Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The "Theatricals in Philadelphia" scrapbooks consists of a set of 15 scrapbooks on theatrical subjects and contains programs, playbills, newspaper clippings, images, and portraits of artists of the stage. These materials all date from the second half of the 19th century, and are mostly related to theaters and other performing venues located in Philadelphia. However, the scrapbooks also contain a smaller number of items from New York, Boston, and other U.S. cities. In 1936, all the items included in the scrapbooks were listed by title in a typewritten index in 7 volumes, which is also part of the collection.
The 15-volume scrapbook set joined the special collections of the University of Pennsylvania in May 1920, after it was purchased from Philadelphia auctioneer Stanislaus Vincent Henkels. Funding for the purchase came from a special fund established by Morris Lewis Clothier (1869-1947), a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. The set became part of what was then known as the Clothier Collection of American Drama, an important theater collection that would be expanded for several decades under the supervision of University of Pennsylvania English professor Arthur Hobson Quinn (1875-1960). Quinn also oversaw the compilation of the title index, which was completed in 1936 by an employee of the Works Progress Administration. It was probably at this time that numbers were penciled on the margin of each page.
The creator of the scrapbooks is unknown, and was probably unknown at the time of the acquisition. A clipping pasted on the first page of volume 1, possibly excerpted from the original auction catalog, states that "somebody has devoted almost a lifetime in making this collection," but does not provide any indication as to who assembled the scrapbooks. Annotations in one or more hands can be found throughout the volumes. Some of the materials included in the scrapbooks were probably donated to the collection's creator. Volume 7 includes a letter from the Wallack Theatre (New York) dated 1886 and addressed to "Mr. Siegel," while a note by "G. N. Galloway" is annotated on the margin of a program included in volume 14. It is possible – although not certain – that one of these names corresponds to the person who assembled the volumes.
Because of its extent (about 3,500 pages), its chronological and geographical focus, the richness of its materials, and the breadth of theatrical genres covered in the scrapbooks – from opera, tragedy, and instrumental music to minstrel shows, vaudeville, and side shows – this collection represents a unique and invaluable resource for anyone interested in the theatrical and cultural history of Philadelphia in the second half of the 19th century.
The collection is divided into two series. Series I includes the set of 15 scrapbooks, and series II consists of the 7 volumes of the title index.
The materials included in the scrapbooks are not arranged following a precise order, which makes the consultation of these volumes potentially challenging. However, a few guiding principles could be identified. In most of the scrapbooks (volumes 1-11 and 13) the materials are grouped by artist or theatrical company, although not in alphabetical or chronological order. Some volumes are especially (although not exclusively) dedicated to specific genres. Volume 1 largely relates to opera; volume 8 focuses on comedy, comic opera, and burlesque; volumes 12 and 13 are dedicated to minstrel shows, circus, magic shows, and burlesque; and volume 15 includes materials on side shows and other exhibits of artifacts and technological curiosities. Volume 14 is exclusively dedicated to the Philadelphia theatrical scene during the Civil War years (1861-1865), and the materials that it contains are organized by performing venue.
Researchers interested in a particular production are encouraged to consult the title index for the scrapbooks, which is located in series II. Because it is organized by title, however, the index is less helpful to locate specific artists, performing venues, articles, or other items in the scrapbook set. For these and other research criteria, researchers should consult the full description of each scrapbook, which can be found at the volume level in the finding aid. Each description include a list of the most prominent artists or theatrical companies featured in the volume, a list of performing venues, and a summary of notable articles, images, programs, playbills, and other materials found in the scrapbook.
Sold by Stanislaus Vincent Henkels on May 5, 1920 (acquired through the Morris L. Clothier Fund).
Formerly Dewey Folio 812H T342 and 812H T342 Ind.
- Chestnut Street Opera House (Philadelphia, Pa.)
- Arch Street Theatre (Philadelphia, Pa.)
- Chestnut Street Theatre (Philadelphia, Pa.)
- Walnut Street Theatre (Philadelphia, Pa.)
- Freak shows
- Minstrel shows
- Theater -- United States
- Theater -- United States -- History -- 19th century
- Circus -- History
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Siel Agugliaro
- Finding Aid Date
- 2019 May 7
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.