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Norman Sweetser Papers

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/16406

Abstract

Title:
Norman Sweetser Papers
Author/Creator:
Sweetser, Norman
Collection number:
LAB 2000-60
Size:
2.00 linear feet
Bulk dates:
1913-1941
Inclusive dates:
1913-1975
Collection Area:
Mass Media and Culture
Repository:
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email: askhornbake@umd.edu
Abstract:

The Papers of Norman Sweetser, which cover the period 1913-1975, contain an assortment of materials spanning Sweetser's career in the New York theater and radio broadcasting worlds of the early to mid-twentieth century. Sweetser's activities brought him in contact with many show business personalities of the day, whom Sweetser captured in photographs and portrait sketches. The collection includes a set of these large portrait sketches, as well as two scrapbooks containing smaller portraits and photographs covering Sweetser's college days through his radio career. The scrapbooks also contain theater programs, newspaper and magazine clippings, correspondence, and miscellaneous items such as membership cards.

Important Information for Users of the Collection

Restrictions:

The collection is open for research use.

Preferred citation:

Norman Sweetser Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Publication rights:

Photocopies of orignial materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Status:

This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Norman Sweetser (1894-1980) was born in Philadelphia on April 28, 1894. The son of noted clergyman Edward C. Sweetser, Norman Sweetser attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he appeared in several productions staged by the Mask and Wig Club, a student theatrical organization. After graduation Sweetser worked in numerous fields, including architecture, banking, advertising, teaching, scenic design, singing and acting. He received a commission as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Service at the outbreak of World War I and was sent to Italy, where he earned the Italian War Cross for his service as a pilot in the Caproni bombing squadron.

After the close of the war, Sweetser returned home and pursued his interests in music and theater. He performed with the Savoy Opera Company and later appeared in such Broadway shows as "Blossom Time," "Ginger," "Mayflowers" and "Annie Dear."

In 1927 Sweetser began his radio career as an announcer for WJZ New York, one of the first New York City radio stations and an early affiliate in the NBC network. He also performed as a singer on such shows as WJZ's "Among Ourselves." In 1928 he was assigned to accompany presidential candidate and New York Governor Alfred E. Smith on his campaign tour of the West, during which he served as the official announcer for all of Smith's radio speeches. By 1929 he was working primarily as a special announcer for shows such as the Palmolive, Pure Oil and other radio hours and as a production director for NBC broadcasts. His direction credits include "Just Plain Bill," which debuted on CBS in 1932, and "Stella Dallas," the long-running NBC serial drama first broadcast in 1937.

Sweetser died in 1980.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Papers of Norman Sweetser contain an assortment of materials that document Sweetser's experiences in the New York theater and radio broadcasting worlds of the early to mid-twentieth century. Sweetser's activities brought him into contact with many show business personalities of the day, from actors to announcers to production crew members, many of whom are captured vividly in photographs and in portrait sketches done by Sweetser. A set of large portrait sketches forms the first part of the collection. The balance consists of two scrapbooks containing smaller portrait sketches and photographs covering the period from Sweetser's college days through his radio career, as well as theater programs, newspaper and magazine clippings, correspondence, and miscellaneous items such as membership cards. The collection spans the years 1913-1975, with the bulk of the items dating from 1913-1941. A small number of the late items are undated.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Mrs. Charles E. Johnson, Sweetser's niece, donated the Papers of Norman Sweetser to the Library of American Broadcasting in October 1980.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Stephanie Allen, July 2000.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Caitlin Wells, April 2012.

Arrangement of Collection

This collection has been arranged into two series:

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Portrait Sketches, 1937-1941 (1.00 linear foot)

This series consists of 127 large (8.5 in. by 11 in.) portrait sketches done by Sweetser on the backs of radio show scripts dating from 1937-1941. The subjects of the sketches are radio personalities with whom Sweetser worked, including Betty Garde, Ed Herlihy, Milton Cross, Ralph Edwards, Ruth Russell and Arthur Hughes from "Just Plain Bill," and Karl Swenson and Lucille Wall from "Lorenzo Jones." There are two sets of sketches, 52 of women and 75 of men, with each set arranged in alphabetical order in Boxes 1 and 2, respectively. Each person is given an individual folder; numbers in parentheses on the upper left side of a folder indicate multiple sketches of the person.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Anderson, Marjorie, undated series 1box 1folder 1
Atwell, Martha, undated series 1box 1folder 2
Bauer, Cherita, undated series 1box 1folder 3
Baxter, Betty, undated series 1box 1folder 4
Calvert, Pat, undated series 1box 1folder 5
Condon, Eva, undated series 1box 1folder 6
Day, Elizabeth, undated series 1box 1folder 7
Dowling, Janet, undated series 1box 1folder 8
Edney, Florence, undated series 1box 1folder 9
Elkins, Jeanie (Jeanne), undated series 1box 1folder 10
Erskine, Marilyn, undated series 1box 1folder 11
Freeman, Florence, undated series 1box 1folder 12
Garde, Betty, undated series 1box 1folder 13
Gould, Mitzi, undated series 1box 1folder 14
Harrison, Florence, undated series 1box 1folder 15
Lane, Katherine, undated series 1box 1folder 16
Leaf, Ann, undated series 1box 1folder 17
Loring, Ann, undated series 1box 1folder 18
Malone, Florence, undated series 1box 1folder 19
McGibbon, Harriet, undated series 1box 1folder 20
Melchior, Elanie, undated series 1box 1folder 21
Niday, Kathlyne, undated series 1box 1folder 22
Palmer, Effie, undated series 1box 1folder 23
Reinhart, Alice, undated series 1box 1folder 24
Russell, Ruth, undated series 1box 1folder 25
Sheehan, Tess, undated series 1box 1folder 26
Shields, Helen, undated series 1box 1folder 27
Tompkins, Joan, undated series 1box 1folder 28
Wall, Lucille, undated series 1box 1folder 29
Walpole, Helen, undated series 1box 1folder 30
Ward, Coleen, undated series 1box 1folder 31
Yorke, Ruth, undated series 1box 1folder 32
Zinke, Peggy, undated series 1box 1folder 33
Ansbro, George, undated series 1box 2folder 1
Bond, Bill, undated series 1box 2folder 2
Bond, Ford, undated series 1box 2folder 3
Brown, John, undated series 1box 2folder 4
Cantor, Charlie, undated series 1box 2folder 5
Costello, Don, undated series 1box 2folder 6
Costello, Jack, undated series 1box 2folder 7
Crockett, Keene, undated series 1box 2folder 8
Cross, Milton, undated series 1box 2folder 9
Curtain, Joe, undated series 1box 2folder 10
Daigneau, Ken, undated series 1box 2folder 11
Donald, Peter, undated series 1box 2folder 12
Donnelly, Andy, undated series 1box 2folder 13
Dressler, Eric, undated series 1box 2folder 14
Edmonson, William, undated series 1box 2folder 15
Edwards, Ralph, undated series 1box 2folder 16
Flemming, James, undated series 1box 2folder 17
Hamilton, John, undated series 1box 2folder 18
Herlihy, Ed, undated series 1box 2folder 19
Halbrook, John, undated series 1box 2folder 20
Horine, A. T., undated series 1box 2folder 21
Hughes, Arthur, undated series 1box 2folder 22
Jacquinot, Robert, undated series 1box 2folder 23
Jamieson, House, undated series 1box 2folder 24
Johnson, Ray, undated series 1box 2folder 25
Kane, Johnny, undated series 1box 2folder 26
Kelly, Bill, undated series 1box 2folder 27
Kent, Alan, undated series 1box 2folder 28
Liss, Ronnie, undated series 1box 2folder 29
Locke, Raplh, undated series 1box 2folder 30
Lovejoy, Frank, undated series 1box 2folder 31
Lowe, Don, undated series 1box 2folder 32
Manning, Jack, undated series 1box 2folder 33
Martindale, Ross, undated series 1box 2folder 34
Matthews, Junius, undated series 1box 2folder 35
McBride, Jack, undated series 1box 2folder 36
McCarthy, Jack, undated series 1box 2folder 37
McDonald, Craig, undated series 1box 2folder 38
Meighan, James, undated series 1box 2folder 39
Monroe, Sam, undated series 1box 2folder 40
Nugent, Paul, undated series 1box 2folder 41
O'Day, M., undated series 1box 2folder 42
Parrish, John, undated series 1box 2folder 43
Peters, Lowell, undated series 1box 2folder 44
Provenson, Herluf, undated series 1box 2folder 45
Provo, Frank, undated series 1box 2folder 46
Quinn, Billy, undated series 1box 2folder 47
Reid, Ted, undated series 1box 2folder 48
Shirley, Tom, undated series 1box 2folder 49
Slade, Ted, undated series 1box 2folder 50
Sloan, Everett, undated series 1box 2folder 51
Smith, Homer, undated series 1box 2folder 52
Swensen, Karl (Carl), undated series 1box 2folder 53
Toney, Jay, undated series 1box 2folder 54
Van Rooten, Luis, undated series 1box 2folder 55
Welch, Niles, undated series 1box 2folder 56
Wolters, Clem, undated series 1box 2folder 57
Wragge, Eddie, undated series 1box 2folder 58

Series 2: Scrapbooks, 1913-1934, 1966, 1968, 1975 (1.00 linear foot)

This series consists of two scrapbooks with a wide variety of materials. The first scrapbook contains materials documenting Sweetser's involvement in collegiate and professional theatrical productions and his later radio work with NBC. Photographs include cast and individual shots of performers in the University of Pennsylvania's Mask and Wig productions of the 1910s and snapshots of acquaintances from World War I. Complementing these are 82 small portrait sketches (up to 4 in. by 6 in.) by Sweetser of show business personalities, many of them cast members who performed with Sweetser in 1920s Broadway shows such as "Beggar on Horseback," "Mayflowers," and "Annie Dear." Another set of photographs consists mostly of shots of actors, announcers, and production staff involved with NBC radio broadcasts of the late 1920s through 1930s. Among the remaining items are play reviews, theater programs, articles about Sweetser's radio activities, and identification cards certifying his membership in several broadcasting organizations.

The second scrapbook contains photographs and 8 small (under 4 in. by 6 in.) portrait sketches by Sweetser of performers and other notables from his career in Broadway theater in the 1920s and radio broadcasting in the 1920s and 1930s. A few items date from the 1960s and 1970s, including an article about a television movie recreating Orson Welles' 1938 "War of the Worlds" broadcast, and several others are undated. Many of the photographs are autographed, including those of Ben Grauer, Eddie Cantor, Billie Burke, Rudy Vallee and Babe Ruth.

The scrapbooks have been rehoused in acid-free binders and maintain the original order of pages.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Page 1, 1913-1914 series 2box 3folder 1
Page 2, 1914 series 2box 3folder 2
Page 3, 1914 series 2box 3folder 3
Page 4, undated series 2box 3folder 4
Page 5, 1913 series 2box 3folder 5
Page 6, undated series 2box 3folder 6
Page 7, undated series 2box 3folder 7
Page 8, undated series 2box 3folder 8
Page 9, 1914-1920 and undated series 2box 3folder 9
Page 10, 1925-1926 series 2box 3folder 10
Page 11, undated series 2box 3folder 11
Page 12, undated series 2box 3folder 12
Page 13, undated series 2box 3folder 13
Page 14, undated series 2box 3folder 14
Page 15, undated series 2box 3folder 15
Page 16, undated series 2box 3folder 16
Page 17, 1922-1925 and undated series 2box 3folder 17
Page 18, 1925 series 2box 3folder 18
Page 19, undated series 2box 3folder 19
Page 20 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, 1924 and undated series 2box 3folder 20
Page 21 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, 1924 and undated series 2box 3folder 21
Page 22 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, 1924 and undated series 2box 3folder 22
Page 23 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, 1924 and undated series 2box 3folder 23
Page 24 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, undated series 2box 3folder 24
Page 25 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, undated series 2box 3folder 25
Page 26 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, undated series 2box 3folder 26
Page 27 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, undated series 2box 3folder 27
Page 28 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, undated series 2box 3folder 28
Page 29 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, 1924-1925 series 2box 3folder 29
Page 30 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, 1924 and undated series 2box 3folder 30
Page 31 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, 1924-1925 series 2box 3folder 31
Page 32 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, undated series 2box 3folder 32
Page 33 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, undated series 2box 3folder 33
Page 34 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, undated series 2box 3folder 34
Page 35 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, undated series 2box 3folder 35
Page 36 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, 1924 and undated series 2box 3folder 36
Page 37 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, 1927 and undated series 2box 3folder 37
Page 38 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, 1925 and undated series 2box 3folder 38
Page 39 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, undated series 2box 3folder 39
Page 40 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, undated series 2box 3folder 40
Page 41, 1934 and undated series 2box 3folder 41
Page 42, undated series 2box 3folder 42
Page 43, 1927 and undated series 2box 3folder 43
Page 44, 1929 series 2box 3folder 44
Page 45, 1928 and undated series 2box 3folder 45
Page 46, 1927 series 2box 3folder 46
Page 47, undated series 2box 3folder 47
Page 48, 1929 and undated series 2box 3folder 48
Page 49, 1930 series 2box 3folder 49
Page 50, 1936 series 2box 3folder 50
Page 51, undated series 2box 3folder 51
Page 52, undated series 2box 3folder 52
Page 53, undated series 2box 3folder 53
Page 54, undated series 2box 3folder 54
Page 55, undated series 2box 3folder 55
Page 56, undated series 2box 3folder 56
Loose items, 1946-1947 and undated series 2box 3folder 57
Inside front cover, 1924-1927 series 2box 4folder 1
Page 1, 1924 series 2box 4folder 2
Page 2, undated series 2box 4folder 3
Page 3, undated series 2box 4folder 4
Page 4, undated series 2box 4folder 5
Page 5, undated series 2box 4folder 6
Page 6, 1923 series 2box 4folder 7
Page 7, undated series 2box 4folder 8
Page 8, undated series 2box 4folder 9
Page 9, 1931 and undated series 2box 4folder 10
Page 10, undated series 2box 4folder 11
Page 11, 1931 series 2box 4folder 12
Page 12, 1931 series 2box 4folder 13
Page 13, 1931-1968 and undated series 2box 4folder 14
Page 14, undated series 2box 4folder 15
Page 15, undated series 2box 4folder 16
Page 16, 1925-1949 and undated series 2box 4folder 17
Page 17, undated series 2box 4folder 18
Page 18, 1932 and undated series 2box 4folder 19
Page 19 -- Portrait sketches of the following by N. Sweetser:, 1925 and undated series 2box 4folder 20
Loose items, 1975 and undated series 2box 4folder 21

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