Douglas Gordon Papers
Language of Materials
Douglas Gordon, stage manager and actor, joined the Actors' Equity Association in 1948. He was first elected to the Association's Council in the late 1960s and was elected again in the 1980s. More than two-thirds of his papers reflect his dual passions: social justice issues and the creation and support of a National Theatre in America. The collection includes correspondence, reports, notes, election materials, files on individual productions, files on other theatrical unions, such as the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and material on racial issues in the theater. He died on December 18th, 2009 at the age of 90.
Born in Seattle, Washington on April 7, 1919, Douglas Gordon joined Actors' Equity on July 15, 1948 with the status of "Junior" Member. After working in summer stock for three continuous summers, he applied for and received "Senior" Classification in 1950. Four years later he joined the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors (AFTRA). He was also a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). He was elected to the Association's Council for the first time in the 1960s when he served on numerous committees, including Production Contract, Editorial Board, Agency, and Casting Information. He served during the 1970s and 1980s although he often had to run on petition, having been passed over by the nominating committee. With his passion for social justice he was active on the Ethnic Minorities committee and felt that "Equity's policy of support to [ sic] non-traditional casting must be vigorously pursued."
Gordon's greatest passion, demonstrated in his papers, was to secure a National Theatre here in the United States. To that end he served as the chairman of the National Theatre Committee for seven years, "during which time the final and complete Equity National Theatre plan was approved by Council and the membership." He considered "the National Theatre plan to be a singular accomplishment of Equity's." In 1987, having relocated back to his home state of Washington, he continued to wage "an unremitting campaign in the Council and the membership to save the plan from the possibility of revisions that would destroy the only National Theatre plan worth a tinker's dam [ sic] to the Equity membership and the American people." Sadly, his plan never came to fruition.
Arranged alphabetically within each series.
Organized into 2 series:
- I, Actors' Equity Association Materials, 1951-2001
- II, Subject Files, 1951-1986
Scope and Content Note
The Douglas Gordon Papers consist of his personal files, reflecting his career in the performing arts and his interest in social justice, which he often found interconnected. One of the most striking aspects of his personal collection is his propensity for taking notes and annotating material he received or collected. Almost every article he clipped, letter he received or speech he wrote is covered in his handwritten comments.
Series I: Actors' Equity Association Materials, 1951-2001, is comprised of Gordon's files relevant to the Association, including general correspondence, reports, notes, clippings and other printed items and an extensive body of material on the National Theatre Committee, which he chaired for seven years.
Series II: Subject Files, 1951-1986, contains information on Gordon's other union memberships and activities (AFTRA and SAG). This series has a major focus on his fervor for equal opportunity issues, including his work with the "Committee for the Employment of the Negro Performer."
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by Douglas Gordon was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.
Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date; Douglas Gordon Papers; WAG 256; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by Douglas Gordon's wife, Rose Mary Gordon, in 2003. The accession number associated with this gift is 2003.007.