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Brooks Bowman Papers

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Held at: Princeton University Library: University Archives [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: University Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Bowman, Brooks, 1913-1937

Brooks Bowman '36 is best remembered as the composer of the songs "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" and "Love and a Dime." Bowman was born in Cleveland, Ohio on October 21, 1913 to George H. and Mary Augusta Brooks Bowman. He attended the University School in Cleveland, Ohio, then the Asheville School in Asheville, North Carolina for his first three years of high school. Bowman then returned to the University School to finish high school. At the University School he participated in football, drama, and the Glee Club.

Bowman entered Stanford University in 1932, choosing to attend school in California primarily for health reasons, having dealt with a severe form of diabetes from childhood. He transferred to Princeton in the fall of 1933 as a member of the sophomore class. A philosophy major, he was a member of the Tiger magazine editorial board, Glee Club, Theater Intime, and Triangle Club. During his senior year, he was vice-president of his class, president of Tower Club, and vice-president of Triangle.

It was in the Triangle Club that Bowman truly made his mark at Princeton and earned his reputation as "Princeton's Cole Porter." Bowman wrote the music for Stags at Bay, notably the songs "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" and "Love and a Dime." In a letter to Bowman, former Triangle Club member F. Scott Fitzgerald '17 called Stags at Bay "the best in ten years" and thought Bowman's work "both as actor and composer the brightest spot in it." Both "Love and a Dime" and "East of the Sun" were hits beyond Princeton, but it was the latter song that made its way into the American songbook, especially after 1940, when Tommy Dorsey recorded the song with Frank Sinatra on vocals. Bowman's best-known work has been recorded countless times, with versions by artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Billie Holliday, and Stan Getz.

After graduating from Princeton in 1936, Bowman lit out for Hollywood, and in June 1937 signed a contract with David O. Selznick and Selznick International Pictures as a composer and songwriter. In September, Bowman was released from the contract. Though his tenure with the motion picture industry was brief and relatively unfruitful, while in Hollywood Bowman did manage to collaborate with Hoagy Carmichael on lyrics for a song entitled "You and Romance and Me." In 1937 he reunited with a Triangle Club friend, Bill Borden '37, and the pair returned east as a songwriting team--Bowman as lyricist and Borden on piano. Bowman also had plans to enter Yale Law School. Based in part on the success and popularity of "East of the Sun" a New York City publisher offered the two a contract. Tragically, the weekend before Brooks Bowman was to sign the contract, he was killed in a car accident near Poughkeepsie, New York, returning from the Yale-Army game.

The Brooks Bowman Papers consist of correspondence and photographs that document his school years and his foray into the music industry. The bulk of the papers consist of Bowman's correspondence with his mother, sister, and numerous friends. The papers also contain a small amount of material on Bowman collected by Frederic Fox '39.

Please see series descriptions in contents list for additional information about individual series.

"Princeton's Cole Porter" by Robert D. B. Carlisle '44 in the May 7, 1986 Princeton Alumni Weekly draws on material in the Bowman Papers, in particular Fred Fox's collected material.

"Princeton's Cole Porter" by Robert D. B. Carlisle '44 in the May 7, 1986 Princeton Alumni Weekly and Bowman's undergraduate alumni file were consulted in preparation of the biographical note. Also, the David O. Selznick Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin, provides details of Bowman's tenure at Selznick International.

Frederic Fox '39, then Princeton University Recording Secretary, transferred his collected material on Brooks Bowman to the University Archives in 1974. The Bowman correspondence and photographs came to the Archives sometime after that date.

The papers were donated by the Bowman family.

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Series 2, Photographs, contains a large number of negatives, most of which are without accompanying prints.

This collection was processed by Christie Lutz with assistance from Mercy Chesiror '10, Samuel Clendon '07 and Christina McMillan '07 in May through July 2007.. Finding aid written by Christie Lutz in June 2007.

Appraisal has been conducted in accordance with Mudd Library guidelines. Nothing was separated from the papers during 2007 processing.

Publisher
University Archives
Finding Aid Author
Christie Lutz
Finding Aid Date
2007
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

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Collection Inventory

Scope and Contents

The Correspondence series primarily documents Bowman's childhood and young adulthood, from his stay as a boy at a sanitarium in Kansas City for diabetes treatment through his years at Stanford and Princeton. Correspondence between Bowman and his mother, Mary Augusta Brooks Bowman, is particularly rich in part because they wrote each other almost daily and in great detail. Bowman's letters to his mother from Stanford and Princeton, in particular, are lively and quick-witted and reveal his myriad social activities, impressions of college life, and opinions on subjects of all sorts, from family matters to politics to popular films and actors. Correspondence with his father, sister, and brother can be equally revealing but does not match the sheer volume of correspondence between mother and son. Letters from Bowman's friends are also worth noting for their vivid evocations of private school and college life in the 1920s and 1930s. Bowman corresponded with several young women, including a cousin, Edith Brooks, who was traveling in the car with Bowman at the time he was killed. The young women's letters, in particular, contain a vivaciousness and convey their own and Bowman's very active social lives. Bowman also maintained a correspondence over many years with a member of the crew he met on a Cunard Lines voyage he took as a boy with his family. The crew member sent Bowman many letters and postcards from his voyages around the world.

Of particular interest with regard to Bowman's musical career are his letters from Princeton between 1933 and 1936. In between reports on football games and weekend trips, Brooks discussed matters such as Triangle Club work, royalty agreements, and musicians of the day, including Guy Lombardo, who performed his songs "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" and "Love and a Dime," as well as his hopes and plans for Hollywood and New York songwriting contracts.

The series includes a letter, from March 1937, in which Brooks details his experiences in Hollywood in his typically spirited manner. The series also contains copies of letters from F. Scott Fitzgerald '17, who wrote to Bowman praising his work on Stags at Bay, and from Cole Porter, who penned a letter of introduction for Bowman to New York theatrical producer Dwight Deere Wiman. This material was collected by Fred Fox and is maintained, along with correspondence between Fox, Bowman's sister Mary, and some of Bowman's Triangle Club colleagues and classmates, in a folder at the end of this series. A copy of the original manuscript of "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" and a copy of "You and Romance and Me," a song Bowman wrote with Hoagy Carmichael, are also located in this folder.

Arrangement

Arranged by correspondent and then chronologically.

Physical Description

9 boxes

Physical Description

2 boxes

1926 July, 1926 July. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1926 August, 1926 August. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1926 September-December, 1926 September-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1927 September-1928 January, 1927 September-1928 January. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1928 February-December, 1928 February-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1929 January-November, 1929 January-November. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1929 December, 1929 December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1930 January-1931 August, 1930 January-1931 August. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1932 January-December, 1932 January-December. 1 folder.
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1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1933 January-October, 1933 January-October. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1934 January-December, 1934 January-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1935 January-June, 1935 January-June. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1935 September-December, 1935 September-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1936 January-May, 1936 January-May. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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Physical Description

4 boxes

1923 December-1926 August, 1923 December-1926 August. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1926 September-October, 1926 September-October. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1927 February-October, 1927 February-October. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1927 November-December, 1927 November-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1928 January-March, 1928 January-March. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1928 April-September, 1928 April-September. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1928 November-December, 1928 November-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1929 January-May, 1929 January-May. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1929 June-October, 1929 June-October. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1929 November-1930 February, 1929 November-1930 February. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1930 March-August, 1930 March-August. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1931 March-August, 1931 March-August. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1932 February-October, 1932 February-October. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1932 November-December, 1932 November-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1933 January-April, 1933 January-April. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1933 May-October, 1933 May-October. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1933 November-December, 1933 November-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1934 January-May, 1934 January-May. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1934 June-December, 1934 June-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1935 January-May, 1935 January-May. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1935 June-December, 1935 June-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1936 January-June, 1936 January-June. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1936 August-December, 1936 August-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1937 January-February, 1937 January-February. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Brooks Bowman to George H. Bowman, 1922 October-1934 January. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

George H. Bowman to Brooks Bowman, 1923 March-1935 January. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Brooks Bowman to Mary Bowman, 1926 August, 1928 September, 1926. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Physical Description

1 box

1924 March-1929 December, 1924 March-1929 December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1930 February-1933 August, 1930 February-1933 August. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1933 September-1934 June, 1933 September-1934 June. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Physical Description

1 box

1922 July-1929 October, 1922 July-1929 October. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1930 March-1933 October, 1930 March-1933 October. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Physical Description

1 box

1936 July-December, 1936 July-December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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1937 January-March, 1937 January-March. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
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Judith Brooks to Brooks Bowman, 1926 September-1930 March. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Brooks Bowman-Miscellaneous Family Correspondence, 1932 December, 1935 May, 1932. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Mary Augusta Brooks Bowman-Miscellaneous Family Correspondence, 1929 December-1936 April. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Charles Brooks to George and Mary Augusta Brooks Bowman, 1926 August-1933 January. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Physical Description

3 boxes

Marianne Beaumont, 1927 October-1928 October. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Marion Cope, 1929 October-1930 March. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Eddie Davens, 1930 May-1932 April. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

George Fisher, 1929 June-November. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Physical Description

2 boxes

1931 June-August, 1931 June-August. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1932 January-1932 June, 1932 January-1932 June. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1932 July-1933 April, 1932 July-1933 April. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1933 May-1935 May, 1933 May-1935 May. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Babe Stamue(?), 1928 July-1929 October. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Genevieve Teachout, 1928 January-1932 August. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Betty Turney, 1933 February-May. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Fanny Wintner(?), 1928 October-1932 April. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Richard Worthington, 1929. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Physical Description

1 box

1923 September-1925 October, 1923 September-1925 October. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1926 February-October, 1926 February-October. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1927 January-1928 December, 1927 January-1928 December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1929 April-1930 December, 1929 April-1930 December. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1931 March-1933 March, 1931 March-1933 March. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Frederic Fox '39 and Others Correspondence, Etc, 1934-1971. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Scope and Contents

The Photographs series contains a small number of photographs of Bowman family members and friends, many of which are not labeled or dated. The series also contains over one hundred negatives, also of Bowman family and friends. The negatives have been maintained in the order in which they were housed in their original envelopes. Most are unidentified and undated, but some envelopes contained notations as to place or date and these notations have been transferred to the appropriate groups of negatives. Several of the negatives have been made into photographs, which have been placed with the photographs in this series.

Arrangement

Arranged by location and/or date where possible.

Physical Description

2 boxes

1914-1934, , Undated, 1914-1934,. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Negatives, 1929-1930. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Series 2: Photographs, undated. 1 item.
Physical Description

1 item

Print, Suggest