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New York Clipper Registry Collection

Identifier: MSS 018

Scope and Contents

There are a variety of materials found in this collection submitted by people across the United States. Some of the folders contain the certificate of registry provided by the Clipper. In a few of these cases, the certificate was returned to the Clipper Magazine with a request for the return of the original material to the owner (see Registry Series scope notes for individual names). The financial transactions contain bank statements and returned checks as well as documentation of the satellite office in Chicago called the Western Bureau. This collection can provide researchers with knowledge about different varieties of acts. The Financial documents can be helpful to research pricing scales of the early 20th century and basic information on different companies operating at the time.

One name contained in the Registry collection is Joe Laurie Jr., a vaudevillian predating this collection by a few years. In his folder contains the script he sent in for his popular act "WhatIka" which he performed at the Palace in 1919. It should also be noted that some people wrote into the Registry under different names than their given or simply used the act’s name in lieu of their own. A few of the letters make reference to this. Another well known name that comes up a few times is Joseph Keaton of the Three Keatons (76, 105, 111, 133). The envelopes are empty, but the descriptions written on the coupon may be useful. One of these reads "Comedy, lasso with rubber rope and basket ball" (133) and can be related to a skit starring Buster Keaton by the name of "Convict 13" which was released on film in 1920. For those unfamiliar with the Keaton family, Joseph could be either "Buster" or his father as they were both performing at this time.

Content Warning

Warning: This collection contains racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigrant depictions of multiple groups which may be disturbing and/or offensive to viewers.


  • Majority of material found within 1914-1917
  • 1913 - 1923


Language of Materials

Records in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

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.

Biographical / Historical

The New York Clipper Registry provided a way for performers and writers to copyright their performances and other works in the early 20th century. Anyone wishing to protect their work would fill out a coupon published in the New York Clipper and send it-along with a copy or description of their act, song, trick, or other works-to the N.Y. Clipper Registry Bureau. Once received, the envelopes were opened and all materials were numbered and stored in envelopes by the Registry Bureau. A Certificate and label of registration were mailed to the submitter to show that their work had been entered into the registry. At any time, the owner could call upon the Registry Bureau to prove that their work was copyrighted.


23 linear feet


The New York Clipper Registry Collection has been divided into two series; the NY Clipper Registry Series containing the works submitted for copyright protection, and the Financial Transactions Series containing cancelled checks, bank statements, and other financial documents from the New York Clipper. The N.Y. Clipper Registry Series is arranged numerically according to the original registry number provided by the New York Clipper. The copyright numbers appear to have been assigned as the materials were received but not all of the materials follow a chronological order. Each folder contains the contents of one envelope, which sometimes contains more than one work. Materials that do not have a copyright number assigned are located at the end of the series. Oversized materials have been removed and housed separately, but are still organized numerically according to registry number. The name of copyright holder(s), date of submission, and registry number is found both in the box list as well as on each folder. The Financial Transactions Series has been arranged according to the document type, then chronologically or by document number if available.

Envelope is empty and contains no materials.

Custodial History

These materials were found in two file cabinets at the Variety offices in Los Angeles, California, by an archivist at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Custody of the materials was granted to the Academy, with the understanding that they would assume the responsibility for seeking out a more appropriate permanent repository.

Processing Information

Finding Aid prepared by Rosalie Gartner and Kate Markopoulos, last update May 31, 2012.

AtoM record created by Samantha Quinon.

New York Clipper Registry 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