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Guide to the Jay and Si-Lan Chen Leyda Papers and Photographs TAM.083

Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY, 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive

Collection processed by Peter Filardo and Katja Vehlow

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on June 24, 2016
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Rachel Schimke for compliance with DACS and Tamiment Required Elements for Archival Description and to reflect the incorporation of nonprint materials  , 1/24/2013

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Leyda, Jay, 1910-1988
Creator: Leyda, Si-lan Chen
Title: Jay and Si-Lan Chen Leyda Papers and Photographs
Dates [inclusive]: 1913-1987, bulk 1930-1980
Dates [bulk]: Bulk, 1930-1980
Abstract: Jay Leyda (1910-1988) was a leading film historian, filmmaker, photographer, archivist, translator, teacher, and noted Sergei Eisenstein, Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville scholar. Leyda studied directing with Sergei Eisenstein at the Moscow State Film School, became a correspondent for Theatre Arts Monthly and  New Theatre, and was an art critic for the  Moscow News. In 1936, Leyda was the assistant to Iris Barry, curator of the Film Library of the Museum of Modern Art, but resigned amidst allegations that he was a subversive agent. Leyda went to Hollywood in 1942 where he was a technical advisor on films on Russian subjects and began work on Herman Melville documents which led to a number of books on the subject. In 1973, Leyda became professor of Cinema Studies at NYU. He died in 1988. His wife, Si Lan Chen Leyda (1909- ), was a modern dancer who pioneered the use of Chinese dance elements. Si-Lan Chen was born in Trinidad and attended the Bolshoi Ballet School and Vera Maya's school in Moscow where she met and married Leyda. Throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s, she toured and worked in Hollywood as a choreographer and dance instructor, and occasionally appeared in films. The collection includes their biographical material, correspondence, writings, and material pertaining to their various pursuits.
Quantity: 17.5 linear feet in 33 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize flat box, and 2 folders
Language of Materials note: Materials are principally in English, with some materials in Russian, Chinese, and various European languages.
Call Phrase: TAM.083
Sponsor: Processing was generously supported by the Estate of Jay Leyda (Elena Pinto Simon, Executrix).