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Series III: MSS 29 [Part 1] - Special Correspondence, G-N

Call Number: MSS 29, MSS 29A, Series III

Scope and Contents

Virgil Thomson's voluminous correspondence has been organized into two categories: special correspondence (Series III, arranged alphabetically by author) and general correspondence (Series III.A, arranged chronologically).

Within each folder, undated material precedes dated material and is so marked on interior acid-free folders. Envelopes have been discarded unless they contain information besides the usual two addresses, which have been transferred onto the enclosed items. All information so transferred appears in brackets (with the exception of certain out-of-date code numbers appearing in brackets on the correspondence of Alice B. Toklas). Return addresses appear on the right side of the item, either on the top or near the signature, depending upon space. The address of destination appears on the top left of the item, usually near the salutation. The following abbreviations have been used to indicate Virgil Thomson's various addresses:

KC: 2629 Wabash Ave., Kansas City, MO

NY: The Chelsea Hotel, 222 West 23rd St., New York, NY

Paris: 17 bis quai Voltaire, Paris, France

HT: The Herald Tribune offices, New York, NY

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENCE: Items are filed for the most part alphabetically by author. Virgil Thomson's original files would often include letters by the subject and, in the same file, letters written about the subject by others. Wherever this system has been retained, cross-references have generally been provided from the names of those correspondents.

Each main entry includes a two- or three-number code appearing beneath the name, and a range of dates appearing next to the name.


Cage, John. — 1939-1983


The above entry indicates that there are 25 letters from Cage to Virgil Thomson, 3 from Virgil Thomson to Cage, and 31 miscellaneous items, all dating from 1939 to 1983. Thus, the first number of this code indicates the number of letters from the subject to Virgil Thomson. The second number indicates the number of letters from Virgil Thomson to the subject (usually unsigned carbon copies). The third number, when it appears, indicates the number of items in the folder that do not fall into the first two categories. These may include letters to or from others concerning the subject, letters to or from spouses, concert programs, miscellaneous enclosures, etc. Letters from personal secretaries written in the subject's name are considered to be from the subject; these are rare. Next to the subject name are the inclusive dates of the correspondence.

CROSS REFERENCES: Underneath the number of items and the dates are the cross references. Dates for individual letters indicate month/day/year and often appear in abbreviated form:

Example: 3/27/72 [indicates March 27, 1972]

When items referred to in the cross references are too numerous to list individually, a single year or a range of years may be indicated. If items appear generously throughout the file to which the reference is made, or the total number of items in a folder is small, dates have been omitted.

FAMILY CORRESPONDENCE: This has been interfiled with special correspondence. For cross-references see the entry for Family correspondence in series III, Special correspondence. Also, see Series IV, Genealogy.

GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE: Virgil Thomson's original filing system for general correspondence has been preserved. The material is generally arranged chronologically. In the case of an exchange of two or more letters between Virgil Thomson and a correspondent, all letters are usually filed together, even if the second and following letters in the exchange are out of chronological order with the rest of the general correspondence for that month or year. Letters written on the same day are filed alphabetically by the correspondents' names.

PRESERVATION: Decaying material has been photocopied onto acid-free paper. This material includes Virgil Thomson's letter drafts, letters and newspaper clippings sent to Virgil Thomson, and all telegrams. If the original item is an unsigned typescript or unmarked newspaper clipping, the item has been discarded. All other originals have been filed in Series VII: Preservation (Correspondence and Genealogy) and may be seen upon special request.


  • 1804-1990 (inclusive)


Language of Materials

From the Collection:

Materials chiefly in English.

Conditions Governing Access

From the Collection:

The collection is open to researchers by appointment. There are no restricted materials in the collection. Please contact the Special Collections staff to schedule an appointment. Some of the materials may be stored at the Library's off-campus shelving facility, so researchers should allow at least two business days to have the appropriate boxes paged.

Part of the Gilmore Music Library Repository

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