Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (0.80 Mb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Melvyn Helstein Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1801-1991 (bulk 1962-1984)
    Collection number: A6
    Collector: University of California, Los Angeles. Fowler Museum of Cultural History
    Extent: 12.5 linear feet (12 boxes) of documents
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Kitnick-Alexander Library
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1549
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    Access to the archives collection is by appointment.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Registrar. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Digital Representations Available

    Digital representations of selected materials and corresponding objects are available as part of the Container List of the finding aid.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Melvyn Helstein Papers, Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Kitnick-Alexander Library, University of California, Los Angeles.


    Melvyn B. Helstien was born in Denver, Colorado on the 2nd of February 1920. He received his BA from the University of Washington in 1947 and his MFA from the Yale School of Drama in 1948. In 1962, Dr. Helstien earned his Ph.D in theater at the University of Minnesota. He taught at UCLA in the Department of Theater Arts from 1963-1986. He served as the department Vice-chairman from 1971-1973 and again in 1981 until 1985. During his thirty-eight year career, he directed, produced, designed or performed in dozens of UCLA theatrical productions; lectured, and wrote with a focus on puppetry. In 1976, Dr. Helstien curated the exhibit Asian Puppets: Wall of the World, as well as writing chapters in its accompanying catalog for the Museum of Cultural History. He was a member of the board of directors for the Union Internationale des Marionnettes (UNIMA-USA). Dr. Helstien died on March 6, 1990.

    Scope and Content

    The Melvyn B. Helstien papers consist of slides, diapositives, pen & ink illustrations, correspondence, articles, newsletters, manuscripts, bibliographic materials, journals, photographs, slides, index cards, and essays produced and collected by Dr. Melvyn Helstien. The materials are from Afghanistan, Africa, Argentina, Armenia, Asia, Australia, Bali, Belgium, Borneo, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, Ceylon, China, Cuba, the former Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Java, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Guinea, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Puerto Rico, Rumania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United States, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Yugoslavia. Dr. Helstien, professor of theater arts, was a leading force in UCLA's Department of Theater from 1948 until his death in 1990. The focus of the collection is on international puppetry with strengths in Southeast Asian puppets and puppets from India.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    • BIBLIOGRAPHIC MATERIALS - used for bibliographies and reference lists
    • CONFERENCES - used for materials on national and international puppetry conferences
    • EVENTS
    • FOREIGN LANGUAGE MATERIALS - used for materials labeled as such by Helvyn Helstien
    • IMAGES
    • MISCELLANEOUS DOCUMENTATION - used for materials labeled as such by Melvyn Helstien
    • PLAYS
    • PUBLISHED MATERIALS - used for materials such as monographs, journals, and articles
    • UNPUBLISHED MATERIALS - used for typescripts, manuscripts and student essays
    These series are further organized into regions, countries, and states. For folders which contain materials from a variety of areas, and for those without a specified location, the subseries is Puppetry.
    • -PERFORMANCES - used for images of puppets during dramatization
    • -PUPPETS - used for materials about puppets.
    • For specific types of puppets, see:
    • Hand puppets - Puppets constructed with a hollow head and arms attached to a costume fitting over the puppeteer's hand and activated by movements of the fingers and thumb inserted in the head and arms [Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary]
    • Marionettes - Puppets manipulated from above by strings attached to their jointed limbs. [AAT]
    • Rod puppets - Puppets operated, usually from below, by a main control rod with or without subsidiary rods
    • Shadow puppets - Elaborately painted, usually flat leather, puppets originally developed in Java to cast shadows on white screens during dramatizations.
    • String puppets - manipulated by strings or wires, or occasionally by a rod, from above
    • -STAGES - used for scenes of stage or stage set
    • -THEATER - used for scenes of the theater building, audience or exterior

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Helstien, Melvyn--Archives
    University of California, Los Angeles. Dept. of Theater Arts--Faculty--Archival resources
    Puppet Theater
    Puppets and Puppetry, Indian (East Indian)
    Shadow Puppets, Indian (East Indian)

    Related Material

    Title: Melvyl Helstien Papers (Collection 258).
    Available at the Department of Special Collections, UCLA.