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Papers of Margaret Prendergast McLean

Identifier: UMPM

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Margaret Prendergast McLean consists of materials dated from approximately 1895 to 1918. Types of materials include photographs, a postcard, and a notebook of recipes. Many photographs are of Colorado State University alumni. Some are also of individuals at Colorado Chautauqua and her other personal acquaintances. Most are individual portraits by local or regional photographers and appear to primarily consist of McLean's classmates circa 1895 through 1900. Photographic types include albumin, gelatin, and platinum prints. Many are mounted on cabinet cards. The notebook was most likely created during her coursework as a student at the college.


  • Creation: c. 1895-1918


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


Margaret Prendergast McLean (1878-1961) graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1899. She was born near Fort Collins, Colorado, and attended local schools in her youth. Enrollment and graduation records at the college list her as Marguerite Prendergast.

After graduation from Colorado State University, she became the assistant in the cooking department at Colorado Chautauqua. In 1901, she assumed responsibility for cooking in the sociological department of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company located in Pueblo, Colorado. She returned to Colorado Chautauqua, this time in the sewing department in 1903. She returned to Fort Collins and the college as a sewing instructor in 1904. McLean was promoted to Head of the Department of Domestic Science by 1906. A year later she married John Allan McLean and left her teaching position at the college.

McLean went on to study dramatics with Professor William Tilly at Columbia University for eight years. She worked with the Leland Powers School of Boston and the Cornish School of Drama and Dance of Seattle before studying voice and diction in London, England, with Daniel Jones. From 1924 through 1930, McLean was the Head of the Department of Diction at the American Laboratory Theatre of New York. When Madame Marie Ouspenskaya opened the Studio of Dramatic Art in Hollywood, McLean moved and taught there. Additional prominent schools where McLean taught courses include New York University, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of Denver.

She wrote several books on the subjects of speech and diction. McLean became a well-known and respected authority in the fields. Her book Good American Speech became a standard volume for courses on the subject. At Colorado State University's 75th Anniversary commencement, McLean was named the Honor Alumnus of 1945 and received an honorary Doctor of Science. Ruth J. Wattles may have nominated McLean for these honors. In 1959, McLean taught dramatics at the David Seabury School of Psychology and the Leontovich Dramatics School in Hollywood. For three decades, she taught speech, voice, dialects, and dramatic interpretation to film stars.

By 1961, she relocated to the National Jewish Hospital of Denver for treatment of tuberculosis. During her hospitalization, she was writing a book on dialects. Later that year, she died in Denver.


1 linear foot (2 document cases)

Language of Materials



Margaret Prendergast McLean (1878-1961) graduated from Colorado State University in 1899 with a Bachelor of Science degree. She went on to become a well-known author on the subject of speech and taught at many prestigious drama schools across the United States. In 1945, Colorado State University named her an Honor Alumnus and bestowed an honorary doctorate on her. Photographs of her college classmates comprise the bulk of the collection. Photographs of other individuals, one postcard, and a notebook of recipes are also in the collection.


Arrangement is alphabetical by folder title. The collection consists of 1 series in 2 document cases.


Materials appraised for retention decisions included financial statements of J. Allan McLean circa 1928 and newspaper clippings circa 1922. The financial statements were from a business affiliated with Mr. McLean and unrelated to other materials in the collection. Newspaper clippings found in the collection were determined to be used purely as a protective material for the photographs, inserted by McLean. These materials were discarded.

Related Collections

The Papers of Margaret Prendergast McLean is related to many collections in the Archives and Special Collections Department due to the natural relationship of University records. Some related materials in the Colorado State University Archive are the Alumni Photographs, Theodosia G. Ammons, Historic Photographs, the University Historic Photograph, and Ruth J. Wattles collections. McLean authored Good American Speech, which is available in Morgan Library, call number PE1135.M3.


Processing was completed in March 2008. The creator interleaved the photographs with circa 1922 newspaper clippings. The collection consisted of no discernable order. During processing, all photographic materials were placed in archival photograph sleeves. The only non-photographic item in the collection is a recipe notebook. Its date of creation is unknown, but was probably part of her coursework as a Colorado State University student. Some clippings were found in the notebook; they have been interleaved with acid-free paper. All materials were re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes.

McLean identified many individuals by writing on the front and/or back of the photographs. Those names were used for folder titles and unidentified individuals were grouped together. Some photographs include additional notations and nicknames that are not included in the finding aid.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information was supplied by the archivist. When spelling was questionable, the archivist inserted a bracketed "?" at the end of the entry. Two identical copies of the same item are indicated by the phrase "2 copies" at the end of the entry, following the number of pages of each copy.

Genre / Form

Guide to the Papers of Margaret Prendergast McLean
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Colleen M. McCorkell
Copyright 2008
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA