The collection consists primarily of photographs, clippings, and programs, as well as scrapbooks, posters, and a small amount of correspondence, documenting the plays, contests, and travelling shows of the United States Army's Entertainment Services Unit. Materials are from bases in the United States, Germany, Korea, and Japan, and span the late 1940s to the 1970s. Many of these shows are popular stage musicals such as The Fantasticks, The Pajama Game, Guys and Dolls; also represented are non-musical plays such as The Odd Couple and Inherit the Wind. Of special note are a collection of post World War II scrapbooks from bases in Germany, dating back to 1949, documenting plays and musical productions there.
Biographical/historical: Miss Lynn was named Margaret Eleanor Linskie at her birth in Dallas on April 24, 1921, and she originally intended to be a concert pianist. She studied at Northwestern University and graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1942. She earned a master's degree in speech and drama from Catholic University.
In 1945, she was one of the first civilian "actress technicians" employed by the United States government to work with troops overseas after World War II. She conceived and directed shows during the Korean War, bringing entertainment to United Nations units, sometimes under artillery fire. When she returned to Washington in 1955, she continued working for the Department of the Army, creating and directing a show called "Rolling Along," which toured the world from 1955 to 1961.
In 1962, she helped push for a new organization to promote and support theatrical and musical productions at Army bases. The result, the Army Music and Theater Program, was a continuation of more informal efforts dating to the Revolutionary War.
As the director of the Entertainment Services Unit for the United States Army, Miss Lynn's role was to muster talent from privates to colonels, pay royalties to writers and production companies, and provide guidance to aspiring dramatic troupes from Germany to Korea. She supervised a far-flung network of 200 full-time civilian directors in performing arts centers at military bases. Besides having soldiers entertaining soldiers, she encouraged the participation of their family members and civilians from nearby towns. She set up scholarships and competitions to discover and encourage talented soldiers and officers. She pushed successfully to convert unused Army movie houses into spaces for live theater.
In 1982, she formed her own production company, Creative Consultants, which worked with Disney and other entertainment companies. She was executive director of the American Theater Association from 1982 to 1986.
Margaret E. Lynn, who directed the Army's extensive, worldwide theatrical program that encouraged participation by soldiers, officers and their dependents, died on June 11, 2002 at a hospital in Fairfax, Va. She was 81.