The Margaret Carson Papers document the work of one of New York City’s leading classical music publicists of the 20th century. They consist of clippings, correspondence, promotional material, press kits, photographs, concert programs and itineraries.
Biographical/historical: Margaret Carson was born in Salt Lake City in 1911, and lived in Ohio from approximately 1920-1939. She majored in political science at the University of Toledo, and received a master’s degree in social administration from Ohio State University. Carson’s publicity work began in Ohio for the Toledo Community Chest during the years 1937-1938. She married Charles Carson, a reporter and editor in Cleveland, with whom she had a son, also named Charles. They divorced, and she found work in New York City with Constance Hope Associates, the leading public relations firm in the city. In the early 1940s she created the Margaret Carson Agency, where one of her clients was the opera star Gladys Swarthout. Carson was the press representative for the Metropolitan Opera from 1944-1954. After a year off, in 1956 she handled press for her friend Margaret Truman’s wedding to Clifton Daniel.
Carson’s major clients over the years included Leonard Bernstein, Barry Tuckwell, Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony, Benny Goodman, Neville Marriner, Mitch Miller, the Metropolitan Opera, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Pacific Music Festival and the New England Conservatory of Music, among many others.
Her second husband, Carl Ruff, was a press agent and the father of her daughter, Carla. Ruff also adopted her son Charles, but the marriage ended in divorce. She married Robert Sherrod in 1961, editor for the Saturday Evening Post, but divorced him in 1972. Her son Charles, who died in 2000, led a successful career as a lawyer, including work with the Watergate trial and defending President Clinton during his impeachment hearing.
Content: The Margaret Carson Papers consist of files devoted to her publicity work with classical musicians such as Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Barry Tuckwell; and organizations such as the Metropolitan Opera, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the New England Conservatory, and the New World Symphony. The majority of these materials date from the 1970s-1990s. Many of her early clients are not well documented. The Papers mainly consist of media clippings, correspondence, promotional material, press kits, photographs, concert programs and artist itineraries. Leonard Bernstein was one of Carson’s most important clients; papers concerning him make up the largest portion of the collection devoted to a single artist. There are few personal materials in the collection.