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Edith Mason Collection

Identifier: Mason

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The Edith Mason Collection primarily relates to Edith Mason's performing career, focused on Chicago opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York in the 1930s. Clippings are mostly of reviewed performances, and the two scrapbooks primarily hold clippings with some programs. Programs from opera and concert performances are included, as well as a small amount of correspondence, printed interviews and copies of speeches.

Photographs in the collection reflect Mason's personal and professional life, with many publicity shots in costume or headshots. There are also a sizable amount of family photographs, including photographs with Mason's daughter Graziella, and husband Bill Ragland.

Musical scores are primarily published sheet music, some with inscriptions, and a few original manuscripts. One notable score, Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, is inscribed by the composer, and multiple interviews reference this score's markings as reflecting Puccini's personal coaching on Mason's signature role of Cio-Cio-San.

The initial appraisal of the collection in 1982 yielded a printed inventory, of which the lists of scores and photographs have been copied into separate documents for easy searching. Very little editing was done to these lists besides some spelling corrections. The inventory lists of scores and photographs, mostly reflecting recent removal of duplicates and other separated materials, are available in a printed paper copy placed at the front of Box 1 of the collection, and are also available via .pdf upon request.

Two series, recordings and costumes, are unprocessed at this time.


  • 1910-1974


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


13.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Edith Mason was an American soprano whose performing career, primarily in opera, spanned the late 1910s through early 1940s. The collection includes photographs, clippings, programs and musical scores, as well as recordings and costumes.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged in five series: Papers, Photographs and portraits, Scores, Recordings, and Costumes.

Series 1 and 2, Papers and Photographs and portraits, are organized generally by type of material and subject. Series 3, Scores, is arranged alphabetically by composer's last name, except for the Puccini score, which is housed separately. The final two series are unprocessed.

Custodial History

Mason's costume collection was given to the the School of Music; however, one box remains in the Music Library as part of the library's collection.

Method of Acquisition

Edith Mason gave a collection of her costumes to Northwestern School of Music in 1964. After Mason and her then-husband, William E. Ragland died, Ragland's widow, Vivian, worked with Northwestern and the Ragland estates to add personal papers and effects to the existing collection. These items were received in 1982 and appraised by Kurtz Myers, who created a detailed inventory and appraisal.

Related Materials

One folder of correspondence between Mason and Fritz and Carlotta Reiner is held in the Fritz Reiner correspondence collection, also at the Northwestern Music Library.

Separated Materials

Duplicate clippings, programs and photographs were discarded. Scores with no markings or other indication of use were also discarded. Framed photographs were generally removed from their frames. One score in fair condition without markings was added to the circulating collection.

Processing Information

Processed 2015 by Mimi Morrison, Gary Strawn and Jill Waycie.

Guide to the Edith Mason Collection
Jill Waycie and Mimi Morrison, 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Music Library Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US