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Norman Sweetser papers

 Collection 0045-MMC-LAB
The Norman Sweetser papers, which cover the period 1913-1975, contain an assortment of materials spanning Sweetser's career in the New York theater and radio broadcasting worlds of the early to mid-twentieth century. Sweetser's activities brought him in contact with many show business personalities of the day, whom Sweetser captured in photographs and portrait sketches. The collection includes a set of these large portrait sketches, as well as two scrapbooks containing smaller portraits and photographs covering Sweetser's college days through his radio career. The scrapbooks also contain theater programs, newspaper and magazine clippings, correspondence, and miscellaneous items such as membership cards.

Dates

  • 1913-1975
  • Majority of material found within 1913-1941

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Extent

2.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Norman Sweetser papers contain an assortment of materials that document Sweetser's experiences in the New York theater and radio broadcasting worlds of the early to mid-twentieth century. Sweetser's activities brought him into contact with many show business personalities of the day, from actors to announcers to production crew members, many of whom are captured vividly in photographs and in portrait sketches done by Sweetser. A set of large portrait sketches forms the first part of the collection. The balance consists of two scrapbooks containing smaller portrait sketches and photographs covering the period from Sweetser's college days through his radio career, as well as theater programs, newspaper and magazine clippings, correspondence, and miscellaneous items such as membership cards. The collection spans the years 1913-1975, with the bulk of the items dating from 1913-1941. A small number of the late items are undated.

Biography

Norman Sweetser (1894-1980) was born in Philadelphia on April 28, 1894. The son of noted clergyman Edward C. Sweetser, Norman Sweetser attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he appeared in several productions staged by the Mask and Wig Club, a student theatrical organization. After graduation Sweetser worked in numerous fields, including architecture, banking, advertising, teaching, scenic design, singing and acting. He received a commission as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Service at the outbreak of World War I and was sent to Italy, where he earned the Italian War Cross for his service as a pilot in the Caproni bombing squadron.

After the close of the war, Sweetser returned home and pursued his interests in music and theater. He performed with the Savoy Opera Company and later appeared in such Broadway shows as "Blossom Time," "Ginger," "Mayflowers" and "Annie Dear."

In 1927 Sweetser began his radio career as an announcer for WJZ New York, one of the first New York City radio stations and an early affiliate in the NBC network. He also performed as a singer on such shows as WJZ's "Among Ourselves." In 1928 he was assigned to accompany presidential candidate and New York Governor Alfred E. Smith on his campaign tour of the West, during which he served as the official announcer for all of Smith's radio speeches. By 1929 he was working primarily as a special announcer for shows such as the Palmolive, Pure Oil and other radio hours and as a production director for NBC broadcasts. His direction credits include "Just Plain Bill," which debuted on CBS in 1932, and "Stella Dallas," the long-running NBC serial drama first broadcast in 1937.

Sweetser died in 1980.

Arrangement

This collection has been arranged into two series:
  1. Series 1: Portrait Sketches
  2. Series 2: Scrapbooks

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Mrs. Charles E. Johnson, Sweetser's niece, donated the Norman Sweetser papers to the Library of American Broadcasting in October 1980.
Title
Guide to the Norman Sweetser papers
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Stephanie Allen, July 2000.
Date
2000-07-01
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742
301-405-9212