Biographical/historical: Mina Stein Kirstein Curtiss was born in 1896. Her brother was the choreographer Lincoln Kirstein. She was a professor of English at Smith College from 1920-1934, from 1940-1941, and in 1977. Her research talents appear to have been molded while she was a research assistant for the Mercury Theatre and the Mercury Theatre of the Air (1935-1938) and solidified during World War II when she worked for the Office of Information. During the war she published Letters Home --a collection of letters from servicemen overseas (the working papers for this book are located at the Manuscripts and Archives section of Yale University Library).
Throughout her life Curtiss published books and articles. While doing research for a translation of letters by Marcel Proust (published in 1949), Curtiss discovered an unknown cache of letters to Proust from Geneviève Straus, widow of composer Georges Bizet (she was immortalized as one of the characters in Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu). This led her to undertake a biography of Georges Bizet as her next topic, publishing the book in 1958. She received the Legion of Honor from the French government for her books on Proust and Bizet.
Mina Curtiss continued to teach and publish for the remainder of her active career. She died in 1985.
Content: This collection contains working papers for the book Bizet and His World by Mina Curtiss. It does not contain any draft material for this book or virtually any other documents that reveal Curtiss's writing. At one time Curtiss had in her possession many items from Bizet's estate, including a corrected proof of a piano-vocal score to Carmen. These items were given to the Library of Congress prior to The New York Public Library's acquisition of this collection.