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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Merle Armitage Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1932-1964
Creator: Armitage, Merle (1893-1975)
Extent: 2.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0558
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Set designer, impresario, co-founder and manager of the Los Angeles Grand Opera Association, president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, art director of Look and Quick magazines, and book designer. Correspondence, typescripts of Accent on Life and George Gershwin: Man and Legend, and files on other projects.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs Box 4 and Oversized flat

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: This collection was donated to the University of Iowa Libraries by Merle Armitage from 1962-1966.

Preferred Citation: Merle Armitage Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman
Email: lib-spec@uiowa.edu
Website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/sc

Merle Armitage (1893-1975) was born near Mason City, Iowa, on his father's cattle ranch/farm. Self-educated, he began his varied career as a civil engineer for the Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient railroad. He next worked as a designer of sets and costumes in the theatre world of New York City. From designing he moved on to become an impresario, managing the concert tours of many leading performers. His clients include such artists as: John McCormack, Mme. Schumann-Heink, Alice Nielson, Will Rogers, Martha Graham, and Igor Stravinsky. He co-founded the Los Angeles Grand Opera Association in 1924, and served as its general manager for eight seasons. From 1933 to 1939 he was manager of the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles. There he presented Leopold Stokowski in 1937, and George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in 1938.
 
Armitage was, at one time, president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts and art director of Quick and Look Magazine. He was a book designer and author, with over one hundred books to his credit. Many of the books he wrote and/or designed were concerned with the artists, composers, and performers with whom he was associated.

The papers of Merle Armitage consist of 2.5 linear feet of manuscripts, dating from 1932 -- 1964. Arranged alphabetically, the subject files include typescripts and galley proofs for such works as [i]Accent on Life[/i] and [i]George Gershwin: Man and Legend[/i]. There are also biographical materials, book and exhibition catalogs containing Armitage items, photographs, scrapbooks, and documents related to his military service. The correspondence folders date from 1933 to 1964 and include letters from Lucius Beebe and Gardner Cowles.
 
The University of Arizona at Tucson also has six linear feet of Armitage material, dating from 1947 to 1964. However, the largest gathering of his papers may be found at the Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.
The University of Arizona at Tucson also has six linear feet of Armitage material, dating from 1947 to 1964. However, the largest gathering of his papers may be found at the Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.

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The detailed description has not been entered into the repository.
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