Guide to the Helen Curran Collection of Irene Castle Documents and Photographs Albums
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.1202
Creators:
Fenner, Helen Curran
Fenner, Gloria J.
Dates:
1940
Languages:
English
Collection is in English.
Physical Description:
0.3 Cubic feet
1 box
Repository:
One scrapbook of newspaper clippings and one photograph album about and of Irene Castle, notable dancer, film star, and animal rights activist.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of materials from one scrapbook and one photograph album. Box one contains photographs and box two various newspaper and magazine clippings. The photographs include images of Irene and Vernon dancing, stills taken from the film, "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" (1939), personal photographs belonging to Helen Curran taken at Fire Island, and photographs of Orphans of the Storm. The clippings date from 1917 to 1969 and include publicity material from the film "Patria" (1917), articles on Orphans of the Storm, Irene Castle's role in shaping modern fashion, and several obituaries.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into one series.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Irene Castle and her husband Vernon are considered to be among the forerunners in bringing modern dance to the United States in the early part of the twentieth century. She was born Irene Foote on April 17, 1893 in New Rochelle, New York. She met Vernon, a British vaudeville actor and comedian, in 1910, and the couple was married in 1911. Soon after their marriage they moved to France where the couple gained notice for their ballroom dance routines. Upon returning to the United States, the couple rose to stardom with original dances such as the "Texas Tommy," the "Foxtrot," and the "Castle Walk." The Castles were influential in introducing ragtime to American society and elevating the music and dance style to a more sophisticated level. Irene is credited with introducing the flapper look to America, including bobbed hair, straight, loose dresses, and headache bands.
Upon the outbreak of World War One, Vernon left the stage to join the Royal Canadian Flying Corps. Meanwhile, Irene made several feature films, including the popular serial, Patria. Vernon was killed in a plane crash while performing a training exercise in Texas on February 15, 1918. Irene never chose another dance partner and ended her public career in 1923.
Irene married three times after Vernon's death. She gave birth to two children with her third husband, Major Frederick McLaughlin. In 1939, Irene was consulted on the biographical film, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. She devoted her later life to humanitarian work, particularly in the field of animal rescue. She established Orphans of the Storm, a shelter for dogs in Deerfield, Illinois, and remained an active advocate of animal rights. Irene died of congestive heart failure in Eureka, Arkansas on January 29, 1969. She is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, the Bronx, and New York next to Vernon Castle.
Helen Curran was creator of the scrapbooks. Helen's parents, Sam and Edna Curran, were managers of Orphans of the Storm animal shelter. Helen Curran Fenner considered Irene Castle a role model and they became good friends. The donor of this collection, Gloria J. Fenner, was the stepdaughter of Helen Curran.

Administration
Processing Information
Processed by Amanda Loeb (intern), August, 2010, supervised by Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., archives specialist and Vanessa Broussard Simmons, archivist.
Author
Amanda Loeb
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Ms. Gloria J. Fenner in 2010.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Helen Curran Collection of Irene Castle Documents and Photographs Albums, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.

Related Materials
The Archives Center holds footage of Irene and Vernon Castle's feature film The Whirl of Life (1915). The footage can be found in the Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection (AC0491) under the title Social Dance, 1903-1961, RV OF491.1. There are also several pieces of Castle sheet music in the Sam DeVincent Sheet Music Collection, #300. They can be found in series 18, folder "Irene and Vernon Castle".

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Scrapbooks -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clippings -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dancers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Celebrities -- 20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photograph albums -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Castle, Vernon Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Castle, Irene, 1893-1969 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives