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The Theatrical Scrapbook

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 April 2013


Librarian's nightmare or researcher's dream? Theatre historians frequently use and librarians happily acquire the rare theatrical scrapbook related to a single famous individual, but many undervalue and overlook ordinary theatrical albums, and with good cause: the ordinary theatrical scrapbook's provenance is often unclear, its compilers are usually unknown, and its contents are typically heterogeneous, commonplace, and decaying. The cracked bindings and flaking newsprint characteristic of such scrapbooks frustrate conservation, while their clippings, programs, and images pose serious cataloging challenges, shorn as they often are of identifying information. Finally, at least some of the material in these albums (such as newspaper clippings) is often duplicated elsewhere, making their contents easily seem redundant.

Re: Sources: Beth A. Kattelman
Copyright © American Society for Theatre Research 2013

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1. Garvey, Ellen Gruber, Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 210–11Google Scholar.

2. The Scrapbook Collection at the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute (TRI) of The Ohio State University currently contains 172 items. The parenthesized numbers that appear in the text refer to the item numbers for this collection.

3. Scrapbooks 1–33 were donated to the TRI by Burrill Henry Leffingwell and thus are referred to here as the Leffingwell albums.

4. Tucker, Susan, Ott, Katherine, and Buckler, Patricia P., eds., The Scrapbook in American Life (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006)Google Scholar; Garvey. For a rare discussion of the scrapbook as a useful source in theatre history, see “e-Interpreting: The Audience as Cultural Repository,” in which Lynne Conner compares two annotated theatrical scrapbooks from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to contemporary ways of digitally registering audience response; Theatre Annual 65 (2012), 1934Google Scholar.

5. On the history of scrapbooks, see Tucker et al.; Garvey.

6. For an example of a text-heavy theatrical scrapbook that covers the 1790s through the 1820s, see Scrapbook 4, Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum Records, 1910–1971, Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Library, New York, NY. For an illustration of how text-heavy albums persisted into the 1870s, see the Edwin Booth Scrapbooks 1865–1868, 1870–71, 1871–73, Hampden–Booth Theatre Library, New York, NY.

7. See Garvey, 60–86.

8. See Moon, Krystyn R., Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American Popular Music and Performance, 1850s–1920s (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2004)Google Scholar.