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The Two Orphans:

An Inventory of the Collection in the Performing Arts Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Sort as: Two Orphans Collection
Title: The Two Orphans Collection
Dates: 1874-1926
Extent: 1 document box, 1 oversize box (0.57 linear feet)
Abstract: The Two Orphans Collection is comprised of programs, clippings, scrapbooks, and photographs from various productions of The Two Orphans, one of the greatest theatrical successes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the United States.
RLIN Record ID: TXRC04-A1
Language: English
Access: Open for research

Acquisition: Compiled by Theatre Arts staff from the William H. Crain and Albert Davis Collections
Processed by: Antonio Alfau, 2004

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

The Two Orphans was one of the greatest theatrical successes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the United States. Les deux orphelines was written by the French dramatists Adolphe d’Ennery and Eugène Cormon, and its first presentation was at the Théâtre Porte St. Martin, Paris, in January 1874. Due to a previous misunderstanding, D’Ennery felt indebted to A. M. Palmer and Jackson N. Hart of the Union Square Theatre and by way of compensation granted them the U. S. production rights of the play. Translated into English and adapted by Jackson N. Hart, it was produced for the first time in that New York theatre, on December 21, 1874, where it enjoyed a tremendously successful run of 180 performances. In 1881 at the Booth’s Theatre in New York, the net profits of the play for just one week were $11,400. In the early twentieth century the popularity of the play declined.
The Two Orphans Collection is chiefly comprised of programs and photographs. The collection is organized in three series: I. Photographs, 1874, II. Programs and Clippings, 1874-1926, nd, and III. Scrapbook, 1904. The twelve photographs, in carte-de-visite format, are of the original cast of the first United States production of the play at the Union Square Theatre in 1874. Among them are photos of McKee Rankin, Kitty Blanchard, and Kate Claxton, famous actors of that epoch. There are sixty programs from different productions in several United States theatres. Notable among the programs are those for the first production at the Union Square Theatre, in 1874, and the tragic production of the play at the Brooklyn Theatre, in 1876, where nearly 300 people lost their lives in a fire, including two of the actors. Kate Claxton miraculously survived although most of her clothing was burned off. The scrapbook contains twelve large photographs of different scenes of the production of the play at the New Amsterdam Theatre, New York, in 1904.

Elsewhere in the Performing Arts Collection, researchers can find additional materials related to The Two Orphans in the Production Photographs Collection, the Prints Collection, and the Souvenir Programs Collection.


Blanchard, Kitty, 1847-1911.
Claxton, Kate, 1848-1924.
Cogswell, W. J.
Granger, Maude.
Mackay, F. F. (Frank Findley), 1832-1923.
Morant, Fanny.
Parselle, John, 1820-1885.
Rankin, McKee, 1844-1914.
Robson, Stuart, 1836-1903.
Thorne, Charles R., Jr.
Vernon, Ida.
Wilkins, Marie.


New Amsterdam Theatre (New York, N.Y.)
Brooklyn Theatre (New York, N.Y.)
Union Square Theatre (New York, N.Y.)


Cormon, Eugène, 1810-1903.
Ennery, Adolphe d', 1811-1899.
Actors--United States--19th century.
Theater--France--History--19th century.
Theater--United States--History--19th century.

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