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Joseph Rickard papers
mssHM 68942-69272  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Cataloging Decisions
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Joseph Rickard papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1934-2003
    Collection Number: mssHM 68942-69272
    Creator: Rickard, Joseph, -1994.
    Extent: 2,513 pieces in 34 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers of dance studio founder and choreographer Joseph Rickard (1918-1994), and includes manuscripts, printed material, ephemera, music scores, production files, and photographs related to the First Negro Classical Ballet and Negro Classical Ballet, which Rickard founded, and local ballets in San Gabriel, California. The papers are especially strong as a visual record with a large number of photographs, publicity material, costume sketches, and printed posters. including
    Language: English.

    Access

    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services. The audiovisual material is uncataloged and not available for paging until reformatted; please contact Reader Services for more information. Please note: the audiovisual material does not include any material relating to the First Negro Classical Ballet.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Joseph Rickard Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    The collection was acquired, beginning in 1994 and continuing until 2019, from various sources:
    Collection of correspondence, documents, programs, clippings, photos, sheet music, tape recordings, set designs relating to the First Negro Classical Ballet (FNCB), Negro Classic Ballet (NCB), and other local ballet companies, 1947-1992; acquired from Joseph Rickard, July 13, 1994 (accession number 1715).
    A group of 42 reel-to-reel tapes and 2 super 8 mm films, ca. 1955-1975; acquired from Gretchen Berlew, July 25, 1995 (accession number 1762).
    A group of personal papers, documents, checks, bills, photographs, reel-to-reel tapes, ca. 1960 - ca. 1968; acquired from Gretchen Berlew, Oct. 17, 1995 (accession number 1764).
    A collection of manuscripts, correspondence, documents, ballet notes, costume notes and sketches, clippings, photos, ephemera relating to the FNCB, the NCB, and other local ballet companies, 1947-1993; acquired from Gretchen Berlew, Dec. 5, 1995 (accession number 1773).
    A group of correspondence, photos, clippings and ephemera, 1961-1990; acquired from Gretchen Berlew, Feb. 21, 2000 (accession number 2052).
    A group of 26 cassette tapes and 8 video tapes, 1961-1990; acquired from Gretchen Berlew and Thomas Wagner, June 23, 2003 (accession number 2220).
    A group of correspondence, photos, ephemera, ca. 1950-1996; acquired from Thomas Wagner, Nov. 7, 2005 (accession number 2346).
    A group of programs and other printed material, also eight printed books (Boxes 33-34); acquired from Thomas Wagner, April 2019 (accession number CSmH_2019_138).

    Cataloging Decisions

    1. It was decided, for easier paging and usage, to semi-catalog the collection; each folder has been given an individual HM call number rather than a box and folder number. When citing or quoting from the collection, please use the assigned HM folder number rather than the box number.
    2. The photographs represent an important part of the collection; these are arranged by ballet company (i.e. FNCB, Southern California Ballet, etc.), and then, where possible, chronologically. The majority of the photographs are unidentified and undated but an attempt was made to group together all of the photos from the same ballet company. The photos for the San Gabriel Valley Civic Ballet and Southern California Ballet are grouped together as, apparently, some of the same dancers performed in both companies.
    3. Joseph Rickard was in the habit of stapling or clipping together material in his ballet files; these metal fastenings have been removed for conservation but the groups of material have been kept together. These groupings of material have been either clipped together with a plastic clip or placed in an envelope inside the folder; it is requested that researchers do not disassemble or mix-up these unique groupings of material. Also, where possible, Rickard’s original file titles have been retained.
    4. The Joseph Rickard papers were initially cataloged in 2011; the printed materials and books were added to the collection in 2019 (Boxes 33-34), accession CSmH_2019_138.

    Biographical Note

    Joseph Rickard (1918-1994) was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, September 17, 1918. He moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s to study ballet with Bronislava and Irina Nijinska but his real gifts lay in teaching (especially adults) and choreography. In 1946, he overheard an African-American woman being turned away from a dance studio where she sought lessons for her daughter; Rickard, from that moment, became determined to start his own dance studio where he could train African-American dancers in classical ballet.
    In 1947, the First Negro Classical Ballet (FNCB) debuted in Los Angeles to great acclaim and performed together for the next ten years. About 1968, Rickard founded the Negro Classic Ballet (NCB) after the demise of the FNCB and, at the same time, and for the next 30 years, organized and taught in other integrated local ballet companies, including the Southern California Ballet and the San Gabriel Valley Civic Ballet. On August 24, 1994, Joseph Rickard died of heart failure as the result of several bouts of pneumonia in Glendale, California.

    Scope and Content

    The papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, documents, ephemera, audiovisual material, and printed material related to the First Negro Classical Ballet (FNCB), Negro Classic Ballet (NCB), and local San Gabriel Valley ballet companies; the papers also include sheet music and original music scores, ballet production files and photographs for the FNCB and NCB. The papers are especially strong as a visual record with a large number of photographs, publicity material, costume sketches, and printed posters. The collection also contains Joseph Rickard’s working notes on the process of creating a ballet, including the elements of choreography, lighting, musical score, and costumes; within this material is also the talented work of the costume design of Nancy Coppola, the set design of Robert Usher and the original music scores by the African-American arranger and composer, Claudius Wilson. The collection is unsurpassed as a record of the first African- American classical ballet company.
    The papers consist of the following series:
    1. Correspondence (Box 1) is arranged alphabetically by author. This series includes personal letters and letters related to the First Negro Classical Ballet, Negro Classic Ballet and other local ballet companies. This series also includes letters by Hal De Becker, Diana Levy, Bronislava Nijinska, Irina Nijinska, Claudius Wilson and letters to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Peter Jennings.
    2. Manuscripts and Documents (Box 2) are arranged alphabetically by author and title. The manuscripts include short stories, film treatments, autograph notes and a memoir by Joseph Rickard as well as a “List of Ballets - First Performances” of Bronislava Nijinska; this series also includes financial documents for the NCB.
    3. FNCB and NCB manuscript and printed material (Box 3) is arranged by subject and format. This series includes autograph notes, costume sketches by Nancy Coppola, fabric swatches, printed programs, articles and clippings.
    4. FNCB and NCB Ballet Scores and Sheet Music (Boxes 4-6) is arranged alphabetically by title. This series includes printed sheet music used by Claudius Wilson for ballet classes, as well as original, autograph musical scores for some of his most famous compositions for FNCB, including: “Cinderella,” and “Pas des Jitterbugs” from the ballet “Raisin’ Cane.”
    5. FNCB and NCB Photographs (Box 7) are arranged chronologically and then sub arranged alphabetically by dancer or ballet. This series includes photographs of most of the more prominent members of the FNCB and NCB, including: Graham Johnson, Bernice Harrison, Claudius Wilson, Yvonne Miller, Theodore Crum, Diana Levy, Joseph Rickard, Sidney Hurston and Karen Hodges. Also included are publicity photos and scenes from various ballets and dance recitals.
    6. NCB Scrapbook and Oversize FNCB and NCB Printed Material (Box 8) is arranged by subject and format. Included in this series is a scrapbook of material relating to the NCB, a FNCB publicity poster and ballet set designs by Robert Usher.
    7. San Gabriel Valley Civic Ballet and Southern California Ballet Companies Manuscript and Printed Material (Box 9) is arranged by subject and format. This series includes autograph notes, printed programs, publicity material and clippings relating to the local companies where Rickard taught; also included is printed material relating to Maidie Du Fresne Dance Arts (Bakersfield, California).
    8. Ballet Production Files (Boxes 10 - 14) are arranged alphabetically by subject and title. These files consist of Rickard’s day-to-day notes on ballet ideas, choreography, performance possibilities, in addition to his files on specific ballets, such as: “A Christmas Carol,” “La Mer,” and “Pagliacci.”
    9. Articles and clippings about Ballet (Box 15) are arranged by subject. Included in this series is material on Bronislava and Irina Nijinska, Waslaw Nijinsky, and Joseph Rickard.
    10. Southern California Ballet, San Gabriel Valley Civic Ballet and Misc. Ballet Photographs (Boxes 16 - 18) are arranged chronologically and then sub arranged by dancer or ballet. The photographs are divided into two groups: So. Calif. Ballet and San Gabriel V. C. Ballet; then followed by miscellaneous photos of other dancers and performers, including Marian Anderson, Bronislava and Irina Nijinska and Joseph Rickard.
    11. Audiovisual materials (Boxes 19-32). Includes reel-to-reel tapes, super 8 mm films, cassette tapes, video tapes.
    12. Printed materials and ephemera (Boxes 33-34). Includes printed programs, magazine, printed pamphlets and books.

    Arrangement

    Organized in the following series:
    • Correspondence (Box 1)
    • Manuscripts and Documents (Box 2)
    • First Negro Classical Ballet (FNCB) and Negro Classic Ballet (NCB) Manuscript and Printed Material (Box 3)
    • FNCB and NCB Ballet Scores and Sheet Music (Boxes 4-6)
    • FNCB and NCB Photographs (Box 7)
    • NCB Scrapbook and Oversize FNCB and NCB Printed Material (Box 8)
    • San Gabriel Valley Civic Ballet and Southern California Ballet Companies Manuscript and Printed Material (Box 9)
    • Ballet Production Files (Boxes 10-14)
    • Articles and Clippings about Ballet (Box 15)
    • Southern California Ballet, San Gabriel Valley Civic Ballet and Misc. Ballet Photographs (Boxes 16-18)
    • Audio-visual materials (uncataloged) (Boxes 19-32)
    • Printed materials and ephemera (Boxes 33-34)
    Folders arranged alphabetically and chronologically.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    De Becker, Hal.
    Levy, Diana.
    Nijinska, Bronislava, 1891-1972.
    Nijinska, Irina.
    Nijinsky, Waslaw, 1890-1950.
    Rickard, Joseph, -1994 -- Archives.
    Wilson, Claudius.
    Ballet russes.
    First Negro Classical Ballet.
    Ballet -- Costume -- United States.
    Ballet dancing -- United States.
    Ballet -- Stage-setting and scenery -- United States.
    Ballet -- Study and teaching -- United States.
    Ballets -- United States -- Piano scores.

    Forms/Genres

    Books -- United States -- 20th century.
    Drawings -- United States -- 20th century.
    Ephemera -- United States -- 20th century.
    Interviews -- United States -- 20th century.
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century.
    Manuscripts -- United States -- 20th century.
    Photographs -- United States -- 20th century.
    Programs (documents) -- United States -- 20th century.

    Additional Contributors

    Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem, 1947-.
    Jennings, Peter, 1938-2005.
    San Francisco Ballet.