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Susan Reed papers

Identifier: C-104

Scope and Contents

Collection includes approximately 135 items, including letters, postcards, documents, photographs, and photographic negatives, the bulk of which appear to date between 1944 and 1953, including several letters from Susan Reed to her husband James Karen and her mother Isadora Reed, while on the road. Also included are letters to Reed from Irwin Parnes (promoter), Sydney Locker (instrument dealer), Albert Gayzagian and others. Subjects include radio play, recordings, touring, and Reed and Karen's antique business. The assorted photographic negatives were taken by Reed while on the road in the early 1950s.


  • Creation: 1944-1953


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish materials, contact: Special Collections & Archives Middlebury College Phone: (802) 443-2387 Email:

Biographical / Historical

Susan Catherine Reed (1926-2010) was an American singer and musician, and one of the early stars of the folk music revival in the late 1940s. Reed was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to actor Daniel Reed and publicist Isadora Reed. Reed moved with her parents to New York early in her childhood, where her home was frequented by actors, artists, and writers, which greatly influenced her artistic development. During World War II, Reed performed on harp and zither to wounded veterants, until she was discovered by Barney Josephson, owner of the nightclub, Cafe Society. Reed quickly became the darling of the Manhattan nightclub scene, and also performed on radio, television and appeared in major concerts nationwide. She recorded for RCA, Victor, Columbia, and Electra. In 1946, she appeared in the Broadway production of Shooting Star, and in 1948, she co-starred with Gene Krupa in the film, Glamour Girl. Reed was the daughter of a known communist and she as a civil rights activist herself, both of which contributed to her being blacklisted in the early 1950s. Reed ceased performing regularly in the mid-1950s and only appeared occasionally in concert. Reed was married to actor James Karen (b. 1923), with whom she co-owned a Greenwich Village antique store for many years. The couple had one son, Reed Karen. They divorced in 1967.


1 Box (1 box, 3 folders)


Collection is divided into two series: Correspondence and Photographs. Correspondence is divided into personal and antique store correspondence, and individual letters are arranged chronologically. Photographs are undated.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection was purchased from Extant America by Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives curator, Andrew Wentink, on June 18, 2012.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives Repository

Middlebury College
Davis Family Library
110 Storrs Avenue
Middlebury Vermont 05753 United States