Austin History Center

Siegmund Aronson Papers

An Inventory of the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Aronson, Siegmund
Title: Siegmund Aronson Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1950-2003
Bulk Dates: 1952-1958
Abstract: Siegmund Joel Aronson (1918-2012) was an Austin, Texas lawyer and playwright, as well as an active member and supporter of the Austin Civic Theatre (ACT). His collection of papers dates from 1950 to 2003 and contains correspondence, clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, scripts and related production and publicity materials for the melodrama (plays) written, adapted or directed by Aronson.
Identification: AR.2012.036
Quantity: 2 linear feet (4 boxes and 2 scrapbooks)
Location: Archives Stacks, Oversized Volumes, Outer Vault
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Creator Note

Siegmund Joel Aronson was born on February 9, 1918 in Sour Lake, Texas to Bernhard and Leah Aronson. Aronson's family moved from Sour Lake to Orange Field and then to Beaumont, Texas where Aronson graduated from Beaumont High School in 1934. After graduation he left Beaumont to seek employment and eventually settled in southern Florida where he worked as a professional prize-fighter under the name "Jimmy Welch, the Texas Tornado." After his time in Florida, Aronson lived in New York City where he worked as a clerk for Hearst Publishing. In 1938 Aronson returned to Texas to pursue a college education at the University of Texas at Austin. His education was interrupted by four-and-a-half years of service in the United States Army during World War II. After the war he returned to school and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1946. He went on to earn his Bachelor of Law degree in 1948 from the University of Texas Law School. After years of working in the private sector as an attorney, Aronson served as the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas during the 1970s and 1980s. Aronson married Jane Wallenstein in 1975.

Aronson had an avid interest in the theater arts and was a member of the Austin Civic Theatre (now the ZACH Theatre). He served as ACT's president for three years and was a member of the board of directors in the 1950s and 1960s. He also directed and acted in many plays, several of them he wrote (or co-wrote) or adapted himself. Aronson focused on writing melodramas, and founded the Melodrama Play Service to publish and license his plays.

Siegmund Aronson passed away on July 6, 2012.

Scope and Contents

The Siegmund Aronson Papers consists of three series: I. Correspondence, II. Performance Materials and III. Scrapbooks.

The Correspondence series (1955-2003) contains a small amount of materials predominately concerned with requests to produce his plays, efforts to publish the melodramas and other theater-related topics. In addition there is correspondence with the author of Jayne Mansfield: A Bio-Bibliography about the use of his photograph of Jayne Mansfield in her book.

The Performance Records series (1950-2000) contains scripts plus related production and publicity materials for the melodramas (plays) written, adapted or directed by Aronson during the 1950s. While the content of each play folder varies slightly, the types of materials found includes annotated scripts, musical scores, casting notes, light and sound cues, props and costume lists, blocking, programs, photographs, correspondence and newspaper clippings. The melodramas represented are: The Gambler, The Perils of Pamona, The Pitfalls of Pauline, The Rebel's Revenge, and Rosie's Ricochet Romance (all written or co-written by Aronson); The Drunkard and Uncle Tom's Cabin (both adapted by Aronson); and Bertha, the Beautiful Typewriter Girl, A Clearing in the Woods and Dirty Work at the Crossroads (all directed by Aronson). The majority of the materials are related to productions mounted at the Austin Civic Theatre during the 1950s; however Aronson also collected programs and playbills for his plays produced by other theater groups.

The Scrapbook series (1951-1958) consists of two scrapbooks made up of newspaper clippings, photographs, play bills and programs chronicling the productions and activities at the Austin Civic Theatre during the 1950s. Many the same melodramas described in the Performance Records series are highlighted, however a few additional plays are represented as well. Because of preservation concerns the scrapbooks have been preservation photocopied to capture the original order of the presentation of the materials and the photographs and programs have been removed to more adequate storage (photographs have been sleeved and foldered and are in box 3 & 4 with the oversized photographs remaining with photocopied pages; the programs have been flattened and moved to Oversized Archives).


Arranged into three series:
I. Correspondence
II. Performance Records
III. Scrapbooks


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Aronson, Siegmund Joel.
Pape, Mel.
Austin Civic Theater.
Austin Civic Theatre.
Austin Little Theatre.
Zachary Scott Theatre Center.
Austin (Tex.)
Document Types:
Phono-post card.

Related Material

Archives and Manuscripts - AR.1991.001 Theater Program Collection

Austin Files - Zachary Scott Theater Center Z0300

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Donated by Siegmund Aronson's granddaughter.

Preferred Citation

Siegmund Aronson Papers (AR.2012.036). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/2012/064

Donation Date: 2012

Processing Information

Finding aid created and encoded by Molly Hults in 2012.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Correspondence, 1955-2003

Box Folder
1 1 Correspondence, 1955-2003

II. Performance Records, 1950-2000

Box Folder
1 2 The Gambler, 1953-1965, undated
3 The Perils of Pamona, 1953-1954, undated
4 The Pitfalls of Pauline, 1957, undated
5 The Rebel's Revenge, 1955-1958, 1993-2000, undated
6 Rosie's Ricochet Romance, 1954, undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault Color Negative Drawer Photo negative, circa 1950s
Box Folder
1 7 The Drunkard, 1950-1960, undated
Box Folder
2 1 Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1952-1954, undated
2 Bertha, the Beautiful Typewriter Girl, 1952, undated
3 A Clearing in the Woods, 1957-1958, undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault Color Negative Drawer Photo negatives, circa 1950s
Box Folder
2 4 Dirty Work at the Crossroads, 1954, undated
Location FlatFile
qAR 03/05/013 Oversized playbills, circa 1950s
Box Folder
2 5 Unidentified performance photographs, circa 1950s
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault B&W Negative Drawer Unidentified performance photo negatives, circa 1950s

III. Scrapbooks, 1951-1958

Oversized Volumes Scrapbook #1 preservation photocopies and oversized materials, 1951-1957
Box Folder
3 1-3 Scrapbook #1 photographs, circa 1951-1957
Oversized Volumes Scrapbook #2 preservation photocopies and oversized materials, 1952-1958
Box Folder
4 1-3 Scrapbook #2 photographs, circa 1952-1958