Ann Preston Bridgers papers, 1871-1967 and undated

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Bridgers, Ann Preston
8.8 Linear Feet
3,100 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The papers of Ann Preston Bridgers span the years 1871-1967, although the bulk of the material covers the period 1925-1963. Included in the collection are correspondence, manuscript drafts and notes, business items and programs related to the Raleigh Little Theatre, contracts, wills, newsclippings, and photographs.

Miss Bridgers' life is best documented in the correspondence. It is chiefly of a personal nature, between Miss Bridgers and her family, including her sisters Elizabeth (Bab) and Emily and to a lesser extent her brother Robert. Elizabeth was the wife of Jonathan Daniels, son of Josephus Daniels, and there are several letters from Jonathan to the Bridgers and references made to his parents. Later correspondence includes letters from Bab's daughter, Elizabeth and her husband Charles (Chick) B. Squire, in which they often critiqued each other's writings.

Elizabeth Lawrence, horticulturist and author of gardening works, is also represented extensively in the correspondence from the mid 1930's until about 1948. Other correspondents include George Abbott, whose correspondence dates primarily from 1962 to 1964, and various literary agents.

The Writings series comprises the bulk of the collection, and includes works by Miss Bridgers and other members of her family and friends. Coquette, the work for which she is best known is not represented in this series. There is, however, information regarding this play, which opened on Broadway in 1927, in the Correspondence, Legal and Financial Papers, Raleigh Little Theater, and Clippings series. Also included in this series are several drafts of "Those Without Freedom," an unpublished novel about the South after the Civil War.

The National Union Catalog Pre-1956 Imprints lists two published works by Miss Bridgers: Coquette, where she is listed as the joint author, and an article in the Saturday Review of Literature in 1935 about Thomas Wolfe. Drafts and background material for this article are located in the Writings series. Other persons represented in the Writings series include: Emily and Robert R. Bridgers; Elizabeth (Daniels) Squire; and Elizabeth Lawrence.

The efforts of Miss Bridgers and others involved with the founding of the Raleigh Little Theater are reflected in the Correspondence and Raleigh Little Theater series.

In addition to legal papers relating to the play Coquette, the Legal and Financial Papers series also includes documents concerning the will and estate of Miss Bridgers' aunt, Emily Bridgers, receipts, and other miscellaneous financial data. Financial concerns of the family are also found in the Correspondence series.

The Clippings series contains reviews of the Broadway production of Coquette, as well as book reviews and newspaper columns by Miss Bridgers. The series also provides information about Miss Bridgers, other family members, and miscellany items.

Genealogical information about the Bridgers family, an engagement book Miss Bridgers kept while traveling in Europe (1961), and other items comprise the Miscellany series.

The Photographs series contains three albums of photographs. Some appear to be of theatrical productions; many are of unidentified persons. Loose photographs include those of Ann Preston Bridgers, George Abbott, Mr. and Mrs. Josephus Daniels, and Miss Bridgers' grandfather, Robert Rufus Bridgers.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1891, May 1
Born Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina
ca. 1908
Attended Mary Baldwin Seminary, Staunton, Va.
A.B., Smith College, Northampton, Mass.
Member of the Smith College Unit of the YMCA that served overseas with the Rolling Canteen
Wrote weekly column, "Impressions Along Broadway" for the Raleigh News and Observer
ca. 1923
Served as understudy to Lynn Fontaine in the play "Dulcy" while it was on tour
Wrote first draft of play "Coquette"
Acted in play on Broadway called "Broadway"
Enrolled in English class at Columbia University
Collaborated with George Abbott to bring Coquette starring Helen Hayes to Broadway
Instrumental in founding the Raleigh Little Theater under the auspices of the Federal Theatre Project of the Work Projects Administration
Her play "Quicksand" was presented by the Raleigh Little Theater
Wrote column "The Theatre" for the Raleigh Times
Her play Coquette was performed by the Raleigh Little Theater
Her play "Carrie Was a Lady" was performed by the Raleigh Little Theatre
Member of the Raleigh Little Theater Board of Directors
1967, May 3
Acquisition information:
The papers of Ann Preston Bridgers (1891-1967) actress, playwright, and patron of the arts were acquired by the Rubenstein Library through purchase in 1974, and gift in 2012.
Processing information:

Processed by: Janie C. Morris

Completed February 12, 1988

Collection updated to reflect accession 2012-0086 by Alice Poffinberger, February 2014

Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Theater -- North Carolina
Authors, American
Raleigh Little Theater (Raleigh, N.C.)
Federal Theater Project (U.S.)
Bridgers family
Abbott, George, 1889-
Bridgers, Ann Preston
Bridgers, Ann Preston
Daniels, Jonathan, 1902-1981
Lawrence, Elizabeth, 1904-1985


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Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], The Papers of Ann Preston Bridgers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.