Isham Memorial Library

The Isham Library and the Merritt Room, on the 2nd floor of the Music Library, house special collections (open 9-5, Monday through Friday). Curators will retrieve rare materials and help you use primary sources for research.

Don't miss these collections:

  • Eubie Blake papers: letters from Eubie Blake to William D. Smith and Peggy Smith, as well as sheet music, newspaper clippings, journal articles, concert programs. Also included: letters from Marion Blake, Eubie Blake's wife, and from Ivan Harold Browning, a singer and collaborator with Blake.
  • Continuity scripts (link to HOLLIS search results): used in the editing process of filmed musical productions, including scripts for Fiddler on the Roof, On the Town, The Pajama Game, and others.
  • George Gershwin:  Multiple early editions of the score to Porgy and Bess as well as programs and other ephemera surrounding the various premieres. Try a keyword search in HOLLIS to find out more.

Houghton Library/Harvard Theatre Collection

The Houghton Library is Harvard's main rare book and manuscript library. Its music-related holdings include manuscript scores, early editions, correspondence, and composers' papers.

The Harvard Theatre Collection, a department of Houghton, is one of the largest performing arts collections in the world, and the oldest internationally-significant theater collection.

Its holdings include rare books and manuscripts, scripts and prompt books, letters, contracts and documents, musical scores, libretti, and sheet music, original scene and costume designs, and audio and visual recordings, together with vast collections of programs and playbills, posters, engravings and prints, photographs, and ephemera.

Theater and Performance at Harvard

These are only a few of Harvard's archival materials devoted to performance at the university. Many are held by the Harvard University Archives, which documents the institutional, intellectual, and social life of the University and the Harvard community.

Beyond Harvard: Continuing Your Research

Many other libraries and archives have significant collections of musical theater materials. Some of the major collections are listed below. While researchers must visit for full access to most collections, some inventories and digitized materials are available online.

Find links to other collections and websites in the research guide Online Resources for Music Scholars; try starting with the subject tag "musical theatre".