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Iva Kitchell papers

Identifier: Dance-MS-Kitchell

Scope and Content of the Collection

Collection consists of six large scrapbooks and some loose materials which chronicle the career of Iva Kitchell from 1926 to 1958, from Chicago to international venues. Includes articles, clippings, programs, reviews, advertising material and miscellaneous memorabilia. Also, a 1984 catalog of an exhibition of the paintings of her husband, Stokely Webster, which contains several portraits of Kitchell.


  • Creation: 1926-1984
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1926-1958



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Iva Kitchell papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Iva Kitchell papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Iva Kitchell

American concert dancer and dance satirist.

Iva Kitchell achieved fame as a dance mime and comedienne with a natural bent for parody. Born in 1908 in Junction City, Kansas, as Emma Baugh, at age three she was adopted by the Robert W. Kitchells, and after early years of hardship and amateur dance recitals, she achieved her goal of joining the Chicago Civic Opera Ballet. Because she was too small to be a prima ballerina, as a member of the ballet corps she began amusing herself by making fun of the seriousness of the performances. Instead of being reprimanded, Kitchell was encouraged to develop her talent for humorous mimicry, and so she began her long career presenting comedic one-woman shows.

Iva Kitchell based her comedy routines on the premise that there is “something ridiculous about anything that is too serious”, and she vivaciously parodied all varieties of pretense in modern dance and classical ballet. Kitchell became internationally famous, traveling throughout the United States and Europe, and her solo performances backed by an imaginary “Invisible Ballet Company” assured her of twenty years as a successful and popular concert dancer.

In 1933, Kitchell married painter and aeronautical engineer Stokely Webster, with whom she had one daughter, Stephanie. After retiring from public performing, Kitchell ran a ballet studio on Long Island, and later she and Webster relocated to Florida, where she died in 1983.


2 Linear Feet (3 oversize boxes)


Six scrapbooks and large folder of loose material relating to the dance and performance career of Iva Kitchell. Scrapbooks contain articles, clippings, programs, reviews, advertising material, memorabilia and other miscellaneous items that cover Kitchell’s life, from her affiliation with the Chicago Civic Opera Ballet in 1926 to her retirement from an international stage career as a satiric dance mime in 1961. Also, a 1984 catalog of an exhibition of the paintings by her husband Stokely Webster, which contains a number of portraits of Kitchell.


Scrapbooks are arranged chronologically in three large flat boxes with folder of loose material and art exhibition catalog in Box 3.

Collection Stack Location

3a 48 8


Gift of Stokely Webster, 1988.

Processed by

Virginia H. Smith, 2007.

Inventory of the Iva Kitchell papers, 1926-1984, bulk 1926-1958
Virginia H. Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States