Print / View Finding Aid as Single Page

New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Emma Thursby Papers
1706-1942 (Bulk 1860-1940)
  MS 2530

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 05, 2022
Description is in English.

Container List

Series VI: Subject and Biographical Information, 1879-1938

Scope and Contents note

This series contains newspaper and magazine clippings, correspondence from Thursby pupils, poetry dedicated to Emma Thursby, albums, lists of concerts given, pamphlets, magazines, and steamliner passenger lists.

Material in this series did not conform to the other series, or was originally separated at the time of accession (such as the correspondence and clippings files of Emma Thursbys' successful pupils).

Subseries 1: Emma Thursby, 1880-1936

Scope and Contents note

This subseries contains both personal and career-related material. Newspaper clippings of reviews of Emma Thursby's performances are included. The folders pertaining to some of Emma Thursby's most successful pupils include correspondence, programs, and clippings of announcements and reviews. A typed list of attendees at Emma Thursby's Friday salons is included, as is a handwritten list of her 1891 engagements (a complete listing of each concert given by Emma Thursby can be found in Gipson's biography.)

The 'Clippings' folder contains clippings about Emma Thursby. 'Biographical Notes' consist of typed and handwritten biographical details. Notes on musical education and voice training, including drawings of scales and transcription of songs, are housed separately. Emma Thursby possessed a Russian amulet, given to her by Emilia Rudersdorff, which was lost in 1919. Sketches of the amulet and information about its origins and loss are included here.

After Emma Thursby's death, Ina Thursby worked hard to assure that her sister's memory would be preserved. She organized a radio broadcast of tributes to Emma on what would have been Emma's 90th birthday, and commissioned a mosaic to be created in memory of Emma. This mosiac, which featured St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music and Emma's namesake, was donated to and installed at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Information and clippings about both ventures is included in this series.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 11 Folder : 6 Biographical Information
Box: 11 Folder : 7 Brooklyn Museum Mosiac
Box: 11 Folder : 8 Engagements
Box: 11 Folder : 9 Performances of Emma Thursby, Clippings
Box: 11 Folder : 10 Performances of Emma Thursby, Critiques
Box: 11 Folder : 11 Pupils. Emory, Rita Cornet
Box: 11 Folder : 12 Pupils. Green Peggy/Princess Viggo
Box: 11 Folder : 13 Pupils. Harris, Estelle
Box: 12 Folder : 1 Pupils. Reddish, Meta (1 of 2)
Box: 12 Folder : 2 Pupils. Reddish, Meta (2 of 2)
1907 -1936
Box: 12 Folder : 3 Pupils. Schaffer, Josephine
1903 -1914
Box: 12 Folder : 4 Pupils. Wittkowska, Martha
1903 -1931
Box: 12 Folder : 5 Radio Broadcast
Box: 12 Folder : 6 Russian Amulet
Box: 12 Folder : 7 Salons, Attendees
Box: 12 Folder : 8 Voice Training/ Teaching Notes

Subseries 2: Thursby Family, 1880-1938

Scope and Contents note

This subseries includes information about Emma Thursby's immediate and extended families and pets. 'Geneological Information' includes information on Thursby, Van Cott, and Bennett family ancestors. Much of the Thursby information comes from the Thursby family members in England whom Emma met during her time there in 1878.

The Mynah bird material includes an issue of The Phrenological Journal and Phrenological Magazine with an article about Emma and the mynah bird in which it was purported that the two had similar shaped skulls; thus accounting for their musical exploits. It also includes information about how to care for the bird and a letter from the Pullman's Palace Car Company giving permission for the bird to travel on the train with Emma Thursby.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 12 Folder : 9 Mynah Bird
Box: 12 Folder : 10 Thursby Biographical Information
Box: 12 Folder : 11 Thursby Genealogical Information

Subseries 3: Other Subjects, 1879-1937

Scope and Contents note

Other subjects are based on large amounts of information and clippings compiled by Emma or Ina on important subjects to them; some of these subjects were originally housed in their own envelopes upon accession.

Folders are devoted to Emma Thursby's close friends Ole Bull and Sarah Farmer. The material on Sarah Farmer also includes correspondence pertaining to Ms. Farmer's illness in the 1910s, and subsequent attempts to raise money to continue the colony Green Acre in Eliot, Maine. Material devoted specifically to Green Acre, such as programs of lectures and clippings, are housed separately. A blueprint of the Green Acre property is housed in the oversize folder.

The folder 'Old Brooklyn' contains mainly clippings about and sketches of churches Emma Thursby attended or was engaged by early in her career. A separate folder is dedicated to items pertaining to Henry Ward Beecher, the pastor of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn. This includes information on Beecher, and his church after the time of his pastorship. The folder entitled 'Clippings' contains information about friends of Emma Thursby, and other articles that do not fall under a more specific heading.

Emma Thursby spent much of the later part of her life engaged with inquiries into philosophy and religion, as evidenced by her support of and attendance at Green Acre programs and lectures, as well as her correspondence and friendship with the Swami Vivekananda. Notes taken by Emma from lectures given by Vivekananda, as well as clippings on pertinent topics and pamphlets detailing Eastern religious philosophies, are included in this series. Some of Emma's notes describe yogic practices of breathing, others are transcriptions of prayers.

Many amateur poets were inspired by Emma Thursby, judging from the volume of poetry found in the collection. As well as those poems directly dedicated to her, Emma collected clippings of poems from newspapers and magazines, and copied other poems herself. These are all collected here.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 13 Folder : 1 Beecher, Henry Ward/Plymouth Church
Box: 13 Folder : 2 Bull, Ole
Box: 13 Folder : 3 Clippings re various subjects
Box: 13 Folder : 4 East Indian Philosophies
Box: 13 Folder : 5 East Indian Philosophies
Box: 13 Folder : 6 Farmer, Sarah
Box: 13 Folder : 7 Green Acre
Box: 13 Folder : 8 Herald of Life
Box: 13 Folder : 9 "Old Brooklyn"-re: churches of Brooklyn
Box: 13 Folder : 10 Poetry

Return to Top »