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COLLECTION — Folder: 1 Identifier: MS Thr 2084

Cabinet photographs of contortionist Belle Birbeck


Photographs of contortionist Belle Birbeck.


  • 1893

Language of Materials


Condition Description

In good condition.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.


.08 linear feet (7 items)
Seven cabinet photographs of Belle Birbeck wearing "fancy dress", six of which show her in solo contortionist positions and the seventh showing her, her husband, and performing partner Drummond Staley.

Birbeck's name and, on one, Dick (Drummond) Staley's, "Morrison, Colo", and "1893" are written in blue ink on all cards; on three they are written on the photograph itself. The photographer was Feinberg in New York (probably Abraham S. Feinberg).

Biographical / Historical

Belle Birbeck and Drummond Staley were respected vaudeville performers from at least the 1890s through the 1910s, performing regularly around the country. Their act involved both music and Birbeck's contortion performance, as well as rapid transformation of sets.


Arranged as received.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Custodial History

Ownership prior to Houghton's purchase is unknown.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2021MT-13. Purchased from Kate Mitas, Bookseller, with the Frank E. Chase Bequest, 2020 November 18.

Processing Information

Processing Information This collection was processed to a basic level with minimal rehousing, organization, and preservation (Melanie Wisner, 2021 February).
Link to catalog
Cabinet photographs of contortionist Belle Birbeck, 1893 (MS Thr 2084): Guide
Houghton Library, Harvard University
2021 January 18
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
Language of description
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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