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Ruth Ford papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 847

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of Ruth Ford's correspondence with and topical and production files relating to plays of Edward Albee, Kenward Elmslie, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, James Purdy, Tennessee Williams, and others. Also included are scripts of works submitted to her for her review and/or plays and screenplays in which she acted including plays by Mart Crowley, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Tennessee Williams; stage and film production stills and candid and portrait photographs; and printed invitations to parties, openings, and other events at New York City nightclubs. The collection also contains correspondence with Isak Dinesen, George Platt Lynes, Rex Reed, Carl Van Vechten, and Ford's brother Charles Henri Ford.


  • 1935 - 1999


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired by purchase from various sources on multiple funds, 2010-2018. For more information consult the appropriate curator.


Organized into seven series: I. Correspondence, production, and topical files. II. Photographs. III. Posters. IV. May 2017 acquisition. V. September 2017 acquisition. VI. June 2018 acquisition. VII. December 2018 acquisition.


6.6 Linear Feet ((10 boxes) + 1 broadside)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

Ruth Ford (1911-2009)

Ruth Ford was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi in 1911. In the 1930s, after graduating from the University of Mississippi with bachelor's and master's degrees, she moved to New York City where she was introduced to writers, musicians, and other artists by her brother Charles Henri Ford, himself a poet and artist living in New York. Ruth Ford was photographed by Carl Van Vechten, Man Ray, and Cecil Beaton, and as a fashion model she appeared in magazines including Harper's Bazaar, Mademoiselle, and Vogue. She had a successful acting career, performing in stage productions including The Shoemaker's Holiday (1938), No Exit (1946), Requiem for a Nun (1959), and Harold and Maude (1980). As a film actress, she had roles in over two dozen films, including Secrets of the Lone Wolf (1941) and The Keys of the Kingdom (1944). On television she appeared in several productions of The United States Steel Hour (1954-1961) as well as numerous other series and made-for-television movies. She was well known for the modern-day salons that she held in her apartment in the Dakota apartment building where her guests included Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Stephen Sondheim, Edward Albee, and many others. Her first marriage to Peter van Eyck ended in divorce. She married the actor Zachary Scott in 1952, and they were the parents of one daughter, Shelly Scott. Ruth Ford died in New York City in 2009.

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, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

The collection received preliminary processing at the time of acquisition. Further rehousing and description were carried out in 2014.

The collection is comprised of material formerly classed as Uncat MSS 1231, Uncat MSS 1232, Uncat MSS 1233, Uncat MSS 1239, Uncat ZA File 721, Uncat ZA File 722, Uncat MSS 1248, Uncat MSS 1249, Uncat MSS 1257, Uncat MSS 1259, Uncat MSS 1261, Uncat MSS 1285.

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 basic processing.

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

Guide to the Ruth Ford Papers
by Beinecke Staff and Nora Soto
March 2014. Revised: October 2023
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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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.