Guide to the Theatre Program Scrapbooks

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.1205
Creators:
Belasco Theatre (New York, N.Y.)
Columbia Theatre (Washington, D.C.)
Belasco Theatre (Washington, D.C.)
Herald Square Theatre (New York, N.Y.)
Grand Opera House (Washington, D.C.)
Keith-Albee's New York Hippodrome
Knickerbocker Theatre (Washington, D.C.)
Lafayette Square Opera House (Washington, D.C.)
Little Theatre of Alexandria
Majestic Theatre (Washington, D.C.)
New Amsterdam Theatre (New York, N.Y.)
Dates:
1893-1948, undated
bulk 1897-1918
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
2 Cubic feet
6 boxes
Repository:
These scrapbooks were created to record programs from various theaters in Washington, D.C. and New York. They contain playbills, advertisements, and cast lists.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Though two of the volumes are labeled "Theatre Program" these volumes actually consist of playbills. The volumes contain an extensive array of playbills for productions that played in Washington, D.C. and New York City. The printed broadsides contain information on the theater management, the production, cast list, production personnel, synopsis, and the program of the play. The playbills are mainly for musical productions, but there are playbills for dramas as well. Each volume was numbered, some have retained the actual number on the front of the volume, and two volumes do not but can be put in the proper order from the dates of the playbills therein. Many personalities and supporting players of the period are listed on the playbills.
Many Washington, D.C. theaters are represented: the Grand Opera House, the Majestic, the Columbia, Poli's, The Lafayette Square Opera House in Washington, D.C. that was eventually renamed The Belasco and others. There are early playbills for the Knickerbocker Theater which became famous for the tragedy that occurred there in 1922 with the collapse of its roof due to heavy snow fall. There are also many New York City theaters represented, including the New Amsterdam, Hammerstein's Victoria, and the Herald Square Theatre. There is one playbill for the Bijou Theatre in Richmond, Virginia. Also, there are playbills for theaters in Montauk, New York. There is an ad for
The Clansman
by Thomas Dixon, Jr. at the Columbia Theater, Washington, D.C. during the season of 1905-1905. There are a few theater programs pasted into the volumes, many for
The Lambs' Star Gambol
, one for a Ruth St. Denis dance program, and two "souvenir books" for the Hippodrome in New York City.
The volumes are arranged chronologically according to year. The exception is
Volume 3
, which carries an earlier date than
Volume 1
because a few stray playbills from 1893-1897 were pasted into the back of the volume. The bulk of
Volume
3's contents span the dates 1905-1907.
Volume 3
and
Volume 4
are labeled on the cover, "Theatre Program".
Volume 6
is indexed alphabetically according to title of play. There is one folder of loose playbills, a
Woodrow Wilson Memorial Address
, by Edwin Anderson Alderman, 1924, and a broadside for the Sanitary Grocery Company in Alexandria, Virginia, 1932.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged in one series, chronologically.
Series 1, Theatre Program Scrapbooks, 1893-1948, undated

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
American theater came into its own during the nineteenth century. American musical theater is generally acknowledged to have begun with
The Black Crook
, which opened September 12, 1866 at the 3,200-seat Niblo's Garden on Broadway in New York City and ran for a record-breaking 474 performances. By the end of the century most American cities and towns of any size boasted an opera house or theater, with many cities having numerous venues for traveling productions. Local companies as well as companies out of New York City mounted productions of musicals and dramas for the theater-going public. Showmen such as Florenz Ziegfeld, Charles Dillingham, David Belasco, and Charles Frohman mounted traveling productions of their successful New York productions and sent them on the road. In the days before the existence of unions for actors, musicians, and stagehands these productions could have huge casts working many hours and nearly every day of the week. Theater-producing organizations employed booking agents to schedule the production's tour. Each theater usually had its own management team, many being independently owned and operated. Washington, D.C., like any other city, had more than one theater competing for the public's business. The Washington theater district was generally located between Lafayette Square and the area around 15th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Not much is known about these six volumes of theater playbill scrapbooks. They appear to have belonged to either a theater owner or booking agent. They were donated to the Little Theatre of Alexandria by Mrs. Mark Price in 1963 and may have been salvaged by Mrs. Price when a theater was demolished or perhaps acquired by an acquaintance or member of her family who worked in a theater.

Administration
Processing Information
Processed by Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., archives technician, June 2010; supervised by Vanessa Broussard Simmons, archivist.
Author
Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., archives technician; supervised by Vanessa Broussard Simmons, archivist.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was donated by the Little Theatre of Alexandria, Virginia in 2010 which had received them from Mrs. Mark Price in 1963.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research use.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions.
Preferred Citation
Theatre Scrapbook Collection, 1893-1948, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Related Materials
AC0060 Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Theater and Motion Picture subject categories
AC0300 Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music
AC0404 Archives Center Collection of Business Americana, Theater and Motion Picture subject categories
AC1211 Donald J. Stubblebine Collection
The British spelling of this collection's title is on the scrapbooks.

Custodial History
Custodial History
Not much is known about the history of these six volumes. They appear to have been either a theater owner or booking agent's scrapbook of productions. They were donated to the Little Theatre of Alexandria by Mrs. Mark Price in 1963. The Little Theatre of Alexandria donated them to the Archives Center in 2010.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Playbills Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Poli's Theatre (Washington, D.C.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Theater programs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vaudeville Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Theater Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Little Theatre of Alexandria Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives