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left to Yale all his personal copies of his published music; several hundred manuscripts and ozalids of published and unpublished songs, a large number in his own handwriting; many scrapbooks relating to his musical comedy and film scores; personal scrapbooks; over 2,000 photographs of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 Early musical manuscripts in the Collection have been augmented with lyrics and unpublished songs that were recollected by Porter's friends and former classmates at Yale. 1988 saw the arrival of a large group of materials discovered in Porter's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.