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Irene Sharaff papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 1201

Scope and Contents

The Irene Sharaff Papers, which span from 1934 to 2014, contain artwork, research notes, clippings, and other documentation related to her life and work. Includes drawings and sketches related to Sharaff's most famous work as a costume designer including An American in Paris, The King and I, West Side Story, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

Files from Mai-Mai Sze, Sharaff’s partner, including materials relating to Sze’s published writings, appear in the Personal Papers series.


  • 1934 - 2014


Conditions Governing Access

These materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Irene Sharaff Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Yale School of Drama, 2018.


Organized into four series: I. Personal Papers, 1934-1992. II. Production Files, 1941-1989. III. Research Files, 1941-1991. IV. Designs and Artwork, 1945-2014.

Contains some legacy information written on the housing, including folder and box numbers from previous processing work performed on the collection.


192.33 Linear Feet ((137 boxes) + 4 broadsides)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

Irene Sharaff

Irene Sharaff was an American costume designer for both the stage and screen. Born in 1910 in Boston, Sharaff studied art and design in Boston, New York, and Paris. She won five Academy Awards for her costume designs, including awards for An American in Paris (1951), West Side Story (1961), and The King and I (1956). She was also awarded a 1952 Tony Award for The King and I.

Sharaff died in 1993, leaving her papers in a bequest to the Yale School of Drama. In 1989, Sharaff and her partner--the painter and writer Mai-Mai Sze--donated their personal library of over eight hundred books to the New York Society Library.

Mai-Mai Sze

Mai-Mai Sze was a Chinese-American painter, writer, translator, and performer. Born in 1909 in China, she grew up in London and the United States while her father served as ambassador from China, first to the United Kingdom and then the U.S. Sze graduated from Wellesley College; she wrote several books, including a memoir. She died in 1992.

Custodial History

Bequest of Irene Sharaff to the Yale School of Drama, 1993.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections as they are acquired, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and minimal organization.

Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Processing Information

Initial arrangement and description of the Irene Sharaff Papers was performed by Amanda Walker and Susan Brady for the Yale School of Drama Design Department, 2006.

Guide to the Irene Sharaff Papers
by Rosemary K. J. Davis and Michael Rush
March 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
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New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.