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Lynne O'Neill Papers

Identifier: 31/6/132

Scope and Contents

The Lynne O’Neill papers consist of eight boxes and two oversized posters. The collection spans the years 1931 through 2000 with the bulk of the materials dating from 1947 through 1977. The records are divided into five sub-series: biographical/professional materials, photographs, publications, fan mail, and oversized items.

Biographical/professional files, spanning the years 1931 to 1974, include general biographical information on Lynne O’Neill, her high school and college records, advertising materials, financial records, two letters written by O’Neill for distribution to her fans, and a file on her friend Barbara Nichols.

Photographs depict Lynne O’Neill in performance or posing in costumes. Some photographs are nude figure studies. All photographs are black and white and undated.

Publications, spanning the years 1947 to 1973, include clippings announcing O’Neill’s performances, the book Diane Arbus (Millerton, NY: Aperture, 1972), in which O’Neill appears as one of the subjects depicted by the celebrated photographer Diane Arbus, and several issues of the adult magazines Man to Man, Frolic, and Scamp. Those magazines contain articles either about O’Neill or written by her.

Four archival boxes are filled with fan mail letters written to O’Neill spanning the years from 1955 through 1977. Fan mail is reflective of correspondents’ interest in O’Neill as a performer and person but also as an embodiment of female sexuality. Some letters consequently contain explicit and graphic language and illustrations. Letters from military personnel sometimes make reference to combat and other features of military life.

Oversized Materials include a promotional calendar with a picture of O’Neill, and a Citation of the Office of the Executive, Nassau County, State of New York. Included are also legal records (newspaper clippings, an opinion by J. Froessel, and letters of reference from friends and neighbors), documenting her accusation of possessing nude photographs and of selling them through the mail. Folders are arranged in alphabetical order by title, items within box no. 6, folder 3, are not in a particular order.

Box no. 7 contains a phonograph record with Lynne O’Neill appearing as a cover model on its jacket. Box no. 8 includes a poster advertising Barbara Nichols in the Wonderful World of Burlesque stage performance. Two oversized movie posters announce O’Neill starring in the 1965 film Secrets of an Uncover Model.


  • 1938-2000


Conditions Governing Access

Patrons wishing to make use of the collection’s fan mail will be required to sign an agreement ensuring the confidentiality of Ms. O’Neill’s (Ms. Nolan’s) correspondents.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored at a remote campus location and requires 48 hours 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.


8.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Lynne O’Neill (Elaine Jose Nolan) was a burlesque dancer, model, magazine contributor, and realtor. The collection spans the years 1931 through 2000. and consists of biographical and professional documents, fan mail, publications, photographs, and artifacts.


The Lynne O'Neill papers are organized into: biographical/professional materials (in alphabetical order; items within each folder are arranged by date), photographs (arranged by physical format), publications (in alphabetical order by title; items within each folder are arranged by date), fan mail (letters from civillians and letters from military personnel; each group arranged alphabetically by surname), and oversized items.

Method of Acquisition

The Lynne O’Neill Papers were acquired by the Northwestern University Archives in 2013, as Accessions 13-143, 13-146, 13-158, 13-210, 13-233, and 13-237.
Guide to the Lynne O'Neill Papers
Yvonne Spura
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Repository Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

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