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National Ballet Records

Identifier: 034

Scope and Contents

The records consist of trustee minutes, programs, advertisements, press releases, clippings, biographical files, promotional materials, and scrapbooks regarding the promotion and administration of the National Ballet. The collection also contains musical scores, hanging plots, stage directions, board studies, set designs, videotapes, audiotapes, microforms, and photographs which document its artistic work. The records are arranged into 12 series.


  • Creation: 1962-1974


Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

The National Ballet was founded as the resident ballet company of Washington, D.C. in 1962 by Jean Riddell. Frederick Franklin was the artistic director and was joined by Ben Stevenson in 1971. The Ballet gave its first performance on January 3, 1963 at Lisner Auditorium. During its 12 years, the company also performed at the Kennedy Center and in 275 cities throughout North America. In 1974 the Company disbanded due to financial problems.


50 Linear feet

91 Boxes


Series 1: Trustee Minutes, 1964-1974
Contains minutes of the Board of Trustees of the National Ballet.

Series 2: Ballets Performed, 1962-1974
Contains primarily photographs from performances of the National Ballet as well as a few programs. The folders are arranged alphabetically by the title of the performance. The series also contains a chronology of the National Ballet Repertory from 1962-1967 prepared by Debra Devoe, which appears at the end of the series.

Series 3: Biographical Files, 1972-1974
Folders in the series contain files on certain dancers who performed with the National Ballet. The folders are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the performer. Press biographies, critics quotes, and advance sheets appear at the end of the series.

Series 4: Programs and Promotional Material, 1963-1972
This series contains primarily programs, flyers, and other promotional materials for productions of the National Ballet. The materials are arranged chronologically by date of the performance.

Series 5: Traveling Performances, 1973-1974
This series includes correspondence, contracts, internal memoranda, stage information questionnaires, rehearsal and performance schedules, technical information sheets, reviews, and clippings regarding traveling performances of the Ballet. Handwritten log books maintained on the road record schedules, staging requirements, and other notes on the performances; and appear first with the remainder of the materials arranged alphabetically by the title of the performance.

Series 6: Publicity, 1963-1975
This series contains press releases, editions of Ballerina: the National Ballet News, subscription flyers, and clippings. A book containing clippings of advertisements for National Ballet performances is also contained in the series.

Series 7: Stage Direction, ca. 1962-1974
Handwritten stage directions for each play as well as some musical scores are contained in this series. Folders are arranged alphabetically by title of the ballet.

Series 8: Audiovisual Materials, ca. 1964-1974
This series contains audiotapes, a videotape, microfilm of musical scores, and photographs. The materials are further arranged into subseries by format.

Subseries 1: Audio and Video Recordings, ca. 1964-1974
Contains 93 reel-to-reel audiotapes of ballets performed by the National Ballet. The series also contains a video film of a February 1973 performance on WTTG television by the company and tapes of interviews with members of the company, including Frederick Franklin and Ralph Black. The tapes are loosely arranged alphabetically by title with interviews and duplicates in other formats at the end.

Subseries 2: Microfilm, ca. 1971
Contains microfilm of selected scores from ballets performed by the company. The microfilm containers are loosely arranged by title of the ballet.

Subseries 3: Photographs, ca. 1970s
Contains snapshots, proofsheets, a photo album commemorating the first 4 years of the company, and other photographs from rehearsals, performances, and the academic school of the National Ballet.

Series 9: Administration, 1966-1974
This series contains a small amount of records regarding the finances, history, and general administration of the company. Items include a history of the National Ballet, sample form letters, press books, Kennedy Center information, brochures worksheet, New York publicity, and printed material of the Ballet.

Series 10: Stage Design, ca. 1962-1974
This series contains hanging plots, board studies, and set designs for selected performances of the National Ballet. The materials are loosely arranged alphabetically by title of the ballet.

Series 11: Musical Scores, ca. 1962-1974
This series contains marked scores of music for ballets performed by the National Ballet. The scores are arranged alphabetically by title of the ballet.

Series 12: Scrapbooks, 1940, 1962-1974
Includes scrapbooks of clippings, programs, invitations, press releases, and other memorabilia compiled to document the company's activities from 1962 through 1974. The series also contains two scrapbooks of clippings of magazine and newspaper articles from the 1940s about composers and conductors of the period such as Toscanini, Shostakovich, and Rachmaninoff.

Custodial History

Jean Riddell donated the records to the Library in 1976.

Processing Information

Standard archival processing procedures were applied to the collection when it was processed.

National Ballet
An inventory of National Ballet at DC Public Library
Finding aid prepared by Leroy Graham/Faye Haskins.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001