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Norman Lear Script Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 005

Scope and Contents

This collection features scripts from eleven different Television Programs, most of which are affiliated with one or both of Norman Lear's production companies, Tandem and T.A.T.. The bulk of the collection contains scripts from the show Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, which aired between January 1976 and May 1977. All of the programs feature what can be considered the signature of Norman Lear's productions: situational comedies that deal with topical and sometimes controversial subject matter. Many of Lear's shows became so popular, they added spin-off series which became popular in their own right. Maude and The Jeffersons were spin-offs of Lear's most popular show All in the Family. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman became Forever Fernwood when star Louise Lasser left the program, and a spin-off Fernwood 2-Nite, a talk show parody set in the same fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio. After one season, Fernwood 2-Nite became America 2-Night which reset the show outside of the fictional setting and freed the writers from having to include contrived explanations for celebrity appearances.

Some scripts, particularly in the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman series contain more than one entry for the same episode number. Multiple scripts with the same episode number are not duplicates and therefore one is notated as being an alternate by the addition of a letter "A". This notation is a holdover from the original receipt of the collection. Some scripts contain notes and additional lines from an unknown contributor.


  • Majority of material found within 1977-1978
  • Span (1972-1978)


Language of Materials

Records in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

No portions of these scripts may be performed or reproduced by any means, or quoted or published in any medium without prior written consent of their respective production companies. These are non-circulating materials.


5.75 linear feet


This collection is arranged into 11 series, and is arranged alphabetically by show title, and arranged by episode or script number within each title.

Series 1: Alice

Series 2: America 2-Night

Series 3: Barney Miller

Series 4: Diff'rent Strokes

Series 5: Fay

Series 6: Happy Days

Series 7: The Jeffersons

Series 8: Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

Series 9: Maude

Series 10: Prime Time

Series 11: T.G.I.F.

Physical Location


Custodial History

The scripts in this collection were donated anonymously to Emerson College in 1982 and were received by the Library's cataloging department, since there was no Archivist on staff at the time. On October 27, 1982 these scripts were approved by instructors Denis Leary and Michael McDonald and placed on reserve for student use. The collection is now located in Special Collections within the Emerson College Archives.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

An anonymous party donated the collection to Emerson College in 1982.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Mathieu Deschaine, November 16, 2009.

AtoM record created by Samantha Quinon.

Collection rehoused and finding aid revised by Marie Wasnock, Nov 15 2018.

Norman Lear Script Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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