Ruth St. Denis UCLA Costume Collection



Repository Name: Jacob's Pillow
Repository Location: 358 George Carter Road, Becket MA, 01223 USA


1906 – 1955 (Inclusive date(s))


29 boxes

Related Entities

Ruth St. Denis (is related to)
Denishawn Company (is related to)

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Ruth St. Denis UCLA Costume Collection. Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival Archives, Becket, MA.


In 1932, after the Denishawn Company had disbanded, the Denishawn costumes, props, and sets were divided between Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Each kept items which were particularly meaningful to them or that could be used again. After the division was complete, it was decided that the rest should be burned ‘with a cleansing fire’. The costumes and props that St. Denis saved from the fire were brought to Los Angeles and form the nucleus of the Ruth St. Denis UCLA Costume Collection.

Ruth St. Denis continued to make work and perform throughout her life. The Ruth St. Denis UCLA Costume Collection also contains some of these later costumes.

Ruth St. Denis donated this collection to the Dance Department of the University of California Los Angeles in the 1960s. UCLA transferred the collection to the Jacob's Pillow Archives in 2000.

Scope and content

This collection of theatrical costumes and props was used by Ruth St. Denis and the Denishawn company from the 1900s through the 1960s. Prominent works represented in the collection include: Angkor-Vat, The Cobras, The Dance of Theodora, The Incense, Kwan Yin, The Legend of the Peacock, Nautch Dance, O-Mika, Radha, and Valse Directoire.

System of arrangement

Until 2018 the Ruth St. Denis UCLA Costume Collection was housed in a series of touring trunks. In 2018, Archives and Preservation Fellow Caroline Hamilton assigned unique numbers to each costume item and catalogued the complete collection. She also re-housed all of the costume items in archival boxes. The arrangement of the Ruth St. Denis UCLA Costume Collection comes from the original order of the items in the historic touring trunks. In the catalog record for each item, the physical location corresponds to the Costume Box number where it is currently stored, but the original trunk information has been retained in the provenance.

Conditions governing access

This collection is open to research by appointment only. Please contact the Director of Preservation for more information.

Processing Information

Date Created: 2018
Information: Caroline Hamilton, Archives and Preservation Fellow