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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 381

Papers of Catharine Sargent Huntington, 1913-1987


Correspondence, photographs, clippings, etc., of actress, director, and producer, Catharine Sargent Huntington.


  • Creation: 1913-1987

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Catharine Sargent Huntington is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


.21 linear feet ((1/2 file box) plus 1 folio folder)

This collection contains correspondence and photographs of Huntington, clippings about her work in the theater and her involvement in the Sacco-Vanzetti case, and awards honoring her achievements. Also included are statements by Huntington about her activities on behalf of Sacco and Vanzetti, and articles and an essay by Huntington.


The daughter of Reverend George P. and Lilly (St. A. Barrett) Huntington, Catharine Sargent Huntington was born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, on December 29, 1886. She graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1911, and taught English and theater at Westover School in Middlebury, Connecticut, 1915-18. At the end of World War I, Huntington continued her theatrical career abroad, acting under the direction of Joseph Lindon Smith on the French Riviera. Later she arranged and directed a pageant put on by French village children in the area of St. Quentin.

Huntington directed her first production in Boston, a play by Chekhov, for the Boston Stage Society, an organization which she co-founded in 1922. In Boston she also worked as a coach at the Allied Arts Center, where a group of black artists worked together to produce original plays. From 1930 to 1935 she was with Mr. Punch's Workshop, a hand puppet company. In 1938, with Edwin Petett and Virginia Thoms, she established the New England Repertory Theater, which performed in Boston during the winter season and in Provincetown during the summer, where it became known as the Provincetown Playhouse. Huntington owned the Playhouse from 1940 to 1973 and devoted much of its time to the work of her close friend, Eugene O'Neill, keeping his plays in the public view at a time when few theaters ventured to produce them. In 1966, the Provincetown Playhouse featured an O'Neill festival, performing ten of his plays. In 1977, the Playhouse and its library, which contained important O'Neill memorabilia, were destroyed by fire. Huntington was also a founder of the Poets' Theater, which flourished in Cambridge during the 1950s and 1960s.

The recipient of the 1966 Rodgers and Hammerstein Award for outstanding contributions to New England theater, Huntington was also honored by the New England Theater Association and the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association. On her 97th birthday she received a citation from Governor Michael Dukakis and greetings from President Ronald Reagan, among others. The Boston City Council declared March 28 Catharine Huntington Day, in recognition of "a life which nourished and inspired generations of theater artists."

An active supporter of Sacco and Vanzetti, Huntington was arrested in 1927 for taking part in a demonstration outside the State House in Boston. She served as a member of the Sacco-Vanzetti Memorial Committee after their execution. She was an avid gardener and was recognized repeatedly for her horticultural successes by a number of Massachusetts area garden clubs. Huntington died in Roxbury, Massachusetts, on February 27, 1987.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 70-23, 74-340, 79-M42

The papers of Catharine Sargent Huntington were given to the Schlesinger Library by Catharine Sargent Huntington in February 1970, December 1974, and March 1979. A portion of these papers was processed in September 1973 by Katherine Kraft and shelved as A/H948; A/H948 no longer exists as a separate manuscript collection.

Processing Information

Reprocessed: August 1987

By: Anne Engelhart

Huntington, Catharine Sargent, 1886-1987. Papers of Catharine Sargent Huntington, 1913-1987: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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