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Finding Aid to the Sidney Coe Howard papers, 1903-1980 (bulk 1903-1939)
BANC MSS 70/185 z  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Alternate Forms Available
  • Related Material
  • Separated Material
  • Indexing Terms
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Processing Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Sidney Coe Howard papers
    Date (inclusive): 1903-1980
    Date (bulk): 1903-1939
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 70/185 z
    Creator: Howard, Sidney Coe
    Extent: 29 cartons, 1 oversize box, 1 cardfile box, 3 oversize folders (38 linear feet) 2 digital objects (2 images)
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The Sidney Coe Howard papers including correspondence, plays, short stories, articles, scripts, notes, notebooks, transcripts of diary entries, biographical material, contracts, financial records, clippings and family papers.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html. 
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Preferred Citation

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

    Alternate Forms Available

    "The Brothers Karamazov," film script from Ctn. 17 : also available on microfilm with call number BANC FILM 2065. "The Light That Failed" [Sept. 10, 1935] from Ctn. 19 : also available on microfilm with call number BANC FILM 2572. Copies of "Authors' League of America, Dramatists' Guild, 1935- 1939" two folders, Ctn. 21 : also available on microfilm with call number BANC FILM 2614. "Benjamin Franklin" working script, one folder, Ctn. 10 : also available on microfilm with call number BANC FILM 2691. Robert Sherwood, Incoming Correspondence, 1 folder, Ctn. 5 : also available on microfilm with call number BANC FILM 2941.
    Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, 17 letters to Sidney Coe Howard, Ct. 5; Willa Cather letter to Mrs. Sidney Coe Howard, Ctn. 3; Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant letter to Mrs. Sidney Coe Howard, Ct. 5 : also available on microfilm with call number BANC FILM 3166.
    Digital reproductions of selected items are available.

    Related Material

    Photographs from the Sidney Coe Howard papers [graphic], BANC PIC 1970.025-.027--PIC
    Sidney Coe Howard photograph collection [graphic], BANC PIC 1983.116--PIC
    Howard family papers, 1898-1941, BANC MSS 85/119 c
    Damrosch family album [graphic], BANC PIC 1970.028--ALB

    Separated Material

    Most photographs of Sidney Coe Howard have been removed and are indexed separately 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. A Damrosch family album was also removed and is cataloged as BANC PIC 1970.028--ALB.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog
    Howard, Sidney Coe--1891-1939
    Dramatists, American--20th century
    Manuscripts for publication

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by Jennifer Goldwyn and Walter D. Howard, 1970-1972.


    No additions are expected.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Mario H. Ramirez and The Bancroft Library staff.

    Biographical Information

    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 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 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 also found time to work on plays, 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 on Bewitched, which won 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 Daughter and 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, 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 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.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Sidney Coe Howard papers contain correspondence, plays, short stories, articles, scripts, notes, notebooks, biographical material, contracts and clippings, among other materials, that document the illustrious life and career of this Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award winning playwright and screenwriter. Highlights of the collection include correspondence with individuals such as Samuel Goldwyn, Helen Hayes, Willa Cather and Kurt Weill, and drafts of many of Howard's well-known plays and scripts.
    The collection also includes the papers of Howard's wife, Leopoldine (Polly) Damrosch Howard, some of which relate to her father, Walter Damrosch, and those of his parents and other members of the Howard family.