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Research Guides

Personal Papers

A majority of the personal papers chosen for inclusion in this guide document the lives and careers of dancers, choreograhers, directors, or others involved in Seattle dance. These collections may contain correspondence, scripts, programs or other ephemera, and, occasionally, photographs (although large sets of visual materials generally have been transferred to form separate photograph collections). 

Verla Flowers scrapbook

The Verla Flowers scrapbook documents the early life and career of the respected Seattle-area dance teacher, choreographer, and dancer. The scrapbook includes materials documenting her time at the Cornish College of the Allied Arts.

Reitha Gehri scrapbooks

Reitha Gehri (1911-1996) was a prominent dance teacher in Tacoma, Washington, who studied at the College of Puget Sound. Gehri, who began studying dance, drama, and music at an early age, also became very involved with the Little Theater Movement in Tacoma. The scrapbook is comprised of two volumes containing newspaper clippings, announcements, and advertisements of performances in which Gehri was involved.

Elizabeth Virginia Goode scrapbook

Elizabeth Goode Rockwell (1920-2010) was an influential American dance educator with ties to the Pacific Northwest. The scrapbook covers her time as a student at the University of Washington and in the dance program at Mills College, as well as a dance teacher at Monticello College. The scrapbook contains photographs, programs from dance performances, and correspondence.

Karen Irvin papers

Karen Irvin joined the dance department faculty at Seattle's Cornish School of the Allied Arts in 1945 and served as head of the department from 1952 to 1979. She also founded the Cornish Ballet.

Martha Nishitani papers

Martha Nishitani (1920-2014) was a modern dance teacher and choreographer in Seattle, Washington. Her passion for dance arose at the age of six when she was taken to her first performance; however, she did not begin formal instruction until her high school years, 1935-1939. She was taught at Lincoln High School by Katharine A. Wolfe. In 1942, Nishitani and her family were sent first to Camp Harmony and then the Minidoka Relocation Camp for two years. In the late 1940s, Nishitani was approached by dance critic, Maxine Cushing Gray, who introduced her to modern dance choreographer, Eleanor King. She would study with King and performed in her company for six years. In 1951, after King left Seattle, Nishitani started her own company, the Martha Nishitani Modern Dance Group. She also formed her own dance school, taking over King's former space on First Hill. In 1954, Nishitani moved her studio to a location in Seattle's University District (4205 University Way, N.E.), where it remained as the Martha Nishitani Modern Dance School until her retirement in 2002.

Marguerite Portnoff collection of Ida Levin ephemera

Ida Levin (born 1907) was a dancer from Seattle, Washington who continued her professional career in New York. Levin started her dance training at the Cornish School and continued with Mary Ann Wells in Seattle for four years before moving to New York, where she studied ballet with Michel Fokine for one year. She joined the Albertina Rasch Dancers and toured with them throughout the United States.

Joan Skinner papers

Joan Skinner was a choreographer and dance teacher at the University of Washington.

Cecilia Augspurger Schultz papers

Cecilia Augspurger Schultz (1878-1971) was an influential impresario who managed the Moore Theater from 1935-1949, helping to bring nationally and world renown music and dance artists to Seattle, Washington.

Katharine A. Wolfe papers

Katharine A. Wolfe (1904-1990) was a dance teacher and an administrator for Seattle Public Schools, who spent over ten years preparing a comprehensive study of twentieth century American concert dance, which never found a publisher. She first came to Seattle to study botany at the University of Washington, but began taking dance classes and soon changed her major to physical education. In 1926, she became a physical education teacher at Garfield High School, moving the following year to Lincoln High School, where she remained through 1944. While working in the public school system, Wolfe continued her own study of a variety of modern dance techniques, first at the Cornish School. She also traveled to Dresden, Germany during the summer of 1934 to train with Mary Wigman. Wolfe spent several subsequent summers studying with major modern dancers in New York and Bennington, Vermont. It was while in Bennington that she began work on her dance history book project. After serving Seattle Public Schools as a consultant in health and physical education, responsible for developing the physical education curriculum, Wolfe retired in 1969 and moved to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.