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Fred Fehl:

A Preliminary Inventory of His Dance Collection at the Harry Ransom Center [Part 1]

Creator: Fehl, Fred, 1906-1995
Title: Fred Fehl Dance Collection
Dates: 1940-1985
Extent: 122 document boxes, 19 oversize boxes, 3 oversize folders (osf) (74.8 linear feet)
Abstract: This collection consists of photographs, programs, and published materials related to Fehl's work documenting dance performances, mainly in New York City. The majority of the photographs are black and white 5 x 7" prints. The American Ballet Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, and the New York City Ballet are well represented. There are also published materials that represent Fehl's dance photography as reproduced in newspapers, magazines and other media.
Call Number: Performing Arts Collection PA-00030
Note: This brief collection description is a preliminary inventory. The collection is not fully processed or cataloged; no biographical sketch, descriptions of series, or indexes are available in this inventory.
Access:

Open for research. An advance appointment is required to view photographic negatives in the Reading Room. For selected dance companies, digital images with detailed item-level descriptions are available on the Ransom Center's Digital Collections website .

Digitized material is available for this collection. Click here to explore.


Acquisition:

Purchases and gift, 1980-1990 (R8923, G2125, R10965)

Processed by:

Sue Gertson, 2001; Helen Adair and Katie Causier, 2006; Daniela Lozano, 2012; Chelsea Weathers and Helen Baer, 2013-2014

Repository:

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin


Fred Fehl was born in 1906 in Vienna and lived there until he fled from the Nazis in 1938, arriving in New York in 1939. There he worked as a children's photographer to support himself while he pursued his love of theater by taking live shots of theater productions. He showed his prints to press agents and soon had a thriving career as a theater, dance, and music photographer. He published several books of his photography, including Stars of the Ballet and Dance in Performance Photographs (1984) and At New York City Ballet (1991).

The Fred Fehl Dance Collection consists of photographs, programs, and published materials related to Fehl’s work documenting dance performances, mainly in New York City. It is organized in five series: I. Prints, 1940-1985, undated (104 boxes, 3 oversize folders), II. Negatives, 1940-1985, undated (19 boxes), III. Slides and Transparencies, 1957-1980, undated (7 boxes), IV. Dance Programs, 1940-1985 (6.5 boxes), and V. Other Published Materials, 1940-1985, undated (4.5 boxes).

The Prints series is predominantly comprised of black and white 5 x 7" prints that capture dance performances in New York City, 1940-1985. The materials are organized alphabetically by company name, then by year within each company, and alphabetically by ballet within each year. Best represented are the American Ballet Theatre, 1940-1977 (32 boxes); the Joffrey Ballet, 1965-1975 (7 boxes); and the New York City Ballet, 1948-1985 (43 boxes). Numerous other dance companies are also represented, such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and the Martha Graham Dance Company. In addition to photographs of performances, there are occasional shots of rehearsals, studio shots, or individual dancer portraits; some televised ballet productions are also represented. This series also contains oversize prints, contact sheets, and retouched prints.

Series II. Negatives are located in boxes 117-134 and are arranged alphabetically by company name, then by year within each company. Boxes 117-132 contain rolls of 35mm and 120 negatives while boxes 133-134 contain individual frames or strips of negatives in various formats, including long strips of 35mm negatives, originally in negative files, which were cut in order to be housed properly. The rolls of negatives were originally housed in small boxes. Most were grouped by company, though some boxes contained negatives from several companies. Each negative roll is labeled with a number originally assigned by Fehl, some of which are listed in parentheses in the inventory. Some of the boxes included labels or programs that provide information regarding the production corresponding to each roll of negatives. These labels are located in box 112. Photocopies of the tops and sides of the original boxes, which contain dates and other information, are also available. Other original housing materials are located in box 142. The Negatives series also contains some rolls of color filmstrips. An advance appointment is required to view photographic negatives in the Reading Room.

Series III. Slides and Transparencies are in boxes 135-141. The slides are housed in boxes 135-140 while the transparencies are in box 141. They are organized alphabetically by company name, then by year within each company, and alphabetically by ballet within each year. The bulk of the transparencies are studio shots of dancers. The names of the dancers included in each production are also listed in the container list.

The Programs series, also arranged alphabetically by company name and then by year for each company, is made up of the dance programs Fehl collected. As in the Prints series, the American Ballet Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, and the New York City Ballet dominate, but programs for many other companies are also present.

The final series, Other Published Materials, represents Fehl's dance photography as reproduced in newspapers and magazines and other media. Included are clippings, tear sheets, magazine covers, sound recording covers, and scrapbooks.

The Ransom Center also holds Fehl's collection of dance periodicals. See the Fred Fehl Theater Collection for his work documenting theatrical performances.


Fred Fehl’s dance periodicals were transferred to Performing Arts Periodicals. See the Fred Fehl Theater Collection for his work documenting theatrical performances.


The finding aid for the Fred Fehl Dance Collection is a conflation of the original inventory created in 2001. A small addition of prints of the New York City Ballet was added to the collection in 2006 and placed in box 116. The description for these prints has been integrated into the New York City Ballet segment of the original inventory.

Fred Fehl Dance Collection [Part I. Series I.- III.] [This Page]

Fred Fehl Dance Collection [Part II. Series IV.- V.]