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Helen Shea Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 019

Scope and Contents

This collection contains materials related to the life of Helen Shea. The collection includes photographs, costumes, programs, original works, correspondence, and other materials from her career as a dancer. The material dates from approximately 1920 to 1999, with the majority produced during the span of her dancing career, from about 1920 to 1942. The bulk of the material is made up of photographs, original writings, and correspondence regarding Shea's best-known performance piece, Leda and the Swan. Shea copyrighted the work in 1935, and on several occasions asserted her copyright to stop other individuals from performing the piece. The collection also includes a large group of costumes and costuming supplies which were photographed and removed from the collection due to a mold infestation. The collection contains some photographs and other materials from Shea's career with the Ziegfeld Follies from 1920-1932, as well as a number of touring productions, including Moonlight and Whitebirds. The collection also includes some research into Shea's life and family history, including a short biography written by a neighbor, Dick Card, in 1999.


  • Bulk
  • 1920 - 1999


Language of Materials

Records in English.

Conditions Governing Use

Some materials may be subject to copyright. No part of the materials protected by copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the copyright holder. Researchers are required to seek permission from the copyright holder to reproduce and/or publish materials under copyright.


2.34 Linear Feet


This collection is arranged in nine series.

Series 1: Photographs

Series 2: Costumes

Series 3: Programs and announcements

Series 4: Original writings

Series 5: Correspondence

Series 6: Music and songbooks

Series 7: Biographical and genealogical information

Series 8: Clippings

Series 9: Miscellaneous materials

Physical Location


Other Finding Aids

See attached digital object (click on the second image below the title of this record)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the Emerson College Archives in 2010 by Greg and Alice Newth on behalf of Eleanor Strong, who was Helen Shea's neighbor in Boston's South End.


Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: [Container number], Helen Shea Collection, Emerson College Archives, Emerson College, Boston, MA.


The Helen Shea collection contains photographs, costumes, musical scores, original writings, correspondence, biographical and genealogical information, clippings, and other materials related to the life and stage career of Helen Shea, a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies in the 1920s and 30s. Much of the material relates to Shea's original one-act dance, Leda and the Swan, and her attempts to maintain her rights as the copyright holder for Leda and the Swan and other pieces.

Processing Information

Chessie Monks, 2010


Helen Shea Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Emerson College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Walker Building, Room 223
120 Boylston Street
Boston Massachusetts 02116 United States
(617) 824-8301