In honor of American Archives Month I will be highlighting collections from the Archive throughout the month. The purpose is to spread the word about the Archives and the types of collections to be found in the Archives.
–Kathy McLeister, MLIS
THS Archive Director
The Lee Sievan Collection (Anthony Dumas drawings) includes 60 ink drawings of theatres by Anthony Dumas collected by Lee Sievan. The drawings are theatre exteriors in the state of New York with the exception of one drawing of the Poli’s Theatre in Scranton, PA. Fifty-four of the sixty drawings are original artwork. Seven of the sixty drawings are copies of drawings ordered from the Museum of the City of New York. (Note: Library of Congress holds approximately 250 additional drawings by Anthony F. Dumas (previously held by the Museum of the City of New York). A large portion of these drawings can be seen in THS Director Craig Morrison’s book “Theaters” published in 2006 by W.W. Norton & Co.)
There is scant information on Anthony Dumas’s life. However, it is believed that he grew up in Connecticut and later lived in New York. He may have produced drawings for patent applicants. Anthony F. Dumas created these drawings in the 1920s and 1930s. Drawings may have drawn from the buildings in some cases, but in others he was likely working from a photograph of a building that had already been demolished. Occasionally, he took liberties in his depiction of a building. It is believed that Dumas died in 1943.
Lee Sievan (1902-1990) was a photographer and the wife of painter Maurice Sievan. She also served as librarian and archivist for the InternationalCenter for Photography. Her photography was exhibited at the InternationalCenter for Photography as well as the Museum of the City of New York.
Lee Sievan contributed Anthony Dumas drawings to be included in an exhibition at the CooperHewittMuseum in November 1982. The exhibit “Palaces of Pleasure” was created by author David Naylor. At the suggestion of Mr. Naylor and curator Elaine Dee (of Cooper Hewitt) Ms. Sievan donated the collection of Anthony Dumas drawings to Theatre Historical Society. The bulk of the collection was sent in September of 1982, with the remaining drawings (then on display at Cooper Hewitt) sent at the close of the exhibition.
A Finding Aid for the collection will soon be available on the THS website. (A finding aid is a document containing detailed information about a specific collection of papers or records within an archive. They are used by researchers to determine whether information within a collection is relevant to their research.)