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The Cole Porter Collection

Call Number: MSS 82

Scope and Contents

The Cole Porter Collection documents Porter's life and career as a composer of musicals and popular songs chiefly through his musical manuscripts. The Collection also contains correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, and miscellaneous items.

Throughout his lifetime, Porter made a number of generous gifts to Yale. They included several hundred of his published songs; an almost complete collection of piano and vocal scores of the Victor Herbert operettas; manuscripts of Night and Day and Begin the Beguine and the complete score of his 1934 success, Anything Goes. At his death in October 1964, Porter left to Yale all his personal copies of his published music; several hundred manuscripts and ozalids of published and unpublished songs, a large number in his own handwriting; many scrapbooks relating to his musical comedy and film scores; personal scrapbooks; over 2,000 photographs of his trips, his shows, the homes he lived in, and the people and places he cared about; 1,000 recordings of his own songs, including some rare private recordings with Porter singing and playing the piano; librettos of many of his stage and film works; music notebooks from the late 1930s, early 1940s, and mid-1950s, containing over 200 additional tunes, titles, and unfinished lyrics and melodies; lyric books from the 1920s; journals of his travels to Europe in the 1950s to revisit the places he had known and loved as a young man; and his wife's library of over 2,500 volumes.

There have been a number of additions and changes in the scope and organization of the Cole Porter Collection since 1969. The recordings have been integrated into the Yale Collection of Historical Sound Recordings, Yale Music Library. The broadcast transcriptions on glass and other perishable sound recordings have been preserved on mylar tape. (There is a separate index to Yale holdings of sound recordings of the works of Porter.) Linda Porter's books have been absorbed into Yale Library holdings. The Cole Porter Musical and Literary Property Trusts have furnished scripts and photocopies of manuscripts held at other institutions to supplement the piano-vocal scores. Early musical manuscripts in the Collection have been augmented with lyrics and unpublished songs that were recollected by Porter's friends and former classmates at Yale. 1988 saw the arrival of a large group of materials discovered in Porter's publisher's warehouse; and later years brought the Kochno and Barclift letters as well as musical materials and college notebooks found in a college friend's house in Maine.

The Collection contains musical manuscripts for fifty-seven stage and screen productions, some of them never produced, others unknown in the United States. The notebooks of song sketches, scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, programs, reviews, and correspondence pertaining to the major Broadway shows, and the musical manuscripts represent a span of six decades in which Cole Porter wrote for the musical theatre.

The materials in the Collection have been organized into six series; 1. musical scores and related materials, 2. correspondence, 3. scrapbooks, 4. photographs, 5. miscellaneous items, and 6, originals of items photocopied for conservation. Materials found in the publisher's warehouse and transferred to Yale in 1988 and marked Supplement A. Those found in Cole Porter's friend's summer house are marked Supplement B; those items acquired after 1988 are marked Supplement C, and scripts supplied by the Cole Porter Musical and Literary Property Trusts are marked Supplement D.

Numbers in italics preceded by "f." and enclosed in square brackets, e.g., [f.NNN], denote the locations of materials in the original version of the register.

Numbers in parentheses preceded by "A" denote the locations of original materials for which photocopies have been substituted in the sequenced boxes. These originals have been copied because of their fragile condition and can be consulted only by special arrangement.


  • 1901-1992 (inclusive)


Language of Materials

Materials chiefly in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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.

Conditions Governing Use

The Cole Porter Collection is the physical property of the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library of Yale University. Copyrights belong to the composers and authors, or their legal heirs and assigns.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Cole Porter Collection was bequeathed to Yale University by Cole Porter in 1964.


In 5 series as follows: I. Musical manuscripts and related materials. II. Correspondence. III. Scrapbooks. IV. Photographs. V. Miscellaneous items.

Related Material

Researchers may also wish to consult the Cole Porter Collection at the Library of Congress.


54 Linear Feet (67 boxes)

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


Musical manuscripts, correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, and additional materials by and about the American composer and lyricist Cole Porter (1891-1964)

Biographical / Historical

Cole Porter was born in Peru, Indiana on June 9, 1891. As a boy he took lessons in piano and violin, and began writing songs while in prep school. He attended Yale College (Class of 1913), where he composed fight songs that are still used today. After graduating, he went on to Harvard Law School, but he had little interest in law and soon began studying music instead. Porter would later complete his musical education at the Schola Cantorum in Paris.

Porter's first Broadway show, See America First, was staged in 1916, and over the ensuing decade he wrote several more shows, but did not have his first big hit until 1929, with Fifty Million Frenchmen. From then on he was one of Broadway's most popular composers; his subsequent credits included Gay Divorce, Anything Goes, Panama Hattie, and Kiss Me, Kate. He composed numerous songs that became standards, including "Let's Do It," "What Is This Thing Called Love?," "Night and Day," "Anything Goes," "You're the Top," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Begin the Beguine," "Just One of Those Things," " Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye," "Don't Fence Me In," and "Brush Up Your Shakespeare." In an era when most composers of popular songs worked with lyricists, Porter distinguished himself by writing his own verses, which were notable for their wit and sophistication.

Unlike contemporaries such as George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, who grew up in the poor immigrant neighborhoods of New York, Porter was born into a prosperous Midwestern family, and he married a wealthy divorcée, Linda Lee Thomas. Eventually he also earned a large income from his songs. Porter was thus able to live the life of high society, enjoying frequent trips to Europe and countless parties with celebrities and aristocrats. In 1937, however, Porter's life took a tragic turn when both of his legs were crushed by a horse, leaving him unable to walk and in chronic pain. Cole Porter died in Santa Monica, California on October 15, 1964.


1891 Jun 9
Born the only child of Kate Cole and Samuel Fenwick Porter. Cole Porter later added the middle name, Albert, himself.
Writes first known composition, "Song of the Birds," for piano.
Writes "Bobolink Waltz" for piano. It is privately published by his mother.
Attends Worcester Academy, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Summer European tour: France, Switzerland, Germany.
1909 Fall
Enters Yale College.
1911 Nov 28
Cora presented by Phi Opera Company at the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity House.
1912 Apr-May
And the Villain Still Pursued Her produced by Yale University Dramatic Association in New Haven and New York City.
1912 Nov
The Pot of Gold produced by Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity at the Hotel Taft.
1913 Apr-May
The Kaleidoscope produced by Yale University Dramatic Association at the Hotel Taft, New Haven and the Yale Club, New York City.
1913 Spring
Graduates from Yale College.
1913 Summer
Trip to England.
1913 Fall
Enters Harvard Law School. (Rooms at Craigie Hall with T. Lawrason Riggs.)
1914 Apr 24
Paranoia produced by Yale University Dramatic Association at the Hotel Taft, New Haven. Music and lyrics by Porter, book by T. Lawrason Riggs.
1914 May 22
We're All Dressed Up and We Don't Know Huerto Go produced by Yale University Dramatic Association in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Switches to Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to major in music.
See America First, Porter's first Broadway show, opens at the Maxine Elliott Theatre. Music and lyrics by Porter, and T. Lawrason Riggs.
Studies music with Pietro Yon in New York City.
Resides in France.
Meets Linda Lee Thomas in Paris.
1919 Oct 6
Hitchy-Koo of 1919 opens on Broadway.
1919 Dec 18
Marries Linda Lee Thomas in Paris.
Attends classes in orchestration and counterpoint at the Schola Cantorum in Paris.
1920 Sep 18
A Night Out, a London musical show, includes three songs with music by Porter and lyrics by Clifford Grey.
1922 Mar 9
Mayfair and Montmartre, a London musical show, including six songs by Porter.
1922 Oct 10
Hitchy-Koo of 1922 opens and closes in Philadelphia.
1923 Summer
The Porters rent the Palazzo Barbara in Venice.
1923 Oct 25
Within the Quota, a ballet-sketch performed by the Ballet Suedois in Paris; music by Porter, orchestration by Charles Koechlin, and scenario, sets, and costume design by George Murphy. (New York debut on Nov. 28, 1923.)
1924 Summer
Porters rent the Palazzo Papadopoli in Venice.
1924 Sep 16
Greenwich Village Follies opens in New York.
1925 & 1926
Out of Luck produced by the Yale University Dramatic Association.
Porters rent the Palazzo Rezzonico in Venice.
1928 May 10
La Revue des Ambassadeurs produced in Paris by Edmond Sayag at des Ambassadeurs Cafe.
1928 Oct 8
Paris opens at the Music Box Theatre, New York.
1929 Mar 27
Wake Up and Dream produced in London. (New York opening on December 30, 1929.)
1929 Nov 30
The Battle of Paris, a Paramount motion picture including two songs by Porter, is released.
1929 Nov 27
Fifty Million Frenchmen opens in New York.
Six month trip to Far East and Europe.
1930 Dec 8
The New Yorkers opens in New York.
Star Dust, unproduced musical, planned for production by E. Ray Goetz.
1932 Nov 29
Gay Divorce opens in New York.
Trip to Paris, Vienna, Carlsbad, etc.
1933 Oct 6
Nymph Errant opens in London.
Once Upon a Time (Ever Yours), unproduced musical intended for production by Gilbert Miller.
"Thank You So Much Mrs. Lowsborough-Goodby" and "Miss Otis Regrets" are published.
1934 Oct 12
The Gay Divorcee, an RKO-Radio Picture, is released.
1934 Nov 21
Anything Goes opens in New York.
1935 Jan
Porter and Moss Hart embark on a four-and-a-half-month cruise around the world to work on Jubilee.
Porter goes to Hollywood.
1935 Oct 12
Jubilee opens in New York.
1936 Nov
Born to Dance, an MGM motion picture, is released.
Anything Goes, a Paramount film version, is released.
1936 Oct 29
Red, Hot and Blue opens in New York.
1937 Dec 24
Rosalie, an MGM motion picture, is released.
1937 Jun
Porter joins Linda in Paris; meets Howard Sturges and Ed Tauch for walking tour of Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia and Italy; moves on to Scandinavia.
1937 Oct 4
Serious riding accident in Locust Valley, Long Island.
Break the News, a Monogram motion picture, is released in England and includes "It All Belongs to You" by Porter. Greek to You, unproduced musical show, intended for production by Vinton Freedley.
1938 Sep 21
You Never Know opens in New York.
1938 Nov 9
Leave It to Me opens in New York.
The Man Who Came to Dinner, a George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart play, opens and includes Porter's parody of the Noel Coward style in song: "What Am I to Do?"
1939 Dec 6
Du Barry Was a Lady opens in New York.
Broadway Melody of 1940, a MGM motion picture, is released.
1940 Jan 20
Trip to Cuba, Panama Canal Zone, Mexico, and the South Seas.
1940 Jun
The Porters buy a house on Buxton Hill, Williamstown, Mass.
1940 Oct 30
Panama Hattie opens in New York.
1941 Oct 23
You'll Never Get Rich, a Columbia motion picture, is released.
1941 Oct 29
Let's Face It opens in New York.
1943 Feb
Something to Shout About, a Columbia motion picture, is released.
1943 Jan 7
Something for the Boys opens in New York.
1943 Spring
The Porters move to Beverly Hills, California.
Mississippi Belle, unproduced musical film planned by Warner Brothers .
1944 Jan 28
Mexican Hayride opens in New York.
1944 Dec 7
Seven Lively Arts opens in New York.
Night and Day, a motion picture based on the life and music of Porter, is released.
1946 May 31
Around the World in Eighty Days opens in New York.
1948 Mar 24
The Pirate, an MGM motion picture, is released.
1948 Dec 30
Kiss Me Kate opens in New York.
1949 Spring
Linda suffers from pleurisy and leaves for Arizona to convalesce.
Adam's Rib, an MGM film, is released and includes the song, "Farewell, Amanda" by Porter.
1950 Dec 21
Out of This World opens in New York.
1952 Aug 3
Kate Cole dies.
1953 May 7
Can-Can opens in New York.
1954 May 20
Linda Porter dies at age 71.
1955 Feb 24
Silk Stockings opens in New York.
1955 Feb-Jun
Porter makes a final trip to Europe.
1955 Jun 12
Porter receives an honorary degree from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass.
1955 Oct
Howard Sturges, a close friend of Porter, dies in Paris.
1956 Aug 3
High Society, an MGM musical based on Philip Barry's stage play The Philadelphia Story, is released.
1956 Dec
Porter enters Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and requires surgery for stomach ulcer.
1957 Nov
Les Girls, an MGM musical motion picture, is released.
1958 Jan 14
Porter enters Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and is treated for intestinal ulcer.
1958 Feb 21
Aladdin, a Du Pont Show-of-the-Month musical, is aired on CBS television.
1958 Apr 3
Porter's right leg is amputated.
Health problems multiply, requiring frequent hospitalization.
Film version of Can Can is released.
1960 Jun 9
Yale University awards Porter the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
1964 Oct 15
Porter dies in a Santa Monica, California hospital.
Register to The Cole Porter Collection
Compiled by Tulin Duda1982Augmented by Linda W. Blair1988Revised by Maria Willstedt-Holcomb1999
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Music Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Gilmore Music Library Repository

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