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Theater Playbills Collection

Identifier: MSS 008

Scope and Contents

This collection encompasses theatre programs, playbills, and memorabilia from hundreds of theatres throughout the United States and London, with the bulk of the materials from Boston, New York, and London. The materials range in date from 1855 through 2012 with the bulk of the collection containing playbills from 1950 on. Depending on the era the playbills are formatted either as single sheets or poster (primarily the pre 1900s and World War II era programs) or booklets featuring advertisements, play descriptions, and cast biographies (primarily the 20s and 30s and post 1950 materials).


  • 1855 - 2012

Language of Materials

Records in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers

Conditions Governing Use

Some materials may be subject to copyright. No part of the materials protected by copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the copyright holder. Researchers are required to seek permission from the copyright holder to reproduce and/or publish materials under copyright.


18.75 linear feet


The collection is arranged in 4 series according to date range. Within each series materials are arranged according to location.

Series I: Theater Playbills Pre 1950

Subseries A: Boston

Subseries B: London

Subseries C: New York City

Series II: Theater Playbills 1950-

Subseries A: Boston

Subseries B: London

Subseries C: New York City

Subseries D: Philadelphia

Subseries E: United States Playbills (Excluding Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia).

Series III: Theater Repertory Companies

Subseries A: Boston Repertory Companies

Subseries B: New York Repertory Companies

Series IV: Theater Miscellanea

Custodial History

This collection is a compilation of small collections donated by several donors. The collections were combined to create the Theater Playbills Collection (MSS 08) and the Dance Repertory Companies Collection (MSS 28). The donors who contributed to this collection are as follows: Lee Engler, Fort Worth Museum, Katherine Lee Gould, Gertrude Kovacs, Charlotte Lindgren & Donald Winslow, Irma Mann, William Marcione, David Panzer & Charles Rosen, Mary-Ann Sullivan, Gerald Tarantino, and Edythe Zimmerman. Materials from these collections that were not relevant to the Theatre Playbills Collection or the Dance Repertory Companies Collection were either discarded or donated to other institutions.

Processing Information

Processing completed by Elizabeth Wood; July 2014.

Theater Playbills 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