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Hallie Flanagan Davis Papers

Identifier: CA-MS-00053

Scope and Contents

The Hallie Flanagan Davis papers contain biographical materials, correspondence, photographs, speeches and writings spanning Davis' career as a faculty member at Smith College.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1911 - 1994


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Smith College retains copyright of materials created as part of its business operations; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Smith College, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Hallie Flanagan Davis was born on August 27, 1890 in Redfield, South Dakota. Her parents were Frederic Miller and Louise (Fisher) Ferguson. Davis got her Bachelor's degree at Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa) in 1911. In 1924, she earned her Master's degree from Radcliffe College. She had two short-lived marriages, both of which ended due to her husbands' deaths. The first, in 1912, was to John Murray Flanagan, who died in 1919. The second, in 1934, was to Phillip Haldane Davis, who died in 1940. Between the two marriages, Davis had two children and three step children.

In 1924-5, Hallie Flanagan Davis was an Associate Professor at Grinnell College, and the founder of their Experimental Theater. From 1925 until 1942, Davis worked as a Professor at Vassar College, where she also founded and directed their Experimental Theater. In 1935, she was asked to head the Federal Theater Project, which was part of the New Deal's W.P.A. She served as the head of the project until its end. In 1942, she accepted Smith College's offer to serve as Dean and a professor in the Drama Department. She resigned from her position as Dean in 1946 so that she could focus on the Drama Department, of which she was the chair, and on the Theater, of which she was the director. Davis retired from Smith in 1955. In 1962, the Studio Theater in Smith's new Center for the Performing Arts was named in her honor. She died on July 23, 1969.

Flanagan Davis' writings include: Arena, Shifting Scenes in the Modern European Theater, and Dynamo, the Story of the Vassar Theater. Her plays include: The Curtain, and E-mc2.


0.438 linear feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



Dean, Smith College, Professor of Drama, Head of the Federal Theater Project. Contains biographical material, correspondence, photographs, speeches, and writings.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. I. Biographical Materials
  2. II. Correspondence
  3. III. Photographs
  4. IV. Writings

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source unknown.

In 2018, letters to/from Hallie Flanagan Davis; biographical material; copy of play 'Heritage' related to Smith College were transferred from Hayner Library, Alton, IL. The material, which was a gift from Nancy Gent (a family friend), to Hayner Library in April 2018, was interfiled with exisiting papers.

Processing Information

Processed by Gayla B. Spaulding.

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.

Finding aid to Hallie Flanagan Davis Papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Gayla B. Spaulding
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: manosca53 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2018-11-28: Finding aid updated as part of the College Archives Survey

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063