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Antoinette Quinby Scudder

Antoinette Quinby Scudder (1888-1958) purchased a paper mill in 1934 from the Diamond Paper Mill Company. She later transformed this into the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn.

Located near transportation the property, the company possessed colonial charm and great possibilities for enlarging the space. Four years later, the playhouse opened with its first dramatic performance of Sierra’s Kingdom of God.

Scudder and co-director Frank Carrington initially decided to only produce plays. In 1940, the duo made the decision to fill a gap in the summer schedule with a musical. This move was met with great enthusiasm by theater patrons. As a result, the following season was jam-packed with nothing but operettas. The Paper Mill Playhouse thrived from the 1940s through the mid-1950s.

During her early years at the playhouse, Scudder did it all—she fulfilled the roles of playwright, property woman, wardrobe mistress and actor. Her 1930 play, The Second Generation won a prize for the best play written by a woman. By 1932, Scudder had written 5 full-length plays and 24 shorter ones.

Questions to Explore

What encouraged Scudder to purchase the Diamond Paper Mill Company and turn it into a Playhouse?

Where did Scudder get her interest in theater from? Where did she learn to be a playwright, property woman, wardrobe mistress, and actress?

What were some of Scudder’s plays about? What made them popular?

Additional Resources

Scudder family (Thomas Scudder d. 1658) Moses Bigelow and Antoinette Quinby Scudder. 1948. The Scudder Family of Trenton. Newark? N.J: Somerset Press. https://worldcat.org/title/1298759207

Scudder Antoinette Quinby. 1934. The Henchman of the Moon; a Poetic Drama in Five Acts. Chicago Ill: Done by the Bookfellows. https://worldcat.org/title/3797078 

Burstyn Joan N. 1990. “Antoinette Quinby Scudder.” Past and Promise Lives of New Jersey Women. https://worldcat.org/title/54795085