Resources for the Study of Theatre Arts and Popular Culture

Special Collections & University Archives houses a number of journals, periodicals, and collections that address the subject area of theatre arts and popular culture. The resources listed on this page pertain mainly to the United States. However, there are additional journals and periodicals connected to European (most notably British and French) and Japanese theatre. The list which follows is not exhaustive.

InfoHawk subject search term:
Theatre—United States—Periodicals

Critic [1881-1906]
Dramatic Mirror (& Theatre World) [1896-1921]
Lyceumite/Talent, Platform World [1890s-1930]
Moving Picture World [1907-1916; 1918;1920;1921] xfPN1993 .M88
Photoplay [1911-1940] xPN1993 .P48; Media Services Film 23889
Stage [1929-1939]
The Chautauquan [1880-1914]
Theatre (New York) [1886-1893]
Theatre Magazine [1900-1931]
Year Book/Paramount Pep Club xfPN1993.3 .P3

Manuscript collections:

Records of the Redpath Chautauqua Collection, 1890-1944 (bulk 1904-1935). MsC 150. Commercial lecture bureau and booking agency for Chautauqua and lyceums throughout the United States and parts of Canada. Office files of the Redpath-Vawter Bureau of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Redpath-Chicago Bureau run by Harry P. Harrison and Charles Horner’s Redpath Chautauquas. The talent brochure section of this collection has been digitized and appears as Traveling Culture: Circuit Chautauqua in the Twentieth Century.

Marion Ballou Fisk Papers, 1906-1930, MsC 150.09. “Cartoonist-Lecturer-Entertainer” on Chautauqua circuits. This collection includes her letters to her family, photographs and promotional materials, and a group of her original pastel drawings.

Keith/Albee Theater Circuit Records, 1890-1952, MsC 386. Business records, cash books, and 150 scrapbooks (managers’ reports, clipping books, etc.) for theaters that formed part of the Keith-Albee circuit, primarily those in and near Rhode Island.  The collection provides exceptional documentation of the transition from vaudeville stage to theatrical motion picture presentation.

Over 1,000 feet (and growing) Collections Supporting Television and Film Studies at the University of Iowa with supporting links, including Chinese, Japanese, and Dada films. Norman Felton and Richard Maibaum, both represented, were involved in theatre early in their careers.

Elmer Joseph Miller Collection of Concert and Theater Programs, 1872-1975, MsC 363.

Theatre Programs and Playbills, 1880-1955, MsC 213. Mostly programs from Chicago theaters; others are from St. Louis, New York, London, Des Moines, Iowa, Central City, Colorado, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and various other places.

Dey Family Collection of Theatre Programs, 1882 –1896: xPN2277 I6 D3. Peoria, Chicago, Iowa, New York, Pennsylvania.

John Springer Collection of Printing and Advertising Material, 1866-1936, MsC 202. Includes correspondence, clippings, printed matter, memorabilia, and other material relating to printing and advertising. See especially Boxes 9 and 10 for vaudeville, theatre, showbills, etc.

Ralph M. Junkin Collection of Motion Picture Memorabilia, 1914-1967, MsC 200. Collection of motion picture stills, theater lobby posters and window cards, display posters, press book material, and technical manuals for projectors and stage lighting. Covers both silent and sound motion picture.

Dwight Bissell Cheever Scrapbook, 1893-1905. f xMs C514. Includes Chicago theatre programs and playbills.

Marion Meade/Buster Keaton Research Files, 1895-1997, MsC 512. Biographer Marion Meade was commissioned to write a biography for the centenary of Buster Keaton’s birth in 1895. She spent four years researching Keaton, interviewing people who knew or worked with him, locating photographs, and writing Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase (HarperCollins, 1995). This collection consists of Meade’s research files and interview tape recordings.

Marion Meade/Woody Allen Research Files, 1994-2000.  MsC 861. Research material for The Unruly Life of Woody Allen. Comprised of interviews by letter and on tape, journal articles, research files, notes, films, photographs, manuscript copies, and copies of the completed book in various editions.

Victor Animatograph Corporations Records, 1912-1966, MsC 153. Alexander Victor, a central figure in the invention and marketing of 16mm film equipment for home, industrial, and military use, formed the Victor Animatograph Company of Davenport, Iowa. Papers include records, correspondence, catalogs and clippings, photographs, negatives and scrapbooks.

George Elmer Allan Magic Lantern Slides Collection, MsC 201. Lantern slides were a step in the progression from live theatre to motion pictures. George Allan was a minister in Mississippi who used slides to accompany his sermons. The collection includes 1855 magic lantern slides plus 100 2×2 inch slides; also projector with attachment for film strip projection and a number of film strips. This is an unprocessed collection and is available for research.

Robert Randolph Papers, 1950s-1990s, MsC 799. University of Iowa alum who became a prominent Broadway set and lighting designer. Drawings and designs for Broadway and other theatrical productions. Also includes slides of models used to explore lighting options. This is an unprocessed collection and is available for research.

Federal Theatre Project Playscripts, 1936-1938, MsC 314. Complete working scripts of 19 produced and five unproduced plays. Includes Eugene O’Neill (One-Act Plays of the Sea) and George Bernard Shaw (On the Rocks).

Maxine Finsterwald Papers, 1928-1983, MsC 427. Radio scriptwriter (Kaffee Klatch and Playhouse of the Air among others) and playwright (as Maxine Wood). Correspondence, photographs, clippings, scrapbooks, typescripts, etc.

Howard Richardson Papers, 1923-1987, MsC 301. Dramatist. Subject files relating to his career and personal life, including drafts, photographs, set designs, etc. Much of the collection relates to his best known play, “Dark of the Moon.”

Carl Glick Papers, 1890-1971, MsC 611. Story writer, playwright and film script writer, author of books for adults and children, Glick is best remembered for his books about the Chinese in America.

The Christina & Jaroslaw Pelenski Collection of Polish Posters, 1960-1985, MsC 118. Over 200 Polish circus, theatre, opera and operetta posters from the 1960s to 1985.

Richard Pike Bissell Papers, MsC 565. Typescript and holograph drafts, galley proofs, editor’s notes, source material, etc., documenting the writings of this Dubuque novelist and author of 7 1/2 Cents (1953), the basis of the musical hit, The Pajama Game (1954, filmed 1957).

David Thayer Theater Lighting Collection, MsC 835. Collection of catalogs and brochures document theater lighting systems and equipment formed by David Thayer, professor emeritus Theater. This is an unprocessed collection and is open for research.

Department of Theatre Arts Records, 1920s-1990s. RG06.24.03. Program-picture files, building series, scrapbooks, newsletters, programs, etc.

Edward Charles Mabie Papers, RG99.0188. Mabie played a large role in establishing University Theatres, a production group. Over the next thirty years Mabie shaped the University theatre department into one of the finest in the country. He served as Regional Director of the Federal Theatre Projects of the WPA (Works Progress Administration), which included Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

Dina Rees Evans Papers, 1937-1974. RG99.0189. High school educator in dramatic arts. In Ohio, Ms. Evans co-founded Cain Park in 1938, an outdoor theatre in Cleveland Heights.  While its director, she mentored many students who became well-known in entertainment, including Norman Felton, Joel Rubin, Hal Holbrook, Dom DeLuise, Robert Freyer and Joel Grey.  In addition to her work with Cain Park productions, she became president of the American Educational Theatre Association in 1940 and was the founder of Secondary School Theatre Association (SSTA).

Iowa Memorial Union Records, RG24.04.Contains material on University Theatre.

Myrtle Sellman Collection of Photographs, RG30.01.03. Includes Englert Theatre (Iowa City) vaudeville programs.

Frederick W. Kent Collection of Photographs, RG30.01.01. Photographs of the University of Iowa theatre arts.

Books at Iowa. Provides links to numerous online articles on, for example, the Keith/Albee collection, Redpath Chautauqua, and the WPA Federal Theatre projects.

Databases/Indexes