J. Searle Dawley papers

Special Collections
Margaret Herrick Library © 2013

Descriptive Summary

Title: J. Searle Dawley papers
Date (inclusive): 1907-1947
Date (bulk): 1907-1923
Collection number: 72
Creator: Dawley, J. Searle
Extent: 0.5 linear feet of papers.
Repository: Margaret Herrick Library. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Languages: English

Important Information for Users of the Collection


Available by appointment only.

Publication rights

Property rights to the physical object belong to the Margaret Herrick Library. Researchers are responsible for obtaining all necessary rights, licenses, or permissions from the appropriate companies or individuals before quoting from or publishing materials obtained from the library.

Preferred Citation

J. Searle Dawley papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. J. Searle (Grace) Dawley, 1949


James Searle Dawley was an American director, screenwriter, and actor active in film from 1907 to the mid-1920s. He was hired by Edwin S. Porter in 1907 as a director for the Edison Company and he went on to direct more than 200 Edison films, including FRANKENSTEIN (1910) and THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (1912). In 1912 Porter hired Dawley to direct features for the Famous Players Company. His first was TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES (1913), and he directed thirteen more before leaving Famous Players in 1913 to start his own company, Dyreda. The company lasted for more than a year before it was bought out by Metro Pictures. Dawley returned to Paramount, where he made such films as SNOW WHITE (1916) and UNCLE TOM'S CABIN (1918). He left Paramount in 1918 to get married and freelanced for several years before joining Fox Films in 1921. He directed two sound shorts for Lee Deforest, ABRAHAM LINCOLN and LOVE'S OLD SWEET SONG, which were released in 1924. After retiring from films, Dawley tried various businesses before working in radio from the end of the 1920s through the middle of the 1930s.

Collection Scope and Content Summary

The J. Searle Dawley papers span the years 1907-1947 (bulk 1907-1923) and encompass 0.5 linear foot. The collection consists of a small amount of production information, most notably four scripts for Edison shorts from 1910 and 1911. There is a small amount of correspondence, notes for Dawley's memoirs, clippings, time books, and a scrapbook of mostly unidentified photographs from Edison films.


Arranged in the following series: 1. Production files; 2. Subject files; 3. Scrapbooks

Indexing Terms

Dawley, J. Searle , 1877-1949--Archives.