About The Harvard Theatre Collection
Formed in 1901, the Harvard Theatre Collection is the oldest collection of its kind in America and one of the largest in the world. A department of Houghton Library, It specializes in documentary material on the history of the performing arts. Its diverse holdings encompass all manner of performance with special emphasis on the stage, music and dance, and popular entertainment. The collection also comprises a significant number of organizational and personal papers as well as photographic archives which preserve the legacies of institutions, playwrights, actors, designers and choreographers. Formats of material include books, manuscripts, ephemera, realia, and audiovisual material. For a more detailed description, see the Theatre Collection website.
Because items in the Theatre Collection are rare or unique, additional rules are in place to ensure the security and preservation of the collection. Most notably, the collection is non-circulating and the stacks are closed to users. Instead, library staff retrieve material for use in the Houghton Library Reading Room.
Related Collections at Harvard
- Other departments of Houghton Library hold material related to performance, including papers of playwrights and printed editions of theatrical works.
- Loeb Music Library holds both secondary and primary sources related to musical performance.
- The Fine Arts Library holds visual material related to performance.
- The Frances Loeb Library of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design holds material related theatre architecture and design.
- The Harvard Film Archive holds audiovisual material from around the world and from almost every period in film history.
- The majority of secondary sources related to performance are found at Widener and Lamont Libraries.