Scope and Content
Title: Merle Armitage Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1919-1971
Collection number: Press coll. Archives Armitage
Creator: Armitage, Merle
(2.7 linear feet)
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
Los Angeles, California 90018
Abstract: This collection contains correspondence,
printed ephemera, articles, book designs, announcements, and other
materials written by and about and designed by Merle Armitage. Most
items relate to book design and the performing arts.
Physical location: Clark Library
Language of Material: Collection materials in English
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the William Andrews Clark Memorial
Library, UCLA. All requests for permission to publish or quote from
manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Clark Librarian.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of the William Andrews
Clark Memorial Library, UCLA 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.
[Identification of item], Merle Armitage Collection, Press coll.
Archives Armitage, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of
California, Los Angeles.
The provenance for this collection is not clear, though items may
have been collected by the Clark Library over time. Some items were
donated by Merle Armitage and Ward Ritchie. If a donor is known, their
name is listed in the note associated with the item.
Processed by Jamie Henricks, November 2009
Merle Armitage was born in 1893 on a farm outside Mason City, Iowa.
He had many jobs over the years, but began his career as an engineer on
the Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient Railroad (later the Santa Fe
Railroad, and now the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway). He
later took a job as a graphic designer for the Packard Motor Car Company
His next career was as a set designer for New York theaters, which
later turned into a long stint in the theater promotion business.
Armitage also managed various performers and their concert tours. In
1924, he co-founded the Los Angeles Grand Opera Association and was its
business manager for eight seasons. He then managed the Los Angeles
Philharmonic auditorium, from 1933 to 1939, where he oversaw production
of various plays and operas.
In addition to his theater work, Armitage was involved with writing
and designing books, as well as serving as the art director for various
magazines (including 'Quick' and 'Look'). Over one hundred books are
attributed to him. He had a short career in the Army Air Forces, working
in the Material Center, and was a regional chairman for the Public Works
of Art project during the Depression. In 1951, he was the president of
the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
Merle Armitage married four times and eventually retired to Yucca
Valley, California, to a ranch he called Manzanita Ranch. He died March
Scope and Content
This collection contains correspondence, printed ephemera, newspaper
clippings, magazine and journal articles, hand-drawn book designs,
announcements, and other materials written by and about and designed by
Merle Armitage. Most items relate to book design and the performing
arts. Items are primarily paper and most date from the late 1920s to
The collection was arranged previously by another individual; it was
rearranged in November 2009. Series are organized chronologically.
The collection is organized into the following series:
- Series 1. Correspondence, 1950-1958
- Series 2. Articles and Publications, 1932-1971
- Series 3. Book and Ephemera Design, 1933-1957
- Series 4. Speeches and Exhibits, 1929-1957
- Series 5. Theater, Music, and Art, 1927-1947
- Series 6. Miscellaneous, 1919-1962
Merle Armitage papers, 1930-1974, MS 234, Main Library Special
Collections, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
Papers of Merle Armitage, 1932-1964, MsC 558, Special Collections
Department, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.
Merle Armitage Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los
Angeles, California. (American art collected by Armitage)
Merle Armitage Art Collection, Harry Ransom Center, University of
Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this
collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Genres and Forms