Monday, February 08, 2010

Help needed about Dumbo!

Michael Barrier mentions the following in his essay:

[A footnote: Syracuse University, Helen Aberson Mayer's alma mater, holds the papers of Helen R. Durney, whose "biographical history" on the university library's Web site includes the following: "Artist and illustrator Helen Durney (?-1970) is best known for her illustrations of Harold and Helen (Aberson) Pearl's story 'Dumbo the Flying Elephant.' Sold to the Walt Disney Corporation in 1939, the story was first published by the Roll-A-Book Company of Syracuse, New York." Here's a description of the Durney collection:

Spanning 1934 to 1942, the Helen R. Durney Papers comprises correspondence, artwork, writings, and memorabilia of the American illustrator. Correspondence consists of miscellaneous correspondence from 1939. Artwork contains Dumbo material as well as sketches for other projects including the Percy Hughes School murals. Writings contains articles, a list of illustrations and promotional ideas for "Dumbo," copies of Durney's column for Design Magazine, and a transcript of her radio program over station WFBL of Syracuse. Memorabilia contains galley proofs for two "Dumbo" books, including the original Roll-a-Book version, and one published copy of "Walt Disney's Dumbo of the Circus," along with articles, clippings, an exhibit catalog, and some artwork by others.

I'm not aware that anyone has examined that material, at least not to report on it through the Web or a printed source, and I know from long experience that such collections can often be very disappointing. I would bet that the galley proofs and such are from the 1941 edition, rather than the original 1939 Roll-A-Book. But still.... ]

Do any of you live close to Syracuse? Would you be willing to try and visit Syracus University to get to the bottom of this?

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