Discovering the Collection
Many of the Collection's holdings are listed in these online catalogs:
HOLLIS -- the main catalog of Harvard's library collections, available in two versions: HOLLIS (best suited for keyword searching) and HOLLIS Classic (preferable for more precise searches and for browsing subject headings). Both versions can narrow a search to items in the Theatre Collection. To do this in HOLLIS, run your search and select "Showing results from [Theatre Collection]" on the right side. In HOLLIS Classic, use the Expanded Search and select Theatre Collection from the Locations menu.
OASIS -- detailed descriptions (called "finding aids") of many of Harvard's manuscript and archival collections. In Quick Search, you can type “Harvard Theatre Collection” (including quotation marks) to see all online finding aids for this collection.
VIA -- a catalog of visual materials at Harvard. In Repository, you can enter Harvard Theatre Collection. Theatre Collection holdings in VIA include significant portions of the collection of original Russian art work, mostly from productions of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. In addition, these entire collections are available in VIA: daguerreotypes, mostly of theatrical subjects; American minstrel photography; and the theatre photographs of Angus McBean.
But not everything we have is catalogued. If you don't find what you're looking for in one of these catalogs, email Houghton Library staff for assistance, or fill out a request for a staff search (see instructions below).
Requesting Items from a Series
The Theatre Collection houses numerous items which are not individually cataloged, but are arranged in series: ephemera, prints, playbills, sheet music, clippings, designs, manuscripts, and photographs. These series do have their own catalog records and call numbers in HOLLIS and HOLLIS Classic, but they can only be searched directly by Houghton Library staff:
The document linked below will help you submit a request for a search. The first page gives instructions for requesting a staff search of newspaper clippings, photographs, playbills, programs and prints. The remaining pages give information about the series, with links to their HOLLIS records, which you will need in order to submit your request.
Because of the nature of the Collection, readers should allow time for items requested to be retrieved. After placing a request through the Special Collections Request Account, readers are advised to email Houghton staff about the date on which they plan to visit the Reading Room. At least one week's notice is suggested if a reader plans to examine several items.
Requesting Items Catalogued in HOLLIS
In HOLLIS Classic, when you've found an item you'd like to see, click "Availability" in the catalog record. On the next screen, click “Request Item” and log in to your Special Collections Request Account. When you have logged in, the request form will be filled out for you. You must click the Submit button to complete your request.
In HOLLIS, there is no separate "Availability" display; all available copies are shown at the bottom of the record. Simply click on the "Request Item" link. You will then be asked to login to your request account. When you have logged in, the request form will be filled out for you. You must click the Submit button to complete your request.
Example: Tennessee Williams Papers
Using the Collection
Items from the Collection may be examined in the Houghton Library Reading Room. See the Library's web page for information about hours and about registering to use the Reading Room.
Readers are expected to follow the guidelines for handling special collections.
Requests for copies are considered on a case-by-case basis. See Houghton Library Permissions & Reproductions.
Other Performing Arts Collections at Harvard
The Houghton Library holds manuscripts and archival materials of playwrights and performers which are not included in the Theatre Collection. The Loeb Music Library and the Fine Arts Library also collect material related to theatre, dance, opera, and other performance genres. Information about special collections is on their web pages.
Email Theatre Collection reference staff.