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Guide to the Sidney Coe Howard papers, 1903-1939
BANC MSS 70/185 z  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Scope and Content
  • Biography

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Sidney Coe Howard papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1903-1939
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 70/185 z
    Creator: Howard, Sidney Coe, 1891-1939
    Extent: Number of containers: 19 boxes, 20 cartons, and 1 oversize folder
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Abstract: Letters written to Howard and by him; mss. of plays, short stories, articles and motion picture scripts; notes and notebooks; transcripts of diary entries; biographical material; personalia; material re student days at the University of California; contracts for books, play production and motion picture work; financial records; clippings. Included also are some papers of his wife, Leopoldine Damrosch Howard, some of which relate to her father, Walter Damrosch; and miscellaneous papers of other members of the Howard family.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Sidney Coe Howard papers, BANC MSS 70/185 z, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Related Material

    • Sidney Coe Howard papers: additions, BANC MSS 84/56 z
    • Sidney Coe Howard papers: additions, 1903-1939, BANC MSS 83/82 z

    Materials Cataloged Separately

    • At one time Carton 6 held photographs. Most of the photographs of Sidney Coe Howard have been removed and are separately indexed in the Portrait Collection. The rest have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections, including those of other members of the Howard family, his children, and unidentified portraits, some snapshots of Howard's ambulance service unit in World War I, scenes from theatrical productions, and four albums of photographs and post cards relating to his trips to Mexico and travels in the United States, ca. 1901-1910. Some photographs are cataloged as 1970.025-.028 PIC.

    Scope and Content

    This sizeable collection of Howard's papers was given to The Bancroft Library in 1970, with additions in 1971 and 1972 by two of his children, Mrs. Jennifer Goldwyn of Los Angeles, and Walter D. Howard of Tyringham. Covering the years ca. 1903 to his death, and housed in 19 boxes and 20 cartons, it includes correspondence; MSS of plays, short stories, articles and motion picture scripts; notes and notebooks; transcripts of diary entries; biographical material; personalia; material relating to his student days at the University of California; contracts for books, play production and motion picture work; financial records; clippings; and photographs. Included also are some papers of his wife, Polly Damrosch Howard, some of which relate to her father, Walter Damrosch; and some miscellaneous papers of his father and mother and other members of the Howard family. The papers are described in greater detail in the Key to Arrangement which follows.

    Biography

    Sidney Coe Howard, playwright, was born in Oakland, California, June 26, 1891, the son of John Lawrence and Helen (Coe) Howard. He attended public schools in Oakland and was graduated from the University of California in 1915. As an undergraduate he already displayed an interest in the theater, collaborating with Frederick Faust (who later achieved fame under the pseudonym "Max Brand") in writing the junior farce and the senior extravaganza. For Leonard Bacon's poetry seminar he wrote "Sons of Spain," a blank verse tragedy which was produced in the Forest Theatre in Carmel, California, in 1914. From Berkeley Howard went to Harvard to attend Professor George Pierce Baker's famous "47 Workshop" in playwriting.
    During World War I he volunteered his services as an ambulance driver, serving in France and in the Balkans. After U.S. entry into the war he enlisted in the air service and was on active duty as a flyer at the French front. On his return to the United States he settled in New York City and joined the staff of Life, eventually becoming a literary editor. As a free-lance reporter, he also wrote a number of articles on current issues which appeared in The Survey, Collier's and The New Republic, and short stories as well.
    While holding down these jobs he found time to work on plays, also, the first of which to appear on Broadway was Swords (1921), a melodrama in verse. For the next two seasons Howard devoted himself to translations and adaptations of foreign plays, and to a collaboration with Edward Sheldon, Bewitched, which won for him increased recognition in the theater world. His first big success came in 1924 when the Theatre Guild produced They Knew What They Wanted which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. 1926 became his most successful year with two plays, Ned McCobb's Daughterand The Silver Cord winning popular acclaim. Hardly a year followed in which his name did not appear on a play as author or adaptor.
    From 1929 onward he did much work also as a screen writer, and until his death he divided his time between the stage and the screen. His list of scenario credits includes such successes as Bulldog Drummond, Arrowsmith, which won an Academy Award in 1931, Dodsworth,and Gone With the Wind, for which he was posthumously given an Academy Award in 1940.
    A realistic practitioner of his art and a strong spokesman for the profession, he was elected president of the Dramatists' Guild of the Authors' League of America in 1935, serving in the crucial years when a new basic agreement was hammered out between playwrights and producers. In 1938 he, in partnership with Maxwell Anderson, S. N. Behrman, Elmer Rice and Robert E. Sherwood, formed the Playwrights' Company, pooling their dramatic and financial resources to produce their own plays independently.
    He was married twice: in 1922 to Clare Eames, actress, niece of Emma Eames, the opera singer, and in 1931 to Leopoldine (Polly) Damrosch, the daughter of Walter Damrosch.
    His life was cut short on August 23, 1939, by a tragic accident when a tractor crushed him against the side of a barn on his farm in Tyringham, Massachusetts. The very morning of his death he had been working on a play based on Carl Van Doren's Benjamin Franklin.