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Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Finding Aid/Inventory

Personal Papers


Alley Theatre Papers

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Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers, 1923-1980 | University of Houston Libraries

By Edward Lukasek & Rebecca Russell

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Collection Overview

Title: Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers, 1923-1980

ID: 08/2000-004

Primary Creator: Vance, Nina, 1914-1980

Extent: 9.0 Boxes

Subjects: Alley Theatre (Houston, Tex.), Lowry, W. McNeil (Wilson McNeil), 1913-, Performing arts, Theater, Vance, Nina, 1914-1980

Forms of Material: Agendas (administrative records), Audiotapes, Clippings (information artifacts), Correspondence, Diaries, Greeting cards, Memorandums, Photographs, Programs (documents), Scrapbooks, Scripts (documents), Sound recordings, Theater programs, Typescripts

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers documents Nina Vance’s career developing and directing the Alley Theatre as well as personal items from her life. The collection is divided into three series: Personal Papers, Correspondence, and Alley Theatre Papers. The collection includes correspondence, production materials, scripts, programs, sound recordings, clippings, speeches, scrapbooks, date books and miscellaneous items such as receipts and ephemera.

Biographical Note

Born in 1914, Nina Vance attended Texas Christian University, Columbia University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before coming to Houston as a high school teacher. In 1947, she began a campaign for a resident local theater. The Alley is now one of the nation's leading regional repertory theatres and one of the three oldest resident theatres in the United States.

Nina Vance’s years at the Alley were professionally and personally rewarding.  In 1958, Great Britain sponsored Ms. Vance on a tour of British repertory theatres.  The Ford Foundation awarded her a director’s grant in 1959 and in 1960, President John Kennedy invited her to serve on the advisory committee of the proposed National Cultural Center, which became the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  Secretary of State Dean Rusk appointed her to two terms on the U.S. Commission on International Education and Cultural Affairs, the only woman ever to serve.

Vance, along with seven other American directors traveled to the Russia to observe contemporary Soviet theatre in Moscow.  Additional honors include the Matrix Award of Theta Phi, the Outstanding Alumni Award of Texas Southern University and the Houston Y.W.C.A. Woman of the Year Award.  Nina Vance died on February 18, 1980 after a long illness at the age of 66 in Houston.  During the Memorial Tribute held in her memory on March 3, 1980, the building was officially renamed: The Nina Vance Alley Theatre.

Subject/Index Terms

Alley Theatre (Houston, Tex.)
Lowry, W. McNeil (Wilson McNeil), 1913-
Performing arts
Vance, Nina, 1914-1980

Administrative Information

Repository: University of Houston Libraries

Access Restrictions: Portions of this collection are restricted.

Use Restrictions: Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, locating copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian.

Acquisition Method:

Donation of Bettye Fitzpatrick, 2001

Donation of Mrs. Walter D. Murphy, 2004

Separated Materials: 3 volume bound copies of Alley Theatre Programs, 1947-1968 available in UH Library Catalog PN2277.H682 A46 v.1-3

Preferred Citation: Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers, Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries

Processing Information:

Edward Lukasek, 2005 

Rebecca Russell, 2008

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal Papers, 1923-1980],
[Series 2: Correspondence],
[Series 3: Alley Theatre Papers],

Series 1: Personal Papers, 1923-1980
This series consists of Nina Vance’s date books, scrapbooks, travel diaries from her trip to Great Britain in 1958 and the bound copies of her trip to the U.S.S.R. as an official representative of American Theatre in 1977. Scrapbooks contain programs, clippings, and photographs documenting her early life, marriage, and the Alley Theatre.
Sub-Series 1: Date books, Address books, Diaries, Scrapbooks
This sub-series contains date books, address books, and diaries dating chronologically from 1960 to 1979.  Some have no dates.  Personal scrapbooks of Nina Vance’s early life, newspaper clippings, programs and reviews of Alley productions and includes a letter from astronaut Alan Shepherd on opening of new Alley Theatre and production of Galileo. Each folder contains pages from 1 scrapbook binder.
Box 1
Folder 1: Week-at-a-glance, 1960
Folder 2: International Reference Day Book, 1967
Folder 3: Diary and Daily Reminder, 1968
Folder 4: Month-at-a-glance, 1969
Folder 5: Month-at-glance, 1970
Folder 6: Month-at-a-glance, 1971
Folder 7: Month-at-a-glance, 1972
Folder 8: Month-at-a-glance, 1973-75
Folder 9: Engagement calendar, 1975
Folder 10: Monthly calendar, 1976
Folder 11: Month-at-a-glance, 1976
Folder 12: Weekly calendar, 1976
Folder 13: Month-at-a-glance, 1977
Folder 14: Week-at-a-glance, 1977-78
Folder 15: Month-at-a-glance, 1979
Folder 16: Week-at-a-glance, undated
Folder 17: Address/telephone book, 1977
Folder 18: Address/telephone book, undated
Folder 19: Address/telephone book, undated
Folder 20: Address/telephone books, undated
(7 items)
Box 2
Folder 1: Great Britain travel diary, 1958
Folder 2: U.S.S.R. travel diary, 1977
(2 copies)
Folder 3: U.S.S.R. travel diary, 1977
(2 copies)
Folder 4: Cards and Gifts, undated
Folder 5: Nina Vance wedding scrapbook
Folder 6: Guest book, August 2, 1965
Folder 7: Scrapbook pages—early life photographs, UST honorary degree, clippings, Alley programs
Folder 8: Scrapbook pages-clippings, photographs, N.V. teaching certificate
Folder 9: Scrapbook pages-clippings (theater of cruelty, Brecht), photographs, correspondence
Folder 10: Scrapbook pages-clippings, correspondence (Alan Shepard letter re: Galileo tickets), programs
Folder 11: Scrapbook pages-clippings, correspondence, programs
Folder 12: Scrapbook pages-clippings, photographs
Folder 13: Scrapbook pages-clippings
Box 3
Folder 1: Scrapbook pages
Folder 2: Scrapbook pages
Folder 3: Iris Siff’s scrapbook
Folder 4: Nina Vance and Family photographs, undated
Folder 5: Nina Vance UST honorary doctorate, 1969
Folder 6: Nina Vance [mother?] funeral, 1978?
Folder 7: Nina Vance Portrait
OVS_Item 1: Framed Photograph, Nina Vance, undated
Sub-Series 2: Miscellaneous
Box 3
Folder 8: Catechism Certificate for Nina Louise Whittington, March 1, 1923
Folder 9: First Leaves: a T.C.U. Anthology of Verse, 1934-35
Folder 10: Scholastic journal “Nina Whittington”
Folder 11: Spiral composition book, undated
Folder 12: “Small Town-a collection of short stories,” holograph copy, May 29, 1935
Folder 13: Etching “Mineral Water Fountain and Bath Street”, 1971
OVS_Item 2: Framed Certificate “Young Women Christian Association of Houston, Texas honors Nina Vance”, February 25, 1977
OVS_Item 3: Framed Set Design “Desire Under the Elms”
OVS_Item 4: Framed Diploma: University of St. Thomas, Doctorate of Letters, May 23, 1969
Box 6
Item 1: Book of Common Prayer (belonging to Eloise DeWitt)
Item 2: Framed Diploma: Southern College of Fine Arts, Honorary Doctor of Music, August 27, 1960

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal Papers, 1923-1980],
[Series 2: Correspondence],
[Series 3: Alley Theatre Papers],

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