Jean Muir papers
Scope and Contents
The Jean Muir papers document the personal and professional life of Jean Muir, an American stage and film actress and educator, who was one of the first performers to be blacklisted after her name appeared in the anti-Communist 1950 pamphlet Red Channels. The papers include personal and professional papers, correspondence, diaries, photographs, scrapbooks, and books.
The Personal and professional papers series contains records and documents related to Muir’s personal life, as well as her acting and teaching careers. This series includes writing files, drafts, newspaper clippings, publicity material, legal documents, and teaching and directing materials.
The Correspondence series contains letters, postcards, notes, and photographs exchanged between Muir and her family, friends, and professional associates.
The Diaries series contains Muir’s personal daily diaries. Diary entries span from October 1926 to 1994, though the bulk of the entries is from August 1963 to 1994. Some diaries contain inserted correspondence or notes.
The Photographs series contains photographic prints, film negatives, and an album. This series includes publicity photographs, portraits, personal snapshots, and theater photography depicting Muir circa 1920s-1993.
The Scrapbooks series contains one scrapbook documenting the 1940 Mohawk Drama Festival and one scrapbook documenting the 1960 production of Semi-Detached.
The Books series contains published books collected by Muir. Most of the books are written in French, and many contain Muir’s annotations or inscriptions.
- 1876 - circa 2005
- Majority of material found within 1921-1996
- Muir, Jean, 1911-1996 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.
Biographical / Historical
Jean Muir was an American stage and film actress and educator who was one of the first performers to be blacklisted after her name appeared in the anti-Communist 1950 pamphlet Red Channels.
Jean Muir Fullarton was born in Suffern, New York, on February 13, 1911. Muir attended schools in New Jersey and studied French history and literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. Upon returning to the United States from France, Muir joined a company of Bird in Hand. After acting in several stock productions, she appeared on Broadway in shows including The Truth Game, Peter Ibbetson, Dinner at Eight, and Life Begins. In 1933, as one of the stars of Saint Wench, she was spotted by a talent scout and signed to a contract with Warner Bros. Muir appeared in forty films with the studio, starring in thirty of them, including As the Earth Turns (1934), Desirable (1934), The White Cockatoo (1935), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935), Stars Over Broadway (1935), and White Bondage (1937). By the late 1930s, Muir began devoting more of her professional time to theatre, including an appearance in London in J. B. Priestley’s People at Sea, and eventually radio and television work.
In 1939 Muir helped organize the American Guild of Variety Artists. She was also involved in the formation of the Screen Actors Guild. Muir was a vocal critic of racism in Hollywood. She was a member of several activist organizations and participated in public events and campaigns around the country with politicians and activists such as Fiorello La Guardia, Fredi Washington, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
In 1950, Muir was named as a suspected Communist sympathizer in the anti-Communist pamphlet Red Channels. Muir was immediately removed from the cast of the television sitcom The Aldrich Family, in which she had been cast as Mrs. Aldrich, making Muir the first performer to lose employment because of a listing in Red Channels. Muir denied the charges and defended herself before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, but her acting career was irreparably damaged by the blacklisting. Muir did not work in television again until 1958. She returned to Broadway in 1960.
Muir taught drama and directed plays at community centers in New York, and in 1968, she became the Master Acting Teacher at Stephens College in Missouri. She also directed and acted in several productions at the college. In 1976, a mandatory retirement policy forced Muir to leave Stephens College at the age of 65. She went on to teach in several theatre programs at universities across the United States and continued to direct and act in productions at the schools.
From 1940-1960, Muir was married to entertainment attorney, and later television producer, Henry Jaffe. The couple had three children: David Jaffe, Michael Jaffe, and Margaret Bauer. Muir died in Mesa, Arizona, on July 23, 1996.
12 linear feet (9 containers) : 5 record storage boxes; 3 flat boxes; 1 manuscript box
Language of Materials
Jean Muir was an American stage and film actress and educator who was one of the first performers to be blacklisted after her name appeared in the anti-Communist 1950 pamphlet Red Channels. The papers include personal and professional papers, correspondence, diaries, photographs, scrapbooks, and books.
The Jean Muir papers are arranged in six series:
1. Personal and professional papers, 1876 - circa 2005
2. Correspondence, 1928-1996
3. Diaries, 1926 October - 1994, bulk: 1963 August - 1994
4. Photographs, circa 1920s-1993
5. Scrapbooks, 1940-1960
6. Books, 1921-1984
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Margaret Bauer, 2012-2015.
Collection processed by Sarah Lueders, 2022.
- Acting teachers Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Actresses -- United States Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Blacklisting of entertainers Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Motion pictures -- United States -- History -- 20th century Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Theater -- United States -- History -- 20th century Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Women college teachers -- United States Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Bauer, Margaret (Donor, Person)
- Guide to the Jean Muir papers
- Complete Description
- Sarah Lueders
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA