The papers of Anne Wiggins Brown document her career as a singer, producer and stage director which spanned five decades. Brown was the original "Bess" in George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. The papers include personal and professional correspondence, photographs, financial records, musical scores, playbills, posters and other collected publications. A large majority of the collection is newspaper clippings.
The correspondence dates from 1935 until 1998. The earliest correspondence is predominately fan mail relating to Brown's performance in Porgy and Bess and other various concerts. Highlights included personal letters between Brown and Ira Gershwin. Although some personal correspondence is included in the collection, specifically between Brown and her third spouse Thorleif Schelderup, the majority is business correspondence pertaining to Brown's concert engagements. Biographical data is included in the collection through newspaper clippings. The clippings document Brown's professional highlights, her marriage to Schelderup, the birth of her daughter Vaar, her relationship with eldest daughter Paula, and her life living in Norway.
Brown's business dealings are documented through engagement contracts, financial statements, press releases and legal documents. Among the items included in legal documents are Brown's passport and Actors' Equity Card. Programs, playbills, reviews and criticisms document Brown's performance career. Programs and playbills include the original Porgy and Bess playbill from 1935 and various performance programs spanning from 1935 to 1969. Reviews and criticisms highlight Brown's performances both foreign and domestic from 1948 to 1953.
Many documents specifically pertain to Porgy and Bess. The original 1935 production and subsequent revival productions are documented through photographs, newspaper clippings, playbills, posters and personal writings. Among the personal writings is a twenty-page, hand written account by Brown of her experience with Porgy and Bess. Additionally, the collection includes the 1998 Library of Congress publication "The Gershwins And Their World" highlighting Porgy and Bess among Gershwin's other works. Documents from Brown's acceptance of the Peabody Award in 1998 include a transcript and audiocassette of her acceptance speech, correspondence, programs and newspaper clippings. Also of note is a typescript of scene outlines for "Ouanga: The Story of a Negro Opera" by John F. Matheus and Clarence Cameron White, which is set in 1804 during the Haitian Revolution.
Audiocassettes include original cast recordings of Porgy and Bess and St. Louis Woman, Brown's 1995 National Public Radio interview entitled "Two Divas Across The Atlantic" and Brown's 1998 Peabody Award acceptance speech. A videocassette recording of the Norwegian documentary "Anne Brown: The Golden Voice" (Benedikte Minos Film, 2002) is also included. Personal scrapbooks date from 1935 to 1947 and highlight Brown's domestic and foreign performance career through newspaper clippings, programs and photographs. Posters from Brown's foreign performances spanning from 1942 to 1969 are also included.