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Records of "Clara, Lu 'n' Em"

Identifier: 31/6/124

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The Records of Clara Lu ‘n’ Em fill 26 boxes and date between 1923 and 2014. Eight scrapbooks of clippings document the women’s lives and careers, and are especially revealing about the way the radio stations publicized the show and how sponsors pushed their products. The scrapbooks hold many examples of the press releases that NBC sent to newspapers across the country, and to current or potential affiliate radio stations and sponsors, as well as tearsheets from sponsors for newspaper or magazine ads (the best are the Super Suds ads which recreated the feeling of a serial).

Contracts, correspondence, photographs, and promotional materials and artifacts (a souvenir spoon from the Century of Progress, and a jigsaw puzzle of the girls eating lunch on the steps of the United States Capitol) add to the vivid picture of Clara, Lu ‘n’ Em’s radio life. Fortunately, a few of the transcription disks also survived; they have been digitized, making the leisurely drawls of the women and the archetypal "radio voice" of their announcer heard once again.

Scripts form the bulk of the collection. Helen King Mitchell ("Em")  was careful to date and save her copies of the radio show's scripts, which, over the course of nearly eight years (with the show airing as often as five days a week), filled a dozen card-file boxes. A highlight of the collection, the scripts are integral to understanding the charm (and the corniness) of the shows, as well as the creative energy of the three real-life women who wrote and performed them.


  • 1923 - 2014
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1930 - 1946
  • Other: Date acquired: 07/03/2013


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on use of the materials in the department for research; all patrons must comply with federal copyright regulations.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored at a remote campus location 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.


26.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Clara, Lu ‘n’ Em, one of the first radio soap operas (1930-1946), was created, written, and performed by three Northwestern University alumnae (Louise Starkey Mead, Isobel Carothers Berolzheimer, and Helen King Mitchell), who assumed the roles of small-town housewives exchanging gossip and opinions. The records include scripts, clippings, photographs, artifacts, and promotional materials.


The records of Clara, Lu ‘n’ Em are organized into: general materials (chiefly in alphabetical order); clippings (in chronological order); photographs (arranged alphabetically by description); scripts (in chronological order, plus undated material); artifacts and audiovisual materials (arranged alphabetically by description); broadsheets and scrapbooks (in approximate chronological order).

Source of Acquisition

The bulk of the records of "Clara, Lu 'n' Em" were donated to the University Archives by Reed Mitchell Hagee on March 7, 2013, as Accession # 13-49.

Method of Acquisition

The bulk of the records of "Clara, Lu 'n' Em" were donated to the University Archives by Reed Mitchell Hagee on March 7, 2013, as Accession # 13-49. Additional materials were donated to the University Archives by Karen Word on October 10, 2013, as Accession # 13-201.

Guide to the Records of "Clara, Lu 'n' Em"
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

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