Arthur Bloom research collection on Edwin Forrest
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
Arthur W. Bloom (born 1939) is a scholar of American theater and the Dean Emeritus of Visual and Performing Arts at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Both an actor and an academic throughout his career, he has also held positions at Fisk University, Washington State University Pullman, Loyola University Chicago, Trinity University, and Loyola Marymount University. Bloom is the author of three biographies, each of a particular nineteenth-century American actor: Joseph Jefferson: Dean of the American Theater (2000),Edwin Booth: A Biography and Performance History (2013), and Edwin Forrest: A Biography and Performance History (2019). This collection contains the research materials for his biography of Edwin Forrest.
Edwin Forrest (1806-1872) was a prominent, Philadelphia-born actor noted for his Shakespearean roles, as well as for supporting emerging American playwrights via his popular playwrighting contest held from 1828 to 1847. Called the first star of the American stage, Forrest's celebrity reached its height in the middle of the nineteenth century not only due to his dynamic and powerful acting, but also due to the controversies in which he was often embroiled. His rivalry with British actor William Macready led to the deadly Astor Place Riot of 1849, and several lawsuits filed both by and against him were sources for East Coast journalists, who often wrote daily updates of Forrest's court proceedings. In particular, newspaper articles following his suit for divorce from Catherine Norton Sinclair and the assault case against him filed by Nathaniel Parker Willis are well-represented in this collection. Forrest's career and life in the public eye began to wane in the 1860s, when both his health and his acting started to lose their former potency. Shortly before his death in 1872, Forrest drew up plans in his will for the Edwin Forrest Home, a place of retirement for stage performers located in his hometown of Philadelphia. While the Edwin Forrest Home was eventually folded into the Actors Fund of America in the twentieth century, the Forrest Theater in Philadelphia still bears his name, and Forrest continues to be widely regarded as one of the greatest American stage performers.
A more extensive biography of Forrest can be located in the finding aid prepared by Julie A. Reahard for Ms. Coll. 5, Edwin Forrest collection, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania.
This collection contains research materials for Arthur Bloom's work, Edwin Forrest: A Biography and Performance History (2019). It is divided into three series: I. Original materials related to Edwin Forrest; II. Newspaper clippings (copies); III. Research materials.
I. Original materials related to Edwin Forrest contains contemporaneous newspapers, clippings, a broadside, and a magazine related to Forrest's performances and life, as well as a booklet of sheet music based on the play Metamora which Forrest performed, four letters written by Forrest, 11 original playbills, four photographs of Forrest, and a postcard depicting the Edwin Forrest Home. This is the smallest portion of the collection, and its materials are fairly limited.
II. Newspaper clippings (copies) is the most extensive portion of this collection, containing printout copies of newspaper articles about Forrest and, in some cases, Bloom's correspondence with researchers who located newspaper articles for him. The latter documents are in every instance stapled to the printouts of the articles to which they correspond. While there are some gaps in years corresponding to Forrest's very early and very late career, this may well be due to Forrest's relative inactivity or lack of interest on the part of journalists during these periods. During the years from 1842 to 1878, however, there are no substantial gaps in the documentation of Forrest's career and life in the public eye. The years 1851 and 1852 are by far the most extensively documented--these years correspond to Forrest's highly-publicized divorce case and his assault case.
III. Research materials contains copies--in some cases handwritten--of documents written by or related to Forrest, contemporary scholarly publications about Forrest and nineteenth-century theater not authored by Bloom, research notes, annotated drafts of Forrest's performance history timeline, and limited miscellaneous materials related to Forrest and his contemporaries.
Researchers should be aware that Bloom often appears to have recycled previously printed documents, and that therefore a significant number of the printed materials in this collection are printed on the reverse of other documents. Most frequently, these documents have nothing to do with Edwin Forrest or Bloom's biography on Forrest, but on occasion they do--researchers should therefore check the backs of printed documents they request in case they contain relevant material.
Gifts of Arthur Bloom, 2013 and 2018.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Cory Austin Knudson
- Finding Aid Date
- 2020 February 5
- Access Restrictions
This collection is available 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.