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Jean Battey Lewis papers

 Collection 0403-SCPA

The Jean Battey Lewis papers is comprised of the published works and collected research of Jean Battey Lewis, prolific arts journalist and long-time dance critic in Washington, D.C. Published works include written pieces for journals such as the Washington Post and the Washington Times, along with radio interviews for National Public Radio and local news stations. Battey Lewis’s research includes field recordings, interviews, typed and handwritten notes, photographs, slides, concert programs, and newspaper clippings. The collection is separated into five series: research files, book files, writings and clippings, recordings, and photographs. The bulk of the materials cover the period 1960-2010.


  • Majority of material found within 1960-2010
  • 1932-2011

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use. Please note that all individual items are not reflected in this finding aid, in regards to sheet music and recordings. Contact the curator for more information.

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment:

Duplication and Copyright Information

Intellectual property rights for materials within this collection were not transferred to the University of Maryland at the time of donation. As such, all rights remain with the rights holders at the time of the donation. Materials from this collection can be used for educational purposes as permitted under U.S. Copyright Law.


14.00 Linear Feet : Papers

1063.00 Photographs

386.00 audio materials

Scope and Contents

The Jean Battey Lewis papers are separated into five series, including research files, writings and clippings, various formats of analog and digital recordings, and photographs, all pertaining to her career in dance criticism. Materials cover the period 1932-2011; the bulk of the materials cover the period 1960-2010.

Biographical Information

Jean Battey Lewis (1924–2016) was a prolific arts journalist and leading dance critic in Washington, D.C. Born in New Rochelle, NY, she moved to Washington as a young person to attend the private Sidwell Friends School, where she graduated in 1942. Battey Lewis went on to attend American University, graduating in 1949. She studied with several significant artists, including ballerina Alicia Markova and modern dancer Charles Weidman. In the 1950s, Battey Lewis accompanied her husband to Japan for his assignment with the U.S. Information Agency. There, she wrote for the Japan Times and taught dance at Tokyo’s American Cultural Center. Upon returning to Washington, D.C. in 1958, Battey Lewis began writing dance criticism for the Washington Post. She hosted “Invitation to the Dance,” a program on local radio station WGMS-FM that featured music, commentary, and interviews with major figures in dance. In the late 1970s, she was named editor in chief and associate publisher of the Washington Guide to the Arts. She began working for National Public Radio, where she produced stories on subjects ranging from renowned ballerina Martha Graham to whirling dervishes in Turkey. Battey Lewis wrote criticism for the Washington Times from 1989 to 2008, reporting on subjects local, national, and international. Battey Lewis kept all of her published works—written and recorded—along with her corresponding research in this collection. Her research materials include field recordings, interviews, typed and handwritten notes, and secondary source materials such as concert programs, press releases, photographs, and newspaper clippings. The collection contains information on the careers of well-known dancers and choreographers, such as Edward Villella, George Balanchine, and Robert Joffrey, but also on local dance history in Washington, D.C.

Arrangement of Collection

This collection is organized into five series.

  1. Series 1: Research files
  2. Series 2: Mark Morris research files
  3. Series 3: Writings and clippings
  4. Series 4: Recordings
  5. Series 5: Photographs

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by the Jean Battey Lewis Trust in September 2016.

Processing Information

The papers were described and re-housed by James Ace in the summer of 2017. The original order of Ms. Battey Lewis’s papers were maintained as they were discovered in her home office filing cabinets. Ace also provided preliminary description of the recordings. Ms. Battey Lewis had organized and stored her recordings by format in numerous places in her home office, and the original order was maintained as much as possible. Ava Shadmani contributed further description of the recordings 2017-2018, as well as provided the description of the photographs. The photographs were found in Ms. Battey Lewis’s attic, separated from her home office files. Consequently, they were designated a series. All physical materials were foldered when appropriate, and rehoused into archival boxes. All materials are processed and described at the folder or recordings level.

Jean Battey Lewis papers
In Progress
James Ace and Ava Shadmani
Summer 2017, Winter 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States