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Frank Schiffman Apollo Theater Collection

Collector:
Schiffman, Frank, ?-1972  Search this
Donor:
Schiffman, Jack  Search this
Names:
Apollo Theatre (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Schiffman, Robert  Search this
Extent:
4 Cubic feet (16 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Publicity photographs
Ledgers (account books)
Handbills
Photographs
Awards
Scrapbooks
Place:
New York (N.Y.) -- 20th century
Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- 20th century
Date:
1931-1985
Scope and Contents:
The Frank Schiffman Apollo Theater Collection documents the business endeavors of Frank Schiffman, and the Apollo Theater's contribution to American culture. The collection includes sound recordings, personal and business correspondence, photographs, business records, and printed material. The collection is arranged in six series as follows:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1938-1985, consists of communications to and from Frank Schiffman, Jack Schiffman, and various business associates and friends. Correspondence is arranged in chronological order and by coresspondent..

Series 2: Business Records, 1931-1974, includes financial ledgers; phone books; booking cards containing names, dates, and performance reviews; and accounting documents pertaining to the management of the Apollo Theater.

Series 3: Publicity, undated, includes print media, pamphlets, scrapbooks, and flyers documenting the numerous performances and activities at the Apollo Theater. Several of the newsprint advertisements were reprinted in two books written about the Apollo Theater: Ted Fox's Showtime at the Apollo Theater, and Jack Schiffman's Uptown: The Story of Harlem's Apollo Theater.

Series 4: Photographs, undated primarily standard publicity stills of vocalists, comedians, musicians, and other artists who performed at the Apollo Theater, such as Lena Horne, Bo Diddley, Pearl Bailey, B.B. King, Jackson Five, Pigmeat Markham, Moms Mabley, Dick Gregory, Richard Pryor, and the Nicholas Brothers. Also includes candid shots of Frank Schiffman with business associates and friends. Similar to the print media, many of the photographs were used as illustrations in Ted Fox's Showtime at the Apollo Theater, and Jack Schiffman's Uptown: The Story of Harlem's Apollo Theater.

Series 5: Ephemera, undated, includes interview transcripts, various manuscripts, and architectural drawings of the Apollo Theater.

Series 6: Audio Recordings, 1940-1975, contains promotional broadcasts, publicity shorts, and one random music album. All of the audio recordings in the Schiffman Collection originated on 1/4" open reel audio tape and have cassette reference copies.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into six series.

Series 1: Correspondence, 1938-1985, undated

Series 2: Business Records, 1931-1974

Series 3: Publicity, undated

Series 4: Photographs, undated

Series 5: Ephemera, undated

Series 6: Audio Recordings, 1940-1975
Biographical / Historical:
The Apollo Theater is located in the Harlem section of New York City. A prominent and influential institution, the Apollo Theater hosted numerous performances by popular entertainers who were primarily African-American, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, Smokey Robinson, and the Temptations from the early 1930s to the present. It became best known as the site of "amateur night" programs, which catapulted many of its winners (and losers) to national and international acclaim. To this day, the Apollo Theater remains an important fixture in both the music industry and the African-American community.

The son of Austrian immigrants, Frank Schiffman began his career in the promotion and distribution of motion pictures in New York City. As his career grew, he managed various New York theaters such as the Lafayette and the Harlem Opera House. In 1934, Frank Schiffman became the first manager of the ApolloTheater. Soon thereafter, he became co-owner, and retained the management position until the early 1960s. Schiffman's lack of racial bias as well as his keen business sense helped the Apollo Theater to become a cultural icon within the performance industry. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Schiffman's sons, Jack and Robert assisted him with the management of the Apollo, and later took over management upon Frank Schiffman's retirement. Frank Schiffman died in 1974 at the age of eighty.
Related Materials:
John and Devra Levy Collection, dates

Program in African American Culture, dates
Provenance:
Collection donated to the Archives Center by Jack and Robert Schiffman in January 1996.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. The scrapbooks in Series 5 are in extremely fragile condition. They cannot be made available for use until they are preserved.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
African American entertainers -- 20th century  Search this
Entertainers -- 1930-1980  Search this
Concerts -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
African American musicians  Search this
Music-halls -- 1930-1980  Search this
Theaters -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Publicity photographs
Ledgers (account books)
Handbills
Photographs -- 20th century
Awards
Scrapbooks -- 20th century
Citation:
Frank Schiffman Apollo Theatre Collection, 1935-1973, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0540
See more items in:
Frank Schiffman Apollo Theater Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0540
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