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University of Texas at Austin

J. F. (James Foster) Milliken:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Milliken, J. F. (James Foster), 1847-1917
Title: J. F. (James Foster) Milliken Collection
Dates: 1884-1894, undated
Extent: 2 document boxes (0.84 linear feet)
Abstract: The J. F. (James Foster) Milliken Collection, 1884-1894, documents a period of Milliken's career as a theatrical agent and producer for nineteenth century vaudeville and variety acts. The bulk of this small collection is made up of correspondence sent to Milliken and his associates by actors, entertainers, theatre managers, and venue owners over a decade.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-02840
Language: English
Access: Open for research. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials.
Use Policies: Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.
Restrictions on Use: Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Centers' Open Access and Use Policies.


Administrative Information


Preferred Citation J. F. (James Foster) Milliken Collection (Manuscript Collection MS-02840). Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
Acquisition: Acquired as a segment of the Messmore Kendall Collection, 1958. The J. F. Milliken Collection was formerly a part of the Center's Theater Arts Manuscripts Collection, but now forms a separate, discrete collection.
Processed by: Anne Kofmehl and Joan Sibley, 2019 Note: This finding aid replicates and replaces information previously available only in a card catalog. Please see the explanatory note at the end of this finding aid for information regarding the arrangement of the manuscripts as well as the abbreviations commonly used in descriptions.
Repository:

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin,

Biographical Sketch


James Foster Milliken was born in 1847 in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. Known as "Colonel," he was a theatrical agent and producer primarily for nineteenth century vaudeville and variety acts. He also did some work as a playwright. He was based in New York City, but worked with actors and theatres across the country. He died in 1917 in New York City.

Sources:


New York Public Library Archives and Manuscripts. James Foster Milliken papers, 1887-1894, http://archives.nypl.org/the/21268#bioghist (accessed 26 March 2019).

Scope and Contents


The J. F. (James Foster) Milliken Collection, 1884-1894, documents a period of Milliken's career as a theatrical agent and producer for nineteenth century vaudeville and variety acts. The bulk of this small collection is made up of correspondence sent to Milliken and his associates by actors, entertainers, theatre managers, and venue owners over a decade.
Previously cataloged in the card catalog, this collection maintains the original arrangement and is divided into two series: Series I. Recipient, 1884-1894, undated (13 folders) and Series II. Miscellaneous, 1885-1891, undated (4 folders). Both series are described at the item-level and arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Letters in the recipient series are addressed primarily to Milliken (referred to frequently as the Colonel), whereas letters in the miscellaneous series include third-party correspondence addressed to Milliken's known associates, Robert Fraser and Harry W. Cortiss.
The correspondence in this collection illustrates the business side of vaudeville, variety acts, and other performances in theatrical circuits across the country during the late nineteenth century. A majority of Milliken's business was in New York (his home base) and surrounding areas (Philadelphia and New Jersey), though he did work with circuits and theatres across the country, some as far west as Seattle. Most of the letters are from actors and other performers writing to Milliken seeking work on the stage. Subsequent correspondence sometimes includes negotiations on contract terms, payments owed, or feedback (positive or negative) about their assignments. Other correspondents include agents, billboard artists, composers, playwrights, theatre managers, and other professionals involved in the world of theatre and performing arts.
Correspondents who are well-represented include Harry W. Cortiss, an associate of Milliken's, Harry J. Norman, a theatre manager who helped produce Milliken's own works, and Albert Tavernier, a theatre manager of the Tavernier Comedy and Dramatic companies representing Ida Van Cortland, a vaudeville actress. Notable correspondents include two of the Frohman brothers, Daniel and Gustave (famed theatrical producers) and Eduard Holst, a prolific Danish playwright and composer. Milliken worked with a variety of acts, some of interest to note include Adolf Popper, "the Rat charmer of Hamlin"; Morton, Reno, and Mack, "Eccentric contortionists, grotesque dancers, high kickers, etc."; and J. J. Powers, a "Skatorial Artist." Many letters are illustrated with fine, detailed letterheads advertising the acts and performers represented.
In addition to correspondence, other materials of interest include agreements, receipts, registration forms (for actors applying for work), and a list of "delinquents" (individuals who owed Milliken money) from 1891.

Related Material


There are several related performing arts collections at the Harry Ransom Center that may be of interest to researchers of vaudeville and variety performance, including: Tony Pastor, Harry Houdini, Roy Arthur, Al Emmett Fostell, Florenz Ziegfeld, Popular Entertainments, Theater Biography, and Theater Arts Manuscripts collections. Two other small J. F. Milliken collections are located at the New York Public Library, one in the Manuscripts and Archives Division, the other in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Library for the Performing Arts.

Index Terms


People

Cortiss, Harry W.
Milliken, J. F. (James Foster), 1847-1917.
Norman, Harry J.
Tavernier, Albert, -1929.

Subjects

Actors.
Entertainers.
Theatrical agents--United States--Correspondence.
Theatrical companies--United States--Correspondence.
Traveling theater--United States--1884-1894.
Vaudeville--New York (N.Y.)--1884-1894.

Document Types

Correspondence.
Postcards.
Receipts.

Container List