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Archives and Special Collections: Theatre & Performing Arts

Archives and Special Collections is a repository for materials contained in a variety of formats: books, manuscripts, correspondence, journals, photographs, posters, maps, original drawings, theatre programs, archival documents, and other materials.

American Theatrical Programs Archive

This theatrical archive consists of 899 theatrical programs of plays, musicals, concerts, ballets and operas from 1942-2009. This archive includes 63 plays written by French and Irish authors from the Winthrop Palmer French and Irish Literature Collection.

Circus and Buffalo Bill Collection

Contains books, pamphlets, magazines, photographs, special illustrations, advertising posters & leaflets, pictorial cards of animals & circus people, and documents such as a note from P. T. Barnum.

Dorothy Dayton Sorzano Theatre Collection

Upon his death in 1993, Julio Francisco Sorzano, a long-time "Friend of the Southampton College Library", bequeathed his collection of theatrical books and periodicals to the library. The collection is dedicated to the memory of his wife who shared his life-long love of the stage.

During World War II, Mr. Sorzano helped organize Camp Shows Inc., a theatrical group that later became the U.S.O. They were responsible for sending entertainers, such as Bob Hope, to military bases throughout the world. He was a life member of "The Players", a club founded in 1888 by Edwin Booth, a preeminent American actor (and brother of John Wilkes Booth), for those dedicated to the interests of the theater.

Eugene and Carlotta O'Neill Library

This collection of 1,000 books is the only portion of the personal library of the preeminent American dramatist, Eugene O'Neill, and his third wife, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, that survives as an entity.

George Bernard Shaw Theatre Programs Archive

Shaw's prolific outpouring of plays for some six decades are reflected in this short theatrical list of programs. It combines the records of such legendary productions as Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier's Caesar and Cleopatra, Charles Laughton and Charles Boyer's Don Juan in Hell and Katherine Hepburn's The Millionairess. These programs accompany our collection of Shaw books.

Howard P. Gordon History of Opera and Musical Theatre

This distinguished and comprehensive collection was donated in December, 2012, by retired Long Island Librarian Howard P. Gordon. The collection contains over 1,200 books and magazines exploring all facets of opera and musical theatrical. These titles include scores, librettos, histories, biographies of performers & composers such as Giuseppe Verdi, and more.

Joseph Cameron Cross Theatre Collection Archive

The Joseph Cameron Cross Theater Collection contains over 300 letters, 50 theater programs, many Christmas cards, postcards, articles, and a great many theatrical photographs. All chronicle the time periods of the early 20th century and the 1940's and 1950's.

The letters are written by such notables as the actors Viola Allen (also a major recipient of letters) and John Gielgud; writers such as Ambrose Bierce, Booth Tarkington, and Hall Caine; the ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn; the comedian Fred Allen; and many others.

In conjunction with these letters there are photographs, both signed and unsigned, of many of these principals, and especially Viola Allen. The beautiful Miss Allen was a leading American actress circa 1890 to 1910. She played Shakespearean roles, modern comedies, and many popular plays of the day, including a dramatization of Hall Caine's novel, The Eternal City.

Movie Poster Research Collection, 1940-1962

This collection is a vivid and instructive series of images: lithograph movie posters that promote more than 6,000 movie titles produced mostly from 1940 to 1962. Some 4,000 posters, covering the years 1950-1962 were donated by Frederick Adler in 1972. Mr. Adler added approximately 1,000 more titles, concentrating on the early 1950's, in 1974. Philip Sills donated about 1,600 posters in 1974 that reflected the decade of the1940's.

Besides the obvious appeal to film students, these original movie posters should interest other academic disciplines. Art majors will be stimulated by the varying graphic design approaches of these examples of movie poster art. Business students will appreciate the marketing effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the differing ways to advertise movies. Many movies of this time period reflect the history of World War II and the Cold War. These film images are of value not only to students of history but also to the social researcher for their shifts in mores and culture.

Samuel Beckett: Theatrical Programs, Posters, Announcements, and Photographs Archive

This theatrical archive is part of the Winthrop Palmer French and Irish Literature Collection. Samuel Beckett was a prominent 20th Century writer who bridges both French and Irish literatures as an Irishman whose most famous title was the French play En attendant Godot/Waiting For Godot. Beginning with Waiting For Godot, Beckett continued his avant-garde playwriting with Krapp's Last Tape, Happy Days, Endgame, Play, etc. This archive of Beckett's theatrical work starts with the first production of Waiting For Godot in London in August, 1955, and continues to the close of the 1990's.

Alan G. Barbour Screen Facts and Screen Nostalgia Illustrated Collection

The Alan G. Barbour Screen Facts and Screen Nostalgia Illustrated Collection contains 100 volumes which represent a treasure trove of motion picture nostalgia, featuring articles on the stars and films of the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. There are thousands of rare posters, stills, portraits, and newspaper ads, and the collections concentrate on westerns, serials, and B-films. Also included are issues of Screen Facts, The Serial, and Boy's Cinema, with synopses of films as well as cast lists.

This collection consists of 154 microfiche, located in the Periodicals Special Collections drawer of the microfiche cabinets, and is indexed by Alan Barbour's Screen Facts and Screen Nostalgia Illustrated Collection: A Guide to the Microfiche Collection, located on top of the cabinet.

Housed with the Periodicals Department microfilm.

Dickens Playbills in the Bodleian Library

Dickens Playbills in the Bodleian Library is comprised of playbills and programs for fifteen plays, from Pickwick Papers in 1836 to Edwin Drood in 1870, plus notes on Dickens as a performer. This is a small collection of 9 microfiche that is indexed by Dickens Playbills in the Bodleian Library, edited by Clive Hurst. Funded by the Palmer Bequest.

Housed with the Periodicals Department microfilm.

Manuscripts of the Irish Literary Renaissance

On the stage of Dublin's Abbey Theatre, the great actors of the 19th century performed: Bernhardt, Irving, Coquelin, and Duse. This theatre also played a central part in Ireland's cultural and dramatic renaissance, providing a forum for the ideas of W. B. Yeats, Sean O'Casey, and J. M. Synge. Microfilm collection funded by the Palmer Bequest.


The Diaries of Joseph Holloway, 1895-1944, from the National Library of Ireland, Dublin.
Joseph Holloway's diaries are rich with insights and an insider's view of the Irish literary revival. Holloway attended the opening night of every production in Dublin for nearly 50 years. In his diaries, scholars will find important observations about many leading figures, including James Joyce, W. B. Yeats, and Lady Gregory. [105 reels]


The Abbey Theatre and Cultural Life: The W. A. Henderson Scrapbooks, 1899-1911, from the National Library of Ireland, Dublin.
This part of the collection includes press cuttings, photographs, and other literary documents, chronicling, the central figures, events, and trends of the Irish Theatre. [5 reels]


The J. M. Synge Manuscripts, from the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.
J. M. Synge was one of the principal figures of the Irish theatre and the Irish literary renaissance. This portion of the collection represents the largest archive of Synge material in the world. Included are manuscript and typescript drafts of all of Synge's published and unpublished work, along with other personal documents and records. A copy of The Synge Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin: A Catalogue Prepared on the Occasion of the Synge Centenary Exhibition, 1971 accompanies this part of the collection. [19 reels]

Housed with the Periodicals Department microfilm.

Shakespeare and the Stage: The Prompt Books

These are the working texts of stage managers, company prompters, actors' study books, and notes on staging and role interpretation. Libraries in the United States and England have contributed their collections to create this magnificent resource on microfilm. Funded by the Palmer Bequest.


The Folger Shakespeare Library Collection, Washington, D.C.
More than 900 volumes in this collection represent the world's largest assemblage of prompt books. Includes a printed guide. [86 reels]


The Harvard Theatre Collection.
Includes nearly 400 prompt books that vividly recreate British and American 19th century Shakespearean productions. Includes Henry Irving's prompt books from his days at the Lyceum. Includes a printed guide. [34 reels]


The Shakespeare Library Collection, Birmingham Public Library.
Covering a great range of productions in England between 1811 and 1929, this part of the collection offers insights into both touring London plays and the Theatre Royal's own productions. Included are the prompt books (1900-1926) of Frank Benson, the leading figure in the Stratford Shakespeare Festivals and the Gordon Crosse Theatrical Diary. Includes a printed guide. [10 reels]


The Shakespeare Centre Library Collection, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Contained here are more than 500 prompt books, dating from the early 18th century to 1975. The collection's earliest prompt copies are from the days of the Theatres Royal. The early years of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre are covered as well. The more recent prompt copies document the stage history of the theatres that have seen all the greatest Shakespearean actors, directors, and designers working in the 20th century. Includes a printed guide. [85 reels]

Housed with the Periodicals Department microfilm.

Source Materials in the Field of Theatre

Source Materials in the Field of Theatre is a collection of eighty books, periodicals, manuscripts, journals, and diaries and contains selected primary and secondary sources gathered from scattered private collections and American and foreign libraries.

These are reproduced on 22 reels of microfilm located in the Palmer Microfilm cabinet, and are indexed by Source Materials in the Field of Theatre: an Annotated Bibliography, Subject Index, and Guide to the Microfilm Collection located on top of the cabinet. Funded by the Palmer Bequest.

Housed with the Periodicals Department microfilm.

Vauxhall Gardens Theatrical Entertainment in Victorian London

Artists of differing countries, art forms, and personalities came together in one place in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries - the Vauxhall Gardens of London. This microfilm collection, based on a 200-page scrapbook illustrating the history of the gardens from 1712 to 1860, was filmed from materials at the library of Sir William Fraser and given to The Garrick Club in London. It includes engravings, drawings, portraits, caricatures, handbills, newspaper clippings, and musical compositions relating to the history of Vauxhall Gardens.

Vauxhall became a popular resort in London, and its records represent the better part of two centuries of life surrounding the theater world.

In its prime, celebrities brought glamour to the gardens. Sculptor Louis Francois Roubiliac became famous after he sculpted a statue of Händel for the gardens, his first commissioned piece. Various European virtuosi appeared in the gardens as well as music masters Händel, Arne, and Boyce, who honored the gardens with original compositions.

Performances at Vauxhall included The Maid of the Mill, starring actors Lord Aimworth, Sir Harry and Lady Sycamore, and other actors of the period, and operas such as Rosamond.

Ideal for theater, music, and art historians, Vauxhall Gardens gives insight into the art and social life of the 18th and 19th centuries. [1 reel]

Housed with the Periodicals Department microfilm.

Contact Information

Archives and Special Collections

B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library
LIU Post Campus
Long Island University
Brookville, NY 11548

Telephone: (516) 299-2880

Email: jarron.jewell@liu.edu

Hours: 9:00-5:00, Monday-Friday