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Clay M. Greene Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MSS.2016.01.11

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Clay M. Greene Collection, 1867-1934 (bulk 1880-1925) documents Greene’s life from his early years as a newspaperman to his later success as an American playwright. Greene is perhaps best known for writing and producing Nazareth: The Passion Play of Santa Clara. The play was performed at Santa Clara College’s Golden Jubilee in 1901 and enjoyed continued success for many years. The collection includes play scripts, screenplays and scenarios; a few musical scores and librettos; newspaper clippings pertaining to theatrical productions; personal and professional correspondence with David Belasco, William H. Crane, Erlanger Productions, the New York Lambs Club, Jacob Litt and others; ephemera and other printed materials related to his participation in various social clubs, most notably the Bohemian Club and the New York Lambs; and newspaper articles, poems, prose and other writings by Greene including drafts of his memoir entitled My Seventy-Five Years, Off and On.

Dates

  • 1867-1934 (bulk 1880-1925)

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Access

The collection is open for research. There are no restrictions.

Publication Rights

Materials in Archives & Special Collections may be subject to copyright. All requests for permission to publish from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the University Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Archives & Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials, and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital reproductions of the original materials.

Biographical History

Clay M. Greene was an American playwright, director and alumnus of Santa Clara College. Born on March 12, 1850 in San Francisco, California, Greene was exposed to the burgeoning theater trade of the Gold Rush Era as an adolescent. Greene immersed himself in the world of theater, observing, acting and eventually writing burlesques and plays. In 1867, Greene’s parents sent him to Santa Clara College, where they hoped he would pursue studies in law or medicine. Instead, his college experience further solidified his interest in the theater. Upon his return to San Francisco in 1870, Greene worked as a newspaperman, writing for The Golden Era and its competitor The Argonaut. In 1878, Greene relocated to New York, where he believed his work would flourish, and eventually, it did. Over his career, seventeen of Greene’s thirty-three full length plays became Broadway productions. As a gift to his alma mater, Greene wrote and produced Nazareth: The Passion Play of Santa Clara. Greene’s Passion Play was performed for the first time at Santa Clara College’s Golden Jubilee in 1901 and enjoyed continued success for many years.

Active in numerous social clubs across the country, Greene was Shepherd of the New York Lambs; Commodore of Manhasset Bay Yacht Club; an early member of the San Francisco Bohemian Club; an active member of the Huckleberry Indians (comprised of New York Athletic Club members) and an honorary member of the Olympic Club. Greene often created or adapted short plays and sketches for social club events such as the New York Lambs’ Gambol, the Bohemian Club’s Grove Play and the Huckleberry Indian’s Annual Pow Wow.

In 1873, Greene married Alice R. Wheeler, and their marriage lasted until her death in 1910. In the early 1900s, Greene once again found himself writing a regular column, this time for The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, under the pen name “Uncle Clay.” In 1911, he married playwright Laura Hewett Robinson, whose daughter by a previous marriage was actress Helen Greene. In 1933, Greene broke his hip and remained bedridden until his death on September 5, 1933 in San Francisco, California. He was still at work on his memoirs. In his honor, Santa Clara University’s dramatic society, active until the 1960s, became known as the Clay M. Green Society.

Bibliography:

“Clay Greene Back on Earth: Former Champion California Playwright in Town.” Los Angeles Times Nov. 30, 1911: 115. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Web. Jan. 8, 2016.

“Clay M. Greene, Actor, Dies in West: Was First American Born in San Francisco—Shepherd of the Lambs Here 11 Times.” New York Times Sep. 6, 1933: ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Web. Jan. 8, 2016.

James, William R. Clay Meredith Greene (1850-1933): A Case Study of an American Journeyman Playwright. Iowa City: University of Iowa, 1969. Print.

Organizational History

Santa Clara University was founded in 1851 by the Society of Jesus as Santa Clara College and is California’s oldest operating institution of higher learning. It was established on the grounds of Mission Santa Clara de Asìs, the eighth of the original 21 California missions. The college originally operated as a preparatory school and did not offer courses of collegiate rank until 1853. The institution became known as the University of Santa Clara in 1912, when the schools of engineering and law were added. For 110 years, Santa Clara University was an all-male school. In 1961, women were accepted as undergraduates and Santa Clara University became the first coeducational Catholic university in California. The number of students and faculty tripled over the next decade and the university began the largest building program in school history with eight residence halls, a student union, and an athletic stadium. In the early 1970s, the Board of Trustees voted to limit the size of the undergraduate population, an action that was intended to preserve the character and ensure the quality of the university for generations to come. In 1985, the university adopted Santa Clara University as its official name.

Bibliography:

Santa Clara University. “About SCU – History.” www.scu.edu/about/history.cfm (Accessed Nov. 23, 2010)

McKevitt, Gerald, S.J. The University of Santa Clara: A History, 1851-1977. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1979.

Extent

8.0 linear feet (, 11 boxes, 3 items, 2 oversize items)

Abstract

The Clay M. Greene Collection, 1867-1934 (bulk 1880-1925) documents Greene’s life from his early years as a newspaperman to his later success as an American playwright. Greene is perhaps best known for writing and producing Nazareth: The Passion Play of Santa Clara. The play was performed at Santa Clara College’s Golden Jubilee in 1901 and enjoyed continued success for many years. The collection includes play scripts, screenplays and scenarios; a few musical scores and librettos; newspaper clippings pertaining to theatrical productions; personal and professional correspondence with David Belasco, William H. Crane, Erlanger Productions, the New York Lambs Club, Jacob Litt and others; ephemera and other printed materials related to his participation in various social clubs, most notably the Bohemian Club and the New York Lambs; and newspaper articles, poems, prose and other writings by Greene including drafts of his memoir entitled My Seventy-Five Years, Off and On. This collection is arranged into four series: Series I: Personalia, 1868-1934; Series II: Poetry, Prose & Other Writings, 1867-1933; Series III: The Bohemians, the New York Lambs & Other Social Clubs, 1876-1933; and Series IV: Theatrical Works, 1871-1933.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into four series: Series I: Personalia, 1868-1934; Series II: Poetry, Prose & Other Writings, 1867-1933; Series III: The Bohemians, the New York Lambs & Other Social Clubs, 1876-1933; and Series IV: Theatrical Works, 1871-1933.

Physical Location

This collection is located in Santa Clara University Library's Archives & Special Collections.

Processing Information

Collection processed and encoded by Shannon Hartman in 2016. Reviewed by Erin Louthen. Finding aid updated by Andrea Hoff in 2018.

Title
Guide to the Clay M. Greene Collection
Status
Completed
Date
© 2016 Santa Clara University. All rights reserved.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Archives & Special Collections, Santa Clara University Library Repository

Contact:
Santa Clara University Library
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara California 95053-0500 USA US
408-554-5530