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Dorothy and Joseph Samachson Manuscript Collection- Oak Park Public Library

Identifier: 2017-013

Scope and Contents

The collection contains manuscripts of several of their works on the arts, including The Fabulous World of Opera and The Masters of Music.


  • undated

Biographical / Historical

Joseph Samachson was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1906. Dorothy Mirkin was born in New York in 1914. They were married in 1937. Both Joseph and Dorothy would bring about contributions to science and the arts through their writings.

Joseph Samachson attended Rutgers University and graduated with high honors. He then earned his Ph.D. as a Loomis Fellow at Yale. He worked as a research chemist, conducting research on bone and calcium metabolism. Joseph made many scholarly contributions, including writing articles for various scientific journals, and translating numerous scientific articles from Russian and German into English. He also authored the book The Armor Within Us: The Story of Bone.

Outside of his scientific work, Joseph wrote science fiction under the pen name, William Morrison. One of his works, Mel Oliver and Space Rover on Mars, was widely popular and was translated into many languages. Additionally, Joseph Samachson also wrote TV scripts for the pioneering early television show Captain Video, and did some work for DC Comics.

Dorothy Samachson had a strong love for the arts. She learned to play the piano at age three. She attended Hunter College Model School, and later at Hunter College based on her musical merits. While at school, she learned ballet and played piano to accompany the American School of Ballet.

Dorothy started writing in the 1950s, when she learned that there was little to no literature on ballet for young children. Wanting to share her passion for the arts, she wrote and self-published her first book, Let’s Meet the Ballet, in 1951. She then collaborated with Joseph to write other books covering a range of topics from opera, theater, and pre-historical art. Outside of writing, Dorothy played piano for the Metropolitan Opera and other classical music groups.

Joseph and Dorothy moved to Chicago in 1962. Joseph first worked at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Hines, Illinois, and later became the clinical associate professor of oral biology at Loyola School of Dentistry. Dorothy gave piano lessons to children and later wrote dance reviews for the Chicago Daily News and program notes for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Joseph Samachson died in 1980. Dorothy Samachson died in 1997.


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Language of Materials



Joseph Samachson was an accomplished research chemist who also wrote freelance stories for science fiction magazines and scripts for DC comics in the 1940s-1950s, often writing under the pseudonym William Morrison. Dorothy Mirkin Samachson was a professional pianist, accompanist, and music teacher. Dorothy and Joseph Samachson married in 1937, and moved to Oak Park in the 1960s after working for many years in the Chicago area. Joseph and Dorothy Samachson wrote numerous works together on the arts and archeology. The collection contains manuscripts of several of their works on the arts, including The Fabulous World of Opera and The Masters of Music.


In 1963 Dorothy Samachson donated the manuscript for her and Joseph’s book, Fabulous World of Opera to the Oak Park Public Library.


Oak Leaves 2/7/63 p. 72; “Author publishes ‘First Artists’” Oak Leaves 10/14/70 p. A Wyk, Betty Van; Oak Leaves 6/11/80 p. 72; “Opera, Dance Critic Dorothy Samachson” Chicago Tribune 11/5/97 Heise, Kenan; accessed June 12, 2017
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Repository Details

Part of the Oak Park Public Library Special Collections Repository

834 Lake Street
Oak Park IL 60301 USA