The Drew Family Manuscript Collection provides a window onto the lives of a not wholly ordinary American family from the late nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century. The bulk of the material consists of correspondence from the 1920s to the 1950s that followed three ambitious women of the family who moved from St. Louis to New York seeking their fortunes. They were Dorothy Hart Drew, later a noted portrait painter, her sister Lorna, child prodigy pianist and later composer, and their mother
Anna Hart Drew, niece of American sculptor Joel Tanner Hart and herself a teacher of piano. The collection also gives some insight into the professional lives of Dorothy and Lorna, who struggled to build their careers in the midst of depression and war.
The Biography Series contains copies of clippings and biographical notices regarding Dorothy Drew. This material forms the basis of the Biographical Sketch in this finding aid.
The Correspondence Series consists of letters to and from various family members and friends. Most are addressed to Dorothy Drew, her sister Lorna, and/or their mother Anna Hart Drew from Dorothy and Lorna's half-sister Helen (Mrs. Frank A.) Borgsteadt, Mrs. Drew's daughter by her first marriage. Mrs. Drew's son by this marriage, Harold Cross, also contributes some letters, several of which comment on the activities of his wife, St. Louis-based poet Kathryn Cross. There is also a number of letters sent between Dr. Francis Webb Drew and Mrs. Drew during their long-distance courtship between 1903 and 1905. The correspondence covers such subjects as financial trouble, personal problems, career and family developments, the family's faith in Christian Science, and social issues such as wartime OPA rent controls and the threat of Communism.
The Ephemera and Photographs Series contain memorabilia of the family life of the Drews as well as evidence of Dorothy and
Lorna's budding careers. The Clippings and Publications Series
gives further information on Dorothy's professional life. The Scrapbooks Series contains fragments documenting Lorna's years as a child prodigy along with a bound volume chronicling Dorothy's first years of life. The Postcards Series contains many valuable views of St. Louis during the early part of this century.