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Eugene O'Neill collection

Call Number: YCAL MSS 124

Scope and Contents

The Eugene O'Neill Collection consists of material by or pertaining to Eugene O'Neill, including correspondence, writings of Eugene O'Neill, writings of others, photographs, legal documents, clippings, and programs. The collection spans the years 1912 to 1993 (the bulk of the material is from 1921 to 1967), and is organized into five series: Correspondence, Writings, Photographs, Other Material, and 2011 Addition and are housed in 28 boxes.

Series I, Correspondence , is organized into four subseries: Eugene O'Neill Correspondence, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill Correspondence, Family Correspondence, and Third Party Correspondence. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically. Eugene O'Neill Correspondence contains letters between O'Neill and others. Because Carlotta Monterey O'Neill often wrote on his behalf, her letters from O'Neill's lifetime have been interfiled here as well. Correspondents include O'Neill's lawyers, Harry Weinberger and Winfield E. Aronberg; a collector of O'Neill's works, Keith H. Baker; O'Neill's agent, Kenneth Macgowan; and friends Dudley and Esta Nichols, Robert Sisk, and Marion Welch (a New London, Connecticut friend, to whom O'Neill wrote in 1905). The files for Armina Marshall (folders 48-54) and Fania Marinoff Van Vechten (folders 88-110) mainly contain letters from Carlotta. Carlotta Monterey O'Neill Correspondence dates from the years after O'Neill's death and chiefly concerns Carlotta's work on behalf of O'Neill's literary estate. Correspondents during this period include Dale Edward Fern, Dudley and Esta Nichols, Robert Sisk, and Fania Marinoff Van Vechten.

Family Correspondence contains letters from O'Neill to family members from 1922 to 1951, and letters from Carlotta to family members from 1951 to 1965. Recipients of O'Neill's letters include Carlotta; his first wife, Kathleen Pitt-Smith; and Carlotta's daughter from a previous marriage, Cynthia Chapman Stram. Recipients of Carlotta's letters include Cynthia Chapman Stram; Carlotta's grandson, Gerald Eugene Stram; and her son-in-law, Roy Stram.

Third Party Correspondence includes correspondence between Gaylord Farm Sanatorium and O'Neill biographers and others making inquiries about O'Neill's stay there. In addition, there are letters from Hazel A. Johnson to Louis Sheaffer regarding Sheaffer's biography of O'Neill (O'Neill: Son and Playwright and O'Neill: Son and Artist), and two small groups of correspondence with O'Neill's lawyers, Harry Weinberger (including letters from Agnes Boulton, Oona Chaplin, and Shane Rudraighe O'Neill) and Winfield E. Aronberg.

Additional correspondence can be found in Series V. 2011 Addition . There are photocopies of letters between Eugene and Carlotta O'Neill and Kenneth Macgowan, as well as four autograph manuscript letters, signed, from Carlotta to Macgowan.

Series II, Writings , is organized into three subseries: Plays, Other Writings, and Writings of Others. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically. Plays contains drafts, proofs, programs, and clippings; some of the drafts and proofs are corrected by O'Neill. Plays represented include The Ancient Mariner, The Fountain, The Iceman Cometh, Mourning Becomes Electra, and Strange Interlude. Other Writings contains a poem, "Ballad of the Birthday of the Most Gracious of Ladyes," dated 24 May 1913, and possibly addressed to Mary A. Clark (in addition, there are letters from O'Neill to Clark in Series I). Writings of Others contains writings about O'Neill's work and life by various authors, including Barrett Harper Clark, Walter Prichard Eaton, Egil Törnqvist, and Elisabeth Weiss. This subseries also contains Martin David Levy's drafts of the opera adaptation of Mourning Becomes Electra, and a photocopy of an article from A.M.A. Archives of Neurology that uses O'Neill's autopsy as a case study.

Series III, Photographs , is organized into two subseries: Loose Prints, and Scrapbooks. Some of the photographs are copy prints and have been so noted. In some cases, the original photograph may be in the Eugene O'Neill Papers (YCAL MSS 123). In other cases, the library does not own the original.

The first subseries, Loose Prints, is organized into Eugene O'Neill, and Other. The first group contains snapshots of O'Neill, circa 1893 to 1941; one studio portrait from the 1920s; four photographs of portraits of O'Neill (two drawings and one bust); a home movie made in Bermuda, probably in 1927; and two photographs taken in 1969 of O'Neill's grave in Boston. The second group, Other, contains photographs of O'Neill's second wife, Agnes Boulton, with his son, Shane; his daughter, Oona Chaplin; his third wife, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill; and his dog, Silverdene Emblem ("Blemie"). There are also photographs of Beacon Farm (taken in 1965) in Northport, New York (where the O'Neills lived in 1931); of Casa Genotta in Sea Island, Georgia (taken in 1932 and sent by Carlotta to Carl Van Vechten in 1936); of a Swedish production of Ile in 1958; and of a drawing that was probably used as an advertisement for the 1962 motion picture of Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Scrapbooks contains photographs taken in 1973 of prints in a scrapbook assembled by Marion Welch in June 1905; the photographs show O'Neill and Welch in New London. There is also a 1948 printed version of The Plays of Eugene O'Neill in which Carlotta pasted photographs of O'Neill taken between 1929 and 1931.

Series IV, Other Materials , is organized into two subseries: Legal Material, and Other. Legal Material contains agreements regarding productions of O'Neill's plays, 1923-1955; documents retaining Harry Weinberger as O'Neill's attorney; a document transferring O'Neill's rights in his plays to Carlotta Monterey O'Neill; and versions of O'Neill's wills, from 1947 to 1951. Other contains Carlotta's engagement calendar for 1958, clippings about O'Neill and his work, excerpts from Russel Crouse's diary for 1944-1953 regarding the O'Neills, material relating to the 1967 issue of the Eugene O'Neill stamp, a memorial brochure for M. Eleanor Fitzgerald, and a sculpture by N. W. Legassie based on a photograph of O'Neill as a boy. (A copy of the photograph is located in Series III, box 17, folder 279.)


  • 1912-1993


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Restricted Fragile in boxes 24-26, and the sculpture of Eugene O'Neill, may only be consulted with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies or photographic prints for reference use have been substituted in the main files.

Conditions Governing Use

The Eugene O'Neill Collection 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

Acquired by gift and purchase from various sources. Source information is recorded on the folders. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.


12.03 Linear Feet ((30 boxes) + 4 broadside folders and 1 art storage item)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The Eugene O'Neill Collection consists of material by or pertaining to O'Neill, including correspondence, writings of O'Neill, writings of others, photographs, legal documents, clippings, and programs. Correspondents include O'Neill's lawyers, Harry Weinberger and Winfield E. Aronberg; a collector of his works, Keith H. Baker; his agent, Kenneth Macgowan; his and Carlotta's friends Dale Edward Fern, Armina Marshall, Dudley Nichols, Robert Sisk, Fania Marinoff Van Vechten, and Marion Welch; and Carlotta's daughter, Cynthia Chapman Stram, and her grandson, Gerald Eugene Stram. There are letters between O'Neill's biographers and others to Gaylord Farm Sanatorium regarding his stay there, and between biographer Louis Sheaffer and Hazel A. Johnson. There is also correspondence between Harry Weinberger and Agnes Boulton regarding her divorce settlement with O'Neill.
Writings include drafts, proofs, programs, and clippings for some of O'Neill's plays, as well as works by others about O'Neill's life and writings. The photographs include prints of O'Neill and his family, among other subjects. There are also legal documents regarding his plays, and versions of Carlotta's wills.

EUGENE O'NEILL (1888-1953)

A biographical timeline is provided in the Eugene O'Neill Papers (YCAL MSS 123).

Processing Information

Historically, the Eugene O'Neill Papers at Beinecke were comprised of a number of accessions unrelated by provenance and classified as Za O'Neill. These materials were processed between 1997 and 1998; at that time, they were separated by provenance into four collections: Eugene O'Neill Papers (YCAL MSS 123); Eugene O'Neill Collection (YCAL MSS 124); Agnes Boulton Collection of Eugene O'Neill (YCAL MSS 122); and Eugene O'Neill, Jr. Collection (YCAL MSS 126). In 2011, material previously classified as Za Quinn was added to the collection.

Guide to the Eugene O'Neill Collection
by Miriam B. Spectre
July 1998
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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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.