1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Ida Kay O'Brien Papers

 Coventry, R.I. songwriter

 Papers, 1927-1982 (bulk 1943-1978)

 Size: .75 lin. ft.

 Catalog number: MSS 594

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, June 1995

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Ida Kay (1913-1978) was born in Waltham, Massachusetts, and was raised in Providence. She was a prolific popular songwriter, and worked as an advertising copy writer in the retail trade, including several years at the department store Callendar, McAuslan & Troup. At least two of her songs were published: "We Are the Army Engineers" (c 1944), and "Dum-Dee, Dum-Dee (Listen While I Hum My Love-Time Story)" (c 1943). She married Leslie James O'Brien (1908-1983) in 1949. He was a Rhode Island state policeman and fire marshall for the town of Coventry. Her song-writing seems to have for the most part ceased circa 1951, and resumed around 1969.

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Scope and content:

            This collection contains extensive drafts of O'Brien's lyrics and music; correspondence related to her song-writing; and copyright information. It also includes her autograph book from 1927, five personal letters, several letters addressed to her husband, and a mimeographed training manual on homicide for state police.

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            The collection was a gift of Mary O'Brien, adopted daughter of Ida O'Brien, in 1984.

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Processing note:

            Duplicate copies were removed, and unbound items were placed in acid-free folders.

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Box 1: Ida Kay O'Brien

Folder 1. Sheet music (published):

                                    "Dum-Dee Dum-Dee", piano and orchestrated, 1943

                                    The Military Engineer, July 1945,

                                                            including "We Are the Army Engineers"

                                    Bruce Humphries, Publishers, Trade Lists, 1943-4

Folder 2. Sheet music, drafts

Folder 3. Sheet music, drafts

Folder 4. Lyrics, drafts

Folder 5. Song-writing correspondence, etc., 1943-1951

                                    Includes a fan letter to Irving Berlin.

Folder 6. Song-writing correspondence, etc., 1969-1978

Folder 7. Copyright documents, 1943-1975

Folder 8. American Song Festival Competition materials, 1974-1975

Folder 9. Personal, 1940-1962. 5 items:

                                    3 letters, Callendar, Mcauslan & Troup, 1940-50

                                    From Dorothy Lovett, 1943

                                    From daughter Mary, 1962

Box 2

Volume 1: Autograph book, 1927

Volume 2: Leslie O'Brien. His copy of "Seminar in Homicide Investigation for State Police, April 7-12, 1947".

Folder 10. Leslie O'Brien. Personal correspondence. Mostly Christmas greetings, 1977-1982. Driver's licenses, 1948-1949.

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Autograph Books

Berlin, Irving

Callendar, McAuslan & Troup Co.

Music, Popular (Songs, etc.) - writing and publishing

Police Training - Rhode Island

World War, 1939-1945 - Songs and Music

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