Personal Papers and Special Collections
Personal papers of Weill, Lenya, and Lenya's later husbands, along with Weill's published and a few unpublished writings. A mixture of originals and photocopies, with most originals direct from Lenya (Series 30-38).
Personal papers of Weill and Lenya include a variety of items, such as information on genealogy, legal documents, notes and memos, address books, awards and certificates (notably both their U.S. naturalization certificates), and, in Lenya’s case, financial papers and photographs. Weill’s papers include published scores inscribed to Norbert Gingold (Die Dreigroschenoper) and Paul Robeson (Walt Whitman Songs) as well as certificates of Weill’s induction to the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and Theatre Hall of Fame (awarded posthumously). Lenya’s papers include original Equity contracts for the off-Broadway Threepenny Opera (1954 and 1955) and a contract with Columbia to record “Mack the Knife” with Louis Armstrong. A complete collection of Weill’s published and unpublished writings and a sampling of Lenya’s published interviews are also found here.
The category includes a sizable collection of papers accumulated by Lenya’s second husband, George Davis, and a smaller collection from her third husband, Russell Detwiler. Davis’s papers are particularly noteworthy because of his wide literary network. They include an original manuscript of W.H. Auden and letters from Auden, Paul Bowles, Jean Cocteau, Christopher Isherwood, Lenya, Carson McCullers, Katherine Anne Porter, Wallace Stegner, and many others. Another highlight of Davis’s papers: summaries of twenty or so interviews conducted by Lenya and Davis with associates of Kurt Weill in the mid-1950s for biographical research.
A group of “Special Collections” consists for the most part of photocopies of material pertaining to Weill and Lenya from individuals or other repositories, organized according to the source, with some original items. The special collections contain a very wide range of documents having to do with Weill and Lenya’s professional lives. A partial list of significant sources: Maurice Abravanel’s papers (University of Utah); Bertolt-Brecht-Archiv; Jean Cocteau Foundation; Lehman Engel’s papers (Yale); the FBI; the niece of Caspar and Erika Neher; Playwrights’ Producing Company papers (Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research); papers of Weill’s biographer Ronald Sanders (New York Public Library); papers of Bella Spewack (Columbia University); Universal Edition, several city archives in Germany, France, and Switzerland; and members of Weill’s family.
A large and multifarious collection of scores, correspondence, programs, clippings, etc., etc. from the estate of David Drew, who worked with or for the Foundation for much of his life, has not yet been fully processed. Items from the collection may be made available at the discretion of the archivist; researchers are welcome to ask about relevant material in the Drew collection or to request custom searches of the contents.