Eleanor Troy Williams Collection
Scope and Contents
The bulk of the Eleanor Troy Williams Collection is comprised of correspondence and scripts, including those written by other people, which she wished to keep together. Williams’ correspondence with numerous family and friends in Maine, New York, and elsewhere dates from 1929-1942, and includes post cards, birthday and Christmas cards, telegrams, and envelopes. Script materials for Pages of Romance contain cast lists; where available the actors have been listed, and used as entry points to the collection. Material relating to the Town Hall, Inc. includes invitations and programs. Among the personal materials are Williams’ resumes (1928-1944), finance records (1931-1937), programs for performances (1937), and numerous sayings and notes. For the post-war period, she gathered information on public opinion and free-lance opportunities (1944-1946).
Williams was also an illustrator. Among the drafts, painted drawings of costumes, and sketches, are A Quiet Little Summer on the Coast of Maine, and a series of illustrations of the Joe Wyer Stories she collected from Chebeague Island, Maine.
- Other: 1927-1942
Biographical / Historical
Eleanor Troy Williams, according to her college record, was born 5 February 1906, in Athens, Maine. She graduated from Somerset Academy before attending Wheaton College, where she graduated in 1925, majoring in the Modern Languages Group. According to the Nike for 1925, among her student activities were Classical Club, Cercle Francais, Deutcher Verein, Psyche literary society, Nike Yearbook Staff, May Day Publicity Committee Chairman, Coaching Committee, and Class Prophesy. According to her resumés, she was an assistant editor of the Wheaton Record. After earning her A.B. from Wheaton in 1925, she pursued graduate work at Yale University’s School of the Fine Arts, in the Department of Drama with Professor George Pierce Baker’s “47 Workshop” in 1928-1929.
Williams both acted and directed in theater. While still a student at Wheaton College, she participated in two summer stock programs at Lakewood, Maine. Williams wrote and produced pageants in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts between 1925 and 1928. Among these works were An Historical Pageant of the Wesserunsett Valley written in 1925, Moon in the Pond, and one act plays for colleges and schools. According to her resumés, she had parts in The Big Fight (1928), The Old Soak (1930), General John Regan (1930), and Dead Man’s Holiday, as well as acting with the Theatre Assembly and the Irish Players of New York. While a freelance writer, she participated in summer productions at the Westport Playhouse (Conn.) and the Westchester Playhouse (Mt. Kisco). At the Little Theater (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) she was the assistant director. In radio, she had roles on NBC and CBS.
Although she swore in her yearbook entry that she would never teach school, in her resumés Williams mentions a year as Assistant Principal at Somerset Academy (Athens, Me.), teaching English Literature, Ancient History and Latin. According to the Wheaton Alumnae Magazine Class Notes Index she was elected Fire Inspector of Athens, Maine in February of 1928, thereby becoming Chief of the Fire Department. “Not long after she attended a fire and supervised the work of extinguishing it.”
Williams developed a career as a radio script, advertising, and free-lance writer. Her work in this field began while at Wheaton, and eventually included articles and feature stories in the Boston Post, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Boston Evening Transcript, New York Sun, and the New York World Telegram. She also reported and wrote feature stories and articles in Maine for the Independent Reporter, Skowhegan, and the Lewiston Journal.
Her advertising career began during the Great Depression with The Blackman Company, where she worked from 1930 to 1932. At first writing advertising copy for magazines and newspapers, she then developed the initial ad campaign for Ivory Snow; additional radio advertising work for other Proctor & Gamble brands, Packer Products and Mobil Oil soon followed. While at The Blackman Company, Williams wrote scripts and commercials, provided editorial assistance, directed rehearsals and supervised broadcasts, as well as acting herself. Her dramatic scripts included Criminal Parallels, produced in 1932 by the Beacon Syndicate. Williams moved to the advertising agency Young & Rubicam in 1932, staying until 1933. There she wrote, directed, and produced the half-hour dramatic program Pages of Romance. In 1933-1934 she lectured at Hunter College, New York. Following her work for Young & Rubicam, Williams worked solely as a free-lance writer; she wrote the scripts for dramatic radio serials, including Aunt Jenny’s Real Life Stories, Molly of the Movies, The Couple Next Door, and Death Valley Days. A children’s book entitled And a Good Fat Hen (1939) is the only known published book written and illustrated by Williams.
The Wheaton Alumnae Magazine notes that she was part-time Assistant Publicity Director for the American Woman’s Association Clubhouse in New York City in May of 1935, in addition to her radio work. Between 1938 and 1942, Williams worked for Town Hall, Inc., as a press representative and publicity director. In 1940 she was Co-Executive Director of America’s Town Meeting of the Air “Election Night Party”. Sometime while with Town Hall, Inc., Williams spent four months on a publicity job for the Harmon Foundation, which managed the dancer La Meri. While working for the Foundation, she wrote an “as told to” account of Virginia Garner’s experiences in the Belgian Congo and French Cameroon working for the "Africa Motion Picture Project". Additionally during this time Williams assisted Robert Bek-Gran (1894-1967) with his resumé and provided notes on some of his manuscripts. Robert Bek-Gran, more commonly known as B. Traven, was born in Munich, where he became an “anarcho-syndicalist and anti-Nazi”. See Paul Avrich, Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America (1995), and John V. Fleming, The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books that Shaped the Cold War (2009).
Williams often collaborated with other writers and composers. While still at Wheaton, she collaborated with composer Ann Ronell on a comic opera called Province of Palaver. She co-wrote Pardon Me and Tin Mine Thompson with Kate Clugston, The Hare and the Tortoise with Bernice Brown, and Beatrice Fairfax with Mildred Gilman. She also collaborated with Thompson Buchanan on Molly of the Movies and The Couple Next Door.
During World War II, Williams was involved in war relief. She used her career skills to assist the Coordinating Council of French Relief Societies, Inc., and the Greek War Relief Association.
In January 1948, a classmate reported that Williams had recently returned to New York after an illness. Eleanor Troy Williams died on October 27, 1950 in Saint Barnabas Hospital in New York, after a battle with cancer. No services were held, and her ashes were taken to Casco Bay, Maine.
3.5 Linear Feet (7 standard archival boxes 1 half size legal 1 half size letter)
Language of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Processed by: Zephorene Stickney, Archivist, 1999
Collection processed further by: Sherri Rudnick, Simmons College GSLIS Intern, 2012
Encoded using Archivist Toolkit by: Sherri Rudnick, Simmons GSLIS Inter, 2012
Encoding edited by: Megan Wheaton-Book, Assistant Archivist, 2014
- Town Hall, Inc. ("America's Town Meeting of the Air" radio) (Organization)
- Blackman Company (Advertising company) (Organization)
- Inventory of the Eleanor Troy Williams Collection
- Sherri A. Rudnick, Simmons College GSLIS Intern
- July 2012
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script