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A Finding Aid for the Heddy Rossi Papers 1946-1983

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Heddy Rossi Papers

Creator: Rossi, Heddy

Dates: 1946-1983

Abstract: Heddy Rossi (1891-1985) directed Ferris' Little Theatre (also called both the Ferris Playhouse and Ferris State Theatre) from 1946-1958. She was an internationally known playwright who premiered some of her works at Ferris Institute. Her papers consist primarily of manuscript copies of plays and other writings.

Language: English

Quantity: 0.8 cubic feet; 2 Hollinger boxes

Identification: UA 24.10.50

Repository: Ferris State University Archives and Records Management Program

Historical Note

Hedwig ("Heddy") Elizabeth Braun was born in 1891 in Vienna, Austria. She originally planned to be a concert singer, but instead studied education. She earned her teaching certificate from a Vienna Mittschule in 1921 and a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Vienna in 1922. During that period she also met and married Dr. Oswald Rossi.

Heddy Rossi was partly Jewish, so she emigrated with her husband and son to the United States in 1938. She had worked previously in Austria with Radio Vienna in the drama and literature departments. From 1942-1945, Rossi worked with the John Hopkins University Playshop, where her son was a student.

In 1945, she followed her husband Oswald Rossi to Ferris Institute in Big Rapids, Michigan. She got a teaching contract for the subjects of dramatic speech, German, literature. Rossi also directed the theatre group. She collaborated with Fred Bush of Central Michigan College of Education to build up both theatre programs. After her husband's retirement in 1957 (when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70), they moved to South Nyack, New York where their son lived. Rossi continued to write and produce plays. In addition to local theatres, versions of her plays were produced as broadcasts internationally - on the Australian Broadcasting System, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Canadian Broadcasting System (CBS) and Radio Vienna. Her novel Das Mädchen Kaja was selected as a Gutenberg Guild book in Austria.

Heddy Rossi died on 1 November 1985 in Tappan, New Jersey. Heddy and Oswald Rossi had one son named Harald.

Scope and Content Note

Following retrenchment at Hobart and William Smith College in New Jersey, Oswald Rossi came to Ferris Institute in 1940 to teach psychology and Spanish. His wife, Heddy Rossi came and soon became a faculty member in her own right . He was also the director of the theatre group. Of particular interest a scrapbook of Rossi plays produced by the theatre group. This includes newclippings, programs, photographs, tickets and other memorabilia. This collection does contain some biographical information in the article by Larry Martin, and information on the creation of a fund honoring Oswald Rossi in the early 1980s. There are also a few newspaper clippings about productions at Ferris. However, the collection does not contain any primary sources relating to their teaching careers at Ferris.

In 1981, Ferris contacted Heddy Rossi and asked for copies of her plays, as a former faculty member. This is how the majority of the collection was acquired. Rossi sent these plays (some xeroxed manuscripts, some with handwritten changes written in) and a volume of essays written by Oswald Rossi. The collection dates plays by their assigned copyright date, which is not necessarily when it was written. For example, Vienna Legends, with a copyright date of 1978, was first produced at Ferris Institute in the 1950s.


The papers are divided into two series.

Access Information

Conditions of Access

The Heddy Rossi Papers are open for research to all users in accordance with University Archives and Records Management access policies. It is available in the reading room of the Ferris State University Archives.

Conditions of Use

Requests for permission to publish material should be directed to the University Archivist. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Partial copyright interests for this collection have been transferred to Ferris State University. For more information, contact the University Archivist.

Subject Headings

Below are a list of names, organizations and subjects relating to the collection. Names have been taken from Library of Congress Authority headings whenever possible.

Related Materials

Ferris Theatre Records. (UA 33.75.1)

Administrative Information


Footnotes and bibliographic references should use the following format:
[Item], Folder, Box. Heddy Rossi Papers. Ferris State University Archives. Big Rapids, Michigan.

Provenance (Acquisition Information)

The Heddy Rossi papers were donated by Heddy Rossi, South Nynack, New York in fall 1981.

Processing Information

The Heddy Rossi Papers were processed to the folder level by Melinda McMartin Isler and Emily Tobin in July 2004. A finding aid was prepared in a word processing format and converted to EAD 1.0. The finding aid was revised in January 2008. A collection level MARC-format record was prepared and placed in the library online public access catalog. Description was based on Describing Archives: A Content Standard (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004).

Separated Materials

During processing, duplicate materials were discarded. Photographs of Ferris Theatre plays were placed into the photographic collection. Other materials were placed in the FSU Theatre Collection.

Technical Requirements

This collection consists of printed matter and photographic prints. No specialized software or hardware is required for viewing.

Content Listing

Series 1. General Files. 1946-1983.

This series consists of approximately 0.2 cubic feet of correspondence, memorabilia and other items. This series also contains a compilation of Oswald Rossi's essays and lectures.

Materials are sorted alphabetically by topic and chronologically within the folder.

Box Folder Contents
1 1 Correspondence. 1981-1982.
1 2 Martin, Lawrence. "Heddy Rossi." 1981.
1 3 Nearprint. 1956-1983.
1 4 Owswald J. Rossi Memorial Banquet. 1983.
1 5 Photograph. 1981.
1 6 Scrapbook. 1946-1956.
1 7 Rossi, Oswald. Essays and Other Writings.
1 8 Wisner, Harold. "This Rossi File." 1981-1982.

Series 2. Writings. 1958-1978.

This series consists of 0.6 cubic feet of manuscript material, primarily consisting of playscripts written by Heddy Rossi. Scripts are dated by their copyright date. There are two folders of novellas and other short stories.

The series is arranged alphabetically by title.

Box Folder Contents
1 10 As I was Running the Gauntlet. 1974.
1 11 Connubial Rights. Undated.
1 12 Echoes From Another Room. 1971.
1 13 Games Old Couples Play. 1973.
1 14 Graduation from Paradise. Undated.
1 15 Hasty Kingdom. 1974.
1 16 Horror in the Afternoon. 1975.
1 17 House of Benedict. Undated.
1 18 Housewarming Party. 1973.
1 19 Insomnia. Undated.
1 20 Intimate Stranger. Undated.
Box Folder Contents
2 1 Love in a Cupboard. Undated.
2 2 Lovers Meeting. 1969.
2 3 My Father's Mantle. 1958.
2 4 Naturalization of the Gersunis. 1978.
2 5 No Final Defeat. 1976.
2 6 School of Love. Undated.
2 7 Short Stories and Novellas. Part 1. Undated.
2 8 Short Stories and Novellas. Part 2. Undated.
2 9 Vienna Legends. 1977.