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Schlesinger Collection of Theatre History

 Collection
Identifier: MG 4
The collection consists of autographed theatrical photographs which once decorated the lobby and corridors of the Broad Street Theatre (Newark, NJ). After the theater became a movie house, Morris Schlesinger donated the collection to the Library. Additional photographs were later added to this collection.

Dates

  • 1887 - 1932

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Available by appointment only. Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied or photographed without permission from library staff.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

Extent

6.66 Linear Feet (4 flat boxes)

Biographical / Historical

Morris Sulzberger Schlesinger was born in Philadelphia in 1874 to Rabbi Leobaum Schlesinger. He studied at the Hebrew Union College of Cincinnati and later at the Jewish Theological Seminary in NY. He became interested in journalism before he completed his coursework and joined the staff of the Wilkes-Barre Daily News Dealer in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1890.

In 1892, Schlesinger worked as a press agent for “The Wonderland,” a dime museum in Wilkes-Barre, PA, managed by Max Anderson. That same year, he left his job at the newspaper and went to Cincinnati with Anderson as the treasurer and press agent for The Fountain Square Theater. In 1898, he became the manager of the Central Avenue Theater in Cincinnati and soon afterwards purchased the first feature motion picture to be made in this country, The Passion Play. He successfully toured with it throughout the East Coast.

Schlesinger became the manager of the Court Street Theater in Buffalo, NY and the Bijou Theater in Washington, D.C. He went on to the Arch Theater in Philadelphia, PA and the Lincoln Theater in New York. He subsequently sold the Lincoln Theater to Marcus Loew, who was responsible for forming Loews Theaters and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).

Schlesinger came to Newark, NJ where the Orpheum Theater was built for him on Washington Street on the site of Machinery Hall. Sometime after, he also acquired the Broad Street Theater and the Schubert Theater on Branford Place where he presented musical shows. Schlesinger also co-produced several plays. After unsuccessfully attempting to revive the Montclair Theater in Montclair, NJ, Schlesinger retired. He died in Orange, NJ, in 1944.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Morris Schlesinger to the Newark Public Library

General

A majority of the autographs were made out to Morris Schlesinger. However, a few are made out to Jane (Jean Ferrell). Many photographs and programs were later added to the collection after it was donated.

A portion of the collection was displayed at the Newark Public Library in 1938 and at the Newark Museum during the summer of the same year, and again at the Main Library in 1948 and 1987.

Processing Information

Processed by Nadine Sergejeff, June 2016. The photographs were unframed and are organized alphabetically in four large boxes. Most of the photographs remain adhered to acidic cardboard. Wherever possible, non-archival mats were removed.
Author
Nadine Sergejeff
Date
June 2016

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, Newark Public Library Repository

Contact:
5 Washington Street
PO Box 630
Newark NJ 07102 USA
973-733-7745