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Elmer Rice Letters

A description of the items at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 30 Oct 2007

Biographical History

Elmer Rice (1892-1967), born Elmer L. Reizenstein, was an early 20th century American playwright. Among his works are On Trial (1914), The Adding Machine (1923), The Left Bank (1931), Judgement Day (1934), and Dream Girl (1945). His 1929 play Street Scene won him a Pulitzer Prize.

Rice helped establish and wrote for Playwrights' Producing Company and was the first director of the New York office of the Federal Theatre Project, a post he resigned in 1936 in protest of alleged government censorship of the FTP's Ethiopia, a "Living Newspaper" concerning Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia.

In addition to writing for the stage, Rice authored The Living Theatre (1960), a controversial book on American drama, and his autobiography, Minority Report, was published in 1964.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Elmer Rice Letters consists of a single 8-page letter from Rice to editor Coburn Gilmore, written during Rice's lengthy trip to Russia in 1932, and a brief unaddressed note dated 1951. The letter records Rice's impressions of the country and people, including a May Day celebration, visits to museums and art exhibits and to the theatre, meetings with writers and correspondents, and other incidents. Near the end, Rice writes, "The problem I've concentrated on is the relation of the artist and the intellectual to such a society as this, and I want to tell you I've had some hot arguments."


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.

Subject Headings


Gilmore, Coburn.
Rice, Elmer, 1892-1967.


Dramatists, American -- Correspondence.
Radicals -- United States.
Tourism and art.


Soviet Union -- Description and travel.
Soviet Union -- Intellectual life.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Elmer Rice Letters,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 2007.

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