Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 1782

Joan Personette costume designs

Includes watercolor costume designs on board or gray paper by Joan Personette during the 1940s, likely created for performances at the Roxy Theatre in New York, New York, as well as possibly one design for the Skating Vanities, a touring roller-skating troupe.


  • circa 1940s

Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.


.4 linear feet (36 oversize folders)

Include thirty-six watercolor sketches for costume designs by Joan Personette, likely created for productions at the Roxy Theatre in New York, New York in the 1940s. One sketch may be for a design for a roller-skating performer in the Skating Vanities. Approximately half of the designs are watercolor on board, while the remaining designs are watercolor on gray paper, some of which are then mounted on board. The designs are mainly from unidentified productions, though some designs are included for specific songs within productions, such as “George M. Cohan,” “Scheherazade number,” “Chine number,” “Times Square,” and “Easter number.” Some designs are accompanied by cloth swatches, while others are annotated with color and fabric names and titles. Some designs have labels going into detail about the costumes and songs, and include the names of the performers who would wear the costumes in productions.

Biographical / Historical

Joan Personette, 1914-1998, was born in Irvington, New Jersey. A 1934 graduate of the New York School of Design, Personette was hired by the Roxy Theatre in New York, New York, as a costume designer in 1939, and remained at the Roxy through 1954. The Roxy was a movie theatre, which additionally included forty-minute stage shows with performances by comedians, singers, jugglers, animal acts, and the Roxyettes, a troupe of twenty-four women dancers. Personette create costumes for the Roxyettes’ performances. Beyond her work at the Roxy, from the 1940s into the early 1950s, Personette additionally designed costumes for television programs, vaudeville-style theatre productions, Broadway musicals, as well as for performers in the Skating Vanities, a touring roller-skating troupe.


Arranged in keeping with the donor’s original order.

Physical Location

pfd (P1.C1.05.19 [Folders 1-36])

Immediate Source of Acquisition

HTC 1995-1996.61.1-36. Gift of Joan Personette in 1996 January.

Related Materials

Fifty additional designs can be found in: Joan Personette costume designs, Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library.

Processing Information

Processed by Betts Coup, 2018.
Link to catalog
Personette, Joan, 1914-1998. Joan Personette costume designs, circa 1940s (MS Thr 1782): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
2018 April 09
Description rules
Language of description
Finding aid 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.

Harvard Yard
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2440