The Regina Jones Woody Collection
Creator: Woody, Regina Jones 1894-1983
Title: The Regina Jones Woody Collection
Size: 2.5 linear feet
Source: Donated by the creator
Abstract: The collection of Regina J. Woody consists of several galleys of her books as well as author’s proofs. The collection also includes correspondence, lecture notes, drafts of articles and research materials. There are also, personal keepsakes and scrapbooks which pertain to her career as a dancer.
Access: Advanced notice is required
Preferred citation: Regina Jones Woody Collection, Local History and Special Collections, Elizabeth Free Public Library
Processing Note: Brian P. Murray, 2016
Regina Jones was born in the upper-middle class neighborhood of Chestnut Hill a suburb of Boston in 1894. She was the daughter of Lewis L Jones an undertaker and resident of Newton, Mass. and her mother was Regina Matilda Lichtenstein a homemaker. There is scant information on her early life. By her own admission she “went to school very sketchily”, but by the age of 17 she was placed at the Dana Hall school in Wellesley, Ma in the year1910. After attending this prestigious girl’s school for one year, she was withdrawn by her mother and brought to England in order to witness the Coronation of George V. It was during her stay in London that Regina first started to study ballet. Remaining in Britain for less than a year, Regina moved on to Paris to further her study there. Her career seems to have begun during this period and she began performing interpretive dance under the stage name of Nila (Neela) Devi at venues such as the Follies Bergere and the Moulin Rouge as well as others. The reception she received by Parisian audiences was overwhelming as can be at attested to by her scrapbook clippings. Her European career included performances in Hungary and North Africa.
Regina returned to the United States at the onset of WW 1. She continued to dance performing on Broadway and later headlined the Keith and Orpheum circuits. However, after injuring her ankle, Regina returned to the family home in Newton. With the loss of her career, she began to cast around for other things to do. As the European conflict escalated, she made the decision to join the war effort as an ambulance driver at the front. She embarked on a course of study that included driving instruction as well as a certificate in mechanics. Part of her plan was to function as a nurse at the front. For this she enrolled in courses in practical nursing under the instruction of Dr. McIver Woody, assistant to the dean of
Harvard Medical School. The pair were mutually attracted and ultimately wed in 1918, thus putting an end to her wartime efforts.
After the marriage, McIver assumed the rank of first lieutenant attached to the Surgeon General’s Office and was posted to Washington where he served as liaison officer between it and the General Staff. It was during this period that Regina’s and his first child, Wallace McIver Woody was born. After the war’s end, McIver took a posting at the College of Medicine, University of Tennessee.
For the most part the period between the world wars was focused on child rearing; during this time Regina gave birth to two more children, Regina McIver Woody, and Emma Woody. Eventually the Woody family settled in Elizabeth, NJ as the result of McIver accepting the role of Medical Director at Standard Oil, which had facilities there. The family first lived on Pingry St., but moved to a larger residence at 440 Westminster Ave. It is while living at this address that Regina embarked on her second career as a writer, professor and editor.
Starting in 1945, Regina published her first book The Stars Came Down this was followed rather quickly by Starlight published a year later. She would continue to publish for thirty one years with a total of sixteen books. The 1940s was a busy period in Regina’s life. Between writing novels, she was busy teaching courses on children’s literature as well as editing the children’s section of Dance Magazine.
Her early work consisted mainly of semi-autobiographical accounts based upon her own childhood, but quickly transitioned into wholly fictional didactic novels which focused on helping the young reader cope with issues considered taboo during the period. One example of this is her 1968 book, One Day at a Time about a teenager who is learning to cope effectively with an alcoholic parent. For the remainder of her career, Regina would use her novels as vehicles of social change and understanding. Woody died in Ohio at the home of her daughter, Emma, in 1983.
Scope and Content Note:
The Regina Woody Collection spans a period of roughly sixty years with two highlighted periods. In 1911 the young Miss Jones embarked on her first career as a dancer in pre-World War One Paris. This aspect of the collection contains two scrapbooks and a photo album. The scrapbooks are of particular interest as they contain reviews of Regina Jones’ performances and illuminate the early 20th century Parisian demi-monde. The second highlighted period is Regina Jones Woody’s career as a writer and here the objects associated with this portion are several galleys of her books as well as author’s proofs. The collection also includes correspondence, lecture notes, drafts of articles, research materials and a collection of postcards and Civil War period envelopes.
The Regina Woody Collection is organized into the following series:
Series I. Published Articles, Galleys and Proofs, 1968-1972
Series II. Scrapbooks, 1911-1924, bulk 1912-1918
Series III Impulse Magazine, Sound Recordings, Correspondence 1951-1976, bulk 1951-1966
Series IV Postcard Collection, Civil War era envelopes 1861-?
Series I. Published Articles, Galleys and Proofs, 1968-197?
This series contains magazine articles dating from the 1940s, galleys and author’s proofs dating from 1968 through 1972. This part of the collection dates to the last third of Woody’s career.
Sub-series A. Articles
This sub-series contains published articles in Gateway for girls, Trails for Juniors magazines.
Sub-series B. Galleys, Author’s proofs
This sub-series contains working galleys for several books i.e. Bitsy (working title for One Day at a Time), Dance to a Lonely Tune, Schoolgirl Ballerina and Second Sight for Tommy
Sub-series C. Research Materials
This sub-series contains research materials Woody used as a basis for some of her novels. Included are pamphlets, magazines, brochures and medical journals. There is also research material for The Young Medics, which was published in 1968, but the galleys do not form a part of this collection.
Series II. Scrapbooks, 1911-1924
This series contains the scrapbooks of Regina Jones’ dance career in Paris under the stage name Nila Devi(up to and including the period she became Mrs. McIver Woody). They contain pictures, advertisements, reviews, menus, brochures, newspaper interviews and correspondence. They cover the years 1911-1924, bulk 1912-1916.
(Due to fragile nature of this material, access is limited. Contact Local History and Special Collections for more information)
Series III. Lecture Notes, correspondence
This series contains lecture notes from the Class on children’s literature that Woody taught at NYU Fall/Winter 1946/47, correspondence 1950-67, photographic proofs for Dance Magazine and reel to reel taped interviews with Woody conducted at the time of donation.
Series IV. Postcard and envelope collection
This series contain Woody’s collection of postcards as well as an important collection of Civil War era Union envelopes.
Paris - France
Algiers - Algeria
Budapest - Hungary
New York – New York – United States
Chestnut Hill –Massachusettes – United States
Washington D.C. – United States
Tennessee – United States
Elizabeth – New Jersey – United States
Ohio – United States
NamesWoody, Regina Jones, 1894-1983
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