Audio and video recordings of performances and rehearsals have obvious uses for research. These may be unique recordings that are only held in one archival collection. Or they may be published recordings of notable productions that exist in larger numbers and are widely available.

Another kind of useful recording is footage of lectures, discussions, or other presentations. For example, a lecture by a playwright may shed light on a production of one of their works.

Oral histories can be invaluable. Oral histories are recorded interviews with a participant or multiple participants in a historical event. In the case of the performing arts, these might be performers or other theater professionals, audience members, or any witness to the performance and the process of preparing it.

Searching for Recordings

Tips for finding published recordings of musical theater productions can be found on the Musical Theater Research Guide. Harvard subscribes to a number of sources containing recordings of other genres of performance, though most will require a Harvard affiliation to access.

To search HOLLIS for recordings, go to the Advanced Search page, select Library Catalog, and set the Resource Type to Sound Recordings or Videos / Film. Because some recordings are part of larger archival collections, you may also want to try setting the Resource Type to Archives / Manuscripts, and combining search terms such as recording, video, sound, film, or tape in the first search box with a term relevant to your project in the second search box.

Screenshot of a search for recordings in archival collections