Etting family scrapbook and Stage Door Canteen photographs

Collection 3558

( Bulk, 1856-1973 ) 1780-2018
(0.5 Linear feet ; 1 box, 1 volume)

Summary Information

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Etting family
Etting family scrapbook and Stage Door Canteen photographs
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1856-1973
Date [inclusive]
0.5 Linear feet ; 1 box, 1 volume
Finding aid prepared by Annie Halliday.
Emlen Etting Jr. (August 24, 1905- July 20, 1993) was part of the well-known Philadelphia family the Etting’s. He attended Harvard and studied art in Europe. Emlen served in the psychological warfare division of the Office of War Information. He married Gloria Braggiotti in 1938 and continued to pursue art including designing for the Stage Door Canteen that was hosted in the cellar of the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, PA from 1940-1945. The Stage Door Canteen was free entertainment for American servicemen.

Preferred citation

[Indicate cited item or series here], Etting family scrapbook and Stage Door Canteen photographs (Collection 3558), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Return to Table of Contents »

Background note

Emlen Etting Jr. (August 24, 1905- July 20, 1993) was part of the well-known Philadelphia family the Etting’s. Emlen was the only son of Florence Lucas Etting (1890-1951) and Emlen Pope Etting Sr. (1869-1905). Emlen Pope Sr. was a stoke broker, and died of a heart attack shortly after Emlen was born. After attending Harvard, Emlen Etting Jr. relocated to Europe to study art. Emlen married Gloria Braggiotti in 1938 whom he met during his childhood while attending St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island. Once World War II began Emlen served in the psychological warfare division of the Office of War Information. He was present at the liberation of Paris and he collaborated with Orson Welles to record the event. Etting was also an announcer for the Voice of America and would report from the bombed out streets of London. In 1944 Emlen was the first to broadcast from the Paris Underground, and was presented with the Legion D’Honneur. He wrote “The Road to Paris” on his experiences in World War II. Once he returned to the States he continued pursuing his art as a sculptor, painter, and film maker. He also worked as the production designer of the Stage Door Canteen, established by the American Theatre Wing to entertain American Servicemen, which was held in the cellar of the Academy of Music. He designed the main entrance way, interior murals, and the layout of performance space. His art is at the Whitney, Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and numerous private collections. Etting’s sculpture “Phoenix Rising” was installed in the plaza next to Philadelphia’s City Hall in 1982. Emlen also taught at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Philadelphia College of Art, Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, and Florida Southern College. Emlen Etting Jr. died July 20, 1993 of Parkinson’s disease in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Emlen Etting Jr. was related to many prestigious Philadelphia citizens including Philadelphia historian Frank Marx Etting. Frank Marx Etting (1833-1890) was the son of Benjamin Etting and Harriet Marx and Emlen’s great uncle. Frank began working as a lawyer in Philadelphia and after a few years entered the army and was appointed paymaster in 1861. Frank continued in office throughout the Civil War, and became chief paymaster from 1864 to 1867. In 1868 he was appointed to the staff of General Irwin McDowell as chief paymaster for distributing the Reconstruction Fund. At the opening of the Centennial Exposition in 1876, which was the first official World's Fair in the United States and celebrated the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Frank Marx Etting was elected chief historian of the Department of the Exposition. He was the author of a "History of Independence Hall," and at one time served as director of public schools.

The Etting’s and the Gratz’s, another famous Philadelphia family, are connected through marriage. Emlen Etting Jrs.’s great, great grandfather Reuben Etting (1762-1848) married Frances Gratz (1771-1882). Reuben Etting served as a private during the Revolutionary War and was commissioned as the first captain of the Baltimore Independent Blues in 1798. In 1801 he was appointed US marshal for Maryland by Thomas Jefferson. In 1804 he returned to Philadelphia to become a merchant and director of the Farmer’ & Mechanics’ Bank.

Reuben’s wife Frances was sister to Rebecca Gratz (March 4, 1781 – August 27, 1869). Rebecca Gratz is a famed philanthropist and Jewish American educator. She established the Female Association for the Relief of Women and Children in Reduced Circumstances which aided families dealing with the repercussions of the Revolutionary War. Rebecca Gratz also founded the Philadelphia Orphan Asylum and a Hebrew Sunday School, the first in America, in 1838.

Rebecca Gratz’s cousin Rachel Gratz (1764-1831) also married into the Etting family, Emlen’s great, great, great uncle Solomon Etting (1764-1847). Solomon was a merchant in Baltimore, served as president of City Councils, was a member of the first board of directors of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, and was on the board of the first company to supply Baltimore with water. Rebecca’s niece Ellen Hays (1800-1855) married Samuel Etting (1796-1862) who was Solomon and Rachel’s son and Emlen’s third cousin.

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and content note

The one volume in the Etting family papers is a family scrapbook which contains one item from 1780, the rest of the content spans from 1856 to 1973. The item from 1780 is an original handwritten poem for Miss Gratz by John Ewing. John Ewing worked at the University of Pennsylvania for 44 years serving as professor, trustee, and provost. The rest of the volume consists primarily of photograph portraits of friends and family of the Etting’s. Portraits of friends include Horace Howard Furness, Lloyd P. Smith, Howard Richards, and Colonel Peter Augustus Porter. Horace Howard Furness (1833–1912) was brother of architect Frank Furness, a Shakespearean scholar, a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, and chairman of the building committee for its library which was designed by his brother Frank. Lloyd P. Smith was a librarian at the Library Company of Philadelphia from 1851 to 1886. He also attended the first national library meeting in 1853 and was on the planning committee for the conference of librarians that met Philadelphia in 1876, which resulted in the American Library Association. Howard Richards (1837-1921) was a Philadelphia and New Jersey lawyer and also served in the Civil War. Richards was married to Harriet Mayo, of the well-known Mayo family. Colonel Peter Augustus Porter (1827-1864) was a lawyer, politician, a member of the Breckinridge family and a Union Army colonel in the Civil War.

The scrapbook holds a few drawn portraits of family members including a miniature of Rachel Gratz Moses by Edward Malbone dated 1804, a miniature of Frances Gratz Etting by James Peale dated 1794 (the original is at Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts), and a portrait of Rebecca Gratz by Edward Malbone dated 1806. The few letters included mostly pertain to Major Frank Marx Etting’s paymaster business ranging 1850’s to 1870’s. There other letters including one from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania dated 1856, one from the Philadelphia Club dated 1892, one pertaining to the International Exhibition 1876, and one from the American Philosophical Society dated 1876. Also included in the Etting family scrapbook is a swatch of printed fabric designed Matisse that had been made into cravats for close personal friends of the artist. The fabric is partnered with a letter explaining the significance of the fabric.

The box contains photographs from the American Theatre Wing’s Philadelphia branch of the Stage Door Canteen. The premise of the stage door canteen was to have famous people and celebrities serve and perform for American servicemen. It was held in the cellar of the Academy of Music from 1940 to 1945. Emlen Etting was the production designer for the event and his wife Gloria Braggiotti was responsible for many of the photographs included in the collection. There are some photos of Emlen and other volunteers painting and setting up the space for performances. Some performers include Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Roosevelt, Irene Castle, Mario Braggiotti, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Cantor, and Antony Tudor. There are also photos of Antoinette Perry who created the American Theatre Wing and subsequently was the inspiration and namesake of the Tony awards. There are few photos that show wounded soldiers and performances at the Valley Forge hospital. Many photographs show waiters, hostesses, and other volunteers interacting with servicemen in the Canteen.

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

 Historical Society of Pennsylvania ; 2018.

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107

Access restrictions

This collection is open for research.


Gift of Gloria Etting, 1994.

Accession number 1994.1.

Processing note

Also part of this collection, but not listed in the inventory, is a box of negatives depicting the Stage Door Canteen in Philadelphia and related activities. To access the negatives please contact the library staff.

During processing, an Etting family tree was created by a staff member. The family tree is now part of the collection and available to researchers as an attachment to the paper version of this finding aid, which is available at the Reference Desk.

Return to Table of Contents »

Related Materials

Related materials

At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

Born in a Crowd by Gloria Braggiotti Etting (Call numbers: CS71.B8135 1957, Gb .639)

Cope, Emlen, Evans, Stokes families, 1682-2002 (Call number: Fa 929.2 C782e 2005)

Frank M. Etting collection, 1558-1917, (Collection number: 0193)

Historical Society of Pennsylvania collection of World War II papers, 1938-1948, (Collection number: 1479)

At Other Institutions:

Emlen Etting papers [microfilm], 1928-1987. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Etting family of Baltimore and Philadelphia collection, undated, 1755-1769, 1787-1830, 1836, 1913 (Collection: P-143). American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY.

Gloria Braggiotti Etting Photographs, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives.

Henry P. McIlhenny Papers, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives.

Mary Curran Papers, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Library and Archives.

Oral history interview with Emlen Etting, 1988 Oct. 12. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Separated materials

Recollections of my aunt, Rebecca Gratz, 1893, (call number UPA/Ph F 158.9.J5 M67 1893)

Report of the Committee on Restoration of Independence Hall, 1873, (call number UPA/Pam F 158.8.I3 P4 1873)

An historical account of the old State house of Pennsylvania now known as the Hall of Independence, 1876, (call number UPA/Ph F 158.8.I3 E8 1876)

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • American Theatre Wing.
  • Stage Door Canteen (Philadelphia, Pa.).
  • United Service Organizations (U.S.).
  • United States. War Department. Office of the Paymaster General.

Family Name(s)

  • Etting family
  • Ettinger family
  • Gratz family


  • Family histories.
  • Photographs.
  • Portrait photography.
  • Scrapbooks.

Personal Name(s)

  • Etting, Emlen, 1905-1993
  • Etting, Frank M. (Frank Marx)
  • Etting, Gloria Braggiotti
  • Etting, Rachel Gratz, 1764-1831
  • Etting, Reuben
  • Etting, Solomon, 1764-1847


  • Academy of Music (Philadelphia, Pa.).
  • Artists--United States.
  • Canteens (Establishments).
  • Centennial Exhibition (1876 : Philadelphia, Pa.).
  • Recreation centers
  • World War, 1939-1945--Theater and the war.
  • World War, 1939-1945.

Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Stage Door Canteen photographs [pages 1-13] 1940s 

1 1

Gertrude Lawrence dancing 1940s 

    Box Folder Page
Graphic materials   1 1 1

Antony Tudor, Agnes de Mille, Lucia Chase, and unidentified woman dancing 1940s 

    Box Folder Page
Graphic materials   1 1 1

Marjorie Lawrence 1940s 

    Box Folder Page
Graphic materials   1 1 2

Gregor Piatigorsky playing cello 1940s 

    Box Folder Page
Graphic materials   1 1 2

Clare Boothe Luce with sailors 1940s 

    Box Folder Page
Graphic materials   1 1 3

Joan McCracken dancing with partner 1940s 

    Box Folder Page
Graphic materials   1 1 3

Irene Castle dancing with sailor 1945 

    Box Folder Page
Graphic materials   1 1 4

Lili Damita seated with two sailors 1940s 

    Box Folder Page
Graphic materials   1 1 5

Return to Table of Contents »

Stage Door Canteen photographs [pages 14-24] 1940s 

1 2

Return to Table of Contents »

Stage Door Canteen photographs [pages 25-36] 1940s 

1 3

Return to Table of Contents »

Stage Door Canteen photographs [pages 37-51] 1940s 

1 4

Return to Table of Contents »

Photocopies of loose newspaper clippings removed from scrapbook [original clipping dates: 1973 January 14 and 1973 February 14] 2018 

1 5

Return to Table of Contents »


Etting family scrapbook 1780, 1856-1973 


Return to Table of Contents »