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Brown family papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Brown Family

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, newspaper clippings, personal papers, photographs, Genevieve’s scrapbook, and souvenir items from McAuliffe, Grace and Genevieve Brown covering the time period of 1918-1972, with the bulk of the items from 1923 to 1932.

The papers contain correspondence from the three Brown children to their mother. A few photographs and a small journal kept by McAuliffe includes some details of his experiences on the frontlines in World War I. There are numerous individual and group photographs of the three all-girl orchestras that Grace and Genevieve performed with – Harry Waiman and the Debutantes, the Parisian Red Heads and the Ingénues. Letters and postcards sent home provide details of their travels. Numerous travel photographs, postcards and other ephemera collected while the Brown sisters were on tour are also included, and the scrapbook contains many clippings with reviews of their performances.


  • Creation: 1918-1972
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1923 - 1932



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Brown family papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Brown family 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.

Biography of Brown Family Members

This collection, assembled and preserved by Kathleen Davis, includes information on three of the descendants of Kentucky state senator, Augustus E. Brown (1863-1927) and his wife Grace Truman Richardson Brown (1867-1955) who made their home in Hardinsburg, Kentucky. Although there were nine Brown children, these papers reflect time periods in the lives of the eldest, McAuliffe, and the two youngest, Grace and Genevieve, all of whom were talented musicians.

McAuliffe Brown (1889-1963) served as a corporal the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. At the close of the war he was fighting on the front lines in France. He and his company marched into Germany in December of 1918. Earlier in his career, McAuliffe had played in the army band.

Grace Brown (1901-1990) was known for her musical and comedic talents. She first appeared with Harry Waiman and the Debutantes in 1923-1924. By 1927, she was performing as a musician and comedic dancer with the Parisian Red Heads, an all-girl vaudeville band. The group, starring Bobbie Grice, performed across the United States on various entertainment circuits. By 1929 Grace had joined her sister Genevieve as a member of another all-girl orchestra, the Ingénues.

Genevieve Brown (1903-1971), a graduate of the University of Kentucky at Lexington, also played several musical instruments, including the sousaphone. From 1926 through 1932, Genevieve was a member of the Ingénues, managed by E. G. “Eddie” Sherman. The Ingénues attained such fame on the Orpheum circuit that they became part of the Ziegfeld Follies for the 1927 season. Following this success, the group went on world tours, playing theaters in Africa, Australia, Europe, the Near East and South America.


2.6 Linear Feet (4 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Correspondence, writings, newspaper clippings, numerous group and portrait photographs, a scrapbook, travel and souvenir items and snapshots, relating to sisters Grace and Genevieve Brown, musicians who were members of three American all-girl bands between 1923 and 1932. A large part of the collection consists of photographs of the bands and the performers: Harry Waiman and the Debutantes, the Parisian Red Heads and the Ingenues, as well as numerous small travel photographs Also a small collection of brother McAuliffe’s World War I memorabilia including a very dramatic small journal kept during battle in 1918.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Correspondence and Writings, 1918-1972
Box 1
Series 2: All-Girl Bands, 1923-1932
Boxes 1-2
Series 3: Travel and Souvenirs, 1926-1932
Boxes 3-4

Collection Stack Location

1 7 6


Gift, Kathleen Davis, Feb. 2005.

Processed by

Ginger Frere, 2005; Virginia Hay Smith, 2009.

Inventory of the Brown family papers, 1918-1972, bulk 1923-1932
Ginger Frere, 2005; Virginia Hay Smith, 2009.
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2011-08-17: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.

Repository Details

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

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States