Finding Aids

Theater and Performing Arts

Atkinson, Fred W. Drama Collection

Fred W. Atkinson (1865-1941) was an educator and administrator best known for his tenure as the general superintendent of education in the Philippines (1900-1903) and president of the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (1904-1925). This collection contains his materials related to the history and practice of American drama. It includes a significant number of theatrical programs from the early-twentieth century (largely based in New York City), as well as articles and essays he compiled concerning the American dramatic tradition. It also contains correspondence related to his collection of American plays, as well as scrapbooks and photo albums of famous actors and actresses from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

Austrian, Celia and Delia. Papers

Celia Austrian(1874 - c.1907). Delia Austrian (1874-1928), journalist. The papers in the Austrian Collection are primarily diaries of the trips to Europe prior to 1915, both by Delia and her mother, working and finished manuscript for novels, stories, plays, and articles, assignments, and college notes. There are a few family pictures, three notebooks by Celia, diplomas from the various schools Delia attended, and one painting by Delia.

Barron, Elwyn A. Papers

Elwyn A. Barron (1855-1929) was a drama critic and playwright working in Chicago between 1877 and 1895. The Elwyn A. Barron Papers contain correspondence, memorabilia, dramatic criticism, and drafts of plays, novels, and poetry.

Bennett, A. Milo. Papers

A. Milo Bennett was a leading theatrical booking agent in Chicago in the early twentieth century. This collection contains mainly incoming correspondence, ca. 1900s-1930s, sent to A. Milo Bennett. It also contains an autograph collection and two pen-and-ink cartoons related to Bennett's life and work.

Campbell, Mrs. Patrick. Letters

Mrs. Campbell was an actress and her collection contains primarily correspondence but also includes photographs, newspaper clippings, playbills, and broadsides. Most of the letters are addressed to Mrs. Frank (Harriett) Carolan, later Mrs. Arthur Schermerhorn.

Chicago Drama Performances. Index

Compiled by University of Chicago Professor Napier Wilt. Primarily index cards with information on theatrical performances in Chicago theaters, 1839-1955. Cards include title of play, dates of performances, author, theater where play was performed, actors, and sometimes comments on the play. Also includes scripts, playbills, reviews, and some information on New York theaters in the 20th century.

Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey. Records

The collection consists of 120,000 typewritten pages translated from newspapers of 22 different foreign language communities in Chicago, ranging from Lithuanian, Slovene, and Filipino to Chinese, Albanian, German, Greek, and Ukrainian communities. The dates of the original articles span the period of 1861-1938. The collection is arranged alphabetically by language group, beginning with Albanian newspapers and ending with those of the Ukrainian language press.

Chicago Repertory Group Collection of Scripts and Scrapbooks

The Chicago Repertory Group Collection, presented to the University Library in June, 1958, by Gertrude Gunter Soltker, an original member of the group, consists of typescripts, carbons, and mimeograph copies of 267 plays, songs, and sketches used by the group, as well as six scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings, programs, and publicity for the group.

Court Theatre. Records

Court Theatre, is a professional University of Chicago based repertory theatre founded in the 1950s. The collection contains materials related to both the Court Theatre and the University Theatre, the student-run production arm for the University of Chicago’s Theatre Department. Correspondence, memos, cast lists, call sheets, rehearsal schedules, scripts, posters, programs, theatre fliers, newsletters, press releases, newspaper clippings, reviews, and photographs make up most of the collection. Materials date from 1947 to 1989, with the bulk dating between 1958 and 1977. The collection primarily documents the theatres' productions.

Fraser, Claud Lovat. Collection

Claud Lovat Fraser (1890-1921) was an artist known primarily for his work in illustration and theater design. This collection consists primarily of printed material produced by Fraser, or featuring his artwork. Items in the collection include prints, chapbooks, periodicals, advertisements, greeting cards, visiting cards, stationery, dust jackets, theatre and concert handbills, posters, postcards, and musical scores.

Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company. Collection

The Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company is a Hyde Park-based theatre company devoted exclusively to performing the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. They have been in operation since 1960, generally producing one operetta annually. The collection contains a small amount of administrative material, but the bulk of the collection is comprised of set and costume designs, flyers, programs, posters, and other material pertaining to specific productions. Of particular interest are 11 set models. The collection spans the years 1960-2010, with the bulk of the material from 1980-2008.

Goldman, Samuel. Papers

Samuel Goldman, vaudeville comedy writer, producer, actor. The Goldman Papers consist of nearly five hundred manuscripts, mainly original dramatic compositions. These have been divided into three groups, following Goldman’s own categorical divisions: “Complete Dramas,” “Scenes,” and “Bits.” Most of this material is unpublished. It includes an early version of “Who’s on First?” the baseball bit made famous by Abbott and Costello. The collection contains diverse notes and script fragments, as well as stage directions and other production materials. There is also a limited amount of miscellaneous material and memorabilia from Goldman’s wife and vaudeville partner Allie Ellsmore.

Goodrich, Adelaide Eunice. Collection

Adelaide Eunice Goodrich (1861-19??). Actress and author. Collection contains prompt books of plays, scrapbooks, photographs, and a small group of patents and other legal documents of her father H. C. Goodrich. The collection also includes newspaper clippings featuring interviews with Goodrich in which she voices her opinions on comedy, drama, and the theater in general, as well as her impressions of the towns and cities where she performed.

Grene, David. Papers

William David Grene (1913-2002) was a professor of classics, translator of Greek literature, and founding member of the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought. Spanning the years 1948-2002, Grene's papers include lecture notes, drafts of articles and translations, student material, work by Grene's colleagues, editorial material, administrative records, personal items, and audio and video recordings.

Morton, Charles, Agency. Collection of American Popular Drama

The collection holds theatrical plays of the late 19th early 20th centuries, film screenplays from the Depression and New Deal periods, as well as television scripts from the 1950s. The majority of the plays were written, copyrighted, or possibly produced by Charles Morton and his agency.

Playbill and Program. Collection

Contains primarily posters, programs, and souvenir books from 19th-century public performances and Playbill and Showbill magazines from the 20th century. Also contains musical performance programs for amateur recitals, operas, and ballets. A smaller number of programs are included for lectures, memorials, and tributes. Collection highlights performances in Chicago, New York, and Boston, but also includes material from other regions of the United States and Europe. Contains the Frances Moore Collection of Playbills, Showbills, and performance programs, 1940s-1970s. Also includes scrapbooks, movie programs, film stills, and radio broadcast scripts

Prass, Marjorie Whitney. Papers

This collection contains papers, photographs, costumes and ephemera belonging to Marjorie Whitney Prass, an alumna of the University of Chicago and an avid dancer. The bulk of the collection is comprised of over 200 pieces of costume clothing, accessories and props. The majority were made for Prass by her mother, Mathilde Muller Whitney, for performances at the University of Chicago. The collection also includes choreography notes and programs from dance performances in Chicago from the 1930s through the 1980s.

Shepherd, David. Papers

David Shepherd (b. October 10, 1924) founded the Compass Players with Paul Sills in Chicago in 1955. Inspired by Shepherd’s goals for a new kind of theatre and Sills’ mother Viola Spolin’s innovative theatre games, the Compass Players invented a new type of American improvisational theatre that would become an established genre on stage and screen. The collection includes material pertaining to the history of improvisational theatre throughout Shepherd’s career, and consists mainly of documents relevant to his professional activities; some correspondence; promotional and artistic materials from professional projects; and personal ephemera, including journals and photographs. Also included are photographs, audio recordings, and video recordings related to the history of the Compass Players and Shepherd’s subsequent artistic projects. Materials date between 1953 and 2006, with the bulk of the material dating between 1953 and 1979.

Theatrical Portraits and Illustrations. Collection

The collection, Codex MS 1413, was originally three volumes of mounted images. The first two volumes contain portraits of actors, actresses, and dramatists from the British and American stage. The third volume contains illustrations of theatre architecture, monuments, scenes from plays, and the homes of actors and dramatists, and theatrical ephemera. The images date from 1740 to 1901, though most are from the late 18th century.

University of Chicago. Blackfriars. Records

The records of the University of Chicago Blackfriars, a student dramatic organization, include by-laws, correspondence, contracts, lists of members, productions and officers, printed and manuscript scores of productions, posters, photographs, and recordings.

University of Chicago. Off-Off Campus. Records

Off-Off Campus is a student improvisation theater group founded at the University of Chicago in 1986. The Records include administrative files, advertising and written short scenes.

Wachs, Dr. Gerald N. Collection of Tom Stoppard

The Dr. Gerald N. Wachs Collection contains materials relating to the production of Tom Stoppard’s plays on stage and screen – including advertising, playbills, reviews, and ephemera – and cards, letters, and photographs signed by Stoppard. Of particular note are drafts and working copies of scripts and screenplays, and first run programs. Also included are materials which were used in the preparation of Gerald Wachs’ Tom Stoppard bibliography, published by Oak Knoll Press in 2010 as Tom Stoppard: A Bibliographical History.

Wilt, Napier. Papers

Napier Wilt (1896-1975), theatre scholar, was an alumnus and faculty member of the University of Chicago's Department of English. He was heavily involved in research into American literature and especially the history of theatrical performances in Chicago theaters during the late nineteenth century. He also served as the Dean of the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. This collection consists of 9.25 linear feet of material from 1899-1975, documenting Wilt's research, course materials, correspondence, and personal life. Dr. Wilt's research notes and drafts of indexes make up the majority of this collection, including his type-written and hand-written notes from his personal research and newspaper consultation. The rest of the collection is primarily comprised of his course materials and copies of student papers.