but ultimately going to North Carolina instead. After narrowly escaping being raped, she returned home. Later that year, Albee began cutting class and later attempted suicide. She was placed in Boston State Hospital for treatment. Upon her release, she lived with her maternal grandmother for a time before returning to live with her mother. She graduated from Girls' High, in Boston's South End, in 1949 and began studies at Boston University. She dropped out of school the following fall and over the course of the next several years worked as an accounting clerk at the Paine Furniture Company and as a wiring technician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory.
In 1956, while working at the Yale Mental Health Clinic as a Dictaphone typist, Albee acted in The Great Gatsby; the following year she applied for admission to Yale's drama department and was rejected. That summer she again attempted suicide and in the fall she entered the Massachusetts Mental Health Center. In 1959, she and her brother moved to New York City, where Albee worked as a bookkeeper at the Isaacson Gallery. In July of that year, a few months after the Cuban Revolution, she traveled to Cuba and was enthralled by the spirit of the country; upon her return she became actively involved with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. She married Leonard Goodman, a member of the Socialist Workers Party in 1961 and joined the Socialist Workers Party. Their daughter Anna was born in 1962 and was diagnosed with a serious heart ailment in her infancy. She underwent open heart surgery in 1970.
In 1970, Albee and Joan Trachtman founded the Feminist Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a touring company consisting of two actresses and two actors; the group performed feminist playwright Myrna Lamb's Scyklon Z and But What Have You Done for Me Lately in a variety of venues in New York and New England. Albee began writing her first play, Ismene, a feminist retelling of the story of Antigone, in 1972. Medea, a feminist retelling of the Greek myth, was performed Off-Off-Broadway by the Westbeth Playwrights' Feminist Collective, in New York, during their 1974-1975 season. Other plays included Bringing the War Home, Society's Child, Nothing Personal, Helen of Sparta, and The Yellow Wallpaper, based on the story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Staged readings of both The Yellow Wallpaper and Nothing Personal have been performed by members of the Actors' Equity Association.
Albee was active with the Greater Boston Peace Action Coalition, serving as transportation coordinator for a 1971 march on Washington, in protest of the Vietnam War. Her daughter Anna accompanied her on the train ride to Washington and on the march, and wrote the story "Riding on the Anti-War Express" about her experiences. Later that year, Albee, Goodman, and Anna moved to Seattle, Washington, where she studied and taught at the University of Washington and served as a student representative on the university's women's studies advisory committee; she also took classes at Fairhaven College, and was coordinator and co-chair of the local Abortion Action Coalition. (Albee was strongly pro-choice and her feelings stemmed partly from her own experiences with doctors; in the 1950s, she suffered several hemorrhages due to uterine polyps and was denied care by doctors who suspected the bleeding was due to a poorly performed abortion. Although she never had an abortion herself, she believed that all women deserved proper care.) She continued her involvement with the Socialist Workers Party until 1973, and in 1984 joined the Fourth Internationalist Tendency, a group organized by former members of the Socialist Workers Party. Albee and Goodman separated in the mid 1970s, and Albee and Anna relocated to New York in 1975; she and Goodman divorced in 1984. Albee worked as an office assistant, typist, and typesetter while taking classes at Sarah Lawrence College and Hunter College; from 1987 to 1990 or 1991 she was editor in chief of The Returning Woman, a student magazine aimed at women returning to higher education. She also worked as an office assistant in the Hunter College women's studies department. While at Hunter College she helped organize an Iraq war protest and a pro-choice march on Washington.
In 1992, Albee bought a house in Scottsdale, Arizona, and for the next several years she divided her time between Arizona and New York City, taking a theater class at Scottsdale Community College and helping to reestablish The Returning Woman at Hunter College. (The magazine had ceased publication in 1995.) In 1997, she sold the Arizona property and settled in New York. In 2004, she moved to the Actors Fund Home in New Jersey and was active on the resident council; she ultimately found living there unfulfilling and moved to an apartment in Pine Hill, New Jersey. As of 2011, she was residing in a nursing home. Leonard Goodman died in 1995 and Anna died in 1997.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in four series:

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The collection documents Albee's personal and professional life and her active espousal of feminist and socialist causes. It includes biographical and genealogical information; autobiographical writings; diaries, appointment books, and calendars; coursework; financial records; correspondence (including with family members); plays and material related to the role of women in theater; speeches and articles; material re: the Socialist Workers Party, the Fourth Internationalist Tendency, and the Militant Forum; videotapes; and audiotapes. Material related to Albee's mother, daughter, and other family members is also included. Folder titles were created by the processor: Albee's titles, when used, appear in quotation marks.
Series I, Biographical and personal, 1950-2008 (#1.1-16.6, 30.10-33.15, FD.1, PD.1-PD.3, T-482.1 - T-482.3), contains clippings about Albee and interviews with her; her resume; calendars and appointment books; coursework, including papers and exams for classes at Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College, Fairhaven College, the University of Washington, and Scottsdale Community College; medical records; financial records (including tax records); a draft memoir covering Albee's childhood and teenage years, including her first suicide attempt (#15.11); and a detailed chronology of Albee's life until 1998 (with events in the lives of her mother, husband, and daughter also recorded) (#11.7). Also included are Albee's journals, in which she records her thoughts about the men she knows, her frequent concerns about money and her health, difficulties encountered and the satisfaction she felt while writing her plays, and her Fourth Internationalist Tendency activities, and feelings about family members. The series also includes writings about her family, including her theories that her mother was illegitimate (#1.7) and believed she (Rita) had sold her soul to the Devil (#1.6), and correspondence. In 1974 and 1975, Goodman and Albee, who had separated, exchanged a series of letters regarding their differing expectations of their relationship, including the extent to which Goodman should financially support Albee and their daughter (#5.10, 5.12-5.13, 6.2); in subsequent years their relationship became more amicable, with Goodman often offering comments on Albee's plays (#6.3). Other correspondents include Albee's mother, daughter, son-in-law, and friends from Hunter College, theater, and socialist organizations. Correspondence topics include Albee's studies, her housing situation and health, social activities, family history, travel (to Cuba and England), her playwriting and the performance of her plays, efforts to find employment, and her financial concerns.
In 1988, Albee began taking classes with Allan Brick, then a professor of English literature at Hunter College. A requirement for one of his classes was that students keep a journal in which they wrote comments about the course readings and submit it to Brick periodically, giving him the chance to write his reactions. Through this exercise and their shared interest in literature, the two became friends. The series includes these joint journals, additional coursework for classes Albee took with Brick, their correspondence, and poems and plays by Brick. These folders (#30.10-33.12) are closed until January 1, 2020.
Series II, Family, 1910-2003 (#16.7-23.17, FD.2-FD.3, PD.4-PD.7, T-482.4 - T-482.5), consists primarily of Rita Albee's journals, which she kept from 1950 to 1986. These journals were numbered chronologically (with gaps) by either Rita or Gloria Albee and have been maintained in that order. The series also includes Gloria Albee's notes re: her mother's journals in which she lists key life events (#17.11) and writes that while she initially thought "My mother was a locked-in kind of person, a repressed Yankee who never told anyone anything about what she really thought or felt, and the notebooks could only reflect this" she later realized that her mother had "managed on occasion to use these books to express some of her feelings" (#17.11). (In these notes and in her own chronology of her life (#11.7), she refers to her mother being raped on January 1, 1986; this traumatic event is not mentioned in Rita's diary for that year.) The series also includes Rita's correspondence with her granddaughter, with her close friend Noreen McSorley, with her daughter-in-law, and with her son. According to Gloria Albee, "Fred" Albee was a "user of women": this series includes Rita's correspondence with Evelyn Cronmiller, a former friend of "Fred" Albee who was hoping to be reimbursed for money she had lent him. The series also includes Rita's birth and death certificates; condolence letters received by Gloria on Rita's death (#17.5); material related to Rita's work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; financial records; and a letter Rita received from Winston Churchill (#22.4).
The series also contains letters of condolence, an obituary, and a death certificate and memorial service program for Albee's daughter Anna Munczek, a schoolteacher who died of a heart attack at the age of 34. Also included are report cards, diplomas, and graduation programs; material re: Munczek's two marriages; school yearbooks from schools at which Munczek taught (#23.6, 23.13); writings by Munczek including her account of her 1971 trip to Washington DC (#23.11); a lock of hair from her first haircut; and letters from her father. Of particular note is a notebook in which Munczek, as part of a twelve-step program, recorded her feelings of resentment towards the people in her life (#22.14). The series also includes an affidavit of birth, death certificate, and funeral register for Albee's maternal grandmother (#23.17); reminiscences by family members (#T-482.4 - T-482.5); an affidavit of birth, obituary, and burial certificate for her father (#16.8), and a small amount of material related to her brother (#16.9), husband (#22.13), son-in-law (#23.15), grandfather (#23.16), and grandmother (#23.17, PD.7). The series is arranged with a family tree appearing first, and then alphabetically by family member. For Gloria Albee's correspondence with Rita, Anna, "Fred" and his wife Brenda, Wilder Albee (her uncle), and Leonard Goodman, see Series I.
Series III, Professional, 1970-2002 (#23.18-27.11, FD.4, PD.8-PD.10, T-482.6 - T-482.7, Vt-255.1), contains Albee's scripts and screenplays; correspondence, reviews, programs, publicity, and flyers regarding productions and readings of her plays; a videotape of The Yellow Wallpaper (Vt-255.1); flyers for performances by the Feminist Repertory Theatre and correspondence with Myrna Lamb re: performance of her plays; a sampling of publications typeset by Albee (#27.9); articles written by Albee (#27.10-27.11); and Action for Women in Theatre, a report on discrimination against women directors and playwrights co-written by Albee in the 1970s (#25.2). The series also includes correspondence re: a computer supply business Albee briefly embarked on with her brother (#23.18); lecture notes for classes Albee taught at the University of Washington and a proposal for a women's studies course (#24.11); and correspondence, budget forms, flyers, and articles related to work at Hunter College's women's center collective and women's studies department, and with Returning Woman and Poder magazines. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series IV, Activism, 1961-2006 (#27.12-30.9, F+D.1, T-482-8, Vt-255.2), documents Albee's involvement with the Socialist Workers Party, the Fourth Internationalist Tendency, and the Fourth Internationalist Tendency's Bulletin in Defense of Marxism. This material includes speeches re: women's rights, articles and essays (some written under the names Laura Cole and Gloria Allen), meeting minutes, and correspondence. The series also includes speeches made on behalf of the Militant Forum; notes by Albee re: her involvement with the Greater Boston Peace Action Committee's march on Washington and a copy of her daughter Anna's story about the trip (#29.3); and a videotape, flyers, sign-up sheets, and correspondence re: the anti-war and pro-choice protests Albee helped to organize at Hunter College (#29.4-29.5). Also included are correspondence and meeting minutes from Albee's tenure on the Actors Fund Home resident council, and a survey re: residents' feelings on the quality of food offered at the home. The series is arranged alphabetically.
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; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Adult education of women--United States
Aging--Social aspects--United States
Cuba--Social conditions--1959-1990
Diaries
Divorce--United States
Dramatists--United States
Editors--United States
Feminist theater--United States
Feminists--United States
Financial records
Memoirs
Mother and child--United States
Plays
Scripts (documents)
Socialism--United States
Speeches
Tax records
Theater programs
Twelve-step programs--United States
Videotapes
Women dramatists--United States
Women editors--United States
Women in the theater--United States
Women socialists--United States
Women--Suicidal behavior--United States
Abortion Action Coalition
Action for Women in Theatre
Albee, Rita Cole, 1910-1988
Brick, Allan
Brick, Peggy
Feminist Repertory Theater (Cambridge, Mass.)
Fourth Internationalist Tendency (Group)
Hunter College--Students
Socialist Workers Party
University of Washington--Students

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