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Gilbert Seldes Papers


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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

Gilbert Vivian Seldes was born on January 3, 1893 in the Jewish agricultural community of Alliance, New Jersey. Gilbert and his older brother George were raised by their father George, a non-observant Jew and self admitted philosophical radical, after their mother Anna died in 1896. Gilbert attended Central High School in Philadelphia and enrolled in Harvard University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1914.

He began his literary career as a music critic for The Philadelphia Public Ledger upon graduation from Harvard. After serving as a foreign correspondent in England during World War I, he returned to the United States and served in editorial capacities for numerous publications including The Dial. He went on to author several books, numerous articles, and essays. He also adapted works for Broadway, served as host and commentator for radio programs, and made documentary films. Other career highlights included being hired as the first director of television programs at CBS and serving as the first dean of the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School of Communication.

He married Alice Wadhams Hall in 1924, with whom he had two children: Timothy, a literary agent and Marian, a Tony Award winning actress. Seldes died in 1970 after a lengthy illness.

Divided into four series, this collection primarily contains research material Seldes gathered for his writings including his book The Public Arts. Also included in the collection is correspondence, drafts and printed copies of articles and reviews Seldes wrote in the 1940s and 1950s. Seldes filed his research material using a numbered category system for which no key to said system was included within the collection. At times, the category name was included on the file folder, but more often then not, it was excluded. It should also be noted that despite being marked with one category number, material may have been found in a different category folder. The material was left within the category in which it was found.

Some brittle and damaged newspaper clippings were replaced with copies obtained from ProQuest historical newspapers [electronic resource].

Supplementary correspondence was purchased from David J. Holmes Autographs, 1996.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kristine McGee
Finding Aid Date
2015 October
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Scope and Contents

Primarily consists of articles and clippings Seldes used for his own writings.

Advertising, 1953-1954.
Box 1 Folder 1
Censorship, 1955-1956.
Box 1 Folder 2
The Commercial, 1945-1954.
Box 1 Folder 3
Condon, Eddie, 1944.
Box 1 Folder 4
Educational television, 1951-1957.
Box 1 Folder 5
Hollywood, 1945, 1952.
Box 1 Folder 6
Left intellectuals, 1952, 1954.
Box 1 Folder 7
Miscellaneous articles, speeches, etc., 1955-1957.
Box 1 Folder 8
Movies, 1947-1954.
Box 1 Folder 9
Movies: contents and program quality, 1950-1955.
Box 1 Folder 10
Movies: influence, 1952-1954.
Box 1 Folder 11
Movies: Roman Catholic Church pressure, 1936-1948.
Box 1 Folder 12
Other live arts, 1934-1955.
Box 1 Folder 13
Pay-television, 1955.
Box 1 Folder 14
Radio, 1939-1950.
Box 1 Folder 15
Radio: censorship, 1935-1947.
Box 2 Folder 1
Radio, television and the public, 1935-1952.
Box 2 Folder 2
Radio and television: economics, 1946-1955.
Box 2 Folder 3
Radio and television: politics in, 1939-1954.
Box 2 Folder 4
Radio and television: programs, 1945-1954.
Box 2 Folder 5-6
Riesman, David, 1957.
Box 2 Folder 7
Television: impact, 1953.
Box 2 Folder 8
Television: culture, 1954-1955.
Box 2 Folder 9
Television: politics, 1955.
Box 2 Folder 10

Supplementary purchased correspondence (correspondents include Sherwood Anderson, Henry Blake Fuller, Mitchell Kennerley, Robert Sherwood, E.B. White, and Alexander Woolcott), 1920-1950.
Box 2 Folder 11

Articles, 1944-1954.
Box 2 Folder 12
Articles: drafts, circa 1940-1945.
Box 2 Folder 13
Speech, 1954.
Box 2 Folder 14
The Public Arts: draft, undated.
Box 3 Folder 1-4

Clippings, 1945-1951.
Box 4 Folder 1
Clippings, 1952-1954.
Box 4 Folder 2
Clippings, 1955.
Box 4 Folder 3
Program Notes: Eddie Condon, 1944.
Box 4 Folder 4

Print, Suggest