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Guide to the Evelyn Davis Papers and Photographs WAG.245

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Jessie Wilkerson, 2005; Edited by Bonnie Gordon to reflect the incorporation of nonprint materials, 2013.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 19, 2018
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Davis, Evelyn
Title: Evelyn Davis Papers and Photographs
Dates [inclusive]: 1885-1982
Dates [bulk]: 1940-1970
Abstract: Evelyn Davis (1906-1982) was an actress in theater, TV, and film beginning in 1933 and continuing throughout her life. She appeared in supporting roles in numerous Broadway and touring productions. Later in her career, she worked more steadily in television and film. Davis was a member of various theater associations, including Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, and the Negro Actors Guild of America, for which she served as a member of the Executive Board and as Recording Secretary. The collection contains scripts, playbills, news clippings, and contracts from her various performances, as well as documents reflecting her organization memberships. Also included are personal correspondence and memorabilia, material on theater history, photographs, and a scrapbook.
Quantity: 1 Linear Feet in 1 record carton.
Language: Materials are in English
Call Phrase: WAG.245

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Historical/Biographical Note

Evelyn Davis (1906-1982) was born and educated in New York City where she lived throughout her life. Before embarking on an acting career, Davis was a teacher, and later she worked as a model. In 1933 Davis joined the Hall Johnson Choir and appeared in Run Little Chillun!, a lyric drama by Hall Johnson. Her resume includes several Broadway plays:  Happy Birthday and  The Wisteria Trees with Helen Hayes, "  Vicki" with Jose Ferrer, and "  The Perfect Marriage" with Miriam Hopkins. Touring productions include  Macbeth with Orson Welles and  The Naked Genius with Gypsy Lee Rose. Davis continued to be cast in plays throughout the 1950s before venturing into minor roles in television and film. On television Davis appeared in the Omnibus production of  Uncle Tom's Cabin and the NBC production of  The Iron Gate. Her film credits include small roles in  Shaft, "  Nothing but a Man,  Shaft's Big Score, and  Final Cut.

Davis was also active in various theatrical organizations: Actors Equity Association (AEA), the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors (AFTRA), the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and the Negro Actors Guild of America (NAG). Before her health began to fail, Davis was on the NAG-New York Branch Executive Board and also served as its Recording Secretary. In 1969, Davis was a delegate to SAG's Joint Equality Committee, which held a series of discussions on the issue of casting ethnic minorities in television commercials. Davis died on January 30, 1982 at Harlem Hospital in New York City.

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Scope and Content Note

The Evelyn Davis Papers and Photographs consists of Evelyn Davis's personal papers and memorabilia. Her extant papers reflect a life-long interest in the history of African-Americans in theater and film. The bulk of the collection is made up of scripts, playbills, and contract agreements from Davis's appearances in plays and television programs throughout the 1940s, '50s, and '60s. There are also papers from organizations to which Davis belonged, including a membership card from the Screen Actors Guild, a membership certificate from the Negro Actors Guild of America, and contracts from the Actors' Equity Association. The collection also contains letters, cards,and telegrams from family and friends, including actors with whom Davis worked. Illuminating Davis's interests are several collections of Negro spirituals, an essay on racial prejudice by Dr. Juan Rene Betancourt, an issue of Theater Arts entitled "The Negro in the American Theater," and a booklet, "The Way It Was," that commemorates African-American actors and actresses. The collection also includes two photograph albums that have been disassembled and one intact photograph album (largely black and white prints for all three), one disassembled scrapbook, and ninety loose black and white photographs ranging in size from 11x14 to 2x3 inches. Included in the photographs are signed headshots from other actors and actresses and stills of theater performances.


Folders arranged alphabetically.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Davis, Evelyn

Document Type

  • Playbills.
  • Correspondence.
  • Screenplays
  • Telegrams.
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Contracts
  • Photographs.

Subject Organizations

  • Negro Actors Guild of America
  • Actors' Equity Association
  • Screen Actors Guild

Subject Topics

  • African Americans in the performing arts.
  • Theater history |y 20th century.
  • Actresses -- United States.
  • African Americans in television.
  • Actors -- Labor unions -- United States.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

The Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives has no information about copyright ownership for this collection and is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from it. Materials in this collection, which were created in 1885-1982, are expected to enter the public domain in 2053.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; Evelyn Davis Papers and Photographs; WAG 245; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.

Related Archival Materials

For more information about the Negro Actors Guild of America, see the Negro Actors Guild of America Records in the New York Public Library.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials found in repository; provenance is unknown. The accession numbers associated with this collection are 1950.128, 1985.024 and NPA.2005.227.

Processing Information

Photographs were separated from this collection during initial processing and were established as a separate collection, the Evelyn Davis Photographs (PHOTOS 215). In 2013, the photograph collection was reincorporated into the Evelyn Davis Papers and Photographs.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Actors Equity Association: Contracts
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Anta Album: Program
May 6, 1951-1967
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Betancourt, Dr. Juan Rene, "Integral Sociology: The Scientific Improvement of the Racial Prejudice"
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Black Academy of Arts and Letters
Oct 8, 1972
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Burleigh, H.T. (arranger): Negro Spirituals
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Clippings
undated , 1949 , 1965
Box: 1 Folder : 7 "Communication in Black Culture": Sponsored by Bell System
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Contracts: General
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Copasetics: "The Way It Was" (souvenir journal)
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Correspondence
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Daily Voucher
Nov 1967
Box: 1 Folder : 12 DiTullio, Eileen, in concert: Advertisement
Nov 1962
Box: 1 Folder : 13 "Duet": Program
Aug 1960
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Essays
1935, 1941
Box: 1 Folder : 15 "Flamingo Road": Program
Mar 1946
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Frey, Hugo (arranger): Celebrated American Negro Spirituals
Box: 1 Folder : 17 "Godmother for Amy": segments of script
Box: 1 Folder : 18 "Happy Birthday" with Helen Hayes: Program
Box: 1 Folder : 19 "Happy Birthday" with Joan Blondell: Program
Jun 1954
Box: 1 Folder : 20 Hat
Box: 1 Folder : 21 Headshots
Box: 1 Folder : 22 "Iron Gate": Program
Aug 1954
Box: 1 Folder : 23 Jubilee Singers (Fisk University): Program
Box: 1 Folder : 24 "King of Hearts": Program
Box: 1 Folder : 25 "Landlord": Call Sheet
Jul 28, 1969
Box: 1 Folder : 26 Loose Photographs
Box: 1 Folder : 27 "Male Animal": Program
Aug 1948 , Aug 1956
Box: 1 Folder : 28 Memorabilia
undated; 1919
Box: 1 Folder : 29 Metropolitan Council on Housing
Feb 1978
Box: 1 Folder : 30 "Naked Genius": Program
Box: 1 Folder : 31 National Council of Senior Citizens
Box: 1 Folder : 32 Negro Actors Guild of America
Box: 1 Folder : 33 Negro Actors Guild of America: "A Tribute to Marian Anderson"
Box: 1 Folder : 34 Negro Actors Guild of America: Certificate of Membership
Box: 11 Folder : 35 New York City Civil Service: Retired Employees Association
Box: 1 Folder : 36 Nigerian Pogrom: Crisis 1966: Vol. 3 (Ministry of Information, Eastern Nigeria)
Box: 1 Folder : 37 "No Time for Comedy": Program
Jul 1952
Box: 1 Folder : 38 Notice of Result: On-the-Job Survey (NYC, Dept. of Personnel: Hospitals Dept.)
Jul 1959
Box: 1 Folder : 39 Obituary
Sep 1982
Box: 1 Folder : 40 Ojukwu, Lieutenant-Colonel Odumegwu: "On Aburi We Stand: A Broadcast"
Feb 25, 1967
Box: 1 Folder : 41 "Old Acquaintance": Program
Box: OS002 Oversize Headshots
Box: 1 Folder : 42 Performance Stills
Box: 1 Folder : 43 Photograph Album #1
Box: 1 Folder : 44 Photograph Album #2: Contents and Photocopies
Box: 1 Folder : 45 "Ponder Heart": Script
Box: 1 Folder : 46 "Railroads on Parade": Book of the Pageant, New York World's Fair 1939
Box: 1 Folder : 47 Receipt: Office of the Comptroller
Box: 1 Folder : 48 Reel 1: Publication of Screen Actors Guild-New York Branch (E.D. p. 6, p. 14)
Box: 1 Folder : 49 Resume
Box: 1 Folder : 50 "Rossiter M.D.": Script
Box: 1 Folder : 51 "Run Little Chillun!": Program
Nov 1933
Box: 1 Folder : 52 Scrapbook: Contents
Box: 1 Folder : 53 Scrapbook: Cover
Box: 1 Folder : 54 Scrapbook: Photocopies
Box: 1 Folder : 55 Screen Actors Guild: Conservatory Program
Box: 1 Folder : 56 Screen Actors Guild: Membership Card
Box: 1 Folder : 57 Screen Actors Guild: Producers Pension Plan
Box: 1 Folder : 58 Script: Hertz Commercial
Box: 1 Folder : 59 Snapshot Album
Box: 1 Folder : 60 "Sound of Silence": Program and Script
Box: 1 Folder : 61 "Southern Exposure": Program and Script
Oct 1950
Box: 1 Folder : 62 Statement of Annuity Savings Account
Box: 1 Folder : 63 Telegrams
Box: 1 Folder : 64 Television Program: Audition
Box: 1 Folder : 65 Television Program: Script
Box: 1 Folder : 66 Theater Arts:  The Negro in American Theater, Vol. 26, No. 8
Aug 1942
Box: 1 Folder : 67 United States Civil Service Commission: Notice of Rating
Apr 1945
Box: 1 Folder : 68 "Vicki": Program
Box: 1 Folder : 69 Williams, John D.: "Hallelujah" and "Why Should I Fear"
Box: 1 Folder : 70 "Wisteria Trees": Program
Jul 1954 , Feb 1955

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