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Special Collections Online at UT

Clarence Brown Papers

Identifier: MS-0702

  • Staff Only

Series I: Scripts and Other Materials, 1920-1953, circa 1990s consists primarily of scripts for the motion pictures that Clarence Brown directed between 1919 and 1952. It also houses scrapbooks, reviews, and promotional materials (including lobby cards and posters) documenting these movies.

Series II: Photographs, circa 1910s-circa 1970s (bulk 1918-1952) houses Clarence Brown's personal and professional photographs. Sub-Series A: Movie Stills and Research Photographs, 1919-1952 consists primarily of still images from Brown's films. It also contains professional photographs taken on the sets of these movies and photographs that Brown collected while conducting research prior to filming Trail of '98. Sub-Series B: Other Photographs, circa 1910s-circa 1970s houses personal photographs, including signed portraits of actors and actresses and snapshots of Brown posing with Leo, the MGM lion.

Series III: Other Papers, 1927-1985 September 14 consists primarily of certificates showing Brown's memberships in various aviation associations and documenting awards bestowed upon him by the Governors of Tennessee and Kentucky. It also houses a scrapbook recording Brown's interaction with the University of Tennessee's football team during the 1940 Rose Bowl and materials showing the Clarence Brown Theater in addition to correspondence, publications, and other materials.


  • circa 1910s-1990s
  • Majority of material found within 1918-1952

Conditions Governing Access

Manuscript collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 24 hours is needed to retrieve these items for research use. Readers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


97 Linear Feet (104 Boxes)


This collection houses scripts, movie stills, photographs, awards, scrapbooks, and other materials documenting the life and work of motion picture director Clarence Brown. Of particular interest are the scripts and photographs showing the numerous films that Brown directed during his career.

Biographical/Historical Note

Clarence Leon Brown was born to Larkin Harry and Katherine Ann (Gaw) Brown in Clinton, Massachusetts on May 10, 1890. The family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 1902, where Larkin Brown worked as a superintendent at Brookside Mills. Clarence Brown graduated from Knoxville High School in 1905 and went on to earn his B.A. in mechanical and electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1910. For the next five years, he worked for the Stevens Duryea Company and established his own dealership, the Brown Motor Car Company, in Alabama. He soon grew restless and, fascinated with movies, moved to New Jersey to study under French director Maurice Tourneur at Peerless Studios. Here, the pair directed such movies as Deep Waters (1919) and The Last of the Mohicans (1920).

During the course of his career, Brown directed or produced more than fifty widely-acclaimed full length motion pictures and worked with many of the film industry's most illustrious performers, including Joan Crawford and Clark Gable in Chained (1934), Spencer Tracy in Edison the Man (1940), Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet (1945), and Gregory Peck in The Yearling (1947). He retired in 1952 after having won eight Oscars and received eight nominations for the Academy Award for Best Director. Brown remained involved with the University of Tennessee, donating the money to construct the Clarence Brown Theater in the 1970s and leaving the University an additional $12 million after his death on August 17, 1987. When combined, these sums made him the largest donor in the University's history.

Clarence Brown was married four times: first to Paul Herndon Pratt (sometimes given as Pauline or Paula; 1894-) on May 14, 1913, second to Ona Wilson (1884-1960), third to Alice Joyce (1890-1955) on March 31, 1933, and finally to Marion Ruth Spies (1905-1993) in 1946. He had one child, Adrienne (Brown) Adams Carillo, with his first wife.


This collection consists of 104 boxes divided into four series:

  1. Series I: Scripts and Other Materials, 1920-1953, circa 1990s
  2. Series II: Photographs, circa 1910s-circa 1970s (bulk 1918-1952)
    • Sub-Series A: Movie Stills and Research Photographs, 1919-1952
    • Sub-Series B: Other Photographs, circa 1910s-circa 1970s
  3. Series III: Other Papers, 1927-1985 September 14
  4. Series VI: Oversized Materials, 1920-1985 September 14

Acquisition Note

Clarence Brown donated the bulk of these materials to Special Collections in 1973.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA