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Boston Programs, 1901-1962

 Series — record carton: MSS 031 Box 01
Identifier: MSS 031-1

Scope and Contents

This series contains programs and playbills from theatrical and musical performances in Boston, Massachusetts. The programs range in format from single sheet pamphlets to large souvenir brochures. Many theaters in Boston changed names multiple times over the course of their existence. A listing of known Boston theater locations as well as a list of name changes over time is included in the Appendix.

The Miscellaneous Performances and Events folder contains programs from special community performances and touring events. Community events include performances by the Knights of King Arthur of the Congregational Church of West Roxbury, the Vincent Club, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston Children's Theatre, and Globe Theatre. There are also programs for a touring performance of the radio program "Roxy and His Gang" and a 1953 performance of "Ice Capades." Additionally, there is an official program for the 1911 Harvard-Boston Aero Meet.


  • 1901-1962


Language of Materials

From the Collection:

Records in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers

Biographical / Historical

Sarah Moore Field lived all of her long life in the gracious home at 266 Main Street in North Andover, Massachusetts. Purchased by her great-grandparents, Jeremiah Smith and Sarah Field in 1874 the Field household reflected a restrained, upper middle class taste. Sarah Moore Field became the family historian and carefully preserved the furnishings, photographs, financial records, letters, memorabilia, and personal property accumulated by three generations of her family in hope that one day the Field House would be opened to the public. Though her dream never came to fruition, selected items from her collection, such as these theatre programs, will continue to be accessible to the public.

Theater programs and playbills have evolved significantly over the course of the 19th and 20th century. Appearing first as a single sheet, usually consisting of the actors' names and scenes in the play, by the early 1900s playbills had evolved into booklets which often included advertisements and actors' biographies. Playbills briefly reverted back to the single sheet format during World War II. Starting in the early 1900s, souvenir program books were also printed to commemorate a specific play during its run, and were not tied to specific performances or theaters. These programs were larger than playbills and usually include photos of the actors, biographies, and a summary of the plot.


1.25 linear feet; 1 box


This series is arranged alphabetically by theatre. Items within each folder are arranged chronologically.

Physical Location


Repository Details

Part of the Emerson College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Walker Building, Room 223
120 Boylston Street
Boston Massachusetts 02116 United States
(617) 824-8301