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Collection Manuscript/Mixed Material Elizabeth Severn and Margaret Severn papers, Elizabeth Severn papers / Margaret Severn papers

About this Item


  • Elizabeth Severn and Margaret Severn papers,

Other Title

  • Elizabeth Severn papers
  • Margaret Severn papers


  • The original collection of Elizabeth Severn's papers include correspondence, speeches, lectures, writings, printed matter, drawings, photographs, and other papers relating chiefly to her career as a psychotherapist and to her personal life. Writings include drafts of essays, as well as drafts for three unpublished books. Includes notes made during lectures and seminars by Paul Federn and Robert Waelder; and photographs of Severn with Gizella Ferenczi and Sándor Ferenczi, the Severn family, and friends. Her correspondents are primarily Elizabeth's patients. Includes correspondence from William Beebe, H. Halliday Sparling, and others such as American Field Service volunteers that described their activities during World War II and postwar Germany. The addition also documents Elizabeth Severn's activities, opinions, ongoing psychoanalytic relationship with Sándor Ferenczi, and residency and travels.
  • The addition is substantially larger than the original collection and consists primarily of family correspondence, especially letters from Margaret Severn to her mother Elizabeth Severn and Margaret's maternal grandmother Harriet "Amma" Mann Armstrong and pertains chiefly to Margaret's career as a dancer in New York theaters, in traveling vaudeville shows, and cabaret in the 1920s, and with European ballet companies in the 1930s as well as to her personal life from 1919 to 1939. The addition also includes writings, lecture notes, film documentaries, photographs, sketches, masks, printed matter, and other papers.
  • Margaret's correspondence documents her work as a dancer in the 1920 performance in the Greenwich Village Follies using masks created by artist Wladyslaw T. Benda and her subsequent use of masks as an integral part of her dance, with Bronislava Nijinska's ballet company in 1932, with Ida Rubinstein's company for the 1934 Paris Opera House production that included the premiere of Stravinsky's Perséphone, and with the Ballet Russes de Paris, 1935-1937. Documents her founding of the Dancers' Club in New York, N.Y., in 1930 and its role in the dance community. The correspondence reference her work and relationships with dancers, choreographers, musicians, and impresarios such as Luigi Albertieri, Agnes De Mille, Michel Fokine, Ota Gygi, Eugene Iskoldoff, Kurt Jooss, Bronislava Nijinska, Ida Rubinstein, Ruth St. Denis, and Alexander Steinert. Provides detailed information on Margaret's personal life including her abortion in 1925 resulting from her affair with Ota Gygi.


  • Severn, Elizabeth
  • Severn, Margaret


  • -  Albertieri, Luigi
  • -  Armstrong, Harriet Mann,--1856-1956--Correspondence
  • -  Beebe, William,--1877-1962--Correspondence
  • -  Benda, Wladyslaw T.--(Wladyslaw Theodore),--1873-1948
  • -  Nijinska, Bronislava,--1891-1972
  • -  De Mille, Agnes
  • -  Federn, Paul
  • -  Ferenczi, Gizella,--1866-1949
  • -  Ferenczi, Sándor,--1873-1933
  • -  Fokine, Michel,--1880-1942
  • -  Iskoldoff, Eugene--1892-1957
  • -  Gygi, Ota
  • -  Jooss, Kurt,--1901-1979
  • -  Rubinstein, Ida,--1883-1960
  • -  Sparling, H. Halliday--(Henry Halliday)--Correspondence
  • -  St. Denis, Ruth,--1880-1968
  • -  Steinert, Alexander,--1900-1982
  • -  Stravinsky, Igor,--1882-1971.--Perséphone
  • -  Waelder, Robert
  • -  Severn family
  • -  American Field Service
  • -  Ballets russes
  • -  Dancers' Club (New York, N.Y.)
  • -  Abortion
  • -  Ballet
  • -  Ballet--Europe
  • -  Ballet companies--Europe
  • -  Ballet dancers--Europe
  • -  Dance
  • -  Dance--New York (State)--New York
  • -  Dance--Europe
  • -  Dancers
  • -  Dancers--New York (State)--New York--Societies and clubs
  • -  Choreographers
  • -  Impresarios
  • -  Masks
  • -  Musicals--New York (State)--New York
  • -  Music-halls (Variety-theaters, cabarets, etc.)
  • -  Musicians
  • -  Off-Broadway theater
  • -  Psychoanalysis
  • -  Psychotherapy
  • -  Revues
  • -  Theater--New York (State)--New York
  • -  Vaudeville
  • -  World War, 1939-1945
  • -  Germany--History--1945-1955


  • -  Arranged in two sections: the original collection of Elizabeth Severn papers that was processed in 2013 and an addition processed in 2018 that includes some Elizabeth Severn material but is predominantly composed of the papers of Margaret Severn. Within each section, the files are arranged alphabetically by name of person or type of material and alphabetically or chronologically therein.
  • -  Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Container or digital ID number, Elizabeth Severn and Margaret Severn Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
  • -  Gift, Arnold Rachman, 2008-2016.
  • -  Some photographs transferred to Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
  • -  Video tape transferred to Library of Congress Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.
  • -  Elizabeth Severn (born Leota Brown in 1879; died 1959), psychotherapist, author, and psychoanalytic patient of Sándor Ferenczi; and her daughter Margaret Severn (born Margaret Heywood in 1901; died 1997), ballet dancer and vaudeville performer.
  • -  Collection material in English.
  • -  Finding aid available in the Library of Congress Manuscript Reading Room and at


  • 5,600 items.
  • 209 digital files (6.34 GB).
  • 16 containers plus 1 oversize.
  • 6.8 linear feet.


  • Library of Congress Manuscript Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA dcu

Library of Congress Control Number

  • mm2008085409

Access Advisory

  • Open to research; other restrictions apply. Contact the Manuscript Reading Room for further information.
  • Digital files require advance notice for retrieval. Request in Library of Congress Manuscript Reading Room.

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Severn, Elizabeth, and Margaret Severn. Elizabeth Severn and Margaret Severn papers.

APA citation style:

Severn, E. & Severn, M. Elizabeth Severn and Margaret Severn papers.

MLA citation style:

Severn, Elizabeth, and Margaret Severn. Elizabeth Severn and Margaret Severn papers.