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Martin Kamin Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: DMB
Date: 3 Apr 1979

Biographical History

Martin Kamin (1897 or 1899-1976) was a Polish-American publisher and bookseller, particularly in the areas of dance and drama.

Born on November 15, 1897 (or 1899) in Warsaw, Poland, Kamin left Poland to come to the United States while still in his teens. After mastering English he enrolled at the University of Baltimore and continued his studies in linguistics, philosophy and economics at the University of Geneva in Switzerland where he earned his Ph.D.

In 1920 Kamin married Sarah (Sally) Katz, a school teacher from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For a number of years she had been associated with the Wisconsin Players as a dramatic actress and dancer performing under the name Sara Nikov. The Kamins resided in Paris during the 1920's and 1930's where Martin began his publishing career. He published Contact: A Quarterly Review (edited by William Carlos Williams and Nathaniel West), Both Sides, Films, and Current Controversy. The Kamins became a part of the "lost generation" which included Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. His address book from that period registers the names Aaron Copland, Gustav Holst, Darius Milhaud, Serge Prokofieff, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Picasso, and more.

In addition to his publishing business Kamin operated a book store in New York City which eventually specialized in materials on the dance. For many years the Kamin Dance Book Shop was an internationally known center for books and manuscripts relating to all aspects of that art.

After his wife's death and his retirement Kamin married briefly for a second time, but spent most of his later years weakened by a stroke and living in virtual poverty in various nursing homes. He died on September 4, 1976.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Martin Kamin Collection is comprised of art, autographs, clippings, correspondence, memorabilia, Photographs, Printed naterial, subject files, and writings. Some of the material may have been part of the stock of the Kamin Dance Bookshop.

Art consists of costume and set design drawings and reference material as well as original prints by Mahlon Blaine, Carlos Merida, and several notable photographers, a self-portrait by Enrico Caruso, a Marie Taglioni paper doll, and a few other items.

Autographs contains the signatures of many well-known figures in the arts, including Prokofieff, Villa-Lobos, de Falla, and Stravinski.

Clippings consists of items about the Kamins and their bookshop as well as pieces on various dancers.

Correspondence includes both letters to and from the Kamins as well as letters collected by the Kamins. Correspondents in the former category encompass actors, authors, choreographers, composers, dancers and dance critics, including Jacques Bense, Konrad Bercovici, Evelyn Cournand (Anna Galina), Alexandra Danilova, Friderica Derra de Moroda, Anton "Pat" Dolin, Katherine Dunham, Martha Graham, Langston Hughes, Michel Licht, Alicia Markova, Peter Neagoe, Romola Nijinsky, Sydor Rey, Tomaz Ribas, Maurice Sandoz, Ted Shawn, Mia Slavenska, Walter Toscanini, Tamara Toumanova, Elisabeth Twysden, John Vassos, Lynd Ward, and Jacqueline and Robert de Warren. Correspondents in the latter category include a wide range of notables in the field of dance; one of the oldest items in this series (1832) is from Paul Taglioni, father and teacher of Marie Taglioni, the first ballerina to dance on en pointe before the days of toe-stiffened ballet slippers.

Memorabilia includes Sally Kamin's academic records, Martin Kamin's Parisian address book, financial records, a few items of dance memorabilia (including one of Nijinsky's costumes), loose photographs and several photograph albums, and assorted printed material.

The collection contains a large number of Photographs of ballet companies (among them Ballet Russe, Diaghilev Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, and the San Francisco Ballet), individual dancers (Alexandra Danilova, Alicia Markova, Nijinsky, Moira Shearer, and others), and specific dances (including Bluebeard, Camille, Giselle, Princess Aurora, and Swan Lake), as well as conductors and choreographers.

Printed material contains concert programs, dance instruction material, dance notation material, items from the Kamin's Dance Bookshop, magazine and newspaper clippings, pamphlets on various dance-related subjects, posters and broadsides, a substantial number of programs and souvenir booklets spanning more than fifty years and numerous countries, and miscellaneous items.

Subject files includes dance-related bibliographies and lists, two scrapbooks of promotional material from the Kamin Dance Bookshop, items from Kamin Publishers, and assorted notes and clippings on Michel Licht, the Middle East, and a military newspaper that Martin produced during World War II.

Writings is subdivided into writings by Martin, probably by Martin, by Sally, and by others. Martin's writings include handwritten notebooks dating from his years in the Army during World War II, handwritten notes for something entitled "Rascals", and assorted notes and fragments on other topics. Material presumed to be by Martin, though it cannot be said for certain, includes essays on dance, politics, World War II, and other topics. Writings by Sally consist of a handwritten essay on D. H. Lawrence and assorted notes and fragments. Writings by others include several items by and about Adolf Bolm, extensive material relating to two books by Maurice Sandoz (including a large amount of correspondence with the author), typed excerpts from a variety of plays (possibly used by Sally when studying for a role), a proposal for a book on American politics, essays on a range of dance-related topics, and the complete typescript of Encyclopedie du Ballet by Fernando Reyna.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is arranged alphabetically by name (correspondence and photographs), by topic (subject files and memorabilia), or by type and title (printed material and writings).


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Some items, including a very large number of books and several early libretti, have been removed from the collection and transferred to Rare Books for cataloging. Please refer to the Classic Catalog to locate these items.

Special Collections Research Center has a number of collections relating to dance and drama. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Anthony, Gordon.
Bercovici, Konrad, 1882-1961.
Blaine, Mahlon.
Bolm, Adolph, 1884-1951.
Bosco, Henri, 1888-1976.
Buckle, Richard.
Coton, A. V.
De Mille, Agnes.
Denoël, Jean.
Dolin, Anton, 1904-1983.
Evans, Mary Stewart.
Graham, Martha.
Gribble, Harry Wagstaff, b. 1896.
Harris, Marguerite Tjader, 1901-1986.
Haskell, Arnold L. (Arnold Lionel), 1903-1980.
Janković, Danica S.
Kamin, Martin.
Kamin, Sally Katz, 1894?-1968.
Kirstein, Lincoln, 1907-1996.
Le Chanois, Jean-Paul, 1909-1985.
Legrand, Edy, 1893-1970.
Leslie, Kenneth, 1892-1974.
Leslie, Serge.
Lilly, Joseph.
Markova, Alicia, Dame, 1910-2004.
Massaguer, Conrado Walter, 1889-1965.
Mérida, Carlos, 1891-1984.
Neagoe, Peter.
Nijinsky, Romola de Pulszky.
Nijinsky, Vaslaw, 1890-1950.
Page, Ruth, 1899-1991.
Raffé, W. G. (Walter George), 1888-
Russell, Henry Tosti.
Sandoz, Maurice, 1892-1958.
Seldes, George, 1890-1995.
Shawn, Ted, 1891-1972.
St. Denis, Ruth, 1880-1968.
Strate, Walter.
Thackray, Rupert Manfred.
Toscanini, Walter, 1898-1971.
Toumanova, Tamara, 1919-1996.
Twysden, A. E. (Aileen Elizabeth), 1891-
Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964.
Vassos, John, 1898-1985.
Ward, Lynd, 1905-1985.
Yarborough, Lavinia Williams.

Corporate Bodies

Kamin Dance Bookshop.


Ballerinas -- Photographs.
Ballet -- History -- Sources.
Ballet companies -- Photographs.
Ballet companies.
Ballet dancers -- Photographs.
Ballet dancers.
Ballet dancing -- Photographs.
Ballet dancing.
Booksellers and bookselling -- United States.
Dance -- Study and teaching.
Dancers -- Photographs.
Polish Americans.
Publishers and publishing.

Genres and Forms

Address books.
Broadsides (notices)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Greeting cards.
Manuscripts for publication.
Programs (documents)
Scripts (documents)


Booksellers and bookselling.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Martin Kamin Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Some material gift of Martin Kamin.

Some material gift of Lyall Squair, 1970, 1987.

Some material gift of John S. Mayfield.

Other material, unspecified, 1961, 1965, 1971, 1980.

Table of Contents







Printed material

Subject files